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Initiative Quarterly Magazine
Initiative Quarterly

Nonprofit Development



The Initiative Foundation understands that effective nonprofit organizations are critical to thriving communities.

Successful nonprofit organizations work to remove barriers to employment, enhance local economic development, provide critical safety net services and increase civic participation. They respond to emerging needs and opportunities of children and their families--including returning veterans, seniors, new Americans, youth at risk and people with disabilities. They provide services and spaces that enhance the quality of life in Central Minnesota.

The Foundation's nonprofit development programs and services strive to ...

  • Improve the fiscal health and management of nonprofit organizations particularly those that provide critical safety-net services and improve economic security for disadvantaged people.

  • Increase the quantity and improve the quality of nonprofit services, particularly those that offer the promise of greater prosperity to citizens of Central Minnesota facing hardship.

  • Strengthen board members’ abilities to lead and contribute to the organizations they serve.

We achieve results through Nonprofit AcademyExecutive Roundtable, Lunchtime Learning and other trainings and support services.

iFound Training Video Series

ifoundtraining_logo.pngNonprofit organizations fill an essential role in our hometowns. They address gaps in the public-private framework to care for people, environments and communities. The better managed they are, the more effective our nonprofit leaders can be in executing their missions and helping Central Minnesota thrive. To make nonprofit management training affordable, flexible and convenient, we’ve created this series of short, concise, on-demand online courses to cover a variety of essential nonprofit topics.

While nothing can take the place of the personal relationships we build with our nonprofit partners, these training videos offer an easy and accessible way to train staff, board members and volunteers on critical organizational issues.  

We hope you find iFound Training interesting, educational, and that you gain new knowledge and skills to become even more effective in making a difference in your local nonprofits and communities.

The Initiative Foundation has created these videos to support nonprofit development in Central Minnesota. The information provided is broad and general by design and may not reflect the unique needs nor address the particular situation of every nonprofit, or answer the specific questions of every individual viewing the courses. This information is offered as general guidance and does not, in any way, constitute legal, tax or business advice, and should not be so relied on. We urge all users to follow up their viewing of these courses with consultation from and reliance on their own legal or tax and business professionals, as may be appropriate.

Starting a Nonprofit Organization

You feel called to help your community. You have an idea for a new nonprofit. You don’t have the first notion of how to start this process. This course featuring seven chapters will help you figure out where and how to begin.

Nonprofit Board Basics

Have you been asked to serve on a local nonprofit board? Is it your first time serving? Think you know the ropes? Find out here! This course for beginners and experienced board members alike features nine chapters and presents a basic look at the legal and ethical duties and best practices of nonprofit boards.

Nonprofit Leadership

As a wave of Baby Boomers retire, who will fill the nonprofit and civic leadership roles? Join Ben Winchester, senior research fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality as he looks at population trends and prospects for rural leadership.

Nonprofit Finance Basics

Nonprofit board members ensure the good stewardship of the organization's financial resources, and that starts with understanding finances so you can plan for the future. Review this six-chapter course to get a handle on the numbers and the story they tell.

Grant-Writing Essentials

Fundraising. It's the No. 1 need we hear from nonprofits. Watch this robust course and take the fear and intimidation out of the grant-writing process. Get started on the road to effective grant research and writing.

Finding and Working With Volunteers

Many nonprofits rely heavily on local volunteers to help get the work done, solicit donations and provide key oversight and direction. Learn ways to recruit, train, manage, evaluate and celebrate so your volunteer program keeps your organization humming.

Social Media Basics

Do you have a firm grasp on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube? Keeping up with the pace of change in social media can be daunting. Learn the essentials here so you can create an effective social media base upon which you can build.

Running Effective Meetings

Meetings are essential for sharing information and making decisions within our workplaces and communities. Learn how to prepare for a meeting, create an agenda, determine logistics, and record information from the meeting. This course will help ensure that when a meeting convenes, it is time well spent.

Upcoming Trainings


Register: June 26-29 Fundraising Trainings

These trainings, led by Fundraising Traner Janet Cobbs, will incorporate practical, hands-on activities to practice the theory and tactics being presented. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops so that they have access to their donor database, communications and critical mission-related data. Register for one day or all four! 

Monday, June 26

Morning: Flip the Script: A Growth Mindset and Plan for Donor Acquisition

Do you find yourself feeling like the donor pool is tapped out? Do you return to the same pool of donors over and over again? Are you in search of new approaches to find new donors? Then this workshop is for you! Together will bust the myths of the shrinking donor pool and get you motivated to engage new donors.

Participants will:

  • learn the importance of a growth mindset around donor acquisition;
  • explore a variety of donor acquisition tactics;
  • choose two or three practical donor acquisition tactics to incorporate into their fundraising plan.

Afternoon: Are You New Here? Creating a Welcome Series

Once you find new donors, what do you do? Stop the leaky bucket! Donor retention is critical to our fundraising efforts, yet the national average remains alarmingly low, especially for first-time donors. This workshop will explore how a robust welcome series and documented process for engaging with first-time donors can make all the difference.

Participants will:

  • learn the importance of focusing on new donor engagement;
  • develop a practical, right-sized welcome process for new donors;
  • present an initial welcome message with training participants for feedback.

Tuesday, June 27

Morning: Playing the Guessing Game: The Power of a Donor Survey

Do you know why your donors support you or what they hope to do with their money in the future? Have you explored how they want to engage with your mission? We worry about communicating too much or bothering donors. If we don’t ask, we won’t know, and we are left guessing. This workshop will explore the art of creating donor surveys and what to do with the results.

Participants will:

  • learn why donor surveys are important in building strong relationships with donors;
  • explore how to create and use effective surveys for different donor groups;
  • develop at least two surveys with a planned follow-up process.

Afternoon: Do You Even Know Me? Using Data & Identifying Groups

Communicating with donors to keep them engaged is critical to any strong fundraising plan. But how do we do it with limited time capacity? How do we ensure our donor data is driving our engagement groups? This workshop will provide an opportunity to gain perspective on your donor data to create groups that will drive effective donor stewardship.

Participants will:

  • learn the importance of working with clean data;
  • consider various perspectives of donor data and relationships to drive stewardship and fundraising appeal efforts;
  • create an engagement plan and an appeal for two donor groups.

Wednesday, June 28 

Morning: Numbers Don’t Lie: Storytelling with Data

You've been told that giving is an emotional response and you should lead with the heart. You’ve heard that you should tell stories, report outcomes and share impact. How can you do it all? How do you share impact, outcomes and stories? This workshop will explore the art of storytelling with data, where you’ll be guided through the power of incorporating data into your storytelling. You will hear practical suggestions for doing this effectively.

Participants will learn:

  • why incorporating data is important;
  • when and how to integrate data and storytelling;
  • how to write a first draft of a story incorporating data and receive feedback.

 Afternoon: Perfecting the Three-Point Turn: Soliciting at an Event

Events are wonderful opportunities to gather the community, raise awareness about your work and fundraise. But knowing the best timing, story and approach for soliciting funds can be tricky. This workshop will walk through effective event program approaches for various event types to create an irresistible three-point turn ask of your attendees.

Participants will:

  • explore the various event types that will lead to effective solicitation;
  • learn the best time and approach to making an ask during different types of events;
  • practice the three-point turn for an audience.

Thursday, June 29

Morning: Developing a Multi-channel Campaign

Developing one appeal piece can be tough enough and creating a multi-channel approach can feel daunting. This workshop will be an immersive experience in preparing a multi-channel campaign. From getting the first words down on paper to creating a full campaign package, come ready to write with abandon, receive feedback and ruthlessly edit.

Participants will:

  • learn the importance of a multi-channel approach to fundraising to capture donor attention;
  • draft, review, revise, revisit and edit a multi-channel fundraising campaign.

Afternoon: Mocking Up the Major Donor Ask

When it comes to major donor personal solicitation, do you find yourself asking: how do I get started? What do I say? Do I make an ask at the first meeting? This workshop will offer opportunities to practice donor asks. Through conversation role-play and feedback from your fellow participants, you’ll gain confidence and clarify your process in a safe and supportive environment.

Participants will: 

  • learn the rhythm and progression of a major donor ask;
  • role-play the process of major donor conversations;
  • pitch and receive feedback, questions and clarity from training participants about what works and what doesn’t.



Register: July 19 Operations & Efficiency Session

You've heard the saying: work smarter, not harder. But how do you actually do that? In this workshop, you will:

  • learn concrete ways to take advantage of technology to complete routine tasks, get more work done and make sure nothing falls through the cracks
  • look at one of the biggest opportunities for 
efficiency gains: your email inbox
  • explore tools and techniques, including workflow
 automation, artificial intelligence, process improvement and productivity habits. 

Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Date: Wednesday, July 19
Place: Initiative Foundation, 405 First St. SE, Little Falls
Cost: $20 per attendee; includes lunch



Register: Sept. 6 Marketing for Nonprofits Training

Looking for creative ways to market your nonprofit? Wondering how to identify target audiences? In this training you will ...

  • Learn visual branding basics.
  • Identify target audiences and build a marketing plan.
  • Find out how to effectively communicate your message to your identified audiences.

Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 6
Place: Initiative Foundation, 405 First St. SE, Little Falls
Cost: $20 per attendee; includes lunch



Oct. 24: Jump-Start Planning for 2024 

Attend this training with Julie Anderholm to prepare for 2024 and learn tips on proper budgeting processes.

Financial Projections
Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, Oct. 24
Place: Initiative Foundation, 405 First St. SE, Little Falls



Free Online Training

Here are some organizations that provide great resources on a wide variety of nonprofit topics and to which we often refer nonprofits for resources, information and training.

Click on the logos below to find resources, training and other guidance for your organization.


The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is the largest statewide association of nonprofits in the country. With over 2,100 member nonprofit organizations and 230 businesses as members throughout Minnesota, it is the premier place for nonprofit managers, volunteers and businesses serving nonprofits to come together under the umbrella of a statewide association of nonprofits. 


Dedicated to serving those who serve others, Sourcewell provides nonprofit organizations in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd, and Wadena counties with high-quality, affordable services that promote healthy and sustainable programming. Learn more. 


The Nonprofits Assitance Fund and MAP for Nonprofits recently merged to create Propel Nonprofits. Propel Nonprofits fuels the impact and effectiveness of nonprofits with guidance, expertise, and capital. 


Over 800 members strong, MAVA is the largest professional membership association for leaders of volunteers in the state of Minnesota. It is an alliance of individuals and networks dedicated to providing support and resources to those who lead volunteers. 


Blue Avocado is the bimonthly newsletter of American Nonprofits, a membership organization that provides practical financial information and support to U.S. 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, staff, stakeholders and volunteers. It is created by and for community-based nonprofits. 
BoardSource inspires and supports excellence in nonprofit governance and board and staff leadership.


LaPiana nonprofit consulting firm is inspired by the socially-driven work of nonprofits and foundations, and helps improve leadership and management practices throughout the sector for greater social impact.



The Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community is a private community of nonprofit thought leaders, leader practitioners, progressive funders, policy makers, and instigators who believe “performance matters.”

Their vision is to trigger a mindshift within a vital core of the social sector to accept that mission and performance are inextricably linked.

We share the focus and purpose to inspire, motivate, and support nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater societal impact and to increase the expectation and adoption of high performance as the path to this end.  Their Performance Imperative is an interesting tool that provides a common definition of “high performance” and lays out in detail the seven organizational pillars that can help nonprofits achieve high performance. 

Need help applying for federal tax-exempt status?

The IRS directs applicants who need help with preparing their applications for tax-exempt status to call Exempt Organization Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500. Detailed information on qualifying for federal income tax-exemption, FAQs, online training, and links to the application forms can be found here. Both Forms 1023 (the application for 501(c)(3) exemption) and Form 1024 (application for most other 501(c) organizations) have comprehensive instructions. The 1023 also has an interactive form which includes helpful hints and links to help applicants submit a complete application.

Additional resources can be found in the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) Nonprofit Legal Handbook, available to MCN members.

Nonprofit Academy


Sign-up for our Nonprofit Development newsletter for ongoing nonprofit news and information.


Executive Roundtable


Nonprofit Academy: Executive Roundtable

We know it can be hard as a nonprofit executive director to build leadership skills and network with others. We are offering a new cohort-based leadership coaching option in partnership with Paula Chapulis, Aiyana Coaching

Email Zach Tabatt for more information about upcoming Executive Roundtable opportunities.

Lunchtime Learning

St. Cloud Lunchtime Learning

Nonprofit staff gathered at a St. Cloud Lunchtime Learning session.

Nonprofit Lunchtime Learning Sessions

To help local nonprofit professionals learn and connect, the Initiative Foundation, in partnership with the Central Minnesota Community Foundation, Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Sourcewell, conveniently offers quarterly training, networking and information sessions over the lunch hour.

Check back for upcoming sessions. 



 Don Hickman
Vice President for Community
 Workforce Development
(320) 631-2043


Jessy Beto
Program Specialist

(320) 631-2057 

Keep Investing In
Central Minnesota

Thanks to our supporters and contributors for powering possible and investing in Central Minnesota. Keep the momentum going.