MINOT — Matching donors to the charity they’re passionate about has been a part of the Minot Area Community Foundation’s mission for the past 24 years.
Jason Zimmerman, president, described the organization as mostly an endowment system.
“It was a group of community leaders that wanted to create an opportunity for people to endow gifts into a foundation for the purposes of funding essential qualities of life initiatives in the community,” said Zimmerman. “The Minot Area Community Foundation received its formal designation from the IRS in March of 2000. Technically its existed for 22 years, but conceptually a bit longer than that. We like to say we connect donors who care with causes that matter. We take donors’ intent with a gift, and follow that to a tee as much as possible, because those are their wishes.”
Zimmerman said some donations will go to projects ranging from small to large, the largest one to date for the Magic City Discovery Center’s new exhibit.
The Minot Area Community Foundation also funds humanitarian needs such as soup kitchens, whether it be equipment or supplementing food delivery. It can give to any non-profit as defined by the IRS, according to Zimmerman.
“We do scholarship endowments,” said Zimmerman. “Our biggest one is the rotary endowment, which is just shy of $700,000 in scholarships now since its conception. But that has a specific dollar amount that has been invested and every year it churns out so much money.”
Zimmerman explained how the MACF’s fund agreement works.
“There’s different types of funds that we offer, essentially, and then the donor signs the fund agreement which lays out the terms of how we operate, what their general expectations can be, what their goals are, and we work within those guidelines, said Zimmerman. “ We like to say it’s an eyes wide open experience because when they agree to gift, whether it’s stocks, or whether it’s cash, that they are no longer the owner of those assets. It’s a pretty unique commitment by an individual or an organization. We have agencies that we hold endowments for as well.”
Zimmerman said MACF has approximately 120 total endowments.
“Agency funds are 36, donor funds are 73,” said Chelsea Kirkhammer, marketing coordinator. She also explained what a “pass through” fund is, which often aids start-up charities in becoming sustainable non-profits.
“Pass through funds are, it’s like they’re giving to another organization through us,” Kirkhammer explained. “We were the pass through for the Discovery Center before they got their 501c3.”
The Donation Station is another program that the MACF itself puts on.
“The idea from that came from a reverse food truck,” said Kirkhammer. “So instead of selling food, they take food in and then take it out to people who need it. So, we took that idea and just created the Donation Station. It’s a trailer that we house here, and non-profits can come and use it, but you have to be taking in non-perishable food items, clothing, toys, any kind of drive. They have to tell us where they’re taking it, they have to register their license, their insurance and everything. We do a challenge usually right before the holidays. We’ll do a match, so if organizations hold a food drive, and they collect at least a thousand pounds of food, we will also donate $500 towards their food pantry of choice. It just makes it easier for people holding a drive to have the trailer there, load it up, lock it every night and then when they’re done with their job, they drive it right to the food pantry.”
“Since the foundation was formed, 19 million in grants to date. 22 years now,” said Zimmerman. “Where things are at now, it’s probably going to consistently be at a million or more a year. We’ve been doing good in growth with our endowments. We continue to grow that too.”
Zimmerman explained that there is a 40% tax credit available through the state of North Dakota for those who donate their money.
“It’s a minimum of a $5000 gift to a qualifying endowment, but that $5000 essentially at the higher tax brackets qualifies you for $2000 back through the state of North Dakota in income tax refund,” said Zimmerman. “So, there’s some financial benefits to endowed giving too. A lot of people say they don’t like to write checks to the IRS. But this is really a win-win because they’re getting to something that they can advise and make suggestions to in the form of an endowment. If you can do it, why not? To me it’s kind of a no-brainer. Obviously, it takes a very unique individual that’s willing to do that. It’s not for everybody.”
More information on the Minot Area Community Foundation can be found on its Facebook page.