West Central Minnesota Foundations 2018

Date: Dec 13, 2017
Time: 01:00 PM to 04:30 PM

West Central Initiative
1000 Western Ave., Fergus Falls

Fee: $75 for MCN members / $125 for nonmembers Register Now!

Minnesota Foundations 2018 will provide you with specific information about the trends, staffing, program shifts and financial outlooks of the most active and important foundations giving in West Central Minnesota. You’ll learn frank, current information about significant changes taking place in Minnesota's foundation community.

Whether you’re an executive director, a board member involved in fundraising or a fund development staff person, this workshop is a great way to jump start your funding prospects for 2018.

This forward-looking workshop offers a great opportunity for you and your colleagues to build your list of foundation prospects for the coming year. It is also a great way to connect to trends in the sector while uncovering the resources necessary to implement your fundraising plan.

The workshop will include information about some of West Central Minnesota’s most active private, community and corporate foundations. This session is a time to dig beyond the grantmakers’ websites and to hear candidly from your peer grantseekers about their experiences and knowledge about working with various foundations.

Participants will receive a complimentary copy of MCN's Minnesota Grants Directory 2018.

The session will run from 1 – 2:45 p.m. with a focus on foundations with statewide giving priorities. This portion of the session will take place in St. Paul and will be broadcast the six locations listed below. There will be opportunities to ask questions and to engage in the discussion with peers in St. Paul and statewide.

The session will continue locally, 3 – 4:30 p.m., with round table discussions focusing on fundraising in West Central Minnesota. Attendees will be able to choose to participate in two of the four tables:

Using the Foundation Directory Online
Wendy Merrick, West Central Initiative

Framing and Writing your Grant Proposal
Lexi Oestreich, FM Area Foundation

Understanding Regional United Way Initiatives
Thomas Hill, United Way of Cass-Clay

Preparing for Planned Giving, Annual Campaign and Capital Campaigns
Tom McSparron, West Central Initiative

This workshop will be offered concurrently in St. Paul, Bemidji, Proctor, Fergus Falls, Rochester, Mankato and Sartell. Register at the location that’s best for your grantseeking priorities. Plus, this workshop will also be offered in January in Brainerd and Marshall; please check back soon for further details.

Principles & Practices

In addition to the content described above, this event will address the following practices:

  • FINANCE 16: Nonprofit organizations should secure appropriate levels of funding to carry out their missions and activities and, when possible, diversify their revenue sources to avoid being dependent on a single funding type.
  • FUND 8: Nonprofits must use funds consistent with donor intent and comply with specific conditions placed upon donations.
  • FUND 11: Organizational communications, including fundraising appeals, must include clear, accurate and honest information about the organization, its activities, and when, where and for whom the funds will be used in addition to the tax treatment of a contribution.
  • FUND 15: A nonprofit should plan its communications to tell the story of the organization and maintain consistent, mission-focused and timely communication with donors.

About the Presenters

Local Presenters

Thomas HillThomas Hill is the community impact director at United Way of Cass-Clay. Through this role, Thomas leads the community impact strategy & agenda. He also guides the development of community partner relationships, funding and investment requests.



Tom McSparronTom McSparron works as the donor services officer for West Central Initiative (WCI). Through this role, Tom provides coordination and oversight of WCI's fundraising efforts and endowment development. In addition, he works with communities and organizations to establish charitable (component) funds.


Wendy MerrickWendy Merrick is the program director of West Central Initiative (WCI). The administration of WCI's grant programs falls under Wendy's responsibilities, including the planning and evaluation activities. She also facilitates communication and coordination among program staff.



Lexi OestreichLexi Oestreich is the program officer at the Fargo-Moorhead Area Foundation. Lexi is responsible for the annual grant round, scholarships, community engagement and the nonprofit services of the Foundation. She oversees special programs and initiatives, community/special events and nonprofit services. She joined the Foundation in January 2014. Lexi is a graduate from Minnesota State University Moorhead with a bachelor's degree in public health.

Statewide Presenters

Kari AanestadKari Aanestad is the development manager at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. In this role, Kari secures and stewards grant and individual donor support for MCN. She also supports the development of other fundraising professionals throughout Minnesota through various channels including in-person and online trainings, the Minnesota Grants Alert, and the Minnesota Grants Directory. Kari holds a bachelor of arts in English and political science from Augsburg College and a master of divinity from Luther Seminary. Most recently she served as grant writer and outcomes manager for St. David’s Center. Kari brings a holistic wealth of experience to her role including international travel to over 20 countries, hospital chaplaincy in England, and teaching and tutoring positions ranging from elementary to post-graduate levels in writing and compassionate communication.

Michelle EdgertonMichelle T. Edgerton brings more than 15 years of program and development experience to Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ) having served as the chief advancement officer at The Family Partnership, the director of development at Twin Cities RISE!, the development officer in major/planned giving at the Courage Center, the regional director for Legacy Management Group, and as the director of events and special projects at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. She recently joined NAZ as the chief advancement officer.  She serves on the board of directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Minnesota Chapter. Michelle holds a master of arts degree in leadership from Augsburg College and a bachelor of arts degree in religion from Wake Forest University.

Sara SpiessSara Spiess brings 15 years of development experience to the Science Museum of Minnesota where she works in Mission Advancement to cultivate, develop and steward a broad base of partnerships among corporate, foundation and government agency stakeholders. Sara holds a B.A. from New York University and actively volunteers in the community. In 2016, Sara was named a Young Professional of the Year by the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. She is past co-president of GenYWCA, the emerging leaders group of the YWCA of Minneapolis. Sara has served on the board of directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals – Minnesota Chapter on communications, marketing and membership committees.

Paul VliemAs development manager for Tasks Unlimited, Paul Vliem is responsible for building greater awareness of Tasks’ mission and its impact in the lives of people living with severe mental illness. Prior to his position with Tasks Unlimited, Paul worked at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits as development and project manager. Paul is on the board of a number of nonprofits, including Frogtown Farm in St. Paul and the Association of Fundraising Professionals Minnesota Chapter. Paul holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Calvin College.

Lori-Anne WilliamsLori-Anne Williams joined the Greater Twin Cities United Way as foundations & grants manager in 2017. She has been working in the nonprofit sector for over 30 years at organizations including Prepare + Prosper, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, University of Minnesota and many more. Lori-Anne is also an experienced teacher and presenter, having taught at the Minnesota Council on Foundations, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, University of St. Thomas and conferences around the country. As a grant writer, Lori-Anne has secured funding from national and local foundations, corporations and government agencies. She has a B.A. from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Minnesota.

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