Talk it up with groups
Engage your newspapers and media
Ask your nonprofits to spread the word
Meet professional advisors
Put it in writing to leave behind
Organize or piggyback on community events
Each one teach one!
Define it. Develop a basic explanation or definition of what an endowment is. The definition should speak to your community’s culture. Some communities have used: “It’s the community’s savings account.” Another, somewhat more technical definition, is: “A pool of money, contributed to by many, which is invested to produce income that we can use to make grants to local nonprofits whose good work improves everyone’s quality of life.”
Tell stories. Next, develop a set of stories that describe how endowments can help—or have helped—make things better in your community. There are many such stories. If you don’t yet have any local stories, borrow some from other community funds or foundations. Stories are often the best way to explain the purpose or the potential of a community endowment.
Talk it up with group. Arrange to make presentations—at which you explain the concept and also do some storytelling—to local civic clubs, faith organizations, and any organized groups.
Engage your newspapers and media. Get the idea of community endowment in print and on the air, and keep it there:
Ask your nonprofits to spread the word. Ask for help from your local nonprofits to help you sell the idea of endowments in general. And ask them to consider setting up an organization endowment for themselves in particular.
Meet professional advisors. Make visits to professional advisors—that is, all the financial advisors, lawyers, CPAs who help people in your community—and tell them what you’re doing. (Don’t forget funeral home directors; in rural areas, they often advise families about their finances when loved ones pass away.)
Put it in writing to leave behind. Develop a simple brochure that you can leave with anyone and everyone you talk to, or that you can mail to people who ask for information. Ask if you can leave multiple copies in people’s homes or offices—especially with financial advisors.
Organize or piggyback on community events. Use communitywide events to educate people about endowment and help build it. This could be a kick-off luncheon or community supper, an annual festival where you set up a booth—whatever attracts crowds and good feeling where you live.
Each one teach one! Once your organizing group is thoroughly trained and conversant with the concept of philanthropy and endowments, talk with all your friends and family members, your neighbors and civic organizations where you volunteer about what your foundation is doing and how it will benefit the whole community. Soon, you have a veritable army of people spreading the word—and the work!