Published on February 23, 2021

caring for community concept

Avera Brings Foundation Work Together in One Team

It’s a new era for philanthropy at Avera, now that all hospital foundations and the central foundation have unified into one Avera Foundation.

Benefits of this centralization are many, but one is a recognition of the importance of philanthropy at the top leadership of Avera. “Philanthropy is now present at the highest levels of the organization,” said Bob Sutton, President and CEO of Avera Health. “Philanthropy is a key aspect of our strategic plan for the entire system. As such, we’re able to be more strategic about the ways we seek out and use philanthropic dollars for the greater good.”

In March 2020, Avera appointed its first Chief Philanthropy Officer, Dzenan Berberovic, a recognized fundraising executive, to lead Avera’s philanthropic agenda. The Avera Foundation recently launched a new centralized web site at to reflect its new identity.

Other benefits include the efficiencies that come with standardized practices and programs. “In the past, different Avera foundations conducted similar campaigns in different ways. There was a lot of overlap and sometimes they were even competing with one another,” Berberovic said. “We’re now also able to run ministry-wide campaigns like Home for Hope."

Home for Hope aims to raise $2.5 million to provide more capacity to Avera’s guest houses near Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center.

Giving Donors a Range of Options

At the same time, individuals, organizations and corporate partners who wish to support Avera continue to have a wide range of choices. Supporters can still direct their gifts toward a local hospital or project, or a certain area of care, such as hospice, pediatrics, cancer or addiction care.

“Thanks to generous individuals, philanthropy can be seen all around us in health care,” Berberovic said. “Giving to health care allows people to ‘give back’ in recognition and support of health care services that have either saved or enhanced their own life or the life of a loved one. It allows people to leave a lasting legacy that will benefit generations to come.”

At the local level, there’s a community council in each of Avera’s six regions. The regional groups support local philanthropic priorities.

Philanthropic support has been part of Avera’s health ministry for more than 130 years. “The Sisters were joined by their neighbors and friends when they began caring for the sick, poor and marginalized. In fact, Avera McKennan was founded in 1911 thanks to Helen Gale McKennan, who upon her passing, directed a $25,000 gift in her will for a new hospital in Sioux Falls – a hospital that would care for all,” Berberovic said. “Numerous other hospitals and facilities have similar stories of generous benefactors who stepped forward to join the Sisters in this noble work.”

Projects that Impact the Lives of Others

In more recent times, the Avera NICU, Walsh Family Village, the Avera Addiction Care Center, Avera Prince of Peace, Prairie Center, Precision Oncology, Campaign for Dougherty Hospice House Endowment and more are local projects that were significantly supported by generous supporters. A new four-story addition to the Avera Behavioral Health Center, which has received grant funding and a matching grant from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, will deliver needed services that weren’t previously available in Sioux Falls, including 24/7 psychiatric urgent care and addiction care services for youths under age 18.

In the last year, approximately 17,500 benefactors provided more than $31.8 million in support to meaningful programs and causes throughout Avera.

Recently, Avera was honored with the High Performer distinction by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP). This recognition represents the top 25% of hospital and health system foundations in fundraising returns. Avera is the region’s only health system to be named to the AHP High Performer list.

“We consider it an honor to serve our grateful patients, families and organizations as they desire to impact those we will serve in the future,” Berberovic said. “Philanthropy is about relationships. Our benefactors make life better for those in our care. We are excited to move forward into the future as one Avera Foundation to support health care in the 100 communities that Avera serves.”

You can join the Avera Foundation's efforts.

Subscribe to our

wellness e-newsletter