Published January 2021 | RESEARCH and PUBLICATIONS

Investing in community building brings additional dollars to rural communities


A 2019 study of three rural communities engaged in long-term, community-wide community building efforts shows that grant dollars invested in community building efforts pay off. In the Illinois Valley, Siuslaw region and Applegate Valley, more resources were brought to the three areas to support nonprofit operations, programs and the larger community organizational ecosystem. A total of $306,635 from The Ford Family Foundation was leveraged into a return of $15,670,713 from other funding sources.

This analysis used a completed 12-month period, working from actual budget expenditures to allocate costs into common activities across three community building investment levels (Operations, Programs, Ecosystem). Leveraged community dollars (including volunteer time, donations, grant funds, in-kind contributions) were attributed to each activity.

  • Findings include:
    The ratio of dollars leveraged for community building efforts increased from operations to programs to the overall ecosystem.
  • Within this subset of communities, there is a correlation between the number of years doing community building and the ability to leverage more funding
  • Community groups believe that operations must be in place in order to be ready to take advantage of program and ecosystem opportunities that create larger impacts.


» Two-page summary PDF

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