Webster Springs - Homegrown Tools

Webster Springs, WV

Updated: 2022

A rural community creates a program to harness the town’s volunteer spirit. The Webster County Community Fund is providing grants to initiatives that enhance quality of life in Webster Springs.

Median Household Income2020
*for Webster County
Poverty Rate 2020
*for Webster County
Proximity to Urban Center 101 miles to Charleston, W.Va.
Proximity to Interstate Highway 42 miles
Case Study Time Frame 2004-2006
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
View Complete Case Study

The rural community of Webster Springs created a community foundation to harness the community’s volunteer spirit and provide a funding source for community development. Leaders from the town and county have come together and, as Stephanie Randolph, the Webster County Community Fund (WCCF) coordinator explains, “Our goal is to develop a sustainable source of funds to improve the quality of life in Webster.”


What are the lessons learned from this story?


Community philanthropy can build financial, human and social capital. While the WCCF primarily benefits the community through specific grants, a secondary benefit is the development of human and social capital. For example, the organizations and individuals who compete for funding learn grant writing skills and some business fundamentals. Randolph said applicants who were not successful in receiving funds were invited to read through winning proposals to learn what makes a grant application successful. Another intangible bene t is the growth in social capital, as volunteers support the WCCF by seeking donations and bequests to the fund through one-on-one conversations with peers.


The community foundation approach is a long-term strategy. Donors to the fund must maintain long-term expectations about the results of their contribution. Unlike traditional fundraising, where specific projects seek out funds, the community foundation creates a funding source first, before projects are even on the table. This requires that donors take a leap of faith over the end use of their financial contribution. This allows the community to be flexible in terms of where the funds are awarded.


In small communities, economic development includes quality of life enhancements. Webster County recognizes there are economic benefits to be had from supporting community development activities through the WCCF. Anderson explained that the WCCF works in concert with the activities of the Economic Development Agency. The intent of the fund is to improve the quality of life to the point that quality of life becomes a draw for future employers, who in turn will provide the jobs that allow today’s children to remain in the community.