The Foundation's Changing Face
The chair of the Pipestone Area Community Foundation (PACF) changed Jan. 1, 2014 when Sara Priester took over for Kevin Paulsen.
Turnover will mark the PACF board for the next couple of years, in fact, as term limits kick in, opening three seats in 2014, four in 2015.
The changes began in 2009 when the charitable organization adopted its current name and shifted to a community-wide focus that promotes “a greater quality of life for present and future generations by meeting needs and creating opportunities in the Pipestone area.”
That same year, PACF contracted with the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) to act as PACF’s administrative partner and functional fiscal agent. At that time, SWIF recommended PACF set up operating guidelines and term limits – “two, three-year terms and then you had to get off for at least a year,” Paulsen said.
The term limits began kicking in last year and were designed to build continuity, add new blood and prevent the risk of burn out, Paulsen said.
“We need to have an ongoing change of opinions and ideas,” Paulsen said.
For Priester, that continuity became important. She had only been a board member for one year when she was asked if she would consider the chair. At that time, she said she didn’t feel comfortable assuming the lead but now, with so many long-time board members leaving, “it seemed the logical choice.
“For continuity’s sake, it became clear it did make sense,” Priester said.
Current members are Paulsen, Priester, Cindy Hartquist, Matt Taubert, Dr. Greg Cooper, Judy Hansen, Tim Haubrich, Steve Lange, Mick Myers, Randy Nelson and Joan Ratzloff.
The terms of Nelson, Paulsen and Ratzloff are up on Jan. 1, 2014. Three new members have not yet been chosen.
“We just kind of toss names around of people we think would be good and internalize ideas,” Priester said.
Becoming a true community foundation
Though PACF has a community-wide focus, it began in 1999 as the Pipestone Area Educational Enrichment Foundation to benefit school events and projects when the school bonding issue - which took three attempts before passing in 2000 - trumped other local issues of the day.
The initial focus was to raise funds for physical parts of the new middle school/high school building, such as air conditioning and terrazzo floors, items that had been eliminated from the plans to make the bond issue less expensive and more likely to pass. When lower-than-expected bids came in to construct the building, the school added those items.
“So then we had this money we’d been raising, so we said we’d spend it on the school for gym equipment, band instruments, choir robes, white boards – we spread it around and tried to help wherever we could,” Paulsen said.
Following that, the group decided to build up an endowment to offer a scholarship to every student continuing their education.
“We got a decent start,” Paulsen said “Then after about four years, Dollars for Scholars received two wonderful gifts and basically that enabled them to fulfill our dream.”
The organization then shifted to its current manifestation. Paulsen was part of that long journey, for the past eight years as chair.
“It took us awhile to realize what we were trying to do, who we were,” Paulsen said. “I take pride in becoming a true community foundation. We figured out how to get that done.”
The future of PACF
Paulsen’s vision for PACF as he prepares to leave the board is that it act as a kind of clearinghouse for donations and grantmaking in Pipestone.
“Instead of having 20 different groups going around selling fundraising, let’s look to the Foundation,” he said.
In the immediate future, Priester said they’re planning a revamp of the website and extending their social media presence to build more awareness about PACF grants that are funded by donors and made to local organizations based upon an application process.
Since its inception, the organization has granted $574,517 to local organizations, including operating expenses. Its largest granting year to date was fiscal year 2010-2011, when it granted $189,190 when the renovation of Harmon Park was in full swing.
The renovation of Pipestone’s oldest park was PACF’s largest project ever. As it threw its fundraising and organizational abilities behind the highly visible effort, PACF was simultaneously thrust into the local limelight, raising about $200,000 to completely renew the park and give it a grand re-dedication ceremony at Watertower Festival 2012.
Though Paulsen described Harmon Park as a “tremendous project,” he said he was perhaps even more proud of the scoreboard project. PACF purchased the Daktronics scoreboard for Paulsen Field in 2009, with Pipestone Area Schools picking up the installation and ongoing maintenance costs. PACF retained the rights to the board’s 10 advertising spots, and another eight advertising spots on two welcome boards.
The project gave the field a new scoreboard, the PACF a perpetual cash flow, and the local advertisers the knowledge that their advertising costs “will get back to the community,” Paulsen said.
“Four years later, we’ve lowered some of those costs and are still generating $15,000 per year,” with the four-year advertising contracts just renewed, Paulsen said.
Currently, PACF does not have any big projects on its radar, Priester said, but wouldn’t preclude a large project in the future.
“This past year, we didn’t want to,” she said. “Everyone was kind of exhausted. And you can only bang on doors and ask for money so often – a lot of people gave a lot to make that all (Harmon Park) happen. But we’re definitely open to something in the next year or two.
“We just want to make Pipestone a better place to live,” Priester continued. “We’re open to any kind of ideas; how to facilitate that with grant making.”