Omaha Venture Group is a way for emerging leaders to learn about grassroots grantmaking – a way of donating money that builds connections among donors, nonprofits, and the community. Our members visit nonprofits and learn first-hand about the issues that face small and emerging organizations across the Omaha metro. We then discuss how our pooled funds can be allocated most effectively to help these nonprofits best serve their clients and grow as an organization.
It’s more than getting to know about the nonprofit sector, however. Networking and getting to know like-minded young professionals are valuable parts of the OVG experience. OVG also has volunteer leadership positions filled on an annual basis. Further, the matching funds – provided by Omaha area foundations – leverage members’ donations to further increase the pool of available funds.
The OVG season kicks off in late autumn with recruiting events and membership sign-ups. In early January, members start work on identifying, contacting, and meeting with eligible nonprofits within three Interest Group areas:
Youth: organizations that serve children and adolescents, such as mentoring programs, after school sports, and art classes
Adult/senior: organizations whose clients are adults or, more specifically, seniors. These include agencies that provide day programs for the elderly, re-entry services for ex-offenders, and resources for immigrants and refugees.
Community: organizations that serve the community at large, such as public art projects, food pantries, and neighborhood groups.
By late March, Interest Group members select three nonprofits to submit proposals, which are due in early April. The full grantmaking membership comes together for Vote Night at the end of April to discuss all of the proposals and hear funding recommendations from each Interest Group. A round of voting finalizes grant amounts, which are presented at the celebratory Grant Night event in the late spring.
Throughout the process, we also host monthly education and social events, where all members come together to socialize and network. The events typically feature a guest speaker – either a past OVG recipient reporting on how their OVG funds where used or a local giving expert.
Omaha Venture Group was started by a group of friends in 2003. Since then, over 100 local nonprofits have received funds. The program is now facilitated by the Omaha Community Foundation. If you are interested in learning more about the Omaha Venture Group, giving circles, or other opportunities for collective giving, please contact Stacey Goodman at the Omaha Community Foundation at (402) 342-3458.