Patrick Costello of Lakefield was recently recognized as the 2016 Southwest Initiative Foundation Award Recipient. This award honors individuals who personify the foundation’s mission to be a catalyst, facilitating opportunities for economic and social growth by developing and challenging leaders to build on the region’s assets.
The award was designed by the foundation’s Board of Directors and staff to recognize a person, business, or organization that has made extraordinary contributions to SWIF and the region by demonstrating the four core attributes of the foundation’s guiding principles: philanthropy, leadership, innovation and collaboration.
Costello singlehandedly designed and developed what today is known as SWIF’s Keep It Growing℠ farmland giving program, a model that has changed rural philanthropy forever. In this model, landowners can donate farmland to a community foundation like SWIF. Most charities would sell the land, but SWIF can keep it. The donor receives tax benefits and income for life. Counties maintain their tax base. SWIF rents out the land, often to longtime tenants, and the income supports work in area communities.
“It’s a winning combination,” said SWIF Board Chair Bob Thurston. “Not only did Pat convince us to adopt his model, he worked to change state laws that would allow a community foundation like us to do it legally. He put countless hours into the idea and has put countless more into promoting and implementing it with his clients.”
Other community foundations are taking notice, with more than a dozen similar programs starting across the U.S. Donors across the country are able to make meaningful gifts and keep their farm legacy going by using an idea started right here in southwest Minnesota. And, foundations are able to capture valuable wealth, directly benefiting rural communities.
“Pat has helped define what community philanthropy means in southwest Minnesota,” said SWIF President/CEO Diana Anderson. “He understood before anyone that the generational transfer of wealth could see millions of dollars leave the region as it passed to heirs or charities outside of our region.” To date, SWIF has received 1,650 acres of donated farmland with an approximate value of $14.9 million.
“His vision for community foundations to keep and manage farmland has been the single most important charitable innovation in our history, and perhaps in all of rural philanthropy,” Anderson said. “In helping his clients find ways to give back to their hometowns, Pat understands that these remarkable men and women also find deep satisfaction and purpose.”
To commemorate his award, Costello received a photography print by Luverne native and world-renowned nature photographer Jim Brandenburg. He will also be able to direct a $2,000 grant to the southwest Minnesota nonprofit of his choosing, made by the foundation in his honor.
View Pat’s award book to read his complete story, as well as tributes from foundation leaders.