steveNow Is The Time for Rural America to Act

By: Steve Gunderson In: 2011 Rural Conference| Public Policy| Rural Philanthropy

7 Jul 2011

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:

  • Expand philanthropy’s partnership with the federal government into rural America by calling for the passage of the Rural Philanthropy Growth Act and working with the White House Rural Council to promote philanthropy
  • Provide legal, management, and other advice needed to create one or more community foundations in every rural county in America
  • Reach out to lawyers in rural America who handle estate planning and property transfers
  • Recruit advocates, including local chambers of commerce, civic associations, and individual community leaders, to promote the value of philanthropy throughout rural America

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:

  • Creating and Capturing Philanthropic Resources in Rural Communities
  • Public Policy’s Role in Rural America’s Future
  • Philanthropy’s Role in Building a New Rural Economy

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.

2 Responses to Now Is The Time for Rural America to Act

Kevin Walker

July 8th, 2011 at 9:21 am

Steve, thanks for this call to awareness and action. I couldn’t agree more. As co-chair of the 2011 Rural Conference (along with Sherece West of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation), I’d like to add my voice to yours in calling for greater attention by our field to the challenges and opportunities that are alive in rural America. For us at the Northwest Area Foundation, there is simply no separating the fate of rural places from the larger fate of the nation. See you in Kansas City!

Fenton Insights « Fenton | Progress Accelerated

July 8th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

[...] of wealth in rural America, philanthropies should invest more in rural communities. Here are some methods to achieve this in the near [...]

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