WASHINGTON, June 27, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Donors rarely think of Kentucky's Coal Country as places for their charitable giving. But this region is on the forefront of an important economic transition that presents a unique opportunity for those looking to make lasting impact with their philanthropic dollars.
The community was once largely isolated, but globalization has opened them to more people and more economic development. If philanthropists and grantmakers adopt the right strategies, they can have a tremendous impact in the area and beyond.
Change requires focus on wealth-building
"As the South Grows: Strong Roots," a new report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP; www.ncrp.org) and Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP; www.nfg.org/gsp), explores why it's important for donors to build lasting wealth among the South's marginalized populations.
It features six community leaders from the South who are working to revitalize local economies in ways that are inclusive and equitable for local residents in Kentucky Coal Country and the Lowcountry of South Carolina, including representatives of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.
"With increased philanthropic engagement to capitalize on assets that already exist and build assets where they are needed, Southern communities can successfully transition to new economies built around equity and inclusion," report authors Ryan Schlegel and Stephanie Peng write.
Untapped potential for donors
The report argues that grantmarkers' investments in Coal Country can be transformative if they support community-controlled economic development that builds locally grown and owned wealth, while also protecting the regions' culture and heritage.
However, Coal Country and the Lowcountry receive just $43 per capita from grantmakers, compared to the U.S. average of $451 per capita.
"If funders are interested in Appalachia, the South, then make a commitment that's longer than two or three years," said Gerry Roll, executive director of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky and one of the voices featured in the report. "Make it 10 years, and don't throw money at the problems, but participate in the network of folks interested in this place. It's not pretty or sexy; it's a slog."
Four tips for donors
Schlegel and Peng interviewed community leaders, nonprofits and grantmakers about their experiences with philanthropy in Coal Country and throughout the South.
As a result of these conversations, they developed four key recommendations for grantmakers prepared to invest wealth-building in the region:
- Learn about the harm done to Southern communities and how Southerners have been excluded and exploited.
- Adopt a positive narrative focused on the connections between the South, the national economy and a prosperous future.
- Explore how inclusive economic development in Southern communities can have lasting change.
- Commit to long-term, flexible investments of capital, time and capacity.
"Many philanthropists choose not to invest in Southern communities or choose short-term opportunities that undermine the long-term capacity of Southern nonprofits," wrote LaTosha Brown, project director of GSP, and Aaron Dorfman, president and CEO of NCRP, in the foreword to the As the South Grows series. "Other funders invest in what they think is 'safer' direct service work. While aid to those in need is undoubtedly critical, only investments in systemic change can achieve widespread, deep impact in the region."
The South is an untapped opportunity for philanthropists who want to touch lives, strengthen communities and leave a positive and lasting mark with their giving.
"As the South Grows: Strong Roots" offers practical tips and resources, including a list of Do's and Don'ts, that will help grantmakers and donors do just that. The report, as well as the first in the series, "As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil," is available on www.ncrp.org. The third report will be released in the fall.
The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy amplifies the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in the philanthropic sector. Through research and advocacy, it works to ensure that grantmakers and donors contribute to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world.
Grantmakers for Southern Progress is a network of southern and national funders who are committed to fostering thriving communities in the American South, characterized in part by racial and gender equity.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/donors-need-to-help-build-wealth-among-the-poor-underserved-in-kentucky-coal-country-300479947.html
SOURCE National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy