Letters to Friends

 – By

Dear Friends,

Many of you are aware of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation, but you may not know our history and how we have evolved into where we are today. Established in 1989, by John Vucurevich, his Foundation began as a limited part-time operation. After John's death in July 2005, most of his assets were transferred to the John T. Vucurevich Foundation. The Foundation's total grant making from 1989 through 2006 was $5 million. In the two years beginning January 2007 through December 2008 the Foundation granted over $8 million. We hope to grant $4 to $5 million per year in South Dakota with an emphasis on Western South Dakota and in communities where we own banks.

Transformation of the Foundation occurred in 2007 through board and staff development and determining the Foundation's identity. This was an exciting time. The board and staff underwent a strategic planning process to develop our focus and priorities. Those priorities were identified as arts, education, health and human services, housing and transportation as well as taking a leadership role to facilitate solutions to community problems.

Learning and leadership best describe the year 2008. The board and staff learned more about philanthropy best practices and developed many new relationships. Our grant making in 2008 began to shift from accepting unsolicited general proposals to working on collaborative projects. We want to make the greatest impact in the areas of highest need as determined through community needs assessments.

We will continue to accept unsolicited general proposals in 2009, however, it is our intention to continue to partner with area non-profits, educational institutions, government entities and other funders to help facilitate solutions to area problems and bring more resources to our area. Giving has and will continue to include multiyear funding on various projects with interim evaluation and adjustment to make sure the grant is working towards a successful outcome.

The past 18 months have been difficult times in the financial market. Our marketable securities are invested in 18 different mutual funds and while they performed better than average we have nevertheless incurred a decrease in our investments. Furthermore, we are still increasing our giving from 2006 to work towards giving at least 5% of our asset value each year. Grants paid in 2007 and 2008 were $3,272,088 and $3,080,582 respectively. We are hoping to pay approximately $4,000,000 in 2009.

We are unique in that a portion of our assets consist of 80% ownership in seven banks located in Wisconsin, Iowa and South Dakota. The bank securities are a sound investment. In addition to dividends the valuation has had a stabilizing impact on the Foundation's assets during these turbulent financial times.

We invite you to visit our website at www.jtvf.org for more detailed information about our history, our goals and priorities and our current projects. The 2008 Annual Report is displayed on our website in the "About Us" section. We would be happy to speak with your organization or meet with you individually if you have any questions.

We appreciate the great programs offered through our dedicated non-profit and educational organizations. With proper stewardship and hard work, the board and staff of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation are excited about and look forward to continuing John's legacy in fulfilling his dream of "making a piece of the world a brighter place."

Sandra L. Diegel
Executive Director

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