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Initiative Quarterly Magazine
Initiative Quarterly

Nonprofit Organizational 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 organizational 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 Financial Resiliency and Leaders Circles Programs, Nonprofit Lunch-and-Learns 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.

Training & Resources

Accidental-Techie.jpgIdealware presented at a recent 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! 

Check back for future trainings! 

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.

Financial Resiliency

Rose Surma, Oasis Central Minnesota executive director, talks about successes the organization has achieved after members participated in the Initiative Foundation's Financial Resiliency program.

Financial Resiliency Program 

Nonprofits make our communities better and stronger. They help make our region a great place to live, work, give and play. Nonprofits provide essential services to our region that would be difficult for the business sector or government to provide. 

Our region needs resilient nonprofits – those that have the capacity to adjust to difficulties or change – to help keep our communities healthy and vibrant.

In September of 2019 the Initiative Foundation will start a new round of Financial Resiliency programming for nonprofits located in and serving income-eligible communities in our region.

The Financial Resiliency program is designed to help nonprofit organizations in income-eligible communities achieve some, or all, of the following:

  • Increased effectiveness and efficiency in operations
  • Informed growth and/or expansion in service provision
  • Greater financial flexibility
  • Broader community support.

The program also is designed to give nonprofit staff and volunteers the tools they need to build organizational capacity in a healthy, ongoing way.

The program combines monthly half-day trainings with expert technical assistance to help participants set and achieve their organizational resiliency goals. It consists of two tracks: one focused on comprehensive nonprofit business planning, and one specifically focused on strengthening fund development efforts.

USDA-eligible communities

Eligible communities as defined by USDA guidelines include: Askov, Backus, Belgrade, Bertha, Bowlus, Braham, Brainerd, Brook Park, Brooten, Browerville, Bruno, Burtrum, Cambridge, Cass Lake, Clarissa, Cold Spring, Crosby, Cushing, Deerwood, Eagle Bend, Emily, Federal Dam, Fifty Lakes, Finlayson, Garrison, Grey Eagle, Hackensack, Hewitt, Hinckley, Howard Lake, Ironton, Isle, Kerrick, Lastrup, Little Falls, Long Prairie, Longville, Melrose, Menahga, Milaca, Mora, Motley, Ogilvie, Onamia, Outing, Paynesville, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pillager, Pine City, Pine River, Princeton, Randall, Remer, Richmond, Royalton, Rush City, Sandstone, Sauk Centre, Sebeka, South Haven, Staples, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale, Wadena, Wahkon, Walker.


Leaders Circles

 Leaders-circle.pngLeaders Circle participants gather during a recent meeting at the Initiative Foundation's St. Cloud office. 

The Leaders Circles® Program

The Leaders Circles® program offered by the Initiative Foundation is a proven way to develop leadership strengths. Each group includes five to six nonprofit professionals who are committed to meeting real-life work challenges while learning and practicing new leadership skills. Groups are confidential, supportive and focused on learning and action. A trained facilitator helps members leverage the group to effectively problem solve and take action on the challenges and opportunities they face as nonprofit professionals.

Interested? Register for a Leaders Circle today or read our Leaders Circle information sheet to learn more.

Lunchtime Learning


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

2019 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, Sourcewell (formerly the National Joint Powers Alliance) and CliftonLarsonAllen, conveniently offer quarterly training, networking and information sessions over the lunch hour.

Brainerd Lunchtime Learning

Sessions take place at the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce CTC Room from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Bring your own lunch.

Wednesday, December 4—Join us for a facilitated discussion led by Karl Samp, Executive Director of the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation allowing attendees to address topics of importance to the area. The event is also intended to be a fun opportunity to network and take lunchtime learning to a different and more social environment with this happy hour style event.   

Session will take place at the Jackpine Brewery from 4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

Register here

St. Cloud Lunchtime Learning

Thursday, December 12—Building a High Performance Sales Culture 

Selling and sales are not topics nonprofit organizations often focus on.  However, we are often selling our mission and value to the public, donors, and grantors.  Join us for an exciting opportunity to learn about using the sales mindset of the business world to drive the mission of your nonprofit. 

Register here.

Presenter: Jeff Gau, CEO of Marco

Marco, a leading technology services company was founded by Jeff in 1973. He believes in high performance, sustaining a fun workplace and keeping score. You’ll often here Jeff say, “Until we sell something around here, not much else happens.” He will share his insights on how the personality of an organization drives a sales culture.

Session will take place at the Greater St. Cloud Development Corporation (501 W St. Germain St.,Suite 100, St. Cloud, MN 56301) from 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. 



Zach Tabatt
Nonprofit Development Specialist

(320) 631-2015

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