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Stoughton Area
Community Foundation

Stoughton, WI 53589
info@stoughtonfoundation.org
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The Stoughton Area Resource Team, Inc. (START) provides a safety net for those in crisis. Recently, a 30-year old single father of two struggled to find work, to pay for daycare for his children and to secure a home; so much time was spent homeless and hopeless.

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History

What can one person do to bring about significant, positive change?

In a complicated world, the answer to this question seems not so simple. But sometimes it starts with a visionary individual, a spark of an idea and a support team to realize the dream. With this as a background, we celebrate the Stoughton Area community Foundation’s 20th Anniversary in 2018 with a look back to it inception and the people that have helped it thrive.

As a self-made successful businessman, Paul Sundby wanted to leave a legacy from his estate to benefit Stoughton, the city he loved. His idea was to help fund programs that needed a little extra financial backing to reach their goals. The primary focus was to be on areas close to his heart: natural resources and the environment. Rather than simply donate a single sum to the city, he wanted to find a way to build an ongoing benefit to the community.

His financial advisor, Kent Knutson, recommended that the first step was to establish an endowment in Paul’s name with a controlled amount paid out each year. The rest of the funds would be invested for the lone-term so that worthy programs and projects would be helped for years to come.

Early Days

A governing board was then established to solicit and determine projects which might be considered for funding. This first board was: Andy Arians, Dick Ilenfeldt, Mayor Helen Johnson, Kent Knutson, Tom Fendrick, Terry Brenny, Carol Wahlin and Mike Bemis. This group of community leaders from business, school and government ensured that a comprehensive perspective would be given to all projects considered. For the next twenty years, the board has continued to function in the same manner with each member from a variety of backgrounds serving a six-year term.

During the first year, committees were established for the following: standard operating procedures; benchmarking against other similar programs in the state; fund-raising to enable more funding for a broader range of projects; marketing to encourage others to include Stoughton Area Community Foundation in their estate planning and planned giving.

One decision made in the early days was to limit the area covered to those programs helping people within the Stoughton School District borders. Madison has a similar program and organizations like United Way and others cover a broad spectrum of needs throughout a large geography. SACF is for and about the needs of Stoughton and its people. Those who contribute to these funds are often people who feel a deep appreciation for our city and want to celebrate this unique connection by helping it improve.

EARLY DAYS

What can one person do to bring about significant, positive change?  In a complicated world, the answer to this question seems difficult, but sometimes it starts with a visionary individual, a spark of an idea and a support team to realize the dream. With this as a background, we celebrated the Stoughton Area Community Foundation’s 25th Anniversary in 2023 with a look back to its inception and the people that have helped it thrive.

 

As a self-made successful businessman, Paul Sundby, wanted to leave a legacy from his estate to benefit Stoughton, the city he loved. His idea was to help fund programs that needed a little extra financial backing in order to reach their goals.

 

His primary focus was in areas close to his heart, with natural resources and the environment at the top of the list. Rather than simply donate a single sum of money to the city, he wanted to find a way to build an ongoing benefit to the community.  His financial advisor recommended the first step was to establish an endowment in Paul’s name with a controlled amount paid out each year. The rest of the funds would be invested for the long-term so that scholarships and/or worthy programs and projects would be helped for years to come.

 

Another significant donor was Kay Diebel.  Her donation to the general investment fund has become the Stoughton Improvement grant fund.  Projects close to her heart were programs to aid women.

 

A governing board was established to solicit and determine which projects might be considered for funding. The first board consisted of: Andy Arians, Dick Ihlenfeldt, Mayor Helen Johnson, Kent Knutson, Tom Fendrick, Terry Brenny, Carol Wahlin and Mike Bemis. This group of community leaders from business, the school system and government ensured that a comprehensive perspective would be given to all projects considered.  Each individual on the board donated $100 to initiate growth.

 

GROWING YEARS

For the next twenty years, the SACF board has continued to function with board members from a variety of backgrounds ideally serving a three year term or two consecutive terms for a total of six years.

 

During the inception year, committees were established for the following:

      Standard operating procedures

      Benchmarking against other similar organizations in the state of Wisconsin

      Fundraising to enable more support for a broader range of projects

      Marketing to encourage others to include the Stoughton Area Community Foundation in their estate planning and planned giving.

 

 

Tom Fenderick was instrumental, with the aid of other established foundations, in writing up many of the crucial documents for SACF.

 

One decision made in the early days was to limit the geographic area served, in order to concentrate helping people within the Stoughton Area School District borders. Madison has a similar program and other organizations such as the United Way cover a broad spectrum of needs throughout a larger geographic area. The SACF is for and about the needs of the community of Stoughton. Those who donate to our organization are often people who feel a deep appreciation for our city and want to celebrate that unique connection by helping it improve.

 

FUNDING SOURCES


Estate planning remains a major source of our funding, however, each year families and individuals decide to give back in other small and large ways. The SACF has an annual solicitation for donations and fundraising events have also been conducted. One of the first such events was a talent show and a telethon at the Stoughton Opera House with the assistance of our local cable television station. 

 

In the past ten years, the Bryant Foundation has been a significant contributor to our funding which has helped to increase the number of grants offered.  This partnership is pivotal in getting needed funds to organizations that use the SACF grant process.

 

Some highly-visible uses of the funds have been scholarships. The Bob Green Scholarship, for instance, plays an important part in the higher education plans for those pursuing agricultural careers.

 

Another important part of the SACF is helping charitable organizations by establishing “pass-through” banking accounts. These accounts allow a charitable organization to collect funds through donations and deposit them to an account within the SACF structure.  They can then write checks from that account for their projects and operating needs. One such example is the 2005 tornado relief efforts. Many people wanted to donate money to help those affected, and this foundation served as a central place for all donations to be collected. A sub-committee of involved people and organizations then decided how to best use the money to benefit the neediest.

 

TODAY AND THE FUTURE

As this publication indicates, growth has been constant and recently very significant.  In the past few years, the foundation has grown from two to seven endowment funds.  Scholarships in turn have increased in number and dollar amount.  Grant money and pass-through accounts have also been significant to the Stoughton area.

 

With continued management, the SACF is positioned for a bright future.  Educating potential donors, capital campaigns, marketing expansion and use of rapidly changing technologies will all play an important role.  The generosity of many individual donors, businesses and other foundations will drive future successes for thousands in the Stoughton area.