T. Denny Sanford Awarded the 2012 Award for Outstanding Philanthropist
November 15, 2011
Nominated by the AFP South Dakota Chapter
T. Denny Sanford’s goal is to die broke, and he is making great progress towards that end! Through his amazing philanthropic contributions and innovative thinking, he is helping great numbers of people and getting closer to his charitable goal.
Having built several successful businesses over the years in South Dakota, including First PREMIER Bank and PREMIER Bankcard, Sanford has directed a significant portion of his giving to causes in the state. He prefers projects with a mission to enhance people’s lives and will continue to focus his giving on a small number of select projects. Over just the past four years, he has given more than $600 million, including the largest donation to a healthcare organization in history.
In 2007, Sanford committed $400 million to the Sioux Valley Health System, now renamed Sanford Health. The gift has transformed the institution, leading to the establishment of Sanford World Clinics in Oklahoma, Oregon, California, Israel, Ghana, Mexico and Ireland with several more under consideration. The gift also started five research institutes—as well as the Sanford Pediatric Research Institute—to focus on the health needs of children.
In addition, with support from the gift, a commission of leading experts identified Type 1 Diabetes as the single most pressing healthcare issue and recruited researchers from around the world to find a cure in Sanford’s lifetime. This initiative is known as the Sanford Project.
Sanford’s first significant contribution was his $16 million lead gift for the Sanford Children’s Challenge in 2004, a campaign to build the only dedicated state-of-the-art children’s hospital in South Dakota. His contribution kicked off the $32 million campaign several years ahead of schedule and inspired hundreds of others to rise to the challenge. The Sanford Children’s Hospital is the only organization of its kind between Denver and the Twin Cities.
Another of Sanford’s philanthropic interests lies in helping those afflicted with life-altering and debilitating diseases, which he has done by channeling gifts directly through Sanford Health to help enhance and facilitate collaborative relationships. In 2008, he provided $30 million to the San Diego Consortium for Regenerative Medicine (now the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine) and $20 million to the Burnham Institute of Medical Research in La Jolla, Calif. Later, he issued a $50 million matching gifts challenge to benefit the organization now known as the Sanford-Burnham Institute.
Some of Sanford’s other contributions include $70 million to the South Dakota Sciences and Technology Authority that is turning the former Homestake Mine into an underground laboratory; 20 million to expand educational programming at the University of South Dakota School of Medicine; $15 million to the Mayo Clinic and $15 million to the Children’s Home Society, a home for abused children. Other million dollar gift recipients include the University of South Dakota Business School, the Arizona State University Foundation, the University of Minnesota and the Roundup River Ranch in Vail, Colo.
Sanford has recently committed to the Gates/Buffett Giving Pledge. He has also announced a donation of $100 million to help Sanford Health launch the Edith Sanford Breast Cancer initiative, named after his mother who died of breast cancer when he was four years old.
The impact of Sanford’s giving and generosity will be felt for decades to come in communities across North America. AFP is honored to present the Award for Outstanding Philanthropist to T. Denny Sanford.