2023 Annual Report

Page 1


For Good. For Ever.®

The FM Area Foundation is a community foundation created by and for the people of Cass County, North Dakota, and Clay County, Minnesota. The FM Area Foundation helps people give back to the charities they love and ensures the needs of the community are addressed now and in perpetuity. Working in partnership with individuals, families, businesses, and professional advisors, the FM Area Foundation manages charitable funds and provides grants to qualified nonprofit organizations and scholarships to students.

Our Mission

We help donors maximize their philanthropy to create a vibrant community full of opportunities for everyone.

Our Vision

The FM Area Foundation began in 1960 and has granted over $89.1 million to deserving charities, near and far. Our vision is to bring that number to $250 million invested in creating a vibrant community.

We work with donors to maximize their philanthropy and make giving a simple and rewarding process. We have 370 endowed funds— funds that will be here forever carrying out the donor’s intent and paying out a percentage each year to support charitable causes. That is the power of endowment and the reason why giving through the FM Area Foundation is a smart investment for the community today, tomorrow and for years to come.


The FM Area Foundation is accredited by the Community Foundations National Standards Board. The National Standards ensure the values of community foundations are demonstrated through their commitment to legal compliance, philanthropic best practices, and excellence that benefits communities.

Discover how you can leave a legacy to benefit the charities you love forever.

2023 Board of Directors

April Walker, Chair

Toni Sandin, Vice-Chair

Katrina Turman Lang, Secretary

Gary Nolte, Treasurer

Chris Barta

Marilyn Guy

Don Haugen

Matthew Leiseth

John Stern

Sher Thomsen

Sandy Korbel, Trustee Representative


Patty Mastel, Director of Finance & Operations/CFO

Lexi Oestreich, Director of Philanthropy

Eric Wilkie, Executive Director

Ashley Bjordahl, Administrative Assistant

Matt Walstad, Community Development Officer

Michelle Johnson, Director of Marketing & Communications

Jamie Olson, Donor Services Associate


Message From Executive Director and Board Chair

As we reflect on the past year, we are grateful for the incredible impact we’ve achieved together. We are pleased to present the Annual Report for 2023, highlighting the remarkable accomplishments made possible through your generous support.

Since its inception, the FM Area Foundation has been committed to fostering a thriving community where everyone can flourish. Guided by our mission statement, “We help donors maximize their philanthropy to create a vibrant community full of opportunities for everyone,” we have remained steadfast in our dedication to making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals and organizations throughout our region.

Throughout the Foundation’s history, you’ll see a pattern of behavior or a set of values that have guided our path for many years. We like to think that those values, Showing Care, Staying Curious, and Serving Community, still inspire and motivate us forward today.

Throughout this year’s Annual Report, you’ll see these examples brought to life on each page. These values begin with our amazing staff and board which directs our daily interactions. They are shared in our engagement with donors, fundholders, and advisors in our community and are revealed in the work that we do with our local nonprofits. Showing care means to be generous, extend grace, display empathy, share openly, and serve selflessly. We demonstrate curiosity by listening to both the passions of our fundholders and the needs and challenges of our charities while always seeking to learn more about each other. Finally, we serve you, our community,

with a dedication to transparency, a desire to be in relationships with others, and a heart to give back with gifts, with time, and with compassion. We hope you enjoy the stories and illustrations enclosed.

None of this would be possible without the unwavering dedication of our fundholders, donors, professional advisors, and volunteer board of directors. Your generosity and commitment to our shared vision have been instrumental in driving positive change and building a stronger, more resilient community for all. As we look ahead to the future, we are inspired by the possibilities that lie ahead and remain committed to working collaboratively to create a lasting impact in the FM area and throughout Cass/Clay.

On behalf of the entire FM Area Foundation team, we extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you for your continued support and belief in our mission. Together, we are making a difference and building a brighter tomorrow for generations to come.

P.S. Stay tuned, 2024 will be the year the FM Area Foundation exceeds $90 million of grants since our inception, providing critical funding to charities both near and far! Thank you!!

With gratitude,


of the FM Area Foundation

April Walker

2022/2023 FM Area Foundation Board Chair


Throughout the year, our organization has prioritized CARE in every aspect of our operations. From prioritizing employee wellness to donor service initiatives, we have focused on fostering a culture of empathy and support. Our commitment to care extends beyond our immediate sphere, as evidenced by our sustainable practices and efforts to minimize our environmental impact.


The FM Area Foundation helps donors maximize their philanthropy to help create a vibrant community full of opportunities for everyone. Our organization collaborates with individuals, families, and businesses that share our goal of positively impacting the local community and beyond. We recently talked with Jon Simmons, a professional advisor partner, and Eric and Sara Gjerdevig, fund holders at the FM Area Foundation, and they shared their personal experiences with the FM Area Foundation.



Jon was initially attracted to partnering with the FM Area Foundation after a colleague shared the work that some of his clients were doing, and that sparked interest in reaching out to the FM Area Foundation. He has several charitably minded clients who weren’t aware of the advantageous ways to fund their giving goals. Upon meeting with the team, Jon discovered in the FM Area Foundation a partner who could not only help facilitate his client’s goals, but also an institution that aligns with the heart of his clients.

The FM Area Foundation supports Jon’s clients in achieving their philanthropic goals by aligning with each individual’s unique situation and passions. Some clients have specific giving goals in mind when they fund their Donor Advised funds, yet others want to make undesignated gifts and allow the FM Area Foundation to use the resources.

Jon appreciates that the Foundation provides expertise by identifying areas of need in our community while honoring the wishes of each

donor. The FM Area Foundation demonstrates care for his clients by creating an open and collaborative environment.

“Giving is rewarding, inspiring, and always needed. The FM Area Foundation takes its role seriously in changing our region one gift at a time.”

We asked Jon what advice he would give to other professional advisors who are considering working with the FM Area Foundation:

“As advisors, we work so hard to develop longterm and meaningful relationships with our clients in support of their goals. Working with the FM Area Foundation allows advisors to continue that work beyond the initial gift and many years into their clients' philanthropic endeavors.”

Jon expressed that the FM Area Foundation is a great partner in facilitating giving goals. Clients appreciate it when they can see their donations at work. Whether clients want to be visible or anonymous, they can see their money at work in the communities where we learn, work, and live.


“Working with the FM Area Foundation was a very easy process. My only regret is that we didn’t take the time to set this up years ago, but it’s never too late to start! -Eric

Gjerdevig, FM Area Foundation Fund Holder


Q. What inspired you to establish a fund with the FM Area Foundation?

Our family has always strived to give what we can each year to area nonprofits that are important to us. We wanted to take a long-term approach to our giving, to fund a long-term commitment that goes beyond us. Giving can, at times, feel temporary because the funds are used quickly; with the FM Area Foundation, we know that we are building a fund that will continue to give each – it feels more permanent, more lasting.

Q. What specific causes or initiatives does your fund support, and why are they important to you?

We have always been dedicated to helping the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center (RACC). Our connection to the organization came through Eric serving on their board for many years. That experience gave us the visibility to the important work they do in our community. Since then, our family has always strives to do what we can to support RACC.

Q. In what ways has being a fund holder at the FM Area Foundation enriched your connection to the community?

I think creating a fund through the FM Area Foundation is a tool to create a lasting impact in our community. To extend the benefits of every dollar you give into the future to impact our community beyond our individual time in it.

Q. How has your experience been working with the FM Area Foundation to manage your fund?

Working with the FM Area Foundation was a very easy process. My only regret is that we didn’t take the time to set this up years ago, but it’s never too late to start!


Christopher & Samantha Bachmeier Charitable Endowment Fund

Donald P. & M. Charlene Schwert Fund

DUO Fund

Eagle Lake Lutheran Church Vision Fund

FM Christian Ministry Fund

Froemke Family Fund

Gjerdevig Family Fund

Lee & Carlie Froemke Fund

Legal Fees For Women in Crisis Fund

Lenore & Wayne Wermager Fund

Mathern Ecumenical Social Justice Endowment Fund

Michael J. Kuhlmann Fund

Mike and Patty Evans Fund

Mike Evans Family Fund

Myrna E. Hanson Charitable Fund

Patrick and Brenda Nistler Family Fund

Peace Academy Endowment Fund

Rape and Abuse Crisis Center of FargoMoorhead Permanent Endowment Fund

Ronald & Sandra Fuhrman Charitable Fund



$7,200,361 Total

BIPOC Arts, Culture & Creativity Scholarship Youth
& Wellness Religion
& Research Basic Human Needs Animal Welfare
Community Building & Disaster Relief Recovery
by Category


The FM Area Foundation offers a variety of funds and flexible options to help you meet your charitable goals.

Donor Advised Fund

You work with our professional program staff, identifying ways to use dollars from your Donor Advised Fund to address the issues and needs you care about most. You have the ability to change the charity who benefits from your fund each time you recommend a distribution from your fund. We then distribute the grant dollars in your fund’s name or anonymously according to your wishes.

Designated Fund

At the time you create the fund, you choose the specific nonprofit organization(s), generally to a maximum of five, who will receive the proceeds from the fund on an annual basis. Your onetime selection can help provide ongoing funding for a senior center, museum, homeless shelter, or virtually any 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization.

Field of Interest Fund

You can target your gift to address needs in an area about which you are passionate - the arts, food insecurity, aging, mental health, at-risk youth, etc. You identify the interest area when making your gift; the FM Area Foundation awards grants to community organizations and programs that are making a difference in the area you select.

Scholarship Fund

You can invest in our community’s future and show students you care, all with guidance and personal services of the FM Area Foundation. You determine the criteria students must meet to receive the scholarship you establish. With your assistance, students achieve their academic and career-oriented goals.

Unrestricted Fund

Your gift can address ever-changing needs, including future needs that often cannot be anticipated at the time your gift is made. We evaluate all aspects of community wellbeing - basic human needs; arts and culture; community building; education; and many more. The flexibility of your unrestricted gift enables the FM Area Foundation to respond to the community’s most pressing needs, today and tomorrow.

Nonprofit Agency Fund

A nonprofit organization initiates a fund to permanently support the operations of the organization and enhance their ability to accept large and complex gifts.

Supporting Organization

You can use your gift to establish an excellent alternative to a private foundation with only a fraction of the administrative responsibilities. You select some of the board members, maintain personal involvement, and support the causes and organizations you care about while enjoying the favorable tax treatment of a public charity. Leave investment management, startup costs, grant administration and reporting to the FM Area Foundation.

The FM Area Foundation stewards more than 500 charitable funds. To view the full fund listing, visit areafoundation.org and click “Support a Fund.”


We believe that curiosity is the driving force behind innovation and growth. This year, we have encouraged a spirit of curiosity among our team, inspiring new ideas and solutions that include impact investing and our annual Caring Catalog.



We are humbled and deeply grateful for our community’s yearly response to the FM Area Foundation Caring Catalog. Since its launch in 2018, the Caring Catalog has exceeded $1 million dollars to support local charities during the season of giving.

The Caring Catalog achieved remarkable success in its latest campaign, raising over $270,000 for 25 local charities. Each year we hear from both local business sponsors, our own fundholders, and community donors that the ease and simplicity of the catalog make for a rewarding opportunity for both the givers and the charities. SAVE THE DATE!

• 2 presenting sponsors-Marsh McLennan and Thoreson Steffes Trust Company

• 5 nonprofits met fundraising goals

• 23 sponsors

• $51,000 sponsor donations

• 33% of donations came from FMAF fundholders

• $270,000 raised in 2023

• $1.2 million raised since inception in 2018

December 2 nd THROUGH December 13th 2024

“Utilizing the FM Area Foundation to support local nonprofit organizations is not only simple but also provides confidence that the programs you are giving to truly help meet the needs of people in our area. The Caring Catalog is a further testament to that simplicity. Being able to focus our giving to the causes that our colleagues at Marsh McLennan Agency care about, especially during the holiday season when

are so great, is

satisfying for us.”



FMAF ANNUAL REPORT 2023 9 PRESENTING SPONSORS: GIVING TUESDAY SPONSOR: Jeff Olson, CRPC® Financial Advisor 701-293-4302 Jeffry.D.Olson@wellsfargo.com https:home.wellsfargoadvisors.com/jeffry.d.olson SD Insurance Agent # 40354482 Lamp/Olson Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors proudly support Caring Catalog ffrey Lamp Senior Financial Advisor 406 Main Avenue Fargo, ND 58103 701-293-4324 Jeffrey.E.Lamp@wellsfargo.com https:home.wellsfargoadvisors.com/Jeffrey.E.Lamp SD Insurance Agent # 40166522 Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company. NOT FDIC Insured NO Bank Guarantee MAY Lose Value Investment and Insurance Products: Louise and Bernie Dardis Charles & Linda Moses Foundation Fund Saeger Family Fund John and Sherri Stern Joel and Sher Thomsen Turman & Lang Law Firm



One of the Foundation’s most recent initiatives is offering capital loans to local nonprofits at below-market rates. This initiative channels funds held in foundation investments into nonprofit loans, yielding both financial returns and meaningful community impact. Since the inception of our Local Impact Investments, the FM Area Foundation has provided over $1.2 million in loans to local projects that aim to improve the Fargo-Moorhead community. What makes this remarkable is that when the loans are repaid, the funds are reinvested into new loans, ensuring ongoing support for continued community improvements.

In 2023, the FM Area Foundation partnered with the Immigrant Development Center to provide an Impact Investment loan of $53,000. This loan ensured that the International Market could remain open throughout the winter and that the businesses occupying the space could stay open and thrive. The funds were used to repair the obsolete/nonfunctional heating and air system, ensuring that the community who depend on the space have a safe and warm place to gather and shop.

The Immigrant Development Center is a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 by Fowzia Adde, dedicated to building capacity in the community and providing opportunities for our immigrant population to create and grow businesses and increase economic skills, ultimately leading to economic self-sufficiency.

“We extend our gratitude to the FM Area Foundation for their impact investment loan, enabling us to repair our obsolete/nonfunctional HVAC system at the International Market. Their support ensures our facilities remain functional, allowing us to continue serving our community with warmth and comfort. Together, we're making a tangible difference in people's lives. Thank you to the FM Area Foundation for believing in our mission and investing in our future.”

- Fowzia Adde, Immigrant Development Center Founder

The organization fosters new business startups and provides training to individuals interested in starting businesses; they provide affordable space to launch their businesses and access capital. By developing individuals' entrepreneurial skills and knowledge, the Immigrant Development Center is positively impacting the new American community and the FM community while generating microbusinesses that lower unemployment and increase our local economy.

The International Market Plaza is a multicultural dining and shopping space near downtown Fargo. The International Market provides immigrants of the FM community the opportunity to pursue their passions and achieve a better quality of life through the success of their businesses.


Scholarship funds at the FM Area Foundation are created by generous individuals, families and businesses to provide financial assistance for students pursuing higher education and training. Scholarship funds are often named after a family, business or in memory of a loved one to carry on their legacy.

“As a child of a disabled parent, I have not always been given the same opportunities as my peers. This generous scholarship has provided me with the privilege and security to further my education, allowing me to grow as an individual and as a student. My sincerest gratitude will never be able to express how truly grateful I am.”

- Logan Linnertz, 2023 Lisa Undem Scholarship Fund recipient

$292 ,000 in scholarships awarded TO 193 STUDENTS for the 2023-2024 academic year.


Our dedication to our community remains at the heart of our mission. We have actively sought opportunities to give back, partnering with local organizations and supporting meaningful causes. From volunteering initiatives to community sponsorships, we strive to make a tangible impact on the communities we serve.




GiGi's Playhouse Fargo was a 2023 grant recipient from the FM Area Foundation, which fully funded the GiGi's Kitchen program in the fall of 2023 and spring of 2024. This grant allowed GiGi's to ensure they could keep their programs free for their families, purchase gluten and dairy-free ingredients to explore new recipes, obtain additional cooking equipment such as additional knives, cutting boards, etc., and create takehome kits, which were presented in December 2023. The beauty of this program is that participants are equipped with the resources and skills in the setting of the Playhouse, then go home to prepare and share a meal with their family. The excitement of these blossoming cooks is equaled only by the joy experienced by their families.

“I have witnessed firsthand the lifechanging impact of our GiGi's Kitchen program. From enhancing kitchen confidence to fostering independence, our initiatives empower participants. Thanks to the FM Area Foundation grant, we have expanded GiGi's Kitchen's reach, provided specialized ingredients, met essential cooking equipment demands, and introduced kitchen take-home kits. This support ensures our programs continue to make a positive impact on individuals with Down syndrome and their families.”


Down Home empowers lives by furnishing homes for families and individuals emerging from homelessness. Founded in 2017, Down Home serves families in the Fargo-Moorhead area. To date, Down Home has furnished over 170 homes, impacting over 500 lives, and providing further connections beyond the movein day. Entering housing is an important step in the journey of emerging from homelessness, yet four walls is not enough to solve the problem. In the United States, half of those who enter housing return to shelters within the year. Down Home ends the cycle of homelessness by creating homes and a community where people find stability, dignity, comfort, and connection.

“The Down Home Empower Up program changed my life by helping me start over in life and find a better frame of mind. I am proud to be part of the Down Home family.”

- Wendy, Empower Up Program Summer 2018

Down Home’s Empower Up Program provides cognitive behavioral and emotional intelligence training that equips participants with the skills to take control of their lives, relationships, and state-of-mind. This transformative process empowers clients to identify the thoughts and behaviors that have led to negative outcomes and how to develop new thinking habits that will create positive ones. After successfully completing the program, participants receive the gift of a one-room transformation and access to all continued Down Home services, including birthday packages, community resources and our annual Down Home Christmas event.

“Support from the FM Area Foundation has been pivotal in expanding the scope of our Empower Up Program. The stories of those we are privileged to serve humbly remind us of the important investment being made in their lives through our extensive and impactful programming. ‘I didn’t know I was worthy of this,’ is a common sentiment during the reveal of their new space. Thank you, FM Area Foundation, for giving dignity and hope to people emerging from homelessness in our community.”





As advocates for meaningful connections and positive impact, we've actively engaged in various initiatives to uplift and support our vibrant community.

TEDX Sponsorship

It was a rewarding community event that encourages discussion and creativity among our citizens, a place where ideas can spark change and impact.

Christkindlmarkt Sponsorship

It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our neighbors and contribute to the spirit of giving.

Furniture Mission Fleet Sponsorship

Sponsoring the Fund the Fleet project has been an incredible opportunity to furnish new beginnings for local families in crisis.

Box of Balloons Volunteer

We volunteered with Box of Balloons; an organization committed to celebrating children's birthdays in need.

Farm in the Dell Volunteer

Embracing the beauty of nature and community, we spent a fulfilling morning volunteering at Farm in the Dell.

Ronald McDonald Open House

We attended the 40th anniversary of Ronald McDonald Open House of the Red River Valley, showing our unwavering support for their mission of providing comfort and care to families facing medical challenges.

These experiences highlight our commitment to fostering a thriving and compassionate community. We're grateful for the opportunity to contribute and collaborate with you all to create a vibrant community full of opportunities for everyone.




The FM Area Foundation’s assets are held and invested at the following financial institutions.

Alerus Financial

Bank of the West

Bell Bank

Bremer Bank

Edward Jones

Greater Midwest Financial Group

Heartland Trust Company

Merrill Lynch

Wealth Forward (As of Dec. 31, 2023) $109 MILLION TOTAL

Our complete audited financials and 990 can be found on our website, areafoundation.org/about-us/financials/, or by contacting our office at 701.234.0756.

Prairiewood Wealth Management

Schmidt Wealth Management

Thoreson Steffes Trust Company

U.S. Bank

USB Financial Services

Waterfront Financial Group

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Advisors

DATE MILLION $89.1 84%
Making a difference today, tomorrow and forever! 500 OVER
409 7th Street South Fargo, ND 58103 701.234.0756 areafoundation.org Celebr ation Summer August 13, 2024 4 pm to 6 pm Congratu at ons to the Histor c Moorhead Da ry Queen for Ce ebrat ng 75 yea s in the Fargo Moorhead Community! SAVE THE DATE FM Area Foundation Office. Food and drinks provided. CARE, CURIOSITY, COMMUNITY

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.