Put simply, Butler County and the Butler County Area Foundation Fund are on a roll and good things are happening around the County as a result. Today, I’ll get you updated on the affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation in Butler County and their work.

I suppose the most obvious success story came late last year as BCAFF announced they had successfully raised $200,000 for their unrestricted endowment to receive a $100,000 matching challenge from The Sherwood Foundation. That means significantly more grant capacity coming to Butler County over the next couple years, in fact, as much as twice their current endowment pay-out.

This increase in financial capacity has given the Fund’s Committee the motivation and the freedom to think beyond traditional short-term grants. We had a session with the committee this spring to begin to plan for that increased capacity and it was clear this new opportunity has really opened the eyes of the fund committee to what’s possible. They are being very intentional about thinking strategically about how to impact the future of Butler County through these gifts.

They also understand that the new capacity will raise the profile of BCAFF. While that’s the goal, of course, it does come with an inevitable increase in workload for these committed volunteers. It will mean more questions, more grant requests, more conversations to join…all for people with their own full-time jobs. This is one more example of why we on the NCF staff get so inspired by our volunteers who take on the workload and the “good problems” that come with success! I think you’ll see in Butler County that this will lead to growth in the BCAFF organization. As committee member Diane Duren put it, “we will have to become more strategic and mature as an organization.”

Honestly, BCAFF has already had a history of growth and evolution. They started in the 1980s as the David City Foundation. In fact, the estate of David City native Joyce Hall gave one of the first big gifts to the foundation in 1982 and BCAFF is going to be part of the upcoming Hallmark Channel Hometown Christmas event in David City. In the last decade, the fund made the wise strategic decision to change to the Butler County Area Foundation Fund to reflect its focus on the entire county. Today they intentionally include Butler County as a whole in grant decisions, leadership, and focus. They support the county-wide “Leading Locally” program, they make grants in every corner of Butler County, and they have committee members from around Butler County.

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While BCAFF’s future capacity is going to grow, that’s not to say they haven’t already made a huge impact in Butler County. For example, BCAFF has invested in Butler County residents through grants like Leading Locally and Teammates. They’ve invested in the strong arts scene in Butler County through long-time support for the Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, Thorpe Opera House, and a myriad of school art projects. They’ve invested in community facilities throughout the county, keeping small town assets viable and active.

If you were going to summarize, all those past investments and their future vision are summed up neatly by committee member Carol Fuxa in the last line of the recent video NCF produced for Butler County: “…my dream for Butler County is that anybody who passes through here feels like this is home.” By the way, you can see the video here: https://vimeo.com/348417884.

I’d encourage you to celebrate all this success with BCAFF at their Annual Banquet on Nov. 13th at the Butler County Events Center. You can get tickets from any committee member or stop by Moravec Financial, Union Bank, Bank of the Valley and the Chamber office in David City. I know you will find the banquet inspiring!

It’s clear that Butler County Area Foundation Fund has quite a history, already approaching $1,000,000 invested in Butler County. But that’s small compared to their future and it will be fun to see money, people, and community assets brought together through BCAFF to encourage people to make Butler County their home!

K.C. Belitz is the chief operating officer of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

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