10 Things To Know About Your Community Foundation

Written by: Fargo Inc

Photography by J. Alan Paul Photography and courtesy of FM Area Foundation

Have you ever wondered how to make your giving go further? How your business can create its very own scholarship fund to support your future workforce? How to take advantage of North Dakota’s 40 percent charitable income-tax credit? The FM Area Foundation, a local community foundation serving the Cass-Clay region, can help you navigate your philanthropic questions and provide a flexible means to give.

With deep roots in the Fargo-Moorhead area, the FM Area Foundation has been supporting the Cass Clay region since 1960 and will continue to do so for generations to come. The foundation helps people establish charitable funds to make life better in the communities they love. We work with individuals, families, businesses, professional advisers and nonprofits.

1. We help you fulfill your charitable vision.

The FM Area Foundation makes it easy for donors from all walks of life and with all levels of assets to fulfill their charitable goals. We offer a variety of giving options. Give now or later. Give to an existing fund, or establish your own. Give dollars that go to work today, or create a lasting legacy. Our expert staff will help you determine the best option to make your charitable wishes a reality.

As a community foundation, we focus on all issues and opportunities that help create stronger communities, and as a result, we work with nonprofits across different service areas. From homeless shelters to the arts to after-school programs, we have a finger on the pulse of the important work being done in the Fargo-Moorhead area. So whatever you’re passionate about, we can help connect you to the organizations doing the work you care about.

2. We provide you with maximum tax advantages.

When you give through the FM Area Foundation, you receive maximum tax advantages for most gifts under federal law. Donations to the foundation generally qualify for a deduction on both your federal and state income-tax return.

One important thing to consider if you pay North Dakota income tax is North Dakota’s charitable income-tax credit. When you give a minimum of $5,000 a year to a qualified, permanent endowment, you can receive a 40 percent tax credit. The FM Area Foundation offers a number of funds to which you can give that qualify for the tax credit. Another option is to set up your own qualifying fund, receive the tax credit and benefit the charities you love.

3. We strengthen nonprofits through grant-making.

The FM Area Foundation creates permanent resources to help nonprofits thrive. We have five separate grant rounds in the areas of arts, culture and creativity, basic human needs, community-building, education and the women’s fund. Local nonprofits can apply for funding from these grant rounds. Grant applications are evaluated by committees made up of local residents and approved by the foundation’s board of directors.

4. We offer a variety of giving options.

There are seven types of funds you can choose from:

  1. Donor-advised
  2. Designated
  3. Field of interest
  4. Scholarship
  5. Unrestricted
  6. Agency
  7. Supporting organization

A popular and powerful choice for many FM Area Foundation donors is a donor-advised fund, which makes it easy to support nonprofits anywhere you want, any time you want.

You can name your fund after your family, in honor of someone or highlight an issue of special concern. You can make your giving a part of your legacy, ensuring that your generosity will be felt for many generations. You can involve your family in your tradition of giving back or give anonymously.

5. We accept a wide variety of assets.

We can facilitate even the most complex forms of giving. Beyond direct cash donations, we have the expertise and flexibility to accept complex donations such as stock and bond transfers, real estate, retirement assets, insurance, business interests and even personal property.

There are many ways to give, too. Some examples:

  • Leaving a gift to charity in your will
  • IRA charitable rollover
  • Gifts that pay you income
  • Gifts that protect your assets

6. We partner with professional advisers.

Many donors work with a financial advisor, accountant or estate planner. These professionals help take your financial planning to the next level. We will work with you and your adviser to ensure that both your financial and charitable goals are met.

Your trusted financial adviser can even manage your charitable fund. All you have to do is recommend them, and we will work out the rest.

7. We pool gifts for greater impact.


You could say community foundations are the original crowdfunders. By pooling assets, we work to create a greater, longer-term impact on the communities we serve. Since 1960, the FM Area Foundation has invested more than $40 million into the community in the form of grants to charities and scholarships to students.

8. We award scholarships.

We manage more than 40 scholarship funds and, in partnership with generous donors, award more than $200,000 to local students each year. Each scholarship fund is different. Some are awarded to students from a certain high school while others are awarded to students going into specific areas of study such as nursing or engineering. Each fund is established by individuals or businesses with a passion to support students’ continuing education and training.

9. We offer nonprofit services.

We provide a broad range of services to help local nonprofits do more. We care about strengthening the nonprofit sector to improve the quality of life for all people in our community. Trainings, nonprofit-agency endowments, a nonprofit listserv and grants are a few ways we do this.
The role of community foundations goes beyond funding. We strive to be a community champion and voice for positive change. In the past five years, the FM Area Foundation has been involved in efforts such as the Regional Workforce Study, creating a Downtown Moorhead organization, and participating in a cohort with community foundations throughout the Midwest to determine and implement best practices for disaster philanthropy.

10. We provide vision and leadership.

The Foundation is also leading the charge for local impact investing. Impact investments generate both a social and financial return. It’s about creating strong communities and investing more capital into projects that have the potential to strengthen the Cass Clay area.

FM Area Foundation



Courtney Larson is the communications and marketing officer for the FM Area Foundation

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Brady Drake is the editor of Fargo INC!