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Imagining the future of rural philanthropy

Attendees at the COF rural philanthropy gathering pose with a Love Rural bandanna.

sprig by Posted in Blandin Foundation, Vibrant Rural

If you know what it feels like to step into a buzzing small town cafe, bursting with happy chatter and hugs, then you have a taste of what it was like to attend the rural philanthropy gathering at this year’s Council on Foundation’s (COF) annual conference. Coming together like long-lost friends, nearly 30 philanthropic professionals from rural places across the nation met to begin imagining what rural’s future could look like a year, five years, ten years from now.

It was important to carve out a space and time to get to know one another and share our passion for rural America. We have a lot to learn from each other as we strive to strengthen rural philanthropy. To do that, we need to talk, we need to form relationships. Sometimes, though, our rural voices get lost in bigger, national conversations.

Well, rural voices rang loud and proud here.

While sitting in circle, attendees shared what they felt were exciting opportunities, as well as future challenges, for rural. There was an unmistakable energy to explore how we can do things together that we can’t do alone.

What’s the best way to connect and learn from one another? How can we better support the work each other is already doing? How can we ensure rural perspectives are at the philanthropic table?

These questions will fuel our exploration into the ways we can raise up rural philanthropy — in the communities we serve and before partners who are interested, but not yet plugged-into rural work.

To deepen the relationships forged at COF, and encourage new ones, Blandin Foundation will be hosting a reception on Thursday, September 8 before the National Rural Assembly. We invite all foundations serving rural areas to attend and stay for the panel the next day on Closing the Philanthropic Gap. If you are not able to attend in person, the Daily Yonder will be live streaming the event.


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