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New Report Looks at the Current State of Rural Philanthropy

Thursday, October 19, 2023
A new report by Inside Philanthropy offers an overview of the current state of rural philanthropy in the United States today. The report serves as a primer to help spotlight philanthropic activity in rural communities that is often overlooked in the broader philanthropic sector and to hopefully spark some greater interest and understanding that can lead to more and more effective philanthropic investment in rural communities. United Philanthropy Forum was a partner with Inside Philanthropy in producing the report, along with MDC and PhilanthropywoRx. 

“Giving for Rural Communities” is the latest report published by Inside Philanthropy as part of its State of American Philanthropy series, which consists of a number of reports focused on funding for major topics and issues. The report offers important information about philanthropy’s history, issues, and leaders in rural communities.

Among the many important points covered in the report is the point that there is not a single clear definition of “rural,” which can sometimes cause unnecessary barriers to great investment in rural communities. The report also points out that rural communities are much more diverse than is commonly understood. For example, the most recent Census report found that almost a quarter of the U.S. rural population consists of people of color, up from 20% in 2010, and almost one-third of children who live in rural communities are people of color. The lack of adequate investment in many rural communities is often exacerbated for communities of color in rural places.

The Forum’s partnership with the “Giving for Rural Communities” report is aligned with its multi-year initiative to advance racial equity and health equity in rural places through connecting and convening philanthropy, which is being supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It is the first national philanthropic effort to bring together the interests of every type of funder with rural equity as the uniting theme. The initiative is guided by the Forum’s PSO Rural Philanthropy Working Group, a group of 15 Forum members who have guided this effort since 2021. The Forum believes that authentic and effective rural philanthropy challenges preconceptions about rural places and people; acknowledges the historic and continuing marginalization, exclusions, and/or disenfranchisement of rural people of color; recognizes the value of place to residents; focuses on building from within; emphasizes locally defined impact over scale; and prioritizes equity, trust-building and co-creation with local partners.

You can click here to read an Inside Philanthropy article about the report. You can click here to access the report, which is available free to everyone.  


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