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Here’s how one Minnesota farmer turned his crops into resources for the community.

Cash and stocks aren’t the only ways to support causes you care about. You can also give back by donating goods and non-cash assets. For one farmer, this meant donating gifts of grain.

“It was very difficult to find somebody that wanted to handle grain,” said John*. “That’s the primary reason I started a fund. I’d been donating for a while through the grain elevator, but I found a much easier way by donating grain to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.”

By opening up a donor advised fund (DAF) with the Foundation, John was able to support different charities, something that was difficult for him to do through his local grain elevator.

“I didn’t want to make the elevators have to process lots of different checks in order for me to give,” John said. “The Foundation offered me a simpler way to do it, especially since I wanted to give to many different places. By doing it this way, I can actually build a fund and generate some disbursements later.”

Farming Tradition

John comes from a line of farmers. His father and uncle began farming when they were in high school. John recently retired and his brother now carries on the family tradition with John's nephews.

On a farm in southern Minnesota, the family grows corn and soybeans, crops John explained the area is known for. While today he no longer works long hours, he still helps out.

“The grain bins are right on my side of the property,” John said. “So I see everything that goes on.”

Living near a small town, John is close to both the corn and soybean processors, which has helped him in gifting grain to his DAF.

“I’ve always found this to be a much simpler process,” said John. “I just call Aurea [his philanthropic advisor] and say ‘I’ve got some grain at the elevator,’ and then the Foundation staff calls the elevator to make the sale and cut the check.”

The proceeds are used to fund John’s DAF, which allows him to recommend grants to unlimited nonprofits. Since establishing the fund with the Foundation, he has been able to support his church as well as organizations that address health-related issues. In addition to casting a wider giving net, he has also received tax benefits from giving.

“That's why partnering with the Foundation works so well, because it gives the effect of a tax deduction,” John said. “You don’t have to pay social security on the grain that was given away, and for retiring farmers that tend to have grain leftover to sell in the coming year, it's great to not have to worry about any expenses. Grain generates a lot of tax if you don't have anything to do with it.”

I’d been donating for a while through the grain elevator, but I found a much easier way by donating grain to the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.

John, fundholder

John’s DAF, initially established in conjunction with his mother, is currently advised by him and his brother. In his free time John helps out with his mother, who has dementia; he also loves to spend time with his grandkids.

To learn more about donating grain or other non-cash assets to open a DAF or support an existing fund, contact your philanthropic advisor or another member of our Philanthropic Services team.

*Name has been changed for the donor's anonymity.

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors regarding your individual situation before engaging in any transaction.

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