Feature Image: Alden Area Community Foundation Member Chair Barb Zeller, along with board members Jerry Reyerson and Radley Miller met with Tim Penny, President and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, at You Betcha Café in Alden last week.

Republished with permission from Alden Advance

by Shelly Zeller, Editor in Chief, Alden Advance

Alden Area Community Foundation—Make a difference. Create a legacy. The non-profit organization exists to create a better future for the entire community.

How? By uniting people, institutions and resources; addressing the community’s most critical or persistent issues; and producing significant, widely shared and lasting results.

The Alden Area Community Foundation, which is an affiliate fund of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, provides a simple, powerful, highly personal approach to giving. Community members are able to make a gift of cash, securities, real estate, life insurance, annuities and/or personal property directly to the Foundation or through a bequest, trust arrangement or retirement plan assets.

“Our mission is to serve the City of Alden and its surrounding areas by supporting programs and projects that improve the quality of life and build a stronger community,” said member Barb Zeller.

The Foundation reminds the community, “You do not have to be wealthy to make a difference. You can leave a lasting impact on the quality of life in the greater Alden area, right here, right now, and in years to come.” 

Zeller stated the Alden Area Community Foundation was lucky enough to start with monies in their foundation. “Most foundations start out either at zero or in the red for the first year. We were fortunate to start where we did.”

“The goal of planned giving is to help you plan your estate and charitable giving in a way that benefits you, your family and charity,” said the Alden Area Community Foundation. “There are many ways you can make a planned gift to charity and enjoy tax and income benefits.”

Ways to make a difference:

  • Endowment Fund: A permanent fund, from which a percentage of the assets is used by Alden Area Community Foundation annually for grant awards.
  • Unrestricted Fund: The account allowing Alden Area Community Foundation the greatest flexibility in using funds to respond to the ever-changing needs in the greater Alden area.
  • Designated Fund: The account providing donors the most flexibility, allowing them to specify one or more of the special project areas endorsed by the Alden Area Community Foundation to receive their gift.
    An endowment fund allows the foundation to continue its work for generations to come. “The donor’s gift keeps giving since the principal is invested and the interest earned is spent to support the community foundation’s mission,” said the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. “An endowment fund is held by a charitable organization which has imposed restrictions prohibiting some or the entire principal from being spent, keeping the primary fund intact and using the earnings to support grant making and other activities. This fund will then be able to benefit the community indefinably through grand making.”

The foundation hopes to act as a community catalyst by building endowments to ensure grant funding is always available to support the community and redirect funds as community needs the change.

“We hope to create and improve networks and develop local resources for the people of Alden,” said Zeller. “We are creating a healthier, stronger community, as well as fulfilling the needs of the community and giving the opportunity to give back at the same time.”

Tim Penny, President & CEO of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, visited the Alden Area Community Foundation members last week in Alden. “The foundation has been strong for over 31 years of its existence. It was created to help rural foundations and cover non-metro counties.”

According to Penny, who has been the President of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation for 11 years, said the group has a budget ranging from five to six million. “Our goals are to help small businesses start up through yearly grants; help the early childhood education; and to help smaller towns, such as Alden, create community funds.”

Board Member Jerry Reyerson stated the group is reaching out to the community in many ways. “This gives local donors different options,” he said. “We are not out to do what others do and our mission is different. We are not competing with other funding and our direction and focus is benefiting the entire community, not individuals.”

The Alden Area Community Foundation invites the public to its upcoming Bright Ideas Workshop.  Pamela Bishop, Vice President of Economic Development at Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, will be speaking.

“We need the community to bring ideas to this workshop,” said Zeller. At the end of the meeting, citizens will have the opportunity to fill out a grant application. From there, the first of July the board will announce the project that won up to a $10,000 grant to help fund the winning project. The project then has one year to be completed.

“It’s just so neat that we are able to provide grant dollars and that all of our funds stay within our Alden community,” stated Zeller. “I look forward to hearing great ideas of our local people.”

The Bright Ideas Workshop will be held on Wednesday, April 18th, beginning at 5:30 at the Alden City Hall. Food will be provided by You Betcha Café. Please RSVP on Facebook, to the Alden City Office, or call Barb Zeller, 507-874-2730 by April 12th. Like the Alden Area Community Foundation on Facebook.