As populations shift, government resources turn to other initiatives, and economies continually change, many rural places in Appalachian Ohio are challenged with sustaining their communities. One of the positive trends in rural Appalachian Ohio is growing philanthropy for long term sustainability in the community. Building community-based philanthropy can organize a community around its assets and connect long-term vision to concrete action. While community-based philanthropy is only one component of social and economic sustainability, it can create positive community dialogue toward a common vision of the future. In addition, established community foundations can play a visible role in charitable giving.
For many rural communities, giving has been there for a long time. Rural communities have contributed hours of service and volunteering to help others in need. Now rural communities are being recognized for their giving and contributions by individuals. Many people may say one person or one act of giving does not make a difference. Giving by individuals, or the “power of one,” is not a unique phenomenon to rural communities.
The majority of philanthropic giving, about 80%, comes from individuals. Another trend in philanthropic giving that may also surprise some people is who gives. According to Ohio Gives, 68% of individual contributors had an income level of $50K-$200K. It is not just wealthy individuals who give.
A model recently noted for the power of one is the Guernsey County Foundation. In December 2004, the Guernsey County Foundation partnered with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. The Guernsey County Foundation began with one fund of $100,000. Fast forward to 2014, ten years later the Guernsey County Foundation has grown from one to 32 individual funds totaling more than $4.3 million serving the rural community.
In Guernsey County, the community-based philanthropy is helping to foster social and economic sustainability and community dialogue toward a common vision of the future.
(Submitted by Cindy Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA)