Using Community Savings Accounts to Change the Future of Your Community Back »

Think about your hometown… perhaps the place you grew up and helped shape the person you are. As a community member, you may have volunteered on committees and given of your time and your talents to make your community better. But think about your financial resources. Does your community have a way for you to contribute financially in a way that allows your gift to continue to give, even after you are gone? A Community Savings Account can be one way that you can share your financial resources, large or small, to make your community better.

Buddy Seiner, Community Savings Account Coordinator with the South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF), shared information about a Transfer of Wealth Study during a phone conversation last October. Seiner said that this study looked at the number of dollars to be transferred from one generation to the next and over the course of the next 50 years; $1.1 Billion will be transferred to the next generation from those living in South Dakota. So if family members of the next generation are not living in South Dakota, where does that money go? The money leaves the state, often to never return.

Have you thought about people who would maybe like to make donations or leave money to a community but do not have a way to do that? A Community Savings Account offers a way. A Community Savings Account is a fund to support basic needs and enhance the quality of life within a community in South Dakota. Because the Community Savings Account is “permanently endowed”, a gift will live on permanently, through the careful investment of the South Dakota Community Foundation.

Every Community Savings Account operates under a local board of directors. These directors not only work to raise money for the account, they decide how the funds are distributed. This ensures that the money that is raised in your community will stay in your community to meet the current and future needs of your community.

Community Savings Accounts exist in more than 70 communities in South Dakota. If a community embraces the Community Savings Account, it can become an incredible asset for the community. However, the South Dakota Community Foundation does encourage fundraising by offering a match. $1.3 Million has been committed from the South Dakota Community Foundation to give to local communities that are pursuing and meeting challenges. Each community decides how much money they want to raise for the match and how many years it will take them to raise that money. A typical community meets the match in 3-5 years.

Seiner said that communities find many unique ways to raise funds. For example, Langford began a fundraiser called “Sponsor the Score.” By partnering with the school, donors are able to “sponsor the score” at home sporting events. The donor for that event writes a check for the points scored by the home team. Donors are recognized during the sporting event they are sponsoring.

Several communities have implemented a “Round Up” program to partner with local utility companies allowing residents to round up their utility bill. If lots of people sign on---it can really make a big impact.

The community of Britton uses a memorial card program. Memorial card packets are placed in churches and local businesses so when a community member passes on, rather than flowers, donors give a gift in memory of the individual who just passed away. Approximately $10,000 a year is added to their foundation each year through the use of this program.

What about gifts other than money? Gifts of land, vehicles, insurance benefits, crops, etc. can be facilitated by the South Dakota Community Foundation for your Community Savings Account.

How can a Community Savings Account benefit your community? Funding from this account can help to show local support for grants. A grant application can go further if there is some local funding available. Grant funders may be more likely to fund a community project if the community itself has some of its own “skin in the game.”

Because the account is governed by a local board of directors, local people decide how to use funding. The Tripp County Community Foundation, along with a grant from the South Dakota Community Foundation, made upgrades to the fairground. Alcester uses funds to support the local senior center. Britton has a long-term commitment to expand the healthcare facility and also added a state of the art fitness center for the community. Pollock helped purchase a fire engine and partners with a local club to plant trees in the community every year. Numerous community projects and community centers are supported with funds from a Community Savings Account.

Through the use of a Community Savings Account, everyone can be a philanthropist. Whether you make a $1 donation, a $5 donation, or more, you can give to something you care about and help make a difference. And if a person who has accumulated some wealth over a lifetime contributes a share of that wealth to a Community Savings Account, the dynamics of a community can be changed forever.

Do you want to learn more? Buddy Seiner, Community Savings Account Coordinator with the South Dakota Community Foundation is always happy to have a conversation with primary stakeholders. There needs to be a discussion to find out if a Community Savings Account is right for a community and Buddy can help. He can be reached via email or at 1.800.888.1842


  • Seiner, Buddy. (2014, October 2). Telephone interview.
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