Greater Omaha has a legacy of giving. It’s in our DNA.
Private citizens, corporations and foundations donate and-or distribute millions of dollars each year to help the needy, fund medical research, build hospitals and universities, educate youths, beautify our neighborhoods and enhance our culture and lifestyle.
Thousands of residents support their favorite nonprofits with monetary gifts and volunteer services, too.
Here’s a sampling of major organizations dedicated to the greater good.
United Way of the Midlands
United Way of the Midlands (UWM) has served the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro for more than 95 years. Guided by best practices and community input, it approaches poverty in a specific way — a “united” way. With the support of volunteers, community partners and donors, UWM invests more than 91 cents of every donated dollar in the local community. These dollars fund 110 nonprofit programs that create a support circle for people in need. UWM’s spokesman says, “When our neighbors have access to basic needs, education and financial stability supports, they can start down the path to independence and happiness.”
Omaha Community Foundation
The Omaha Community Foundation (OCF) is a giving collective that connects philanthropists with people and nonprofits who are making an impact here. The foundation is deeply rooted in the community, and committed to understanding its challenges and opportunities, in order to make strategic investments in its future. OCF expands giving opportunities for donors through charitable fund services, legacy giving, family philanthropy and donor resources. In 2018, 1,277 donors gave $172 million in gifts to the foundation, and OCF distributed $165 million in 14,411 grants to 2,811 nonprofits. Since the foundation’s establishment in 1982, more than $1.7 billion has been granted to nonprofits on behalf of the foundation’s fundholders.
Started in 2013 as a 24-hour online giving day in May by the Omaha Community Foundation, Omaha Gives! encourages giving locally every day. Donors can browse hundreds of organizations online to learn who is working on issues and programs that matter most to them, and give any time. “It is a year-round platform now — it’s not really just about one day anymore,” says Kali Baker, vice president of Community Investment. The sixth annual, daylong giving spree in 2018 raised more than $7.4 million from 18,548 donors for nearly 1,000 local nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, the event has brought more than $42 million to nonprofits throughout Douglas, Sarpy and Pottawattamie Counties. The 2019 Omaha Gives! was held May 22.
Community Foundations of Southwest Iowa
Made up of nine counties, the Community Foundations of Southwest Iowa marks its 22nd anniversary in 2019. Each county has its own advisory board composed of county residents. Their collective task is to recommend ways the foundations can do the most good in the areas of arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and historical preservation. As affiliates of the Omaha Community Foundation, the Community Foundations of Southwest Iowa receive funds annually from the State of Iowa County Endowment Fund Program, whereby a percentage of Iowa’s gaming tax revenue supports endowment building and grant-making in counties without a state-issued gaming license. Each county has at least one grant cycle a year. In 2018, more than $1.8 million was granted to nonprofits and community projects through the generosity of fundholders and community grant programs.
The Omaha World-Herald Goodfellows Charity has been helping people in our community for more than 100 years. In 2018, Goodfellows provided assistance to more than 13,800 adults and children through more than $705,000 in emergency assistance, meal vouchers during the holiday season and clothing for school-aged children. Goodfellows emergency assistance fund is designed to assist people with one-time, urgent needs that cannot be met through other sources. Even though most of the fundraising happens during the holiday season, the need is year-round, says Executive Director Sue Violi. Because The World-Herald covers all administrative costs, 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to those in need.