Tag Archives: philanthropy

November/December 2018 Giving Calendar

October 29, 2018 by , and

This calendar was printed in the November/December 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


Nov. 1 (starts at 8:30 a.m.)
12th Annual Nonprofit Summit of the Midlands
Benefiting: Nonprofit Association of the Midlands
Location: Embassy Suites-La Vista Conference Center
nonprofitam.org

Nov. 1 (6-9 p.m.)
Toast to Dr. Stephanie and Jack Koraleski
Benefiting: Merrymakers
Location: Omaha Design Center
merrymakers.org 

Nov. 2 (8 a.m.-3 p.m.)
Nebraska Leadership Diversity and Inclusion Conference
Benefiting: Nebraska Hispanic Chamber Foundation
Location: Embassy Suites-La Vista
nhldiconference.com

Nov. 2 (6-9 p.m.)
Vision Beyond Sight
Benefiting: Outlook Nebraska
Location: Embassy Suites-La Vista
outlookne.org 

Nov. 2 (6-8:30 p.m.)
Let’s Grow Here Gala
Benefiting: Big Muddy Urban Farm
Location: Creighton University Harper Ballroom
bigmuddyurbanfarm.org 

Nov. 2 (6-9 p.m.)
Third Annual Dinner & Auction
Benefiting: p4:13 Ministries
Location: Embassy Suites Downtown Omaha
p413ministries.org 

Nov. 2 (6:30-9 p.m.)
Big Red Block Party
Benefiting: Junior League of Omaha
Location: Scott Conference Center
jlomaha.org

Nov. 3 (6-11 p.m.)
2018 Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Gala
Benefiting: Children’s Hospital & Medical Center Foundation
Location: CHI Health Center Omaha
childrensfoundationomaha.org 

Nov. 4 (noon-4 p.m.)
Honey Sunday
Benefiting: Ollie Webb Center, Inc.
Location: multiple locations
olliewebbinc.org 

Nov. 7 (4-10 p.m.)
2018 Christmas Caravan Preview Gala
Benefiting: Assistance League of Omaha
Location: Champions Run Country Club
alomaha.org

Nov. 8 (10 a.m.-8 p.m.)
2018 Christmas Caravan Tour of Homes
Benefiting: Assistance League of Omaha
Location: Various homes in Omaha
alomaha.org 

Nov. 8 (5:30-9:30 p.m.)
OneWorld 2018 Milagro Dinner
Benefiting: OneWorld Community Health Centers
Location: Hilton Omaha
oneworldomaha.org

Nov. 8 (5-8:30 p.m.)
Salute to Veterans Dinner
Benefiting: La Vista Community Foundation
Location: Embassy Suites-La Vista
lavistacommunityfoundation.com 

Nov. 8 (6-10 p.m.)
The Jason Awards
Benefiting: Children’s Square USA
Location: Mid-America Center, Council Bluffs
childrenssquare.org

Nov. 8 (5:30-7 p.m.)
Tree of Lights Campaign Kickoff
Benefiting: Salvation Army
Location: American National Bank, 90th and Dodge streets
salarmyomaha.org

Nov. 9 (5-8 p.m.)
Patron Party for Historic Home Tour and Boutique
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle
Location: Joslyn Castle
joslyncastle.org

Nov. 10 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Hoops 4 Life 3 On 3 Basketball Tournament
Benefiting: Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition
Location: NorthStar Foundation campus
somsne.com

Nov. 10-11 (10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday
and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday)
Historic Home Tour and Boutique
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle
Location: Various locations
joslyncastle.com

Nov. 10 (7-11:30 p.m.)
Rock to Raise
Benefiting: The John Atkinson Lung Cancer Foundation
Location: St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church hall
johnatkinsonfoundation.org 

Nov. 15 (5-9 p.m.)
Nurse of the Year Awards
Benefiting: March of Dimes
Location: Hilton Omaha
nurseoftheyear.marchofdimes.org

Nov. 15 (6-9 p.m.)
Salute to Families
Benefiting: Heartland Family Service
Location: Happy Hollow Club
heartlandfamilyservice.org 

Nov. 16 (6 p.m.)
Sentimental Journey: With Honor
Benefiting: The Durham Museum
Location: The Durham Museum
durhammuseum.org

Nov. 17 (8 p.m.-midnight)
Night of a Thousand Stars
Benefiting: Nebraska AIDS Project
Location: Omaha Design Center
nap.org 

Nov. 17-24 (hours vary)
Feztival of Trees
Benefiting: Tangier Shrine Center
Location: Tangier Shrine Center
tangiershrine.com/Feztival

Nov. 22 (7:30 a.m.-11 a.m.)
2018 Turkey Trot
Benefiting: Make-a-Wish Nebraska
Location: Lewis & Clark Landing
nebraska.wish.org 

Nov. 27 (all day)
Giving Tuesday
Benefiting: Various Omaha organizations
Location: Online
givingtuesday.org 

Nov. 29-30 (6 a.m.-6 p.m.)
Adopt a Family Radiothon
Benefiting: Salvation Army
Location: Star 104.5 FM
salarmyomaha.org

Dec. 1 (2-4:30 p.m.)
Spin4 Crohn’s & Colitis Cures
Benefiting: Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation
Location: Sweat Cycle Strength
crohnscolitisfoundation.org 

Dec. 1 (6-8 p.m.)
Christmas Enchantment
Benefiting: Children’s Square USA
Location: Hoy-Kilnoski Funeral Home
childrenssquare.org

Dec. 1 (time TBA)
Hoops for Hope
Benefiting: Catholic Charities
Location: Hilton Omaha
ccomaha.org

Dec. 5-7 (8 a.m.-5 p.m.)
Substitute Santa 2018
Benefiting: Child Saving Institute
Location: Child Saving Institute building and website
childsaving.org 

Dec. 6 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
Lauritzen Gardens Guild Holiday Luncheon
Benefiting: Lauritzen Gardens
Location: Lauritzen Gardens
lauritzengardens.org 

Dec. 7 (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.)
2018 Equal Opportunity Awards Luncheon
Benefiting: Urban League of Nebraska
Location: Hilton Omaha
urbanleagueneb.org 

Dec. 7 (7-10 p.m.)
Taste of Pride Wine Event
Benefiting: Roncalli Catholic
Location: Roncalli Catholic Student Center
roncallicatholic.org

Dec. 8 (7:30 a.m.-noon)
2018 Nebraska Jingle Bell Run
Benefiting: Arthritis Foundation Nebraska
Location: Strategic Air Command & Space Museum
arthritis.org/nebraska/ 

Dec. 8 (5-9 p.m.)
Joslyn Castle Unlocked
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle Trust
Location: Joslyn Castle
joslyncastle.com 

Dec. 9
Ruth Sokolof Christmas Party
Benefiting: Nebraska Foundation for Visually Impaired Children
Location: Westroads Mall
nfvic.org 

Dec. 24 (10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.)
Castle at Christmas Tours
Benefiting: Joslyn Castle
Location: Joslyn Castle
joslyncastle.com 

Dec. 27 (6-11 p.m.)
Omaha Symphony Debutante Ball
Benefiting: Omaha Symphony
Location: Embassy Suites-La Vista Conference Center
omahasymphony.org

Top of page


Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Community First

September 17, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

First National Bank is known for “putting customers first.” Part and parcel of that commitment is reinvesting in the communities their customers call home.  

“Our success as a company is dependent upon the success of the communities that we operate in…so the purpose of our community work is to contribute to the success of the communities in which we operate in and serve,” says Alec Gorynski, vice president of Community Development and Corporate Philanthropy at First National Bank.

First National partners with nonprofit organizations across its seven-state footprint—Nebraska, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, South Dakota, and Texas—to support local communities with reinvestments that channel through nonprofit partners. The bank reinvests by direct philanthropy, impact investment, and volunteerism, and chooses its nonprofit partners based on their alignment with First National initiatives, history and track record of success, and potential for impact. 

While philanthropy and community development are not new concepts at First National, Gorynski says that in 2016 the bank specifically committed to reinvesting $85 million and 100,000 volunteer hours back into its communities by 2020. According to First National’s 2017 Impact Report, their two-year totals at the close of 2017 were at $56 million and 76,000 volunteer hours.

While Gorynski acknowledges there is lots of need and many excellent potential partner organizations, First National strategically aligns its community investments with organizations that are working to foster success in eight specific areas: strong local economies, stable housing, vibrant neighborhoods, an educated workforce, good health, community cohesion, access to culture, and sustained environment. Of those eight areas, First National focuses the majority of its efforts on an educated workforce, a strong local economy, and stable housing, each of which can act as essential building blocks to foster success in the other five areas.    

“Success is a wide net when we think about helping our communities succeed, so we think about success from the economic standpoint,” says Gorynski. “We want to help our communities, and the individuals in our communities, move above a certain economic threshold. Certainly it’s a spectrum, but there’s an economic line at which people are more likely to be more active in the economy and more independently prosperous. What we’re really focused on is helping move people above that economic line.”

In service of that goal, Gorynski elaborates, an educated workforce is fostered by education and
job training that helps individuals attain the skills and tools necessary to achieve economic success, often through avenues like youth and adult education, or vocational training. Similarly, their strong economy initiative is buoyed by investments in nonprofits that support small business development, and stable housing is achieved by investments in organizations that work to provide quality, affordable housing opportunities. 

“We believe that home ownership is a means to gain wealth and a pathway to economic stability and prosperity, so we want to invest in programs that help people own a home as a means to building wealth,” says Gorynski. “At the same time, we want to invest in programs that help low-income individuals get quality affordable housing, even if it is rental housing, because we know that housing should never take up more than 30 percent of your income and we want to ensure that people can get housing that’s affordable, but also quality.”

Amanda Brewer, CEO at Habitat for Humanity of Omaha, a prominent community partner of the bank, says the bank provides crucial support to her organization.  

“First National Bank is an incredible partner of Habitat for Humanity. In addition to sponsoring a house and having hundreds of team members volunteer each year, First National has helped by investing in our loan pool, servicing Habitat loans, leading budgeting workshops for our homeowners, and providing countless hours of technical expertise,” says Brewer. “They’ve helped more families realize the dream of homeownership through Habitat and helped us transform neighborhoods.”  

Not only does First National encourage employees to volunteer, they have a time-off policy that allows each employee eight hours paid time off annually to use for volunteering in their community. Gorynski says it all goes back to one of the bank’s guiding mantras: “When our communities are successful, we are successful.” 

For Gorynski, it is a privilege to help set the strategy and tone for First National Bank’s community development and corporate philanthropy efforts, while also leading the team that “puts our financial and human capital to work in alignment with that strategy.” He is quick to praise his team and the Lauritzen family’s ownership and leadership as drivers in making these efforts successful. 

“It’s truly an honor and a privilege to do this work for a company that has a 160-year history of being so committed to Omaha and to all of the communities in which it operates and serves,” says Gorynski. “The team does meaningful work developing really genuine, meaningful partnerships with nonprofit organizations. We have boots on the ground in Omaha and in every community in which we operate who are out there getting to know the communities we serve, getting to know the organizations that are addressing the needs in our communities, and finding meaningful ways for us to support the work of those organizations. It’s because of [the team] that we’re able to get to know the right nonprofit organizations, make meaningful investments in those organizations, and ultimately, realize our goal of successful communities.”


Visit firstnational.com/community to learn more about First National Bank’s community development and philanthropy efforts.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Matt Darling

April 27, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The Omaha Community Foundation was designed to pool donations into a coordinated investment and grant-making facility dedicated to Omaha’s social improvement.

Learning and/or knowing the people of the community to help improve Omaha’s social services is an especially vital skill for OCF’s vice president of donor services, Matt Darling. Darling’s job is multi-faceted; ultimately, he is responsible for helping donors achieve their desired level of giving.

When people determine they want to give money, no matter how big or how small, Omaha Community Foundation starts an account for that donor. The money itself is held at Wells Fargo, and the OCF executive staff works with their board of directors to manage the assets. Donors opening accounts of at least $25,000 then have a donor advised fund. That fund is exposed to market trends, meaning it could go up or down with the stock market.

The donor services work involves collaborating with Omaha’s community of financial advisers to help bring funds into the foundation, often answering questions about where is the best place to use funds. Each account is individualized, so donors are able to manage their own money. Some donors want OCF to keep track of how their account is doing, while others know exactly where they want their dollars to be spent. It involves creating relationships with each donor and figuring out what they want, a skill in which others say Darling excels.

“Matt doesn’t need to have the right idea in the room, but he’ll find the right idea,” says Kevin Welsh, senior vice president of the Welsh Friesen Group at Morgan Stanley. “He wants to get it right. There’s no alternative motive with him other than what’s right for the situation.”

That desire to get it right comes from the desire to work for the community. It’s a switch from his previous job as co-owner of Paramount Parking. In 2013, with a fiancée and a desire to start a family, Darling began considering the idea of working at a nonprofit.

He reached out to Sara Boyd, OCF executive director, for a lunch meeting—one that turned out to have longtime implications.

“The first lunch we went to, I knew he was the right fit [for OCF],” Boyd says. “He is smart and business-savvy, as well as kind, artistic, and analytical.”

Although she did not have a  job opening at the time, she hired him as director of donor services later that year.

A larger part of this work is building relationships with the 1,500 OCF donors, whether they are giving $100 or $1 million.

“Matt’s really thoughtful,” Welsh says. “You can talk to him, or someone with $5-6 billion can talk to him, and they are the same to him.”

It’s a necessary skill for the job that requires a unique quality, as the donor services department works with people from all walks of life. Darling takes it in stride.

“When you think of philanthropy, you think of a wealthy man in a suit. That’s not necessarily the case,” Darling says.

Using OCF to discover where to give means engaging in a network of like-minded philanthropists and philanthropic organizations. The donor relations team researches specific nonprofits to provide donors (and potential donors) with in-depth details about nonprofit programs, leadership, target populations, goals, and uses of funds. They also research issues and causes that donors and potential donors identify with and let people know what organizations would work well for them.

While the donor relations team works with individuals and corporations, Darling particularly enjoys working with families in the areas of family giving and succession planning, in which one family will choose a specific charity to give to throughout various family members’ lifetimes.

“It’s very satisfying,” Darling says. “We’ve been working with some families now for two, three generations.”

Navigating the wishes of multiple generations can be tricky. The first generation’s idea of the perfect nonprofit may not be the same as the second generation’s idea, and the second generation sometimes sits back and feels ignored.

Darling refuses to let that happen.

“Matt is excellent at bringing people to the table and asking what is meaningful to the individuals and taking something that will be meaningful to people on all sides of that conversation,” Boyd says.

He already had a bachelor’s degree in business and studio art from Hastings College. But to learn more about nonprofit funding, Darling enrolled in American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He earned a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy designation, learning about family wealth dynamics and nonprofits.

He didn’t stop there; he now helps to facilitate CAP study groups with SilverStone Group’s Mark Weber. The facilitator role keeps him connected with the local financial advising community.

“The lectures are online. At the OCF, I brought the idea to them to host study groups of professional advisers,” Weber says. “(Darling) helps invite guests, helps facilitate the classes…We’ve had panels of nonprofit directors. We’ve had panels of heads of private foundations. I’ve had panels of professional advisers on how best to work together, and a number of high-profile philanthropists who have shared their life story about their philanthropy.”

Darling brings people together for the common good of trying to strengthen the amount of giving in the community. He uses his knowledge to work with his OCF team, which includes CFO Melisa Sunde and vice president of community relations Kali Baker, among many others. Through the team effort, the organization has enabled more than $1 billion to be donated throughout Omaha since its inception in 1982. That means the city that is 42nd in size in America is the 17th highest for charitable dollars.

“I’ve never worked in a place where the entire staff is so focused on doing good,” Darling says. “The team is second to none.”

He, along with his team, takes a great pride in making this community a better place for everyone.

“I live an incredibly fortunate life,” Darling says.

Visit omahafoundation.org for more information.

This article appeared in the May/June 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.

Matt Darling

Hungry for Answers

October 12, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

How will the relocation of ConAgra Foods’ headquarters affect local philanthropy?

Short answer: No one knows for sure. What is certain is that ConAgra Foods will continue its charity work in the Omaha area, and it will persist in fighting hunger (the company’s signature philanthropic cause).

The relocation of the headquarters of the Fortune 500 company—founded in 1919 as Nebraska Consolidated Mills—is well known. But Chris Kircher, vice president of corporate affairs and president of the ConAgra Foods Foundation, says many people have got it wrong about how many jobs will be lost.

“ConAgra will retain a large presence in Nebraska,” says Kircher. “Only 300 jobs are moving to Chicago. Our presence in this area is about 2,100, still three times the size of the Chicago operation.”

With 1,200 employees on its riverfront campus, Omaha remains ConAgra’s largest office location. This is good news for the nonprofit groups that count on ConAgra employees for their history of generous volunteer assistance.

ConAgra1ConAgra’s downsizing is occurring at an increasingly competitive time for the food industry. More competition and lower revenue streams have driven change within the company. The corporate transformation has real implications for ConAgra’s philanthropic footprint.

“We are in the process of divesting and spinning off businesses. We announced (it) early on as part of the transformation efforts selling our private brand label,” says Kircher.

“When you are a smaller company, that’s going to affect every functional area, including the foundation.”

Annual giving has been in the area of $10 million, he notes. A good portion of that is local. Add to that in-kind donations.

“The question is ‘will that $10 million still be available?’” says Kircher. “It’s safe to assume we’ll continue to be engaged in hunger locally and continue to support the Food Bank for the Heartland in a big way.”

People also misconceive how active ConAgra has been in Chicago for some time. “About three-fourths of our retail food business has been headquartered in Chicago before we announced these changes. Only one-fourth of the retail food business was in Omaha.

“Management is moving that quarter of the retail food business up to the three-fourths of business that was based in Chicago already. After we get done with investiture and spin-off, that will be our biggest business. A lot of functional areas will still be in Omaha.”

ConAgra is not suddenly leaving their partner nonprofit organizations without support. Many local groups received what Kircher calls “an exit grant.”

“We have explained we aren’t going to have the same kinds of resources as in the past.”

But if the cause has to do with hunger—especially child hunger—ConAgra will look for a way to help.

“We will continue to support the Food Bank for the Heartland and hunger-focused initiatives,” says Kircher. “It reflects one of the primary philanthropic avenues we’ve had a long time and will continue to have.”

Visit conagrafoods.com/our-commitment for more information. B2B

Bringing Community Responsibility to Life

May 25, 2013 by

Pythons. Hooded Pitahuis. Pygmy Marmosets.

Omaha is known by many across the nation because of Wild Kingdom, Mutual of Omaha’s primetime television show that brought animals to life in our living rooms.

But the show’s impact has been more profound for us (Omahans) than it has ecologically speaking. We identify with and claim the show’s reputation as our own. We feel community pride because, after all, it’s Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. This pride generates a strong sense of community responsibility. So maybe not coincidentally, community responsibility is accepted as one of the five Omaha City Values.

Wild Kingdom is one of the coolest examples in Omaha of what is called “traditional philanthropy.” This kind of philanthropy refers to the age-old practice of companies making cash donations or in-kind contributions to worthy causes. Most companies participate in traditional philanthropy because of their sincere desire to be involved in their communities and/or to give something back. Traditional philanthropy promotes reciprocity that produces important business benefits, including increased customer loyalty, higher employee retention, and enhanced corporate reputation.

As compared to traditional philanthropy, strategic philanthropy is a concept that has grown in prominence since the 1990s. This kind of charity involves a process where companies align their community relations initiatives with their core business products and services. Instead of a Wild Kingdom animal television show sponsored by an insurance firm (What’s the connection there?), corporations donate to specific community projects that align with their core competencies. For example, ConAgra does strategic philanthropy by focusing its charity on food and hunger issues, like Kids Cafés.

Some organizations are finding ways to impact their communities through employee engagement practices. Firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) recognize that young professionals crave choice. So they’ve created an innovative program for performance incentives that offers a choice to support a cause in their name. Every staff member gets to choose how they receive their incentive—cash, a charity match, a tech package, or a gift card. This is an ingenious way to bring community responsibility to life.

At the furthest end of the community responsibility spectrum are social enterprises. These organizations flip the capitalist model on its head. Maximizing profits is no longer the purpose of these businesses. Profit is a means to a broader end of enhancing the well-being of the community. Nonprofits, as well as for-profits like Herman Miller, Grameen, and PlanetReuse, are bringing community responsibility to life in this way. Their employees and clients are supporting their model with extreme loyalty.

From traditional philanthropy to social enterprise, we challenge Omaha businesses to continue to enjoy the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that come from bringing community responsibility to life. And don’t forget—a sense of community responsibility starts with our kids. One of the ways the Business Ethics Alliance has promoted this is with our team of moral superheroes who live in the Itty Bitty City at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Take your kids to the museum and kick-start their sense of community responsibility by spending time with superhero Reese.

Beverly Kracher, Ph.D., is Executive Director of Business Ethics Alliance and Chair of Business Ethics & Society at Creighton University’s College of Business.