Voices of Philanthropy: Zach Barricklow, Alleghany County Community Foundation Board Member

Zach Barricklow is a member of the Alleghany County Community Foundation board. Zach has a passion for community development and a commitment to building relationships that maximize philanthropic opportunities. We asked Zach to share how the local community foundation is cultivating relationships to strengthen Alleghany county. Here’s what he told us.


How did you get involved with the Alleghany County Community Foundation?

I was invited to participate on the board a few years after my wife and I moved back to US from Panama where we were both working for the US Peace Corps doing community development.

We moved back to this part of the state where she is from – an Alleghany County native and settled down here.

What drew you to the work of the local affiliate foundation?

We both grew up in small towns and had really positive relationships with our small towns. We felt like the community really surrounded and encouraged us to go out in the world.

It gave both of us a desire to pay that forward and create that social fabric for the next generation of this small town. Plus, neither of us like waiting in line or sitting in traffic, which was our everyday experience living in cities previously!

There is a great edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review that talks about the rural blind spot of philanthropy and how little philanthropy goes to rural communities and the reasons for that.

There is not an ecosystem of large foundations, nonprofits and grant writers in rural communities as compared to more urban areas, and there is an opportunity for community foundations to step into that gap.

How have you seen the Alleghany County Community Foundation strengthen philanthropy through partnerships? 

Alleghany County is a small county with limited local wealth and giving potential. However, we have a community of second homeowners in an area called Roaring Gap.  Families there have been enjoying their summer homes there in the mountains for generations. 

The homeowners have a fondness for the area and an interest in investing in it.  They even set up a foundation called The Roaring Gap Foundation to channel their giving back to the Alleghany community.

Folks in the Roaring Gap community have a desire and capacity to support Alleghany County, but since they do not live here year-round, many lack connection to the leaders and organizations in Alleghany working to address local needs.

That is where the local community foundation comes in. Formally and informally, members of our local affiliate have teamed up with the local Chamber of Commerce to support the Roaring Gap Foundation with an annual summer tour of nonprofits in Alleghany. This creates stronger mutual connections, relationships, and awareness.

Our community foundation has our finger on the pulse of what is going on, who is who, what is working and where the needs are. We are a logical partner, and the partnership continues to grow.

It is not necessarily about telling them where to invest their dollars, but shining a light on the organizations that are really on the frontlines of dealing with urgent needs in the community.

Each year, the Roaring Gap Foundation sets a new record for how much they raise among club members to give back to the community – usually well over $100,000, which is significant in Alleghany County.

What do you think philanthropy is adding to the fabric of your local community?

One of the things that I really like about NCCF is the idea of making philanthropy accessible to non-millionaires and millionaires alike.

I went through the process and incurred the cost of setting up a private foundation with the company I cofounded. I saw how cost prohibitive it is to set up a formal charitable entity and how much it takes to maintain.

I like the fact that NCCF makes it possible for individuals or business with moderate wealth but big hearts to give back to their community in a variety of ways.

What else should we know?

There is a saying that “how you do anything is how you do everything”.  This board shows up, works hard and collaborates well in everything we do. There is a reputation for integrity. When we reach out for support or partnership, people respond well.

It is about our social capital, which is a powerful thing for all community foundations to consider.

Often when we recruit new board members, we are looking at the social and financial capital that prospective board members have to contribute.

That’s good, but we need to look beyond how we leverage existing social capital and think about how we build new social capital among members of our community who may not be at the table. Through the community foundation, we can convene and connect individuals with perspective and passion for our community’s future. Together, we can weave the social fabric between generational, racial, and socioeconomic differences.