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Non-profit programs get big boost form community foundation

A big influx of money - $360,000 worth - promises to strengthen the work of non-profit agencies serving the Alexandria area.

Less than a year and a half after affiliating with the Central Minnesota Community Foundation (CMCF), the Alexandria Area Community Foundation (AACF) has already seen some new successes.

Since its founding by local Alexandria leaders in 1992, AACF has focused on growing its endowment fund and the grants supported by it.

Foundation leaders say AACF's choice to partner with CMCF is helping them build upon this work, as well as offer an expanded set of community foundation services.

AACF recently received a $360,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation to increase its capacity to enhance philanthropy in the Alexandria area and strengthen the community.

The impact of the Bremer grant will begin to be seen almost immediately as the AACF reinvests $140,000 of the funds into key community programs, according to foundation leaders.

The grant also includes $100,000 as a community challenge to accelerate the growth of the Alexandria endowment. These dollars will only be provided to the AACF once it receives $100,000 in gifts from the local community.

The foundation has also seen results in its effort to expand its donor services and encourage local individuals, families and businesses to create funds that facilitate their philanthropy and allow them to easily and more effectively support the causes they care about.

Fred and Terri Bursch established the first AACF donor advised fund last year, followed shortly by the second fund, the Loren and Kathryn Liesemeyer Foundation Fund.

These new fund holders and the Otto Bremer Foundation have recognized the effectiveness of CMCF's affiliate model of local leadership combined with efficient, centralized technical support.

As an affiliate, the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation has grown to more than $5 million in 67 funds and awarded more than $2.2 million in grants since it started in 1998.

The Willmar Area Community Foundation affiliate now has $12 million in 40 funds, and it had made $2.2 million in grants.

That success and the potential to replicate it in the community of Alexandria led the Otto Bremer Foundation to award the Community Foundation the $360,000.

With this grant and its expanded capacity to serve donors, AACF is poised to rapidly build upon its current $700,000 in assets and do even more for the local community in the years to come.