a philanthropist doing good

Denny Sanford

We’re proud to wear the Sanford name. That’s because no individual has been more vital to the lives of our patients than Denny Sanford. To date, he has given more than $1.5 billion to care for people around the world and to develop the next generation of treatments and cures.

Mr. Sanford’s $400 million gift to Sanford Health in 2007 transformed the small regional provider into one of the largest rural health systems in the nation.

The Life of a Giver

Though Mr. Sanford’s impact has been immeasurable, his life started off humbly. He was raised in a working-class neighborhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, and at just 4 years old lost his mother, Edith, to breast cancer. Growing up, he stocked shelves and swept floors in his father’s business.


After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he went on to work in sales and eventually establish and grow multiple prosperous companies including Contech Inc., Threshold Ventures and First PREMIER Bank.


After achieving business success, Mr. Sanford began to think about how to share his legacy. Remembering the hardships he endured, including the devastating loss of his mother and losing his father to heart disease, he grew passionate about creating a healthier, more hopeful future for children. This is where his health care giving legacy began.

A Transformative Gift

In 2007, Mr. Sanford made a historic gift, transforming Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System into Sanford Health. Today, Sanford Health operates 46 medical centers, 224 clinics and almost 200 Good Samaritan Society senior care locations across 26 states and nine countries, delivering world-class care to thousands of patients and families.


Mr. Sanford’s gift and continuing generosity to Sanford Health also catalyzed the “Sanford Initiatives,” a collection of bold research and patient care priorities that confront some of the world’s most urgent health challenges.


In addition to these initiatives, Mr. Sanford has also donated to improve virtual care and rural health access, positioning Sanford Health as the premier rural health system in the nation.

Giving for All. Giving for Good.

Mr. Sanford has won countless awards for his leadership, generosity and commitment to health care innovation. He has ignited a spirit of philanthropy in the Dakotas and beyond, serving as a catalyst for community investment and private/public partnerships around the region.

The History of Denny Sanford’s Philanthropy
2021: Sanford Health – $350 million

To create one of the world’s leading virtual care centers, with a focus on providing more accessible care in rural and underserved areas of the Midwest.

2021: Sanford Health – $300 million

To expand opportunities in graduate medical education and community health and wellness, positioning Sanford Health as a global leader in rural care delivery.

2019: Sanford Health – $25 million

$25 million in 2019 to support PHASeR (PHArmacocgenomic testing for Veterans) a program created by Sanford Health in partnership with the US Department of Veteran Affairs, that offers free pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing to VA patients.

2018: Sanford Health – $1 million

To support an endowment for Ava’s House by Sanford, a multigenerational hospice facility that offers one of only four in-patient hospice programs for children and young adults.

2014: Sanford Health – $125 million

To launch Sanford Imagenetics, the first program of its kind in the nation to fully integrate genetics and genomic medicine into primary care for adults.

2011: Sanford Health – $100 million

To launch the Edith Sanford Breast Center initiative dedicated to unlocking each woman’s genetic code to advance prevention and treatment of breast cancer. The gift also allowed for the construction of the Edith Sanford Breast Center in Sioux Falls, integrating the initiative’s research into patient care.

2007: Sanford Health – $400 million

To open a chain of pediatric clinics around the world (today known as Sanford World Clinic); to launch The Sanford Project, a research effort to cure type 1 diabetes; to allow growth in all areas of Sanford Research such as investing in unique initiatives in health research and creating the Sanford Children’s Health Research Center; and to implement a new approach to health care campus and facility design supporting the activities of the system.

2006: University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine – $20 million

To enhance the scope, reputation, resources and quality of medical education, with special interest in fostering the further growth and development of the pediatrics department.

2004: Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System – $16 million

To build a state-of-the-art, stand-alone children’s hospital in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

My motto is to ‘aspire to inspire before you expire.’ Do something for someone else. Get them inspired.
Denny Sanford