All Oklahomans Benefit from Tribal Generosity

A strong culture of philanthropic giving is necessary to meet the needs of every Oklahoman. And the tribes who are headquartered here have long been stepping up to meet those needs.

“This is our homeland,” states Kimberly Teehee, vice president of government relations for Cherokee Nation Businesses. “We are permanent partners in this state.”

As permanent partners, they are deeply invested in the well-being of the communities they call home. In city after city, town after town, the tribes are making a critical difference in areas that matter most to all Oklahomans.

The Economic Impact of Tribal Nations in Oklahoma Fiscal Year 2017

Oklahoma Tribal Nations are major drivers of Oklahoma’s overall economy, ranking as a Top 10 industry.

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A Helping Hand to Nonprofits

Many nonprofit organizations statewide are grateful to be on the receiving end of tribal generosity that adds up to millions of dollars in donations. Anne Clouse, vice president and executive director of the INTEGRIS Foundation, raves about the long history of support the tribes have provided and the stability they bring. “I would hate to think that, if we didn’t have that tribal support through philanthropy, what our nonprofits would look like in this state,” Clouse says. “They’re very passionate about taking care of all Oklahomans.”

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It’s a passion that goes beyond just writing checks—tribal citizens get personally involved at every level. “It’s not just the funding that they provide—the things that the funding allows us to do is certainly transformational—but they also help us with their leadership,” notes Deborah McAuliffe Senner, president and CEO of Allied Arts. “They sit on our committees, on our boards and they offer their expertise and bring a new perspective to the table.”

Tribal Nations Are Fostering Education

More than just nonprofit groups are helped by the tribes. Educational institutions are also beneficiaries. “Every higher educational institution in Oklahoma, every one of them, has received a benefit from tribal nations,” assures Judge Robert Henry. He served as president of Oklahoma City University from 2010-2018. “From scholarships, endowed chairs, building contributions, all sorts of things, high ed would be in a difficult spot without the philanthropy of the tribes.”

These benefits are changing lives. “Transforming higher education is one thing, but transforming an individual student’s life is something else. And there could just not be more valuable partners for higher ed than our tribal partners,” enthuses Martha Burger, president of Oklahoma City University.

I would be hard-pressed to find an Oklahoman that was not impacted by the generosity of the tribes.

Deborah McAuliffe Senner
President and CEO
Allied Arts

$61 Million

In total community support via tribal donations and sponsorships

Charitable Giving in Rural Communities

The tribes serve as active and willing community partners throughout the entire state—from bustling metro hubs to smaller cities and towns. But it is perhaps the more isolated and remote rural areas who are most impacted by tribal giving.

“What I don’t think a lot of people understand is how the tribes really fill that need so greatly in rural communities,” says Alison Anthony, president and CEO of Tulsa Area United Way. The tribes help fund everything from new fire trucks and transportation services to youth and elderly programs, housing and health care. “Without them, that would leave a vast hole that would affect thousands of Oklahomans.”

People leading United Way chapters in cities all over the country would do anything to have that type of really stable and involved support our tribal leadership provides.

Alison Anthony
President and CEO
Tulsa Area United Way

Weathering the Economic Storms

Tribal nations have also lent a consistency to philanthropic efforts. When an economic downtown hits, Oklahoma has an asset most states don’t—strong tribal nations who can stabilize communities when it’s needed most. As Debby Hampton observes, “If our corporations aren’t doing well, our nonprofit sector is not going to do well.” Thankfully, the tribal nations remain steady through the valleys. As the United Way of Central Oklahoma president and CEO notes, “The only consistency you have is with the tribes.”

To say we’re dependent is kind of an understatement. We really do rely on the tribes to help us with some of the most difficult challenges in the state of Oklahoma.

Debby Hampton
President and CEO
United Way of Central Oklahoma

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