COTTONWOOD, Minn.— Cottonwood has a new permanent resource to respond to needs and opportunities in the community. The Cottonwood Area Community Foundation, formed in partnership with Southwest Initiative Foundation, is led by a local advisory board tasked with fundraising, grantmaking and educating the community about the local foundation’s mission and vision.
Inaugural advisory board members are Chair Linda Dieken, Vice Chair the Rev. Janel Kuester, Treasurer Tam French, Secretary Kurtis Parlin, Shannon Geihl, Greg Isaackson, Jon Lenz, Jeff Mauland and Karen Meiners.
“Our role in the community will be to build relationships with donors and local nonprofit organizations recommending projects for future funding,” Dieken said. “It’s an opportunity to help donors give to causes in our community they care most about.”
Conversations about starting a local community foundation started with city staff more than a year ago. From there, community members got involved and, and the initial fundraising effort secured $9,055, above the $5,000 minimum needed to partner with Southwest Initiative Foundation. A large portion of that was a generous gift from the Cottonwood Lions Club as its members voted to dissolve their group and wanted to give remaining funds to an organization that would continue to support the community.
Southwest Initiative Foundation is known for regional grantmaking, supporting kids and families and business financing, in addition to working with donors and its affiliates. Since its founding in 1986, Southwest Initiative Foundation has distributed more than $6.3 million in Lyon County through its grantmaking and business finance programs. That includes more than $40,000 in grants to the City of Cottonwood to engage young people in local government and to encourage small business start-ups.
Southwest Initiative Foundation will handle gift processing and receipting, grant processing, investment management and the 501(c)(3) status necessary for gifts to Cottonwood Area Community Foundation to be tax deductible. Through the partnership, Cottonwood’s advisory board members have access to technical and professional support in areas such as strategic planning, board development, fundraising, marketing and public relations, and grantmaking.
Local advisory board members have participated in training and are working on the new foundation’s mission and vision before launching a larger fundraising effort. Jeff Vetsch, SWIF Community Philanthropy Officer, has been guiding the new board through the startup process and serves as the foundation contact. He’s pictured here with advisory board members.
“We all want to play a part in making our communities the most vibrant places they can be, and that’s certainly true of the volunteer board in Cottonwood. This community is really looking for ways to give back,” Vetsch said.
Those interested in donating to the new community foundation can mail gifts to Cottonwood Area Community Foundation at PO Box 432, Cottonwood, MN 56229 or visit swifoundation.org/donate to give. Southwest Initiative Foundation will match gifts to the local community foundation up to $25,000 over the next two years.
Donations to Cottonwood Area Community Foundation support an endowment fund, which acts like a savings account for the community. The principal is never spent; as the endowment grows, earnings are granted into the community. Cottonwood Area Community Foundation can also be a tool to raise dollars for specific community projects and oversee donor-advised or other types of funds created by local donors.
About Southwest Initiative Foundation
Southwest Initiative Foundation is a nonprofit community foundation connecting people, investing in ideas and building communities to create a southwest Minnesota where all people thrive. SWIF launched its local community foundation program in 1999 to give southwest Minnesotans a way to support the charities and the places that were important in their lives, and to retain wealth in this rural region. Today, the foundation’s 28 affiliate partners advise 108 funds (including endowment, operating, project and designated funds) with assets totaling $9.2 million. In the last 20 years, these partners have awarded more than 2,400 local grants totaling $6.6 million. Learn more at swifoundation.org.