The rate of poverty is significantly higher in rural America than it is in urban America. According to the most recent data from the federal government, in 2018 the poverty rate in metropolitan areas was 12.6 percent, while the poverty rate in nonmetropolitan areas was 16.1 percent.

Given this disparity, you would think that philanthropists would be pouring money into rural areas. But according to a US government study of more than 1,200 of the largest US foundations, “the average real value of grants from large foundations to organizations based in nonmetro counties from 2005 to 2010 was about $88 per capita (in 2010 dollars), less than half the average ($192 per capita) given to organizations in metro counties.”

Philanthropists aren’t the only ones ignoring rural areas. The government and business are also guilty. Think about the digital divide. But unlike the public and private sectors, philanthropy has the ability to change where and how it invests quickly, if it chooses to do so.

Read the full article about the urban-rural divide by Eric Nee at Stanford Social Innovation Review.