Faces Of Fargo Business: Eric Wilkie

Written by: Brady Drake

Wilkie grew up in the Red River Valley and has been a part of the Fargo-Moorhead community since 1997. He currently lives in Dilworth, MN with his wife Rebekah and their four children. He’s an active member of the Moorhead Rotary Club and Moorhead Business Association. 

“I’m most excited about my role with the FM Area Foundation as we are examining new ways to partner with, promote and serve this region,” said Wilkie.

Wilkie has been working in nonprofits for 20 years. Half of those years have been spent in the trenches of the nonprofit world, helping to directly impact the lives of those served by the organization. The other half has been spent working in philanthropy; helping donors identify their passions and aligning those passions with an organization for greater impact. 

“My current role aligns well with what I’ve been doing in the last 10 years except now I get to focus on helping more donors to impact a variety of charities with their financial support,” said Wilkie.

What keeps you up at night?

Not much actually. I believe each of us are called to serve in our vocations. I have a little prayer taped on my computer given to me by a very generous man a few years ago that reminds me that every day is a new beginning and a gift. When tomorrow comes, today is gone forever. I have an obligation to use each day for gain, not loss, for good, not evil, success, not failure. If I work each day as hard as I can, then the results lie elsewhere. I’ve learned I can’t control the outcome, only the input. When I lay my head on my pillow each night, if I’ve given what I can each day, I typically rest easy. I’ve always shared with my teams that if we do the right work, the right way, we’ll get the right results. 

What would you give a TED Talk on?

This is hard because I have so much respect for individuals that get up during these events and speak in front of large crowds. I think I would speak on the power of gratitude and abundancy and how the two are related. Some of the most generous people I’ve met in my career were such grateful individuals and because of that habit of gratitude, they seemed to have abundance in their lives. I recently heard an interview with Deepak Chopra where he talked about how showing gratitude was directly linked to having abundance in your life. I’ve seen so much generosity and gratitude in my career that I think I’d love to explore those topics.

How does the reality of your job differ from people’s perception of it?

Throughout my work in philanthropy, I’ve heard so many co-workers or community members say “I wouldn’t be able to do your job” or “I couldn’t go out and try and raise money.” Their perception is that it’s something uncomfortable or awkward when in the fact the opposite is true.  Working to promote philanthropy is such rewarding work. Much of my work consists of meeting with wonderful people who are willing and able to share their hard-earned resources to do good in their communities. I simply get to be a conduit for their generosity and then watch the impact of those gifts in the lives and work of so many great causes. I love what I do!

What’s one thing the local business community could do to help your organization?

Working in this community for some time, I know that so many businesses are being asked to support a lot of causes every day. I’d love to see all of our local businesses really make a plan for how and/or when they can give back to their community. So many do so already and some may not be in a position to do that tomorrow, but I’d encourage them to start planning today. One of the ways we can help at the FM Area Foundation is to assist businesses and individuals in taking control of their philanthropy so that it’s both a simple and rewarding process. I want businesses and individuals to be confident about their ability to give back and to support those causes that are important to them.

If you could thank one person who’s contributed to your success, who would it be and why?

That’s hard because I think anyone who has had any success in their life or career stands on the shoulders of giants, but I’d have to say my parents because they taught me the importance of hard work. I come from a small town in North Dakota and a very blue-collar household and community. My parents worked from their teens to retirement and a lot of long hours to ensure I had every opportunity available. I feel obligated to honor that sacrifice by doing the same in everything that I do. Anything less is unacceptable.  Thomas Edison’s quote, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work,” has always resonated with me. 

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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.