Giving Compass' Take:

• This research brief from the Community Strategies Group and Housing Assistance Council at the Aspen Institute surveys rural practitioners to discover the gaps and opportunities for organizations.

• How can this research help inform donors of where to direct rural charitable giving efforts? 

• Learn more about rural funders and philanthropy.

Every day, organizations are working hard to improve the economy and livelihoods of residents in rural and tribal communities in the United States. From affordable housing to small business development and community building, these rural serving organizations are essential; they meet immediate needs while keeping long-term goals on the horizon. This brief’s findings reinforce insights rural practitioners know well: the wide array of rural serving organizations are mostly small, often under-resourced and work in relative isolation from similar organizations. Small but mighty, they work in concert with local people, firms and governments to fill gaps and adapt to do whatever it is communities need done. With the COVID-19-imposed health and related economic crises, these very same rural serving organizations are again on the front lines as they strive to meet immediate needs and to ensure long-term recovery.

This information is essential to craft effective policies, make smart investments that are responsive to the-ground needs, and provide the right kind of support to organizations working to deliver positive results in rural and tribal communities. In order to make more visible the work of rural and tribal-serving organizations, the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group (CSG) conducted a survey to provide more information on the focus, size, expertise and needs of rural-serving organizations. Our aim in collecting and sharing this information is to catalyze ideas, programming, policy and investments that respond to practitioner needs and advance rural prosperity.

Key Findings:

  1. Most rural organizations are small, multi-faceted and mighty.
  2. Peer networks, staff, board members and local relationships take precedence.
  3. Public policy and communications capacity are in relatively short supply.
  4. The pandemic and related economic crisis just made systemic challenges a lot worse.

Read the full PDF about rural practitioners at the Aspen Institute.