Preston man glad to contribute
financially to area organizations
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 2:10 AM
Bells will be ringing glad news, but there won't be too much to be blue about if Dan Christianson has anything to say about it.
Preston resident and F&M Community Bank CEO Dan Christianson will continue his philanthropic ways at the Salvation Army Red Kettle event on Dec. 20 at his bank. For every dollar raised, he will donate 25 cents. ANTON ADAMEK/REPUBLICAN-LEADER
The Preston resident and F&M Community Bank CEO will again be putting his money forward in support of another good cause. This time, the Salvation Army will be benefiting from Christianson's philanthropy at the tune of 25 cents for every dollar donated during the Red Kettle campaign for the Salvation Army on Dec. 20. For many people, having a giving attitude is more common during the holiday season. For Christianson, the life lesson of giving is one that he lives throughout the entire year.
The lesson of giving was learned early on. His parents, Al and Evelyn, taught him the good that came about from being involved in the community.
"Give not only of your time but of your talents," Christianson recalled. Being willing to give is one thing, but being able to give is another as well.
"One of our talents is our ability to make donations," Christianson said of F&M Community Bank. It didn't always used to be that way. Christianson's father was the CEO of the bank from 1967 until 1991. When Christianson finished law school at the University of Minnesota in 1982, he came back home to help the bank work through the agricultural recession being experienced by many area farmers. What he estimated would take two to three years to get through ended up causing Christianson to stay 13 years. By that time, he had taken over as CEO of the bank and was building it back up. As the bank improved, Christianson saw opportunities to share that success with the community.
"Banking is a business," he said. "You are still dealing with people. You have to take that into consideration."
Back in his college years, Christianson said he hadn't been focused on giving back, but it is a different story today. In fact, when he stops and thinks about how many groups the bank has backed over the years, he shrugs, "It's probably around 100 different organizations."
His criteria: it must be a non-profit organization and impact the quality of life for many people. "Ideas for who to help usually come from employees or suggestions from customers at the bank," he added.
Recently, Christianson, along with representatives from First Southeast Bank in Harmony, Rushford State Bank in Rushford and Preston Foods worked together to raise over $6,000 for the Fillmore County Food Shelf. This is equivalent to 30,000 pounds of food.
A relationship with Habitat for Humanity-Winona and Fillmore Counties has been going on for five years.
Christianson has donated $30,000 to the Lanesboro Arts Center ever since they kicked off their capital campaign. He has supported the Fillmore County Historical Society and the Commonweal Theatre. He founded the Fillmore Central Schools Mini-Grant program. He is on the Board of Directors for the National Trout Center and has financially supported it as well. He is a past Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.
Last year, he was recognized by KTTC-TV as one of the Ten Who Make a Difference. He also won the Award for Outstanding Philanthropy from the Southern Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2012.
Christianson was one of the founding members of the Preston Area Community Foundation (PACF) 15 years ago. The concept of having a foundation in a small community was a new idea and one he had heard while listening to public radio one day. His thought: "We can do something like that here."
Today, the PACF has over $500,000 in its endowment fund, which generates interest that can be used for community projects that enhance quality of life. "We are in a unique position because we find out about a lot of the things that go on in the area," Christianson said.
The requests keep coming in. Christianson explained that as the bank continues to do well, their giving will do well also. All the money donated comes directly from the bank's profits.
"Our family is lucky enough that we can share," he said, mentioning again that giving back to the community was a value he grew up with.
Providing a match incentive is a strategy Christianson likes to see and to use himself for raising more money for organizations. Many of the donations the bank has given out throughout the past year have been through promised matches.
For PACF's Give to the Max Day the past two years, Christianson has matched dollar for dollar. "If I give a dollar, it's like I gave two dollars," he said. "It's amazing. They do help."
The Salvation Army bells will be ringing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 20 in front of the bank. Again, Christianson will match 25 cents for every dollar donated. The event will occur at the same time as the bank's annual open house where door prizes, giveaways, cookies, coffee, cider and people will be helping ring in Christmas.
"We want to continue the support. Hopefully 2014 won't be any different and we'll see Fillmore County continue to prosper," said Christianson.