Community giving thrives through give2Grow

Give2Grow From art to agriculture, recreation to education, the projects and organizations funded by the Phelps County Community Foundation’s give2Grow event reflect the varied interests of a rural Nebraska county.

PCCF, based in Holdrege, Nebraska, started give2Grow, the one-day giving event, in 2012 and raised $454,265 for 41 nonprofits that first year. The next year, donors gave $643,788 to 46 nonprofits. In 2014, 840 donors gave $729,387 to 51 nonprofit organizations or projects in that one day, showing just how generous rural Nebraskans can be.

A new 4-H beef barn, a splash pad for the children of Loomis and bronze art sculpted by a Holdrege native are just a few of the projects made possible through an event that encourages donors to give on a specific day. As extra incentive to give that day, the foundation has matching funds that multiply a donor’s gift. In 2014, the matching pool boosted donations by nearly 24 percent. For example, a $100 gift became a $124 gift.

3 courtesy Preevent_445x640_1 “I can just be proud of our donors in Phelps County for understanding how important this is,” said Vickie Klein, PCCF executive director. “I don’t think we did anything extraordinary to make people want to give. I think they just understood the importance of giving.”

These one-day giving events are becoming more common among community foundations, and PCCF was one of the first to begin the trend. Klein said the foundation spends more than $100,000 hosting this event that gives rural nonprofits a platform to raise money and establish a donor base.

“It’s an investment in our nonprofits, and that’s what we do,” Klein said of PCCF’s mission.

60 nonprofits hoping to benefit in 2015

The 2015 give2Grow event will be Thursday, Nov. 19, and it will help 60 nonprofits with projects ranging from annual support campaigns, a new high school sports pavilion and concession stand, and a bronze sculpture.

The event has the potential to make projects a reality by harnessing the power of giving and helping to promote rural nonprofits usually operating on a shoestring marketing budget. Most have no professional development staff so this event is a huge boost.

4 Funk school 089 Take, for instance, the Christian Charity Fund. The Ministerial Association started the fund in 1998 as a way for churches to collectively help the poor in the community. The fund provides food and clothing or money to help with utility bills, medical expenses, rent or day care costs.

Delores Schneider, who works with the Christian Charity Fund, based at the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Holdrege, said give2Grow is the organization’s main fundraiser outside of donations from churches.

Last year, give2Grow generated more than $25,000 for the fund, making it possible to serve an average of 70 families per month. Prior to give2Grow, the Christian Charity Fund faced tough funding challenges.
“We were always running in the red or saying Christian Charity is closed,” Schneider said.

Giving a boost to small, local nonprofits

It’s a similar story for the Funk School Community Center. When the Funk School closed in 2007, community residents formed a nonprofit organization to keep the building available as a community center. The organization hosts an annual cupcake festival, a chili cook-off and a harvest dinner to build community and raise funds. But with annual utility costs of around $12,000, the give2Grow event has been a big factor in the center’s success.

“It’s been a big boost to us because we are strictly a nonprofit, and we work through fundraisers and donations,” said Mona Peterson, the organization’s president. “The last few years, we garnered about $20,000 (through give2Grow), which keeps us going throughout the year.”

The give2Grow funds will help update bathrooms in the center and have funded new carpet in the community center.

5 4-H Beef barn

Besides operating funds, give2Grow helps organizations pay for special one-time projects. When the Phelps County Agricultural Society saw a need for a new beef barn at the Phelps County Fair, the PCCF facilitated the fundraising to make it happen.

Elaine Redfern, Phelps County Ag Society office manager, said with donor gifts and PCCF matching funds, the project netted $87,711 through the 2013 give2Grow. That money, combined with a PCCF grant, seed money from the Larry Linden memorial funds, and other community grants and donations made it possible to construct the building the following year.

“Give2Grow exceeded our highest expectations of donations,” Redfern said. “Because of the give2Grow program, we could have the structure itself done in one year.”

She specifically recalls a generous $1,500 gift from a former 4-Her, who was still in college at that time.

“I think that there have always been a lot of families involved in 4-H, and they wanted to give back something that they had received through 4-H,” Redfern said.

Funds splashing up fun

In 2014, give2Grow encouraged 60 donors to give $31,871 for a splash park in Loomis, a town of 377 people seven miles west of Holdrege. By the summer of 2015, the splash pad was open for kids in Loomis to enjoy cooling off in the summer heat.

“Give2Grow gave us an opportunity to promote and advertise our project to a very large population of supporters within our community and outside,” said Nicole Hardwick, splash pad volunteer. “Give2Grow is an amazing 24-hour giving day like no other I have ever seen or heard of. The amount of support, no matter how much the donation amount, is beyond words. The matching funds from give2Grow day were beyond any fundraiser we could ever put on.”

Hardwick said Phelps County is fortunate to have PCCF and give2Grow day.

“Because of contributions and donations, the community of Loomis has continued to grow and thrive,” she said.

Creating awareness while encouraging giving

Also in 2014, the Nebraska Prairie Museum raised more than $33,000 (including matching funds) to update the museum’s entry, gift shop and office area to make it more inviting and safer for staff, volunteers and visitors. Museum board member and volunteer Patti Simpson said the museum won the award for having the most donors (133) because they also encouraged museum members to pay their membership donations through the event, further boosting the matching fund potential.

6 courtesy Museum gift shop

“I think give2Grow makes people more aware of what’s going on in the community, and it makes people more aware of the museum,” Simpson said. “I think it’s just wonderful.”

Simpson said in 2015, the museum is hoping the give2Grow event will help raise the estimated $34,800 needed for a veteran’s kiosk, which will recognize all honorably discharged veterans in Phelps County and the surrounding area.

World-class art brought to rural Nebraska

Another project featured in the 2015 give2Grow event also ties in with the Nebraska Prairie Museum. The Citizens for Bronze Art organization is seeking $75,000 for a bronze sculpture called “Harvest Dreams” that would be placed outside the Nebraska Prairie Museum. The sculpture is created by Holdrege native George Lundeen and would be the seventh bronze art in Holdrege and the third one for Citizens of Bronze Art, in conjunction with give2Grow campaigns. “Field of Blue” outside the Phelps County Courthouse and “Joy of Music” inside the lobby of The Tassel Performing Arts Center were also made possible through give2Grow.

7 courtesy IMG_1592

“The generous donations from our donors made these world-class bronze sculptures happen,” said Sheila Tringe, Citizens for Bronze Art committee co-chair. “Donors appreciate the tax-deductible donation and the opportunity to receive the give2Grow match-day option. These bronze projects wouldn’t have been possible without the generous donors, the Phelps County Community Foundation, and the Give2Grow tool.”

Tringe said she hopes these sculptures will eventually bring more money back into Phelps County by encouraging tourists to visit the collection.

Another 2015 give2Grow project is a proposed Duster Pavilion concession stand and indoor practice area at the high school. Volunteers are hoping the final $115,000 needed for the project can be raised through this event.

To find out more about the 2015 give2Grow event, visit PhelpsFoundation.org and click on the give2Grow link where a list of 2015 charities and their projects can be seen. Donations may be given online or may be made by mailing checks, dated November 19, to the foundation prior to the event. Donations can also be dropped off at PCCF, 504 4th Ave., Holdrege, on the day of the event. Also find out more by calling 308-995-6847.


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Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, mom of three, farmer’s wife and unlikely promoter of rural Nebraska. In high school, she was the girl who couldn’t wait to move to the big city and escape her small hometown in rural Nebraska. She pursued her dream and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she earned a degree in journalism. After college, she married her high school sweetheart and a few years later found herself back in her small rural hometown. She now embraces the simplicity of life without crowds and traffic. She’s found great friends and lots of opportunities to make an impact in her small town. When she’s not writing or working for clients in her business (KRJPR), she can be seen on a bleacher somewhere watching her children participate in sports, or she can be found reading a book, biking, walking, camping or enjoying nature, scrapbooking or planning a trip somewhere. Her daughter calls her a “pictionarian,” or one who likes to take pictures, and “trippish,” meaning she likes to travel.

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