COMMUNITY GEMS: Dayton man who helps volunteer groups: ‘Our community is what you put into it”

As a kid, Jeff Jackson watched his parents become active members of their community, joining volunteer groups and associations.

“Growing up, civic responsibility was huge in our household,” Jackson said.

He took the lesson to heart. In addition to joining a number of community groups himself, he also co-founded Planned2Give, a nonprofit organization that helps other nonprofits find creative ways to fundraise.

Planned2Give has helped raise awareness and hundreds of thousands of dollars for groups as varied as the Epilepsy Foundation Ohio, the African-American Community Fund, Paw Patrol and Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.

Sometimes nonprofits approach the organization to manage or create a fundraiser for them. At other times Planned2Give organizes a fundraiser and chooses the recipient, only asking them to help spread the word, Jackson said.

Prior to the pandemic the organization was planning about two events each month, he said, and the group has looked toward COVID-friendly fundraisers since then. Events have included the Dayton Donut Fest, Bloody Mary Showdown and a competitive wine tasting event.

“We want to do that creative, out-of-the-box-thinking type of event,” he said.

One of the organization’s largest events was a funk concert for tornado relief held in 2019, which raised more than $100,000. But Planned2Give also helps small groups, and in particular tried to help those that were struggling after COVID-19 began, Lisa Grigsby said.

Grigsby co-founded the group with Jackson and nominated him as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem. Neither Jackson nor Grigsby draw a salary from their work with Planned2Give.

Grigsby and Jackson have known each other for 20 years and founded Planned2Give in 2015. They are “yin and yang,” she said, but work well together and found common ground in wanting to make Dayton the best it can be.

She calls her friend selfless and generous. Jackson “quietly sees a need” in the community and figures out how to meet it.

“He is just somebody who cares and is willing to help without needing credit’” said Grigsby, of Springboro.

Jackson, 48 , also is an active participant in groups throughout the community. Among them, he is president of the Wright-Dunbar Village Neighborhood Association and serves on the Wright Dunbar, Inc., executive committee and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance board.

In addition, he is a volunteer basketball coach for the Kettering Youth Basketball League, sharing his love of the game with the same core group of boys year after year. The players, who come from throughout the area, were in the sixth grade when he began to coach. Now they are high school juniors.

“They’re awesome kids,” he said. “It’s been amazing to watch them grow.”

Jackson moved to Dayton from Cincinnati in 2002 with his wife, Jennifer, and immediately got involved in his new neighborhood. He believes in making the community what he wants it to be through his own actions and involvement.

“Our community is what you put into it,” Jackson said. “If you put good in, our community becomes good. I try to keep it that simple.”

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