Today on Making a Difference, we're exploring the topic of "Capital Flight."
Welcome to Making a Difference Where You Live, a series focusing on how volunteerism and philanthropy meet the needs of communities throughout the Ozarks. During this series, we explore a different topic each quarter, focusing in depth on the people and events making a difference here in the Ozarks.
Today on Making a Difference, we're exploring the topic of "Capital Flight." Support for the series is provided by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
Those who live in large communities are accustomed to having a variety of charitable causes to choose from when deciding who their money should benefit. But smaller communities often don't have that philanthropic infrastructure in place. Because of that, money that's helped a town for years may not always be there.
Capital Flight is a concern of many who call small town America home. But several small towns in Missouri are working to fight it. They're doing so by establishing community foundations so that assets can stay and help support a variety of local causes.
One of those communities is Seymour. Ron Geidd, president of the Greater Seymour area Community Foundation, says it's been very well received and supported as much as it can be in a town with a population of just over 1600
Jan Horton was director of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks when Seymour residents expressed interest in creating a Community Foundation there. She gave them the go-ahead to see if such an organization would work in a small town. According to Geidd, they were asked to collect $30,000 in unrestricted funds
Geidd says about $20,000 has been given back to the community since the Foundation in Seymour was established. The money has benefited several causes. It's provided the first automatic external defibrillator for the Seymour Fire Dept., field trips for Seymour students, books for Head Start and more
Gary Funk is president of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. He says community foundations that are established in small towns help create a philanthropic infrastructure for those communities. They also become the focal point for conversations about how to keep assets from leaving
The Community Foundation of the Ozarks helps smaller community foundations in a number of ways
These independent community foundations have their own boards as well as their own set of funds, scholarship programs and community grant making programs, but Funk says they're part of a regional network and lean on the Community Foundation of the Ozarks for their non-profit status
Bolivar has a strong Community Foundation, which was established in 2003. Its president, Don Wollard, says it came out of the Leadership Bolivar program sponsored by the Bolivar area Chamber of Commerce
The Bolivar area Community Foundation currently has more than 30 funds and just went about the half million dollar mark. Wollard wasn't surprised by the support
Funds so far have supported the Sheltered Workshop, YMCA, Dare Scholarships, the Salvation Army, the Bolivar Public Library, the Jr. Livestock Show and sending someone thru the Leadership Bolivar program
According to Wollard, the key to preventing assets from leaving a community is to work together
In Mountain Grove, city administrator Rick Outersky worries about capital flight. But he's encouraged by the fact that the town now has a community foundation. He says it's still in its infant stages—it's just over a year old—but it's already generated some excitement and enthusiasm in Mountain Grove
That arena project is expected to take some time to be completed since it's a 5 or 6 million-dollar project, but Outersky says the response to the Mountain Grove Community Foundation's request for donations has been good. He says once that project is finished and people start to see the benefits a community foundation can provide, it will generate even more excitement at all age levels
Neosho is just beginning to establish a community foundation. City manager Jan Blase says one of the most important things a small town can do is establish a community foundation
Tom Peebles is a Community Foundation of the Ozarks board member. He says capital flight is a big concern. That's why the Community Foundation, over the last 5 to 7 years, has been engaged in a major project to encourage and assist regional community foundations
Peebles believes capital flight occurs when young people don't see promise in their communities. According to Peebles, encouraging capital gifts and capital projects thru community foundations has a ripple effect
Gary Funk says the Community Foundation of the Ozarks currently works with 40 affiliated community foundations, and interest is great. He says that's because there's a lot of concern by residents of small towns about capital flight
For information about the Community Foundation of the Ozarks and the affiliated community foundations in Missouri go to www.cfozarks.org.
This program is available on the web at KSMU.org. Support for Making a Difference Where You Live comes from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. For KSMU, I'm Michele Skalicky.