Founder's Club is idea that's gaining ground

Friday, October 21, 2005

Soon after forming in 2001, directors of the McCook Community Foundation began looking for ways to generate funds for the organization. They could have tried to woo major, million-dollar donations, as many foundations have done, but instead the directors decided to make McCook's foundation truly community in nature, with contribution levels within reach of people throughout the community.

The concept they came up with -- the Founders Club -- proved to be just the right fit for the community and the foundation. The directors' successful strategy was to set a Founder's level, $1,000, which was within the reach of all who are devoted to McCook and wish to help the community go forward into the future.

To make it possible for as many community supporters as possible to become Founders, the directors set up convenient ways to make the $1,000 contributions.

Individuals, families and businesses can either make one contribution of $1,000, of if they choose, they may spread the $1,000 payment over a three-year period. For added convenience, some donors are choosing to have their $1,000 contribution automatically withdrawn from their bank accounts over a three-year period at the rate of $27.75 per month.

The important thing, in the directors' view, is that anyone with a desire to support community causes can do so. The strategy, so simple in structure, has attracted widespread support and is being copied by communities throughout the state.

To date, the McCook Community Foundation has attracted 53 Founders, with gifts coming from near and far. Since starting from scratch in 2001, the McCook foundation has now surpassed $100,000 in assets, and has compiled an outstanding record of helping small- to medium-sized community projects in the McCook area.

The McCook Founders Club has also received statewide recognition, winning the Endowment Award from the Nebraska Community Foundation. Not only that, but Jana Jensen, the state foundation's western representative, says communities throughout the state are copying the idea, using it as a funding source for their foundations.

It is a feather in McCook's hat that the idea started here. But, even more important, is the fact that so many in the community have stepped forward to express their faith in the community's future with their Founder's contributions.

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