Philanthropy in Noble County

Population 14,500, Noble County had a tradition of sharing without the formal tool of a community foundation. When people are in need, the community comes together to meet the need through a variety informal channels—benefit suppers, donation jars at local businesses, fund raisers, and so on. In early 2004, the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) took a long look at the nearly one third of the state that it covers and discovered a wide range of availability of local foundations. While a few of the counties in the region had a long and strong history of community foundation, many of the counties had little or none.

The FAO offered to pilot a project using the Philanthropy Index. The Philanthropy Index, a program of the Southern Philanthropy Consortium, has helped small towns across the southern U.S. determine if the creation of a charitable fund was right for them. Guernsey, Hocking, Meigs and Noble Counties were chosen as pilot areas of the state to use this program. Ohio State University Extension was drafted to coordinate activities. A local committee of four people was put together and participated in the Philanthropy Index training.

Although the data provided by the Philanthropy Index has proven to be an excellent “jumping off” point for efforts in the county, getting people involved in the formal process proved to be a challenge. Getting voices of support for the concept has not been difficult, but getting people to attend the meetings to discuss the concept proved challenging. Yet the local committee continued and invested substantial time in researching various alternative ways to create a charitable organization for the county.

The result of the time and effort invested was the creation of the Noble County Community Foundation as an affiliate of the Marietta Community Foundation in January of 2005.

he first effort of the new group was to raise a minimum of $3,000 to match a challenge grant from the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio. Using a combination of pledges from the local banking community and individuals in the county, the $3,000 goal was reached in March of 2005 and the new foundation has grown to over $20,000. The Noble County Community Foundation has also added two scholarship programs for Noble County high school graduates.

A nine member board of directors has been formed to represent the wide variety of people and interests in the county and will be working to both grow the assets of the endowment and to make wise choices in making distributions to groups in the community.

The Noble County Community Foundation hopes to continue to grow and to serve the many needs of Ohio’s third smallest county.