Taking a Look Back- Rural Philanthropy in the 2000’s

Sunflower, Tree, Fall Leaves, Tree-lined path

A Legacy Rural Philanthropic Guide


The Rural Philanthropic Analysis Project wanted to take the time to recognize some of the contributions to the field that preceded our work, understanding that there have been many dedicated to this field long before the recent increased interest.  The report was published in 2005 in the then new movements of rural communities taking philanthropy into their own hands.

The following were key to this important legacy document:

Authors: Alan McGregor and Bethany Chaney

Contributors: Katharine Pearson Criss, Peter Pennekamp, Carla Roberts, Jane Stevenson, Janet Topolsky, Debby Warren, and  Jeff Yost


Here are some highlights of those who have been in the trenches and creating effective change:

Individual Foundations:

-The Nebraska Community Foundation pioneered the Intergenerational Transfer of Wealth Tool that estimates the amount of wealth that will transfer between generations.

-The Humboldt Area Foundation (HAF) created Prosperity, a new context for dialogue, cooperation, and accountability to the community.

-The James Irvine Foundation’s estimated $10 million Community Foundations Initiative II (CFI II) targeted emerging community foundations located in rural parts of the state.

-The Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation introduces social-change objectives into rural community-based non-profits.


Collaborative Efforts:

-The Southeastern Council of Foundations and the Foundation for the Mid South jointly developed The Philanthropy Index, which helps identify community assets.

Overhead view of a car on a road-The Rural Development Philanthropy Learning Network, a peer-learning and exchange network, was coordinated by the Aspen Institute’s Community Strategies Group.

-The W.K. Kellogg Foundation created an initiative to build community foundations across Michigan and an initiative of the Lilly Endowment to grow community foundations across Indiana.

Rasmuson Foundation gave $50,000 to the Homer Foundation and committed a five-year $400,000 capacity-building grant to the Alaska Community Foundation.

-The PARTNERS program, funded by the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gave $19 million to ARCF(Arkansas Community Foundation).

-The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation created a $2.5 million endowment fund at ARCF.


This is by no means an exhaustive list of the many foundations, organizations, leaders, and communities that are involved with impactful rural philanthropy. However, these are some notable stories that have been influential and the RPA team felt it was important to shine a light on the hard work that has already been dedicated to this field.


The Power of Rural Philanthropy Report