T. Denny Sanford Donates $55 million to Children's Home Society

The largest and most transformational one-time gift ever received in its 125-year history

Posted on January 08, 2019

Children’s Home Society, South Dakota’s oldest human services, non-profit organization, announced a $55 million donation from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford. The generous gift will transform CHS’s ability to assist children and adults in need and ensure the organization has adequate resources for decades to come.

“The services provided by Children’s Home Society are invaluable,” Sanford said. “The organization cares for those who require the most care of all - our young people and those who are in serious danger. I hope my gift will inspire others to do what they can to support Children’s Home as it heads into its next century of service.”

Sanford has a history of supporting Children’s Home Society. Over the last two decades, the philanthropist has made several donations and often attends the organization’s annual charity events to encourage others to give as well.

“T. Denny has been a longtime friend of Children’s Home and believes in our mission of supporting the safety and well-being of children and families,” said Children’s Home Executive Director Bill Colson. “It’s with that spirit of support, he approached me and asked, ‘What is Children’s Home Society’s greatest need?’”

This initial discussion became the basis for Sanford’s gift, which will address two significant needs:

  • Expanding Children’s Inn Shelter
    Children’s Inn, a program of Children’s Home Society, has outgrown its current facility. In response to this major shortage of space, Mr. Sanford directed a portion of his gift to provide for an expansion of Children’s Inn facilities, which will include the T. Denny Sanford Shelter of Hope.
  • Funding Staff Recruitment and Development
    The increased need for services offered by Children’s Home Society has created significant staffing challenges. In response, Mr. Sanford directed the remainder of his gift to be placed in an endowment, with earnings committed to the long-term improvement of support, compensation and retention of statewide staff.

The donation to Children’s Home Society is one of several generous gifts provided by Sanford. The philanthropist is the owner of First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, South Dakota companies that employ nearly 2,400 people. To date, he has donated nearly $1 billion to South Dakota organizations.

T. Denny Sanford: A History of Giving to Children’s Home Society

T. Denny Sanford has been a friend and champion of helping Children’s Home Society (CHS) for over two decades. His support began in 1995 with a major sponsorship of its largest fundraising event, the Orion Classic golf tournament. Through First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, Denny has been an annual event sponsor every year since.

In 1999, Mr. Sanford agreed to consider a challenge gift of $1 million. After some deliberation, he responded—not with the $1 million gift—but with a $2 million gift to initiate the first endowment challenge campaign for CHS. That campaign resulted in raising a total of $10 million with the support from additional friends.

In 2002, Denny donated the lead gift of $200,000 toward a building project in Rapid City. This facility, serving children in western South Dakota, houses the organization’s forensic interview center along with foster care and adoption program.

In 2005, Denny became the sole challenge donor for another endowment campaign with a gift of $14 million, matching $3 for every $1 raised and helping to raise a total of $20 million. That same year, Denny gave a gift of $550,000 toward the expansion of CHS’s administrative offices and space for its foster care and adoption programs at Sioux Falls Children’s Home.

The combination of Denny’s generous gifts, and the support from so many friends who have given in response to his lead gifts, has had a tremendous impact on the safety and wellbeing of children and families throughout South Dakota and beyond.

For more information about this announcement, including photographs from the press conference, click on the Media Kit button below.