As I recently wrote in a guest column in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, timing is everything. Right now, philanthropy is in danger of missing out on a timing opportunity in rural America, where the peak transfer of wealth will occur in the coming years. If we, as the philanthropic sector, sit idly by and do nothing, wealth will continue to migrate out of rural communities, stifling long-term investments today and suffocating the promise of tomorrow. Yet as an independent, innovative entity, philanthropy has the power to act. Here are four actions our sector can take to strengthen rural communities:
For each day that we stall, more and more wealth is transferred out of our rural communities-money that can be used for education, health centers, workforce development, and disaster rebuilding. That is why the timing could not be better for the 2011 Rural Conference, slated for July 25-27 in Kansas City, Mo. It will bring together the most profound thought leaders in rural philanthropy and government, including U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and U.S. Census Director Robert Groves, to address some of the most pressing issues facing rural philanthropy. There will be three tracks of focus:
It is our goal that this conference will allow for the sharing of ideas and development of innovation, and provide the tools philanthropic leaders need to return to their rural communities and build upon the success stories already taking place. Philanthropy simply has no more time to waste when it comes to rural America.