Dora - Homegrown Tools

Dora, OR

Updated: 2022

In Dora, a major renovation of the fire station, library and community center is intended to spark further investment in this small rural town.

Population2020 *for Census Block Group 1, tract 11.02, Coos County OR561*
Median Household Income2020 *for Census Block Group 1, tract 11.02, Coos County OR$67,292
Poverty Rate 2020 *for Census Block Group 1, tract 11.02, Coos County OR6.4%
Proximity to Urban Center 150 miles to Eugene, Ore.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 75 miles
Case Study Time Frame 2002-2006
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
View Complete Case StudyUpdated: Dora, 2022

Dora demonstrates that very small towns can accomplish big things. This tiny farming and cattle-ranching town has raised more than $880,000 for a new fire station, an expanded library and a remodeled community center. “Getting this building to happen is an all-volunteer effort, done by amateurs,” said one local leader. “Nonetheless, with a bit more time and effort, we fully expect the fine old school building in Dora to be fixed up into a fine new fire hall and community center.” Leaders in Dora believed that rehabilitating the town’s civic infrastructure, which in this case is a dilapidated old fire station and school house, would demonstrate a high level of commitment to the community and in turn would help the town to attract additional investment.


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Small towns can do big things. Dora, with 250 people and very little economic activity, shows the critical importance of a positive attitude. Few residents had any grant-writing experience, but they believed in the viability of their vision. “We thought to ourselves, ‘There must be money out there and people who want to fund this kind of project,’” explained Linda Kirk. By raising local funds and tapping into a diverse range of grant funding, Dora chipped away at the total project cost and built momentum for the project.


Rural residents may be your most generous supporters. New evidence from NewTithing (a philanthropic research organization) suggests rural residents and those with smaller incomes are more likely to donate to civic causes. Rural towns should not overlook their residents as a source of financing for community projects. Residents and small businesses contributed over $80,000 to Dora’s community center project.