Some ideas are well thought out and never executed, others are executed without any thought, the St. James Area Foundation is a philanthropic idea that is both well-planned and well-executed.

Some ideas are well thought out and never executed, others are executed without any thought, the St. James Area Foundation is a philanthropic idea that is both well-planned and well-executed.

The idea to form the St. James Area Foundation was one that arose in October 2007, when nearly $20,000 in funds from the Capital Community Award, and Horizons became available.  The Foundation was conceived out of the need for 501(c)(3) status and the complexity of raising money for projects to help the community.

“This was the birthing of an elephant,” said 2013 St. James Area Foundation Chairperson of the Board Joe McCabe.

Their idea came into fruition in June 2010. It was another two years before the foundation was finally able to give grant money to local fundraisers.  

“The first grant was awarded to a Paid Internship Program through the EDA,” said St. James Area Foundation Secretary Lori Nusbaum.

The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation acts as a conduit and fiscal host for the St. James Area Foundation.  SMIF is currently offering a match to local communities out of the money they receive from the McKnight foundation.  

“If we create awareness for anything as we move forward in 2013, we want the community to know these dollars are available to us to take advantage of,” says Nusbaum.  “The local SJAF board would like to take advantage of this for the benefit of St. James and the surrounding area.”

SMIF will match 50 cents on every dollar given to the endowment fund up to $5,000. However, it is given on a first come first serve basis for all of the communities that are fiscally sponsored by SMIF, so it's important that money is brought in quickly. This is money that goes to the community that the community doesn't need to raise.

“They [SMIF] want to see community participation and involvement,” said McCabe.  
If there is an interest in being involved with or supporting the local foundation in any capacity, people can contact Ellie Kulseth at (507) 381-4832.

“We are looking to be the umbrella that other organizations can come to in order to get dollars granted to them. Rather than going out and fundraising little pieces of money around the community, they can just come to us, because the money has already been raised. We look at ourselves as a partner for other foundations and organizations,” said Nusbaum.

In essence, the goal of the St. James Area Foundation is to grow the pot of money with which the various foundations throughout St. James have to work.  

The organization also works as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit sponsor for individual projects in which people wish to raise money.  The dollars raised by those projects go into a specific fund within the foundation.  

“Wouldn't it be nice to just have one spot for people in the community to go to if they know it's a project that's going to significantly impact the community or to grow and develop the community,” said St. James Area Foundation Vice Chair Ryan Smith. “As opposed to have to work on every little thing as it comes up.”

The dream is to have enough money in their endowment fund that individuals could come with a request and wouldn’t have to bother with legal paperwork or fundraising – the foundation would take care of that.

“If I'm just four or five people out in the community trying to raise money for a project and I don't know how to or I'm not willing to go out and create a 501(c)(3) where any gift or support is going to be tax deductible, the foundation will make that a lot easier. It saves people in the community from having to raise that money or create their own 501(c)(3),” said Ryan Smith.

 “We want to involve as many people from the community as possible,” said Joe McCabe.

Ten years down the road, they hope to have enough money in their endowment that the community will have a steady resource they can tap into.  
With less and less resources to do more and more, this will be a resource that makes a difference in the community