Our small foundation is among the few private funders in our rural area of Northeastern Colorado. We look for ways to make the most of our dollars, relationships and knowledge to serve our community. For example, we support local economic development directly by giving grants to and partnering with our local economic development agency. And we participate in several communitywide collaborations. We try to make every dollar go a long way.

These are among our most successful and popular projects and partnerships:

Business improvement projects: We offer local businesses 75% of the costs for signage and 90% for façade improvements, with the business covering the remaining cost. Applications are accepted and approved through our County Economic Development Office.

Support to local businesses for winter utility costs: For three months, we made COVID-related grants for this program, also through our County Economic Development Office, of $30,000, $30,000, and $11,000; during the last month, another local business joined in contributing. Large businesses could apply for $1,000, while small businesses could apply for $500, with size based on number of employees.

Annual Pay-It-Forward Program: Businesses can apply for utility credit assistance in return for a small donation or item to be raffled through ticket sales. We made about $25,000 available, with $1,000 for large businesses and $500 for small businesses. Over 40 businesses have participated. Raffle proceeds are divided between local schools and nonprofit organizations within our county, to be used as grantees desire.

Read the full article about philanthropy in rural communities by Kimberly Orth at Exponent Philanthropy