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 our Nonprofit Academy (formerly Financial Resiliency),, Lunchtime Learning and other trainings and support services.
iFound Training Video Series
Nonprofit 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.
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.
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.
Training & Resources
Idealware presented at a Accidental Techie training in Little Falls.
The Initiative Foundation is proud to offer an array of programs that provide nonprofit professionals and volunteers with the training, resources and mentorship they need to help their respective organizations thrive. Check out our list of current programs below to see which offering could best benefit your organization!
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.
Erin Wilmot, executive director of The Shop in Brainerd, shares the impact the Nonprofit Academy program has had on her work. Learn more about the connections she made and the concepts she learned.
Nonprofit Academy (formerly Financial Resiliency)
Nonprofit financial resiliency is more important than ever. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that organizations must be nimble and adapt to new challenges every day.
Sign-up for our Nonprofit Development newsletter to learn the dates for the next Nonprofit Academy.
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. Executive Roundtable will be virtual, allowing eight executive directors from the Initiative Foundation's 14-county region to network, brush up on leadership skills and receive executive coaching. The cohort will meet about once per month over a nine-month period, beginning in April 2021. Participants also receive five individual coaching sessions. Learn more and register here.
Hear from Paula Chapulis, below.
Nonprofit staff gathered at a St. Cloud Lunchtime Learning session.
2021 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 offer quarterly training, networking and information sessions over the lunch hour.
Brainerd Lunchtime Learning
Sessions take place via the Zoom videoconferencing platform from noon to 1:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021: Sponsorships in the time of COVID: How to improve the experience for everyone and never look back.
Keep Investing In
Thanks to our supporters and contributors for powering possible and investing in Central Minnesota. Keep the momentum going.