Sherwood Foundation provides first installment on challenge grant

Among the highlights announced during last Wednesday’s Shickley Community Foundation annual meeting was the news that the community of Shickley is on track to receive a matching grant of $250,000 from the Sherwood Foundation, led by Susie Buffet. The Shickley Community Foundation Fund recently launched its “Create our Success” fund-raising campaign to meet its two-to-one match requirement by raising $500,000 by December 31, 2015.

At its annual donor appreciation event on November 14 at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church Parish Hall in Shickley, Fund leaders announced the campaign already has gift commitments exceeding $250,000. Of this amount, $150,000 has already been received, which makes the Fund eligible to receive its first matching grant installment of $75,000 from the Sherwood Foundation. The foundation is somewhat tied to Omaha billionaire and philanthropist Warren E. Buffet, who gave his children significant funds in 2006 to begin charitable projects.

“When we achieve our goal, the Shickley Community Foundation Fund will increase its endowment by $750,000,” said Deb Johnson, endowment campaign chair. “This will more than double the current total, allowing us to significantly increase the amount and impact of our grant making in our community. We are very grateful to the Sherwood Foundation for selecting Shickley as one of its rural community partners.”

During Johnson’s time at the podium at the meeting, she noted the John and Maurine Biegert estate took the lead in the “Create our Success” campaign with a $100,000 contribution.

The volunteer leaders of the Shickley Community Foundation Fund have demonstrated their commitment to building a sizable endowment. Gifts to endowment hold additional value because they not only last in perpetuity; they increase in size. The Fund grants out a portion of the endowment earnings each year, which leaves the principal intact and also builds the fund. As a result, each contribution to the endowment “keeps on giving.”

“In the past 11 years the Shickley Community Foundation Fund has invested more than $130,000 into our community with more than 100 grants,” said Dan Miller, who serves on the campaign steering committee and is chair of the SCFF. “Many community improvements at the school and the fire department and others, would not have been possible without our investment. An additional $750,000 in endowment will add over $30,000 each year to our grant making capabilities.”

The people of the small Fillmore County Village of Shickley tend to set their sights high. This can-do attitude is reflected in the success of Shickley Community Foundation Fund, which is an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF). Over the past 11 years, the Fund’s endowed assets and planned gifts for the future have grown to nearly $2.7 million dollars, a remarkable achievement for a community of 341 people.

NCF provides training, financial management and donor education to the Shickley Community Foundation Fund and more than 200 other affiliated funds in Nebraska. NCF is helping to facilitate Shickley’s fund-raising effort by working with the Sherwood Foundation to provide additional training and capacity building for the community.

“When we think of our community we go beyond the borders of the town,” said Richard Walter, endowment campaign committee member. “More than half the households in our school district support the Fund, and our grants benefit people all across the surrounding area. We believe our people deserve the kind of community that will nurture our families for generations. The Sherwood Foundation challenge is a unique opportunity to make this happen. For every $2 we receive in unrestricted gifts, the Sherwood Foundation will grant $1 to our endowment.”

With more than $250,000 already committed, the Shickley Community Foundation Fund is now reaching out to all current and past residents. Gifts of cash may be pledged over several years to optimize tax benefits. Gifts of securities can provide tax advantages that gifts of cash cannot. With high commodity prices, a gift of grain enables the donor to make a significant contribution. The producer can avoid claiming the sale as income, yet still deduct the cost of production for tax purposes.

“The Sherwood Foundation recognizes the Nebraska Community Foundation’s exceptional capacity for helping communities develop philanthropic assets,” said Matt Rezac, director of Rural Community Partnerships for the Sherwood Foundation. “Leaders of NCF’s affiliated fund in Shickley model and practice the type of broad-based engagement, collaboration and leadership that builds and sustains vibrant community life.”

Rezac was the featured speaker on November 14 and explained to the crowd of just over 70 the goals of the Sherwood Foundation and how he became associated with the foundation. He said the foundation is about building relationships; listening and learning and supporting local priorities. He said even though the Sherwood Foundation is an urban foundation, the goal of the foundation is to help the entire state.

“We all do better, when we all do better,” he said.

Rezac was also told early on during his work with the foundation and by NCF staffers about the special things that happen in Shickley when it comes to a community working together to improve its assets.

“They told me—you need to go to Shickley,” Rezac said.

During Walter’s time at the microphone last Wednesday, he updated the crowd on the progress of the Shickley Community Building. He said fund-raising for the project has been successful and plans call for ground to be broke for the building in April of 2013. He also said Chief Industries of Grand Island are currently designing the building.

“Our goal is to have next year’s banquet in the new community building,’ Walter said.

Groups receiving grant awards this year from the Shickley Community Foundation included the Fillmore County Auxiliary; the Village of Shickley, Q125 Committee; the Virgil Biegert Public Library; the Fillmore County Hospital Foundation; the Shickley Fire and Rescue Department; Shickley Public Schools and the Fillmore County VIPs.

Miller presented all the groups checks after the dinner, which was catered by Dawg’s Smokehouse Cafe of Shickley.

“We have a great thing going in this town,” Miller said.

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