Foundations Are Popping Up Everywhere in South Dakota

Article excerpt

South Dakota independent banks have landed on the ideal vehicle to foster local economic growth and bolster gift-giving to non-profit organizations: Make use of the tax-exempt community foundation.

matter of a few short months, of banks across the state have latched on to the idea of organizing community foundations to attract and distribute gifts of capital to charitable agencies for community betterment.

"Having been homesteaders in this area, my family and I feel an obligation to give something back to the community and so we are setting up $50,000 foundations for each of the seven communities where we have offices," says John Lillibridge, chairman of First Fidelity Bank of Burke and one of the latest to sign on to the program.

The separate foundations, each of which will have local boards of directors to decide which projects get funding, are being organized by Lillibridge in Burke, Bonesteel, Platte, Gregory, Colome, Winner and Murdo. Announcement of the foundations were to be made at a special media briefing this month.

The foundation concept, which has been applied in 12 South Dakota towns, is spearheaded by the nonprofit South Dakota Community Foundation, which manages each of the local funds. The state foundation was chartered in 1987.

The South Dakota Community Foundation, which is designed to raise endowment funds for local communities and provide a vehicle for wealthy individuals to bequeath funds, in 1994 extended grants of more than $575,000 for projects ranging from setting up a training program for the disabled in Sioux Falls to financing YMCA activities in Pierre.

"We expect that in 1995 as many as six other banks in South Dakota will organize these kinds of local foundations, which are in essence community savings accounts," says Bernie Christensen, executive director of the state foundation.

Christensen, noting that neighboring states have contacted him looking for more information about the South Dakota Community Foundation, says the concept is aimed at providing a vehicle for wealthy individuals "to give back a portion of what they earned to the community in which they resided. …