A Message from Our President/CEO and Board Chair
Whether you’ve been connected to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) since our inception in 1986 or are just getting to know us, you’ll see a wide range of impact through our work. From investing in businesses to developing community leaders to serving donors, we are a single connection offering unlimited possibilities for our rural southwest Minnesota regional community.
Throughout Fiscal Year 2012, we continued thoughtful planning, calculated risk taking and unfailing commitment to our entire region. On the heels of our 25th anniversary celebration, SWIF continued to celebrate and recognize the programs, partnerships, and most importantly, the people who make our work both possible and necessary.
And, giving has remained at the core of this work.
In Fiscal Year 2012, we again exceeded our goal by raising more than $316,000 for our General Endowment, which is a critical tool for growing resources to support our region forever. We received two gifts through our Keep It GrowingSM farmland retention program, a unique way to support our region and communities while keeping valuable land in production. We created a new Legacy Circle to recognize donors who make a planned gift to support SWIF beyond their lifetime. And, we welcomed three new community foundation partners into our family of more than 100 funds.
Together with all of our fund partners, we awarded grants totaling more than $1.4 million dollars. These are real dollars going out to grow and promote local activities and our entire region.
But, SWIF doesn’t accomplish anything alone—we create impact by building relationships with people who want to make a difference. We have the tools and expertise to help people give back to support causes they care about, and we have the experience and connections to leverage these gifts to create a greater impact.
Each donor represents a wonderful story of giving. Our donors make a choice to support our work because they believe in the possibilities our future holds, and we sincerely thank each of you for your partnership. While we can’t share every story, we hope that those we have featured in Looking Forward, Giving Back will inspire you to think about your own giving. There is so much we can accomplish together
SWIF’s volunteer Board of Directors represents the best of southwest Minnesota. They are a committed and experienced group of regional leaders actively involved in serving SWIF’s mission.
Board Chair William (Bill) McCormack led SWIF to raise the bar even higher on how we best use resources and serve the region in Fiscal Year 2012. His leadership has SWIF well-positioned to move new opportunities forward while excelling at current work. Board member Connie VanDerBill Medin completed six years of service in Fiscal Year 2012. Retired from Kandiyohi Family Services and an active farmer and volunteer, Connie provided great leadership and an important perspective to our Board of Directors, including playing a major role in helping shape Keep It Growing, SWIF’s farmland retention program.
To receive a printed copy of our complete audited financials, please contact us at 800-594-9480.
As we’ve shared, our work is supported by generous people, businesses, communities, and partner organizations who want to strengthen southwest Minnesota not just today, but well into the future. Learn about their investments made through SWIF and our more than 100 fund partners to benefit our communities and region by viewing the download below for our Fiscal Year 2012 edition of Looking Forward, Giving Back .
Thanks to the generosity of our donors and partners, these are some of the highlights of the Southwest Initiative Foundation’s impactful work in Fiscal Year 2012.
- Three new community foundation fund partners joined SWIF’s family of more than 100 funds, including Bird Island-Olivia (BIO Legacy Fund), Montevideo and Walnut Grove.
- Two gifts of farmland were booked through SWIF’s Keep It Growing farmland retention program that will ultimately benefit the region.
- A unique opportunity for donor engagement in Luverne led to SWIF providing local leadership to facilitate community visioning sessions and equipping community members to begin implementing multiple community improvement projects.
- Organization-wide development efforts allowed us to exceed the fundraising goal to the SWIF General Endowment by raising more than $316,000 to benefit the entire region.
- The final Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota trip was made. More than 300 southwest Minnesota veterans were taken to Washington, D.C. on trips made possible by this volunteer- and donor-driven organization, which SWIF supported through our Paul and Alma Schwan Aging Trust Fund.
- SWIF awarded $1,000 grants to each food shelf in southwest Minnesota for a total of $34,000. The checks were delivered in person by SWIF board and staff to see what our local food shelves do in the community. SWIF staff and board have continued our monthly food shelf collections and personally donate about 50 pounds of food and $100 to a different food shelf in our region each month.
- The Business Finance Program became an approved lender under the State Small Business Credit Initiative allowing SWIF to make a greater impact. SWIF has deployed 71 percent of this loan fund to support business development throughout the region.
- Entrepreneurship/Microloan team closed 40 microloans and launched an updated CORE website to provide business education to existing and aspiring entrepreneurs. SWIF was also invited to serve on the board for KIVA’s new U.S. loan platform which presents a unique way to increase access to capital in the region.
- SWIF hosted its fourth Leading By Example event “The Mind of a Champion” providing leadership development and networking opportunities to 40 business leaders.
- SWIF sponsored the Animal Science Venture Forum in Willmar and the Regional Bioscience Conference in Worthington to support these key asset sectors.
- In partnership with Initiative Foundation, SWIF established a pilot coalition of lake associations in Meeker County to participate in the Healthy Lakes and Rivers Partnership working to evaluate and enhance water quality.
- The Youth Energy Summit (YES!) program, in partnership with Prairie Woods Environmental Learning Center, established 27 student teams.
- Two new Early Childhood Initiative Coalitions were launched including Lac qui Parle Valley and Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian (BOLD).
- SWIF trained 26 nonprofit leaders through the Nonprofit Leader’s Academy, a program designed to help build individual skills and capacity.
- SWIF staff completed a Facilitate and Transfer Field Guide based on best practices and models used in SWIF programming to develop and challenge leaders throughout the region. Efforts increased the cross-functionality of staff throughout the organization. These best practices were also shared with two returning Blandin Community Leadership Program cohorts in our region, including Olivia-Renville-Sacred Heart and Murray County.