More than 60 CFO affiliate presidents and board members attending today’s annual conference in Springfield were encouraged to think expansively about the leadership and resource development roles they can offer as anchors in their communities.
They shared stories of successful collaborations fostered through listening to their communities and convening the right people to accomplish shared goals. Greater Seymour Community Foundation founder and board member Ron Geidd recalled how the affiliate led a Seymour 2026 long-range planning process that uncovered a serious concern among residents that the frequently used train tracks through the center of town cut off access to the fire department when trains rolled through. That led to construction of a second fire station on the other side of the tracks to allay those fears.
A larger affiliate, the Joplin-based Community Foundation of Southwest Missouri, used a recent grant cycle for tornado recovery to encourage a number of groups to collaborate on one application to fund much-needed affordable housing, and that coalition received CFSWMO’s largest grant ever of $1.5 million.
CFO President Brian Fogle said it’s not easy work, nor does it promise quick results. But offering community foundations as “safe spaces” to convene multiple stakeholders on community issues will lead to more effective grantmaking, and produce stronger results to build new assets.
The conference also focused on partnerships between affiliate and school foundations because of the role schools play in anchoring rural communities. After showing a recent video about successful school foundation building, Rural Schools Coordinator Julie Leeth encouraged affiliates to link with, or help build, school foundations.
A panel of professional advisers and donors offered insights on how affiliate boards can build relationships with attorneys and financial planners in their own communities to explain to potential donors how a community foundation might help them achieve their charitable goals.
CFO Board member Jami S. Peebles, executive vice president and southern regional manager for Central Trust and Investment, described one client who sold a family business and wanted to put some of the proceeds into charitable giving, but wasn’t sure what charities to support. She recommended a Donor-Advised Fund at CFO that would give the clients the immediate tax advantage, while allowing them to research and choose their contributions on their own timetable.
She also introduced Marvin and Peggy Johnson, a retired couple from Camdenton who opened a Donor-Advised Fund through the Community Foundation of the Lake. Marvin Johnson said he saw three advantages in the Donor-Advised Fund: Taking the tax deduction; choosing a variety of non-profits to support for the Camdenton area’s betterment; and combining their funds in a larger pool.
“By combining our donations with a lot of others, I think you can have a much bigger effect,” he said.
New Benton County Community Foundation board member Lisa Farwig said she enjoyed her first conference to learn more information from both CFO staff and other affiliate volunteers.
“To come down here and really hear your stories, I have so many ideas now,” she said.
Added Carthage Community Foundation and CFO board veteran Bill Lee: “For those of us who’ve been around awhile, it’s a good battery re-charger.”