Thursday, July 31, 2008

Top Community Organization

If there is one thing that I’d set up in EVERY community in the USA, it would be a community foundation. Indiana has been blessed that it has a community foundation in every one of the 92 counties in the state. The Lilly Foundation made a major push over a decade ago to help set up community foundations in the state and reached their goal of having one in every county.

Jefferson County (population 32,704) set up their community foundation in 1992. Since then they’ve given out over $5 million in grants in the county and today have an endowment of over $15 million. That is a combined $611 for every citizen in the county.

In my talk I spoke of the generosity of rural citizens like those in Jefferson County, saying, “There is no way that a place like Indianapolis or Chicago could ever generate the amount of money that you’ve been able to do here in the past fifteen years.”

After getting back I home I did the calcs. Indianapolis would have to have raised almost $500 million dollars for their community foundation and Chicago $2 billion! It’s not going to happen. It could only happen in a place like Madison and Jefferson County, IN.

Have you started your community foundation yet?


CSevier said...

How is a Community Foundation started?

Kim Embretson said...

Keeping wealth in rural areas is vital to the health of rural communities. In Minnesota there are 6 rural regional community foundations that helping small towns create and build community foundations. West Central Initiative is one of those regional founations. Currently we have 68 funds that address local needs. WCI covers nine counties in western Minnesota. When we set up a foundation in a town, people are more willing to trust their legacy gift to these foundations than to a single non-profit. See our web site for more information.

BoomtownUSA said...

To start a community foundation I would go to the Council on Foundations ( which can get you started. Several states also have statewide community foundation associations.

We started our community foundation about 8 years ago when seven local citizens got together and said, "If it is to is up to me!" Today, our foundation is quickly gaining traction and has numerous funds and several million in assets.

MN has taken a very proactive approach to community foundations, just like IN. The Initiative Foundation, set up by one of the founders of 3M, has helped to get regional and local foundations set up throughout the state.