Guest Column: We’re now in the season of the year for giving

Published 4:45 pm Thursday, November 28, 2019

Guest Column by Tim Penny

Tim Penny


This season of giving and gratitude continues to inspire me. I am always overwhelmed by the generous contributions from donors to Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and our 30 community foundations as well as to other local nonprofits.

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Nov. 14 was Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota. This statewide day of giving reminds me how much the residents of Minnesota love where they live, the theme for SMIF’s fundraising campaign. According to GiveMN, this year Minnesota raised $21.6 million on Give to the Max Day, adding to the $240 million given through this day since 2009. Our 30 community foundations raised over $70,000 dollars on Give to the Max Day this year, more than they have ever raised before. Giving to community foundations keeps philanthropic dollars local — SMIF’s affiliate fund program, which includes these 30 community foundations, granted over $1.2 million to local efforts in our last fiscal year. Donors to these funds are making a direct impact on their community.

Donors’ gifts, no matter the size, also inspire my own giving. I believe in SMIF’s commitment to a bright future for our children, business owners, small towns and new immigrants. That is why I have chosen to provide a matching gift of $15,000 to support SMIF’s Love Where You Live campaign. This campaign supports the growth of SMIF’s three endowment funds: Entrepreneur Fund, Youth Trust Fund and General Endowment Fund. The goal is to raise a total of $3.5 million in three years to ensure a vibrant region for generations to come.

Another donor, Butch Isensee of Valley Design, has pledged a matching gift to the Love Where You Live campaign. As a former loan client, Isensee knows the value of SMIF’s work and wants to give back, “It takes a lot of hard work to start a business, and thanks to business financing from SMIF, I was able to grow Valley Design into what it is today. It has always been my feeling that SMIF helped us out so now it is our turn to pay it forward and support SMIF. Being able to support this campaign through a matching donation will hopefully encourage others to give. The work SMIF does is important. I love this region and I want to see it continue to prosper.”

Donors make our region thrive. I am grateful for the amazing people that invest in the future of southern Minnesota and see the value in the work we do at SMIF. If you don’t currently support SMIF, I hope you will consider joining Butch Isensee and me in supporting the Love Where You Live Campaign. Giving Tuesday is Dec. 3, another important day of giving. According to Giving Tuesday’s website, this global effort raised over $400 million in 2018. In the spirit of giving and gratitude, please consider supporting local nonprofits on Giving Tuesday.

Remember, anyone can be a philanthropist — no matter the size of your gift. What matters is that you support the causes and places most important to you.

You can find out more about our campaign and give to SMIF at

As always, I welcome your comments and questions. You can reach me at or 507-455-3215.

Tim Penny is the president and CEO of Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.