Mankato Area Foundation grants record $2.4M for the year

Dec. 4—MANKATO — The Mankato Area Foundation continues to grow its philanthropic presence, disbursing $2.4 million to local groups this year.

"It was an unprecedented, record-breaking year," said Nancy Zallek, president and CEO. "But it's not an anomaly. There's a special sauce in Mankato. The amount of charitable giving in this community is fantastic."

The foundation distributed 626 grants to nonprofits, including $337,000 to the Children's Museum of Southern Minnesota, $159,000 to Greater Mankato Area United Way, $90,000 to Minnesota State University Foundation and $62,175 to Camp Patterson.

Lou Dickmeyer, director of the Children's Museum, said the donors that give through the foundation have been big supporters.

"We've been a perennial recipient. They've been very generous with their support, especially with the big project last year."

That big project is the museum's purchase of land adjacent to their building. They plan an addition onto the building, but most of the project will be a number of outdoor exhibits that will be done over the next few years.

The Mankato Area Foundation doesn't raise money to distribute, but instead works with individuals and businesses wanting to donate to charities.

"We help donors and businesses set up funds through the foundation," Zallek said. "We work with them closely on what they care about — food insecurity or the arts or something else — and our objective is to be as knowledgeable as we can about the needs in the community so we can connect them with the donors.

"It's exciting because the donors find something that really makes a difference to them and then they want to do it more."

The foundation has been around a long time but got reinvigorated about a decade ago when local business and community leaders brought Zallek on board with the goal of growing the foundation. At that time the foundation was distributing about $80,000 in grants.

"The total granting dollars and the number of grants were unprecedented this year. We've been showing growth year after year," Zallek said.

She said the growth came in spite of concerns that the stock market has fallen and inflation and economic uncertainty are high.

Dickmeyer said the foundation is an asset to the community.

"They are having a banner year and going in a great direction. They're growing by leaps and bounds. They're doing it right and the donors see that as well and are responding. That's wonderful."

A review of this year's giving and more information about the foundation can be found at: