P O S T E D B Y M O U S E
We welcome this post from guest blogger Mouse on the vicissitudes of rural philanthropy. Mouse is an animal lover who lives in rural Northern California. Check out her new blog, Northern California Muse. If you’re interested in being a guest contributor to White Courtesy Telephone, contact us by writing to courtesy_telephone (at) yahoo.com.
I just read an interesting article on the difficulties facing rural nonprofits when it comes to securing grant money. I think they read my mind and felt my frustration.
There are no large corporations funding nonprofits in our rural location. We don’t have any large corporations. Our largest companies are the local non-chain grocery store and hardware store.
There are no large foundations in our rural location. There are no foundations either. We are so rural most foundations can not find us on a map. During a discussion with a potential foundation about a site visit there was a long pause when I mentioned the three-hour-plus drive down a windy two-lane road. That road makes it difficult to develop a “meaningful” relationship. We are a great vacation spot and I have even offered a room in a local bed & breakfast; no one has accepted yet.
Those with the money in the urban environment do not grasp our world or some of our problems. I mentioned to one foundation that we had a problem in a location far from our center, and gas money for volunteers was crucial. She apparently had a vision of ten miles or less round-trip; I was thinking fifty miles one way. My grocery store is ten miles away.
I want to laugh when someone asks about excessive employee benefits or high salaries. What are benefits? Do employees get benefits? Not here! A benefit is that they have a job. As for those high salaries: some of the foundation heads make more than our entire payroll.
One of the suggestions in the article I read was to establish a local nonprofit group. That won’t happen. The 50 local charities are trying very hard to grab every $1 donation; we could never sit in a room together and share information. We are jealous if another nonprofit gets to put its donation can beside the busiest cash register at the grocery store. Competition is rough here.
One foundation requires a professional site video. I did not know how to explain that I could borrow a camera or hire the local television station; but we did not have anything in-between. The professional videographer moved out of town.
Now that I know the problem, I do not know what to do with the information.