Over the past year, ingenuity, creativity, and partnerships helped us endure one of the most challenging times for all businesses, including nonprofits. During this time of uncertainty, two local community funds helped distribute over $800,000 in our region. The United Way of Northeastern South Dakota and the Aberdeen Area Community Foundation (AACF), in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, helped meet the needs of numerous nonprofits in the region.
The roots of the United Way go back to 1932, and the AACF was chartered in 1984. Both have similar goals to help provide financial assistance and expertise for nonprofits and donors. Over the last five years, the two organizations have partnered together to bring programs like 211 and Rachel’s Challenge to our community. In the Spring of 2020, both organizations focused their collective efforts on emergency COVID-19 relief to area nonprofits.
In 2020, the United Way had already committed to over $550,000 through their annual campaign appeal and Foundation grant program. They also established a COVID-19 Relief Fund that raised an additional $126,000, including two lead gifts from the United Way Foundation and the AACF totaling $80,000. All of the money raised for the Relief Fund was distributed in grants to local organizations.
Through a partnership with Knight Foundation, the AACF was able to make significant grants to address the impact of the pandemic in the Aberdeen area. In March 2020, Knight Foundation committed $225,000 to create the Knight COVID-19 Aberdeen sub-fund in the AACF. Throughout the year, the AACF made 13 grants for nearly $143,000 to organizations in the area, including the lead gift of $40,000 to the United Way COVID-19 Relief Program. In addition, AACF made another five COVID-related grants totaling $13,000 to local organizations that were fully matched by the South Dakota Community Foundation in its program to match grants by its community savings account partners, including AACF.
“The partnership has been incredible; Pat Gallagher and I have really tried to be strategic on how both organizations can do the best in our region. I believe the collective impact of both organizations has been a big help to several nonprofits this year,” said Aaron Schultz, director of the United Way.
“Of course, we can hardly take all the credit,” Pat said. “What our organizations have been able to do is only because we live in a community that cares and has contributed to us to be able to make this possible. Plus, we work well together. The United Way is kind of like the community checking account—paying for the immediate needs—while AACF is the savings account—which saves up funds, grows, and uses the interest to have an impact.” // –United Way Staff