Bringing Hyper-Philanthropy™ to Rural America

THG has practiced regularly in rural America. Although when we think about philanthropy, we may not imagine this part of the country, having grown up in a town in western Nebraska, I’ve observed the unique role philanthropy plays to support this lifestyle. The United States Department of Agriculture defines a rural community as being open countryside with only a few thousand residents. As with other parts of the country, rural America has been hit hard by inflation and the price of fuel, however the migration trend to these parts of our country indicate cost-of-living being the highest consideration toward relocation.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers, who has its finger on the pulse of workforce development around the country, recently cited this trend in their January 2022 article, stating, “Americans are moving to rural areas in ever-increasing numbers, reflecting their increased desire to seek out more space, embrace entrepreneurial opportunities, and take advantage of a lower cost of living”.

As we continue to observe more individuals moving to and contributing to these communities, here are some tips we’ve found help when applying our Hyper-Philanthropy methodology:

  • Communication: In rural philanthropy, to be honest, there is still less dependency, even post-COVID, on virtual platforms like Zoom. To be successful, these platforms have to be supported by in-person, face-to-face contact in managing your campaign. That can be inconvenient sometimes, but it is necessary because of a tradition of gathering for community. Likewise, information is still disseminated in rural communities through word of mouth as much as the Internet, so you have to be very precise when it comes to volunteer messaging.
  • Behavioral Economics: Growing up in a rural community and working in communities where the hospital serves a radius of over 70 miles, it is rare for anyone in the community to demonstrate wealth or speak of wealth. It simply doesn’t seem to go with the rural value set. There is a common refrain that “nobody’s wealthy.” That said, you would be making a poor assumption if you assumed no one in small towns had money. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in America, contributing 5% of our GDP, and often – although they don’t speak of it – people in the industry are very generous. The other thing to consider is ways of giving. We have multiple clients who’ve included gifts of grain, ranch land, or livestock. Although complex in managing these types of gifts, they can be very significant. You just have to be creative and appreciate the behavioral economics that govern rural philanthropy. THG’s feasibility interview process naturally allows us to uncover these behavioral nuances.
  • Culture: There are numerous foundations and governmental entities that specialize in investing in rural communities. There is a culture among these outside funders that respects the rural way of life and wants to seek ways to enhance it; you just have to find them. That’s where THG can help.

Ultimately, one must realize that philanthropy is primarily driven by individuals, as evidenced in the 2021 Giving USA report referenced below, and individuals come from all walks of life.

Contact us today to see how we can help you get hyper about philanthropy.