Giving From the Heart with Former… | South Dakota Community Foundation

Giving From the Heart with Former Governor Dennis and Linda Daugaard

Former Governor Dennis Daugaard, and his wife Linda, have given back to South Dakota in numerous ways–from serving as 32nd governor and first lady of South Dakota from 2011 to 2019, to their dedication to multiple organizations, including Children’s Home Society, Fairy Godmother’s Fund and South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) where Dennis currently serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors.

Dennis and Linda recently joined Jamie Farmen, SDCF Community Development Coordinator & Marketing Manager, to discuss the power of giving back and the ways they are making an impact.

The Daugaards stepped onto the path of philanthropy in a big way when the mission of the Children’s Home Society deeply impacted them. Established in 1893, the Children’s Home Society of South Dakota is the state’s oldest human service nonprofit organization. Serving as South Dakota’s primary orphanage and adoption agency for more than 70 years, thousands of children have been rescued, cared for and provided permanent families.

“When you hear all that Children’s Home does, you’d have to have a pretty hard heart not to be touched by their work,” said Dennis, “And I was touched, Linda too. And so, we have always had a place in our heart for Children’s Home.”

Dennis began in a volunteer role with the organization but was inspired to see them succeed. He left his previous position as an executive banker to dedicate 19 years to the Children’s Home Society, culminating in serving as executive director. Both Dennis and Linda have dedicated their time and energy to the development of the organization and even spent a summer living on campus at the Black Hills Children’s Home Society.

With extensive insight into the foster care system and women’s shelters, Linda has been a key figure in the efforts of the Fairy Godmother’s Fund through SDCF. The Fairy Godmother’s Fund was created to improve the health and well-being of South Dakota women with limited Resources. The fund helps them address immediate, short-term critical needs that cannot be met by traditional funding options. There are no grant applications, no long forms or dense financial paperwork to fill out. An advisory council of women throughout the state works to ensure the funds are directly paid to benefit women’s needs throughout the year.

“When you look at the impact the fund has made, it’s incredible,” said Linda. “To help these South Dakota women is so special, and when you listen to the stories, it’s eye-opening. To be able to present someone with a check…it is so emotional.”

When discussing the challenges the state faces, Dennis reflected on what he observed during his time in office, from workforce shortages to environmental effects on South Dakota waterways.

“That’s why I think the South Dakota Community Foundation is such a great organization,” stated Dennis, “because, whatever a donor may be interested in supporting, the foundation can be a conduit for addressing that need.”

The Daugaard’s dedication to South Dakota will not stop anytime soon, as the couple has partnered with SDCF to gift their home through a life estate plan.

“You know it’s really special for us to be able to make an impact and give money away.” shared Linda.

“As years go by, you start realizing everything you have in life is all a matter of degree,” said Dennis. “You’re always in some way wanting to achieve more in the material world and it’s all at the end of the day, gilding the lily. So, why not do what really helps you in your heart and that is, help people that really need something. Not the gilding of the lily that you think you need.”

Both Linda and Dennis are wonderful examples of giving back to our great state in so many ways. The example they have set will live on through their giving at SDCF and their children, who have started down their own paths of philanthropy.

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