Recently Blake Hoogeveen reflected on his family’s involvement with the Foundation; from joining OCF’s Omaha Venture Group six years ago, to bringing his young kids to the most recent Youth In Philanthropy event, he shares why and how his family is partnering with OCF to give back.
How did you first come to know and work with the Omaha Community Foundation?
About a decade ago, I made a significant career path change, transitioning from an actuary at Mutual of Omaha to Director of Development at QLI. I suspected the Omaha Community Foundation would be a great resource to help me improve my skills as a development professional, as well as gain more familiarity with non-profits in our community. Both suspicions turned out to be true.
I now work full-time as a co-owner of MindSet, which helps organizations develop their leaders and improve their culture. I’ve enjoyed the chance to work with leaders at OCF using our MindSet Survey, an employee engagement survey that we have conducted annually to help OCF identify strengths and opportunities for growth.
What were some of the key considerations that led your family to establish a fund at the community foundation?
My friend Don Terry at QLI first recommended opening a fund at OCF. I now recommend the OCF fund to others for several reasons; we receive great customer service that makes it easy and fast to make donations. Additionally, OCF employs great people, and I value the relationships I’ve built with the people there since opening the account. We also appreciate the opportunity to make contributions during Omaha Gives! without fees.
Describe your philanthropic journey as a multi-generational family.
My parents and grandparents have been incredible role models – they set the bar high in terms of the potential to give back to others. My wife, Sara, is also one of the most thoughtful and giving people I know. But the biggest impact on my family’s philanthropic journey started when fate led my father to become the first employee at a start-up non-profit here in Omaha in the late 1980s. He served as CEO for 20+ years, and over that time QLI would grow into the largest and most renowned center of its kind in the nation. He and our family learned a ton from the first-rate employees, as well as scores of the donors and business mentors who were instrumental in making QLI what it is today.
My personal philanthropic journey started when I joined OCF’s Omaha Venture Group (OVG), an innovative YP giving circle that applies principles of venture capital to philanthropy. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to meet great people and have an impact on small nonprofits in our community that have the potential to grow and make a big impact. It is also something fun to do as a couple – my wife and I were both members for a few years.
What have you found most valuable in working with the Omaha Community Foundation?
Probably the relationships that I have with so many people that I would not have without my deep involvement with OCF over the years. That includes OCF staff, young professionals who participated in Omaha Venture Group, as well as other individuals who I’ve met at the OCF fundholder events, including the annual Giving Reception.
How have you gotten your own young family involved in philanthropy?
My wife and I have two children, a daughter who will be three years old soon and a son who just turned three months. We attended our first OCF Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) event this fall because it was held at HETRA and our daughter absolutely loves horses. We didn’t know a lot about YIP prior to attending, but it was a great experience and we look forward to our kids continuing to be involved in YIP as they get older.
What advice would you give to families as they are beginning to define their philanthropic vision and passing along shared values to the next generation?
Don’t worry about putting a perfect plan in place. Get started now, and feel free to change course in the future. Whether you have time, talent, or treasure to give – identify an organization that seems to resonate with your values or passions and reach out to start a conversation. That first conversation might be the last you have with the organization, or it might be the start of a longstanding relationship that you’ll look back on as the first moment along an incredible journey.