For Immediate Release- Date: March 7, 2018.
Why is philanthropy important to Nova Scotia’s rural communities?
How do rural Nova Scotians view philanthropy?
What difference can community foundations make in rural Nova Scotia?
The Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia (RCF) has recently been engaging with rural Nova Scotians in order to answer these questions.
Since its founding 18 years ago, RCF has made dozens of grants to rural charitable organizations, supporting work that focused from youth, seniors’ health, environment, leadership, and Indigenous issues. This work has enabled RCF to have its finger on the pulse of grassroots work in rural communities.
Building on this, in 2017, RCF wanted to create opportunities to listen to what rural Nova Scotians have to say about rural philanthropy, present and future. The engagement process consisted of two projects, both of which were supported by the Community Foundation of Canada’s 150th Fund.
The first was a series of conversations about rural philanthropy with people working in rural community organizations across the province. These conversations took place in a variety of settings – a workshop, meeting over coffee, small group sessions – and yielded many insights for RCF.
Among these were that rural philanthropy needs to be ‘place-based’ in order to better relate to community needs and aspirations. Rural communities are very philanthropic places, and do a huge amount of local giving, and the foundation needs to connect to this by strengthening its links to local issues. Another insight was that there are specifically rural issues that RCF’s grant programs can help to address, such as the need for accessible and affordable transportation. Similarly, there are specifically rural ways of giving, such as donating parcels of land and woodlots.
The second project was a series of videos that tell the stories of some of the most innovative grassroots work happening in rural Nova Scotia, and how small grants supported this work. These short videos illustrate how local organizations are doing work that brings a huge amount of ingenuity, imagination and creative energy in Nova Scotia’s small communities – often with very little resources. The videos also show how a small grant, put in to the hands of the right people, can make a big difference in small communities.
Taken together, these projects demonstrated that philanthropy can have a major role in helping rural communities shape the future they want. At the same time, they pointed to new ways in which a community foundation can support rural organizations in the future.
RCF Chair Arthur Bull sums up what RCF learned this way: “This process of listening to rural Nova Scotians has confirmed our belief that philanthropy can play a major role in helping local communities create the future they want, and has pointed towards our path for the future. This is important for us, since this community foundation, in a real sense, belongs to these rural communities.”