Rural Philanthropy

Hundreds of miles from urban centers like Memphis, Atlanta, and New Orleans, the five counties served by the Community Foundation of East Mississippi are a textbook definition of “rural.” Cotton was king here years ago, but ever since it left—along with a good deal of the manufacturing industry—many of our region’s 157,000 residents have been trapped in what some experts refer to as “cycles of dependency.” That is why we have been asking our local elected officials to support the Rural Philanthropy Growth Act (RPGA). It’s also why I am attending the Center for Community Foundation Excellence’s (CCFE) Public Policy for Community Foundations seminar this week in Jackson, Miss.

A few years ago, a Guatemalan organization called the Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez (AFEDES), an International Development Exchange (IDEX) grant partner since 2005, discovered something troubling: Its programs were not making much of an impact.

On Thursday, the Council held its fourth monthly Twitter Chat - or #PhilChat - in partnership with the Chronicle of Philanthropy to pose the question: Is Philanthropy Succeeding in Rural America? With more than 30 active participants and 300 tweets, it proved to be one of most successful #PhilChats to date. Not just quantitatively, but in the number of important takeaways for the sector.