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The Joy of Giving through a Donor Advised Fund

Dianne Polasik is a fund advisor at the St. Croix Valley Foundation. Through her family's donor advised fund, Dianne has found joy in giving to causes she cares about deeply.


Pictured above: Dianne Polasik and her family members (Photos courtesy of Dianne Polasik)


Dianne Polasik loves many things: her family, education, and caring for people and the environment, to name a few of them. As a fund advisor at St. Croix Valley Foundation (SCVF), Dianne has found joy in giving through a donor advised fund, which allows her to support the things she cares about most.


“I was a school nurse for 24 years," said Dianne, "so I came in contact with a lot of teachers who, bless their hearts, I think they have the hardest job ever. But I also worked with a lot of students, kids (which I love) and their families. I have a great respect for equity, all different levels and equality and some of the challenges families face."


For Dianne, respect translates into giving of her time, talents, and treasure as a tireless community volunteer and an advisor of a donor advised fund.


Donor advised funds essentially allow an individual, family, or business to establish a foundation within SCVF. When someone establishes a donor advised fund, they get a tax benefit that year, plus the ability to make grants from the donor advised fund every year as long as they live. Fund advisors can recommend grants at any time to any eligible charity, including those they already support.


For Dianne and her husband Tom, grantmaking through a donor advised fund is easy and offers flexibility, as well as the ability to respond to community needs quickly.


"What do you give to that has the most impact, lasts the longest, or does the most good for the most people?" Dianne often asks herself. "And those are really hard questions, but I think when we pick education and environment, that hits the two big ones.”


For Dianne, who never intended to be a fund advisor, entering the world of grantmaking was a surprise. Donor advised funds may be set up to pass on to successor advisors upon death of the original fund advisor. Unbeknownst to Dianne, she had been designated as a successor advisor to the Lee S. and Dorothy N. Whitson Fund of the St. Paul Foundation - named for two dear family friends who thought of Dianne like a daughter.


"I didn’t know [Lee] was [naming me the fund's successor] until he was gone, passed away," said Dianne. "And I thought, ‘I get to go in and sit on meetings and to help decide where this money should go.’ And the lawyer said, ‘No, you get to decide.’ I was pretty blown away. But it hit me then what an amazing gift that somebody can give you – the gift for you to give. And that’s just has always been special for Tom and I, and that’s why we are trying to do the same things for our kids, just to pass that along.”


When asked about her own approach to giving and legacy of generosity, Dianne paused before answering.

"It’s [important] to look at the things that our worlds needs," she said. "There’s so many things you can give to that you just have to find your own passion, but giving is important and the world needs that. And the worlds needs kindness and responsibility and equity and equality. I want my [grandkids] to grow up with those qualities and their parents are teaching them those. But where they give it to is going to be their choice, just like it’s been my choice."


To learn more about donor advised funds and other opportunities for establishing your legacy, contact President and CEO Heather Logelin today: hlogelin@scvfoundation.org or 715-386-9490.

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