Last November, the Granite Falls Area Community Foundation (GFACF) was awarded $1.2 million dollars by the Bush Foundation. Archibald Bush was a native son of Granite Falls, and the Bush Foundation was seeking a way to honor his legacy in his hometown. $1 million of the gift was used to establish the Archibald Bush Endowment Fund, which will serve the community for the long term. Another $200,000 was placed in a project fund to address more immediate issues in Granite Falls. These are certainly impressive figures, but the GFACF board’s work is about more than numbers.

The GFACF board strives to make sure everyone in the community knows who they are and what they do. They wear shirts with their logo when they volunteer to take tickets at Western Fest, or when they work the food stand at the baseball association’s summer tournament. They get their name out by having a table at the annual Community Education Health Fair. And like any good civic organization, they recently took a turn to serve a community meal to 80-100 people at a local church.

By meeting monthly, the GFACF board is ready to plan for and take advantage of a wide variety of community opportunities. Monthly meetings also serve as a time to take care of donor recognition. When gifts are received, all GFACF board members sign a thank you card. This is done for every donation received. An additional monthly activity is making sure their stand-up banner is getting seen throughout around town. Board members contact businesses, banks and libraries and arrange for the banner to be set-up and taken down in a new location each month.

The GFACF also hosts a grant awards and donor appreciation event every November. The public is invited, and all donors receive an invitation. Grant recipients have a chance to show their appreciation to donors and say a few short words about how the money they are receiving will be used. A typical event features an appetizer buffet, wine tasting and door prizes, and over the past few years these events have also included a speaker sharing a message about the power of giving back.

For GFACF board members, a community foundation is more than just dollars in and dollars out. It’s about civic engagement and volunteering. It’s about letting donors see first-hand the impact of their giving. It is about creating and maintaining relationships that add another strand to the fabric of the community. In just under 10 years, the GFACF has done all that and more. It has become a true community asset whose value cannot be measured in just dollars and cents.

Current GFACF board members are Ruby Heib, Pat Kubly, Peg Heglund, Molly Hoff, Hazel Carter, Alyssa Johnson, Jussi Lehti, Ron Fromm, Mike Oftedahl and Brad Peterson.