Growing Philanthropic Capacity in Your Community

A number of factors impact the sustainability of rural communities in Eastern Ohio. Some of the factors have a positive impact, and others provide a challenge. A challenge can lead to what we call at Ohio State University Extension-Community Development a teachable moment. Most recently, federal, state and county budgets have been tightened or money has been directed to different initiatives. This has become a teachable moment for OSU Extension-Community Development to grow philanthropic capacity in the community.

Raising Money

How did we do that and what does that mean for you? Two words come to mind….Capital Campaign. A capital campaign is an intense effort to raise significant dollars in a designated period of time for a one-time need, usually a structure or building. OSU Extension-Community Development has worked with the YMCA and Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center (SEORMC) in Guernsey County to advance their capital campaigns. These two campaigns will provide two new structures and buildings in the community.

The YMCA will have an additional 3,400 square feet of program space. The additional space makes it possible for 1,000 new members and 15 new classes for almost any age group from 2 years old through senior age adults. The SEORMC capital campaign will build a cancer center. The goal of the hospital is not just a cancer building but also supportive programs for those in treatment. These are two of several philanthropic initiatives in the community that will affect many individuals and families and contribute to the quality of life in the community.

If you are interested in building philanthropic capacity in your community, please contact OSU Extension-Community Development.

Cindy BondCindy Bond is an assistant professor and educator, community development (CD),  OSU Extension-Guernsey County.



I recently was asked to facilitate focus groups for a social service agency as a beginning step in their strategic planning process. Focus groups are very familiar to me, but most of the participants of these groups were not familiar with the purpose of focus groups or how they may be beneficial to them or the agency. Some of their questions may also help you when deciding how to gather information.

What is a focus group?

WhatA focus group is in essence a group interview based on a set of questions or discussion points. It is qualitative research designed to explore people’s opinions and attitudes. Focus groups ask open-ended questions and avoid questions that can be answered with yes or no answers. A typical focus group may consist of 6-8 people. A number of focus groups are usually conducted to get an ideal mix of information. Focus groups typically last 1-3 hours.

Why focus groups?

WhyFocus groups tend to take place with a small sample size in an interactive group setting. They create a way to encourage participants to share ideas and express opinions and attitudes and are an effective way to facilitate open discussions and allow participants to express themselves deeper than a less personal survey, and dive deeper into certain issues.

Who participates in focus groups?

WhoThe participants selected must be able to answer the questions and must be familiar with the topic discussed. Participants are selected based on criteria relevant to the organization/concept including existing or potential customers.

If you are interested in conducting focus groups, please contact me at

Cindy BondCindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and Extension Educator (Guernsey County).


Join, Get Involved, Enhance Your Network, Broaden Knowledge and Give Back . . .

As an OSU Extension professional, it is the time of year that we receive invitations to join or renew membership in professional organizations. I have been a member of one of those organizations, Epsilon Sigma Phi (ESP) for many years. For me, getting more involved in ESP meant that I was selected to present an IGNITE session at the 2016 National ESP meeting. This year my involvement in ESP included participating in the National Meeting as the Ohio ESP President Elect and an Ohio voting delegate.

The ESP National Meeting gave me numerous opportunities to enhance my network and broaden my knowledge. The event offered tours to learn about the local economy and special areas of interest as well as educational sessions for professional development. In addition to increasing my knowledge of local development and change, meeting new colleagues with similar interests from other states was a key benefit. From West Virginia to Maryland to California, the new professionals I have met provide a new and different perspective to my work. As new colleagues, we have maintained ties through social media and have even had fun participating in football tailgating.

This year, the ESP National Meeting initiated a mentoring program as a way for seasoned professionals to give back to the organization. Mentoring provided a means to share ideas and ask for advice. Other avenues for contributing to the profession include joining or leading a committee at the state, regional or national level. As over half of the participants at the ESP National Meeting were also serving as voting delegates for their states, giving back to the organization was clearly a priority for many of the attendees.

Whether you are looking to learn about current events and initiatives, network in a professional community or make the most of meeting new people, joining ESP is a step in accomplishing this.

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Guernsey County (Crossroads EERA).

Conveying a Tradition of Philanthropy

“Service is the rent we pay for living.” -Marian Wright Edelman, 1993

Traditions – every person and every family has them. Most of us think of a tradition as something that we do during the holidays or special events. What if one of those traditions was philanthropy? What if philanthropy was something that not only occurred with families during a holiday but also was a part of our lifestyle? As adults, we can teach the children in our lives a tradition that will become a part of their lifestyle and a part of their value system.

There are a variety of ways to teach children to respect the needs of others and do kind things. Children need to know that it is important to give of ourselves to others. As adults, we can teach philanthropy every time we talk to children and by demonstrating compassionate behavior through giving. We can demonstrate how to give our time, talent, or treasure.

How can adults be philanthropic role models for children? One way is through volunteering one’s service in a community. Volunteering or providing a service is one of the best ways an adult can be a role model for lifelong philanthropic giving.

Character and self-esteem are enhanced when children are engaged in volunteering. Many times when children volunteer they acquire new skills, develop confidence and maturity. Helping others helps children put their own problems in perspective. Children also meet people from other backgrounds and learn teamwork and civic responsibility. Research shows that youth who volunteer early in life learn that service or philanthropic giving is a part of their lifestyle.

Remember philanthropic traditions do not have to be elaborate. Volunteering with young children can be singing at a nursing home or as simple as putting spoons in a container at a soup kitchen. It is the basic idea of seeing philanthropic giving as a tradition that adults are teaching children.

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator in Guernsey County (Crossroads EERA).

Incentivizing, Rewarding, and Celebrating Accomplishments

Research says 80% of organizations think rewarding employees is important. However, the number one difficulty in doing so comes down to money. And not in the way you might think. More challenging than the seemingly short supply of financial resources to compensate employees is actually assigning a price or value to an employee’s work or production. In short, it is a real struggle to quantify in dollars a compensation that truly represents actual employee value.



When it comes to rewarding performance, there are three key factors: money, priority, and culture.

  1. Money… as we all know, it can be quickly spent and any short-term motivating effects forgotten.
  2. Other rewards or incentives… whether an organization is working with volunteers or paid employees, these are typically low organizational priorities.
  3. Culture… many organizations believe that people are simply expected to do their jobs and do them well.

A performance reward system that leads to strife and division is not a good system. What are the best practices for incentivizing and rewarding employees and volunteers? According to the research, use of non-monetary incentives has lasting power and the highest impact. Consider, for example, the non-monetary tangible variety (such as gift cards) or the non-monetary intangible variety (such as volunteer of the month with a special parking spot by the door).

Where might you start? One of the first things you can do is identify what sorts of behaviors, practices and performance you want to reinforce. Then, focus on learning what motivates people in your organization. Maybe collaborating with others on a project or achieving a lofty goal are the behaviors you want to reinforce. Or perhaps, you want to encourage long-term volunteer service?  Each of these are recognized and celebrated in different ways. Whatever method is ultimately chosen, consistency and fairness are the keys to a successful and results-driven reward.

How can you get creative in reinforcing the most desirable behaviors and performance in your organization?

For further reading:  Systematic Inventive Thinking, April 2013. How Companies Incentivize Innovation

Cindy Bond is an Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator (Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA).

When New Energy Development Comes to Town

Energy Education 2016-04-28What communities in Ohio feel the most significant impact of new energy development? Rural communities with relatively low population density and little economic and social diversification experience the most significant effect according to research. Such communities are exposed to the long-term economic fluctuations experienced by natural resource dependent economies. They cannot easily absorb change and the development that has been associated with challenges related to social and family services, agriculture and land issues, and community infrastructure. How can we help? We can focus on increasing community capacity and enhancing education and training.

How is Extension part of Energy Education?

The decision-making phase of energy development can involve conflict and misinformation. Extension professionals in Ohio have provided research-based information to allow stakeholders and landowners to make informed decisions. Many times controversies centered on energy development are emotionally charged and often influenced as much by values, beliefs and social interaction as by dollars. By combining Extension’s wide expertise into one program, all types of stakeholders can be more effectively engaged.

How do Extension professionals work collaboratively?Energy Education #2 2016-04-28

OSU Extension has the ability to provide multi-disciplinary programming to inform landowners, stakeholders and interested community members about the social dimensions, economic issues and landowner issues associated with sudden energy development. The key to such efforts: working with stakeholders to design audience-specific programs. Multiple engagement methods are used as well as the formation of energy committees specific to certain topics to facilitate co-discovery efforts.

More information about Extension program areas working jointly on a common topic is available by contacting

(Submitted by Cynthia Bond, Assistant Professor and Extension Educator – Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA)

Sustainable Tourism in Rural Communities — After the Energy Boom

What do we know about tourism in rural communities?

In many rural communities, tourism is a major sector of economic activity. It is in a strategic position to make a positive contribution to the sustainable development of rural communities and serve as a successful community development model. But how do we get at that benefit?

How can tourism progress in a sustainable way as a tool of development?

This question may seem to have an easy answer but can be challenging to resolve. This is especially apparent in Eastern Ohio. A recent influx of energy development in Eastern Appalachian Ohio has increased occupancy of hotels. In addition to the 95% occupancy rate, developers have built new hotels. This creates another question, how to maintain and sustain the tourism industry in rural Ohio?

Bed TaxA case study was conducted of a county in Eastern Appalachian Ohio with a population of 42,000. In this community where 13 hotels are located, five have been built in the past three years. With the increased capacity and occupancy of hotels has come an increase in the bed tax. This year a decline has begun in the bed tax due in large part to the reduction in energy exploration.


What is this community doing to sustain tourism now that there is a drop in revenue?

  1. Developed a long term plan for sustainability
  2. Prioritized and narrowed focus of two achievable goals
  3. Developed steps with an action plan to achieve the goals

If you would like more information about this or other related research, please contact Cynthia Bond at

(Submitted by Cynthia Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA)

Resilience in Rural Communities

The places we call home are continuously challenged with wide-ranging issues.  The effects of such issues can oftentimes be greater on rural communities in particular than their suburban or urban neighbors. One approach to mitigate these effects involves building resiliency. Resilience refers to the capacity of an individual or community to cope with stress and adapt positively to change. It is a positive approach to promote greater well-being in rural communities.

Building a resilient community can serve as a protective factor from developing problems. Rural resiliency can also help communities when unforeseen factors occur such as floods, drought, mud slides or large company shut downs.

Resilient Communities 2015-06-18Community resilience is a complex construct with many interrelated factors. One issue impacts and overlaps many things. For example, social, environment and economic issues may seem different, but they all have an impact on each other. Economic issues impact all facets of a community. Infrastructure as a part of an economic issue includes water, transportation, and telecommunications are important tools. These economic issues are important to allow people in the community to carry out daily activities. Infrastructure as a part of rural resiliency is necessary to help the community function and provide support service to many different aspects such as housing and employment. The absence of these services within a community is detrimental to the quality of life of a community and its members.

What can members of a community do to enhance resiliency?

  1.  Know how to access the support and services that are available.
  2.  Collaborate with a wide variety of groups to apply for funding.
  3.  Share resources and facilities collaboratively.
  4.  Anticipate problems and brain storm solutions.
  5.  Identify gaps in infrastructure and support services.
  6.  Develop short term and long term goals.

There are many resources available for communities to enhance rural resiliency. If you have any questions or would like more information contact Cynthia Bond at

(Submitted by Cindy Bond, Assistant Professor and County Extension Educator, Guernsey County & Crossroads EERA)

The Power of One

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.

Power of One 2014-11-20The 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)

New CD Fact Sheets: Written Documents for Community Groups

DocumentsWho hasn’t been part of a group that feels ‘stuck’ or lacking direction? When a group’s purpose isn’t clear and there is little direction for making key decisions, being a part of such efforts can be tough. Save yourself and the groups you work with a lot of muddling later by doing a little homework up front. Check out the newly revised CD fact sheets by Cindy Bond and Joe Heimlich that have been posted to Ohioline:

Visit Ohioline for a complete listing of OSU Extension fact sheets and bulletins.