Recently Amanda Forker, a local attorney and Omaha Venture Group Co-Chair, shared her unique perspective on young professional giving in our community.
How did you first learn about the Omaha Community Foundation and the Omaha Venture Group? Why did you want to get involved?
After receiving my undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I moved to Omaha to pursue a law degree at Creighton University. I had an interest in learning about the Omaha community and a friend suggested that I look into the Omaha Venture Group (OVG). After attending an information session about OVG, I quickly realized it would be an excellent entry point for me to learn more about my new community, while also helping discover my own areas of interest for future involvement.
How does the Omaha Venture Group work, and what do you see as the greatest benefits of working with the Omaha Community Foundation and being a member of OVG?
OVG allows emerging leaders in Omaha to learn more about—and participate in—the cycle of grassroots grantmaking. With the support of the Omaha Community Foundation, OVG’s grantmaking season includes educational events for members and member interaction with nonprofits from initial contact, through completion of a grant application, and ultimately to the disbursement of grant funds.
OVG’s small membership (around 45 members) allows direct contact with small nonprofits and creates a truly hands-on learning experience. Through its programming and informal networking, OVG introduces young professionals to the spectrum of philanthropic causes in Omaha, the needs and organizational structure of local nonprofits, and giving options available to support those organizations.
How has your partnership with the Omaha Community Foundation and the Omaha Venture Group shaped your own values?
This work has allowed me to grow much closer to my community. My involvement has offered opportunities to become much more familiar with a wide-ranging group of nonprofits, as well as better understand the most urgent issues facing our community. It’s also provided me with a chance to meet and learn from many of the talented people with a passion and drive to address those issues.
Tell us about your experience in serving as the Omaha Venture Group representative on the Omaha Community Foundation board.
Participating in meetings with some of our community’s greatest thinkers and organizers, who are committed to making Omaha and the surrounding area a great place for everyone to live, is an incredible learning opportunity. It’s an experience that makes me thankful to live in a city where engagement is high and people are out to improve the community around us.
What would your advice be to other young professionals looking to get involved philanthropically in the metro area?
There are numerous ways for young professionals to get involved philanthropically in our area—the key is to be open to new opportunities and seek to identify causes that really connect with your interests. I have personally found it most rewarding when I am able to bring together my own talents and interests with the needs of a nonprofit. When you can find this match, you are able to create a fulfilling experience for the young professional and you serve as a helpful resource to the nonprofit.
Has anything surprised you about our region’s nonprofit community as your involvement has grown over the years?
I have been amazed by the involvement and sophistication of donors in the Omaha community, as well as by the size and impact of the philanthropic community in Omaha. From meeting the individuals who are passionate enough about a cause to launch a new organization, to working with established organizations on large funding campaigns, the involvement and dollars dedicated to philanthropic causes in Omaha is phenomenal.