A group from the Nebraska Community Foundation stopped in Manchester last week for a peer learning day with officials from the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD) and the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County (FFDC).

Meeting at the Gathering Place Sept. 6, the day included presentations by the Nebraska contingent as well as from CFGD officials. In the afternoon, tours to area counties and towns showcased successful projects supported by the CFGD and the FFDC.

One focus of the meeting was to share success stories of endowments created by small communities.

Denise Garey, an affiliated fund development coordinator with the Nebraska Community Foundation, said her group wanted to visit with officials with the CFGD. “These folks are legends in the community foundation world, especially in the rural arena,” Garey said. “The Nebraska Community Foundation is definitely a leader in the building of unrestricted endowments. This meeting is a joining of forces because we both have different strengths.”

FFDC board member Jerry Burke said the meeting was an opportunity to learn from each other. “It’s a great learning opportunity. When you get into the foundation work, there’s a lot of different areas someone might not be familiar with. It’s a chance to see what other states do and how they get people committed to endowments and how they work in their communities to make things happen.”

Garey said the Nebraska group included representatives from five communities working on building unrestricted endowments. “Each community is working on raising $500,000, with a promise of a $250,000 match. Two of those communities are under 600 people and one of them already has met their goal.”

MJ Smith, director of affiliate foundations at the CFGD, said that success is something the Iowa foundation can learn from. “Delaware County has 11 towns in it and many of them are small. We expect to take this learning and put it to use right away.”

The afternoon visits included stops showcasing childcare, energy districts, grade-level reading programs, scenic byway art projects and brain health.

Smith said the success of the CFGD can be traced back to the generosity of people. “We live in a region where people do live generously. They share their time volunteering, and in our particular model, they share their treasure.”

“Getting to Manchester and then going on the different afternoon field trips is super valuable for us,” Garey said. “We are really grateful for the hospitality we’ve been shown in Manchester. This allows us to work together to provide some opportunities to add to our tool kit. The goal today was to open eyes and see things through different lenses. This is an organization that will help us grow. We hope we can inspire them.”