Better information means better decisions. Community advocates and active philanthropists like Jane Hunt Meade know this to be true. Positive change happens when passionate people are connected to the causes they care about – and have the information they need to make smart giving decisions. Positive change happens when there's an intentional effort. That's why Jane, in partnership with Arkansas Community Foundation has organized a "philanthropy club" in northwest Arkansas.
The club, which originated from the idea of networking with mutual friends who were interested in learning about community needs, has visited over eight local nonprofits already this year. The opportunity to see, first-hand, how nonprofits are serving their community makes smart giving a lot easier.
"We determine a focus of poverty and then narrow down to see where we would choose to go and which nonprofits to see. Our hope is to use the nonprofits time efficiently - we're their partner in giving too," said Jane. "It's good practice for these nonprofits to tell their story and give a compelling reason why they need a donor's support."
In an effort to create an inclusive group of people that learn first-hand about needs in their community, the philanthropy club has enlisted an unspoken rule of "no pressure." There are no specific roles or duties for members, no required amounts to give – the sole "requirement" is to learn more about how each nonprofit's mission addresses a community need.
Jody Dilday, Development Director for the Community Foundation, serves as the "giving guide" and helps the club members identify smart giving options. Whether that's giving directly to the nonprofit, or it's considering a long-term giving plan through the Community Foundation.
"Following each Philanthropy Club visit, we invite the nonprofit to submit a program funding request outlining 3 potential projects with 3 separate 'price points,'" said Jody. "This gives our club members – who have different charitable interests and a different capacity for giving – an opportunity to support the organization in a manner meaningful to them."
Jane's giving journey began because of her parent's example. J.B. and Johnelle Hunt, well-known for successfully building their trucking company, understood the importance of giving back to the community and raised their children to do the same.
"Community is important to people – it's how we connect and build relationships. And it's easy to live in a community and not see problems, but when you start to dig, you see that there are many local causes in desperate need for support" said Jane. "That's where we can focus what we have, whether that's time, talent or our financial resources, to make a positive change."
Through the years, Jane has had the opportunity to passionately support a variety of causes. Her generosity has stretched from nonprofits that support educational enrichment programs to organizations that help women and children build a stable and successful life. When the Northwest Arkansas Women's Shelter was on the brink of closing their doors, Jane offered a matching incentive to help them continue their mission providing necessary services.
By making Arkansas Community Foundation her partner in giving, Jane believes her role as a contributor to the philanthropy club has been made easy and more purposeful. "The Community Foundation provides the information I need to make educated decisions about where our charitable dollars are well spent. I feel confident that we have the tools we need to each make a difference for the long-term."
Arkansas Community Foundation works with people like Jane to offer tools for smart giving to improve communities. They strive to help Arkansans make the most of their charitable dollars while learning about community needs. That's precisely why we provide tools for generous individuals who want to make their neighborhoods, towns and state better places to live.
The Aspire Arkansas Report is one of those tools. It's both a yardstick to measure where our state currently stands and a compass to help you and your neighbors determine where we should go. Equipped with this tool, you'll have the information you need to begin researching local causes and supporting programs that are currently at work.
What you can do:
- Visit AspireArkansas.org to learn about the most pressing needs in your community.
- Choose one (or more!) of the four pillars – Education, Health, Families & Communities - to focus on researching what nonprofits are working locally to support these pillars.
- Reach out to friends who would be interested in visiting local nonprofits and learning more about supporting their work.
- Contact Arkansas Community Foundation to discuss a smart giving plan to support the causes you care about for the long-term.
- Monitor your community's progress as Aspire Arkansas data is updated.