A Strong Foundation: Giving that comes back to our community

Last year, I volunteered at my church, donated to some causes and charities and bought two boxes of Girl Scout cookies (Thin Mints). You did, too.

Well, maybe you went with the equally tasty peanut butter Tagalongs, but my point is that Americans are very, very generous. The latest annual data on charitable giving says more than 95 percent of us gave both treasure and time. Collectively, we donated $358 million and volunteered 8 billion hours.

I’ve been studying up a bit on charitable giving because your organization is ramping up its work in that space, starting with an ambitious goal: Building the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation into a $15 million agent of change, driven by a firm belief in the power of people working together.

Some brief background: The foundation has existed since 1985 and has an impressive history of providing grants to local communities and scholarships to deserving youths. Other accomplishments include an endowed chair in economics and rural development at Ohio State University and a substantial role in building the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the Ohio State University campus. Recently the foundation underwent a significant makeover: a new structure, new leadership and new focus, all in order to better fulfill its mission of creating a meaningful, measureable impact.

The foundation works in four key areas: education, environment, economic development and the human-animal bond. Its toolbox includes grants and matching funds. Some recent examples include helping finance a county local foods hub, a visit for low income kids to a farm and a three-day energy industry tour for Ohio teachers. Scholarships remain an important part of its work, too, as we look to identify and support young people who will develop into leaders for government, civic groups, science, social agencies, education, business and the food and farming community.

An impressive board of directors is tasked with assuring the foundation meets its mission. Senior executives from Nationwide, Medical Mutual of Ohio, Bob Evans Farms, Farm Credit Mid-America and agricultural cooperative CHS have joined with local and state Farm Bureau leaders to provide direction and oversight. They’ll be assisted by a small but committed professional staff.

When I think about my personal giving, several things come to mind. I want to be sure my contribution will actually make a difference in someone’s life. I want to know that my money or time is used wisely and efficiently. But most of all, I want to know that the cause I’m supporting reflects my personal beliefs and values. The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation meets my criteria, and I hope it meets yours as well.

Yes, here’s the pitch you knew was coming. Please consider supporting
the efforts of the OFB Foundation. Go to ofbf.org/donate. Get your flyer on page 11 and visit your local Bob Evans restaurant May 16 and 17 to help the foundation, 4-H and FFA. Put the foundation in your estate plan. If you believe in the power of people working together to enhance innovation and economic development, having constructive conversations about food, engaging environmentally and economically in sustainable farming and growing our next generations of leaders, I believe you’ll find the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation to be worthy of your generosity.

John C. (Jack) Fisher
Ohio Farm Bureau, executive vice president