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No Surprises, Rural Philanthropy Still Lags Behind
Source: The Nonprofit Quarterly  ·  February 22, 2011  ·  Excerpt

The failure of foundations to put much grant money into rural nonprofits is historic and persistent. Despite frequent promises to the contrary, foundations haven’t done much to narrow the disproportional gap between urban and rural groups’ access to foundation dollars. The toll is increasingly evident in the rural nonprofits across the country that struggle to stay afloat every day.

In Monroe County, Georgia a community health center serving rural communities is closing. As the director of the clinic noted, all too typical of rural areas that lose a crucial service, “Unfortunately, there is not another rural health center or clinic in the county. Most will find that they will have to seek out this type of health care outside of their own county.” The money to stay open simply isn’t there.

In Mississippi, the state is contemplating closing mental health facilities that serve rural areas due to a lack of funding. A patient who had received help for her bipolar disorder echoed the Monroe County sentiment: “closing facilities would leave a lot of people with no place to go.”

In Nelson County, Virginia, the tiny Rural Nelson has been struggling to continue its service of providing community education and information about governmental services. Individual donations have been the key to keeping this civic service alive, but they’re hard to come by.

How are foundations responding to the challenges that rural nonprofits face in dealing with these and other rural issues?

Our take
Is there a distinct urban focus to the philanthropic efforts in your community? If so, as the above article illustrates, there may be a tremendous opportunity in serving neglected rural areas in your region. Foundations and grantmakers may need to be informed of this deficit in giving, and your organization can play a part in the education process.

Contact us now for help answering these questions and more:

  • How is foundation giving distributed in my region? Is there a disproportionate focus on urban areas?
  • What can my organization do to identify and capitalize on these opportunities?


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