The Sanford Challenge
T. Denny’s ‘friend-raiser’ plan worked!
Thanks to the generosity of T. Denny Sanford, one of the nation’s leading philanthropists, contributors helping Crazy Horse Memorial literally saw their donations double in size between December 2007 and October 20, 2011.
Mr. Sanford said he started the “Sanford Challenge” to make friends for Crazy Horse and accelerate carving of the gigantic 219-foot-high horse’s head on the monument.
Contributions came from individuals, families, businesses and nonprofit foundations. The gifts included money, donated services and equipment. For each million dollars worth of financial gifts provided by the friends of Crazy Horse Memorial, the T. Denny Sanford Foundation matched the total.
The original goal was $10 million. However, the Challenge ultimately raised $20 million.
Why did Mr. Sanford do this? “South Dakota has been good to me and it’s time to give back. I have long admired the years of dedication and hard work by the Ziolkowski family and their passion for creating a fitting memorial to Native Americans,” he said.
Crazy Horse Memorial receives no government funding and is totally self-supported through admission fees and contributions. The Sanford Challenge matching gift is the largest in the Memorial’s history.
Memorial President-CEO Ruth Ziolkowski, wife of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, credits this success to all the friends of Crazy Horse.
“This has all happened one gift at a time, small and large. Each was given with a great deal of caring, and each one is very much appreciated.”
A national treasure
Mr. Sanford’s giving legacy is widespread.
The Volunteers of America, one of the nation’s oldest and largest human services charities, honored Mr. Sanford with its highest honor in 2011.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals named him the 2012 Outstanding Philanthropist award winner.
The honor is for an individual with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility.
Mr. Sanford’s gifts have helped education, health care, science research and children.
Nationally ranked among the country’s wealthiest people, Mr. Sanford calls himself the “World’s Oldest Living Teenager” and says he wants to give away his fortune before he dies.
Hitting the Challenge bull’s eye
In retracing the history of the Sanford Challenge, Mrs. Ziolkowski draws a series of bull’s eye circles. “We were able to complete the first circle when you all helped us raise the first million. Then true to his word, Denny’s Sanford Foundation sent a million dollars. He gave because you gave.”
Each ensuing circle followed that pattern of success.
“I cannot begin to express how grateful we truly are for all the people who have helped us. That we could generate so much support in such a short time, and during a time of economic hardships, is just amazing to me,” she said.
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Crazy Horse Memorial is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) foundation. Contributions to the organization are tax deductible under IRS rules.