The Miller Area Foundation board held a special “Donor Appreciation Evening” June 7 at the American Bank & Trust community room in Miller.
The main purpose of the evening was to recognize donors who helped reach the foundation’s challenge goal of $75,000.
In 2008, Rich Joy said he would pledge $75,000 to the foundation, with the challenge that other donors would meet that amount. That they did, and in return the South Dakota Community Foundation gave an additional $25,000, bringing the total to $175,000.
Buddie Seiner, South Dakota Community Foundation, was on hand to make the $25,000 check presentation.
Also present were Jim and Nini Hart, formerly of Miller.
Jim Hart was an original board member of the South Dakota Community Foundation, and served for 11 years. Nini was a board member for nine years, and remains on the Miller Area Foundation board.
In fact, Jim was bank president when the board of directors of the Hand County State Bank pledged $125,000 to fund projects initiated by non-profit organizations in Hand County. That first $125,000 was invested with the South Dakota Community Foundation, way back in the beginning…and see how it’s grown.
Jim is again on the SDCF board of directors, serving as vice president.
A second reason for the gathering was to announce that Miller native Larry Coss issued a new challenge grant of $100,000. The period of time to match the challenge is five years, starting immediately. Should that match be reached, the South Dakota Community Foundation will again add $25,000.
Coss had also donated $10,000 in scholarship monies this spring for Miller and Sunshine Bible Academy graduating students.
SDCF vice president Jim Hart gave some background about how the foundation began and how it has expanded over the years.
A check for $5,000 from Hand County State Bank was presented April 30, 1994, and it was announced that a total of $125,000 would be donated.
The first grant dollars were distributed in 1995 and totaled $3,350, to nine different organizations.
In 1998, Miller was selected as one of 12 South Dakota communities to participate in a challenge program issued by the South Dakota Community Foundation, in partnership with the Northwest Area Foundation. One-hundred thousand dollars was in three years to receive a $50,000 match. That challenge was met.
Since 1997, the Miller Area Foundation has given $303,000 back to 109 different nonprofit groups and organizations.
Just a few of the grant recipients are: Wheels and Meals Corporation, $20,250; Hand In Hand Daycare, $16,338; Angel Tree, $10,569; Miller, Polo, South Hand and Ree Heights fire departments, totaling $28,427; Hand County Ambulance, $9,000; and Miller School District, $32,100.
Hart said, “The MAF board decided these were all very worthwhile requests. Furthermore, if these funds were not given, one of three things would happen. First, local government would have to spend tax dollars. Second, there would need to be public fundraisers. Or, three, these important groups would have to do without.”
He re-phrased a well-known statement. “‘Your local tax dollars at work’ could be re-worded to ‘Your Miller Area Foundation making your tax-free donations work in perpetuity’.”
As of May 15, 2013, the MAF fund balance was $607,804.83, after making grants of more than $303,000. Growth comes from donations, as well as gains in the stock market. “I believe it is fantastic when you consider, since this fund started in 1994, we have had three bad stock markets, the dot-com crash, the 911 crash and the housing market crash.”
In addition to the funds raised through the MAF, other funds have been started. Said Hart, “There have been 10 other funds started by people, either local or by families in memory of parents or other loved ones. Most of these funds are for scholarships for local students. These 10 funds have a total dollar value of $1,646,799.59, as of March 15, 2013. The total of this group of funds, plus the MAF funds, bring the amount to $2,225,468.42.”
But there’s more, says Hart. Two other funds that were started by local residents benefit not only the Miller area, but the entire state of South Dakota.
Those balances, as of March 15, totaled $470,458.33. “This makes a grand total of $2,725,147.75 that has been raised for the benefit of the Miller area.”
Before the evening was over, grants totaling $4,000 were awarded to three groups for the second-quarter 2013 distribution (see related photos). Application for third-quarter awards is September 15.