Giffords give back to Elkader

Family fund supports community, culture and quality of life

With strong ties to the Elkader community, the Gifford family makes an annual gift to improve quality of life in the town they call home. Through their endowment fund with the Clayton County Foundation for the Future, Tom Gifford and his mother, Florence, made a recent donation to Light Up the Night, a project to illuminate downtown Elkader with patio lights strung across Main Street.

“We both ran businesses in Elkader and want to give back to the community that supported us,” says Tom. He’s the third generation in his family to operate Gifford Insurance, on Main Street since 1954. Florence ran The Buttery, a fixture in downtown Elkader for thirty years that was known for its many light displays. “The mission is generally to add to the beauty, cultural and recreational assets of the town to enhance it for residents and visitors. The lights are a natural fit that everyone will enjoy.”

The family’s commitment to Elkader extends beyond business. They also volunteer their time in ways that help the community thrive. Florence served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, and her late husband, Brian, was on the Economic Development Board for many years. Both Florence and Tom have served as presidents of Main Street Elkader. Tom’s wife, Michelle, former co-owner of Archive, was president of the Elkader Opera House board and a longtime member of the Main Street Elkader design committee.

The Gifford Family Endowment for Elkader will provide funding every year, forever, to support an emerging need or community project. The fund has already made grants to the Elkader Depot and the Elkader Dog Park. Before the family launched their endowment fund, they supported the Elkader Opera House and the Elkader Cinema, as well as hanging flower baskets on Main Street and shelter house projects.

“Endowments are a powerful and unique avenue for people to make a lasting impact in the communities they care about,” says Emily Sadewasser, Foundation coordinator. “Permanent yet flexible, endowments allow nonprofits, families and individuals to direct dollars where they’re needed most.”

In addition to grants awarded by the 60-plus endowments held by local organizations and community members — like the Giffords — the Clayton County Foundation for the Future’s own endowment provides annual grants that help address community needs. To learn more about how the Foundation can help you make a lasting impact on quality of life in your community, visit