Phelps County Community Foundationphoto by Kristine Jacobson

Growing community, helping charities, working together

This fall in Phelps County, a new entrance is being constructed at a nursing home, a new concession stand and multi-purpose practice facility will be built at the high school and hungry children are being fed through a weekend backpack food program.

These projects were partially made possible through the 2015 Phelps County Community Foundation’s give2Grow event that encouraged donors to give on one specific day to more than 60 charities.

In addition to being the spark that ignites many projects in the county, the giving day event enhances the foundation’s visibility in the community, strengthens its capacity to raise funds, engages new donors and creates unity among the five Phelps County communities,  all while giving local charities a platform to share their stories.

Foundation’s public image

“The giving day has heightened awareness of what we do with more people,” said PCCF Director Vickie Klein. “They see all the non-profits listed and they realize the foundation is the vehicle that made this happen. They make that correlation.”

The local success mirrors what other foundations around the country have seen when they organize giving days.

According to a recent study by the Knight Foundation, “giving days offer a powerful tool to drive community philanthropy. When organizers purposefully align the campaigns with their missions, giving days have helped to strengthen the community foundations that organize them.”

In Phelps County, PCCF has invested $400,000 in give2Grow during the past four years, which has resulted in $2.3 million being distributed to local charities.

Donors are motivated to give during give2Grow by the joy of giving to their favorite charities but also by the foundation’s pool of matching funds that boost donors’ gifts even higher.

New donors

Total give2Grow donations in 2015 were $688,336, which was slightly down from 2014. But Klein said she was still thrilled with the results because the foundation engaged 853 donors, which was 200 more than in previous campaigns.

And, the 2015 event was comprised of smaller gifts, with an equal amount of $1,000 and above gifts as compared to $1,000 and below gifts.

“If someone says $10 doesn’t make a difference, it does,” Klein said.

Whether the gift is $1,000 or $10, the donor then feels like they are part of the success story.

The foundation continues to engage with those donors throughout the year. Klein gave an example of one donor who became a monthly donor to a local charity after giving during give2Grow.

Platform for charities

As part of give2Grow, charities involved are given a website page to share their mission, accomplishments and future goals. The event drives potential donors to the site where they can read the stories of all the charities. It becomes an information hub to match local charities with potential donors.

The charities are encouraged to promote the give2Grow event to their friends and donors through mailings, emails and other communications that encourage them to visit the website, thus exposing all the charities to more people.

This give2Grow platform has been extremely beneficial to some local charities, such as the Christian Charity Fund, Klein said.

“It’s the kind of work that’s down in the trenches, meeting basic human needs,” Klein said.

Thanks to give2Grow, the Christian Charity Fund now has a broader base of donors who give throughout the year to help local residents in need of help with food, utility bills and other basic necessities to get through the day.

Another local group was encouraged to obtain a 501c3 status because of give2Grow.

Bringing the county together

In Phelps County, the charities in Holdrege, Funk, Loomis, Bertrand and Atlanta are all part of Give2Grow. While each town hosts their own unique special events throughout the year, give2Grow is one of the few events that unites the entire county through one cause.

“It’s given them a sense of belonging as a county,” Klein said. “They can say ‘look what we did together.’”

This outcome was evident to many as expressed by members of the foundation’s ACORN giving group in a recent survey, “give2Grow has helped to unify Phelps County, giving a bright future to groups, organizations and those they serve.”

The 2016 Give2Grow is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 17. To view information about this year’s event, please visit

Klein is especially excited for this year’s event as the foundation is just getting settled into its new location at 424 Garfield. With a larger, more comfortable space, Klein is looking forward to engaging donors and volunteers face to face as they relax in the new space.

Phelps County Community Foundation
424 Garfield  Street
Holdrege, NE 68949
(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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