The most rewarding part of John Porter’s role as chairperson of the board of South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) is getting a front row seat as people and organizations embrace the responsibility of caring for one another.
“What has been the most heartwarming thing for me is that a lot of people and groups have taken on a major commitment of improving the lives and well-being of others,” says Porter, who is the president and CEO of Avera Health, and has served on the board for almost seven years.
Avera’s mission aligns with SDCF’s mission, he noted. “At Avera, we take great pride in the things we’ve done,” he says, including investing in the economic and infrastructure needs of communities around the state. “But one of the best things we’ve done is work with South Dakota Community Foundation.”
SDCF continues to do exciting work, he adds, managing savings accounts in almost 80 communities around the state and strengthening relationships with donors to increase assets—and in turn, give back more to communities in South Dakota.
SDCF recently reached a major goal two years ahead of schedule—hitting $300 million in assets. “When we were told we were going to hit the $300 million mark, the room just exploded,” he says. “We want to re-establish targets now that we’ve met that goal, but we’re going to celebrate first.”
Yes, there is more work to be done. “We need to continue to work on generating ongoing gifts,” he says. “And, consider how we put money back into the community. There are a variety of good causes and now we’re a major funder of those causes.”
Thirty years after its inception, SDCF needs to continue to educate the public on what they do. “We’re undergoing a major wealth transfer in this country,” he notes. “For the people who were raised here, how do we let them know there is an opportunity, even if their kids are no longer here, to pass on to others?”
SDCF is making a real difference in peoples’ lives. “Look at the success stories,” he says. “In some communities there is access to a local grocery store or good accessible health care, parks and recreation, affordable housing, and more… things that may not have been there years ago.”
“We want people to know that when you donate, it’s going to the work that makes communities stronger. That’s a tremendous story and a lot of hard work 30 years in the making.”John Porter