Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the FM Area Foundation?

    The FM Area Foundation is a community foundation created in 1960 by and for the people of Cass County, N.D., and Clay County, Minn. The FM Area Foundation helps people give back to the community and ensures the needs of the community are addressed now and in perpetuity. Working in partnership with individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits, the FM Area Foundation manages more than 300 charitable funds and provides grants to qualified nonprofit organizations and causes.

    The FM Area Foundation is accredited by the Community Foundations National Standards. 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.

    The FM Area Foundation invests approximately $2 million each year into the community through grants and scholarships.

  • What is a community foundation?

    A community foundation is a grantmaking public charity created by and for a community of people. It is supported by local donors and governed by a board of private citizens who work toward the greater good of the citizens in the community. Funds come from a variety of sources, including bequests and living trusts, and are invested. The investment earnings are then distributed to worthy organizations or causes. There are more than 750 community foundations in the United States and more than 1800 worldwide.

  • What is an endowment?

    An endowment is a permanent, irrevocable fund that may expend only the income generated by, or the increase in value of, the assets contributed to it.

    When you create a charitable fund through the FM Area Foundation, you have the opportunity to benefit the community forever with a permanent endowment. Your gift is invested over time. Earnings from your fund are used to make grants to charitable organizations. Your gift—and all future earnings from your gift—is a permanent source of community capital, helping do good work today and in the future.

  • How do I start a fund?

    We meet personally with donors to determine goals and create a fund that makes sense for you. We are highly flexible in our ability to accept complex gifts, and have seven types of funds to choose from.

    Any fund can be established in your name, or in the name of your family, your organization, or anyone you wish to honor. All grants distributed from the fund you establish – today and in the future – are awarded to charities in the name of that fund. It’s a great way to be involved with, and remembered for, your community investment. If you prefer to remain anonymous, we will honor your wishes.

  • What is the minimum balance to start a fund?

    All funds may be established with an initial minimum contribution of $5,000. Funds must reach $25,000 within five years. Once the fund reaches $25,000, gifts of any size are accepted.

  • Who owns the fund?

    A fund agreement signed by the donor and the FM Area Foundation stipulates the funds donated are property of the Foundation. The Foundation will do its best to honor the donor’s charitable intent, forever.

  • How and when are distributions made from the fund?

    Annually, we calculate the available amount for distribution. Each fund varies depending on how it was set up. We'll work with you through this process. 

  • How do I take advantage of the North Dakota Charitable Income Tax Credit?

    The FM Area Foundation has many endowments that qualify for the North Dakota Charitable Income Tax Credit under North Dakota Century Code §57-38-01.21. To find out which of our funds qualify, contact us at (701) 234-0756 or

  • What is the advantage of giving to a community foundation over creating a private foundation?

    Creating a Donor Advised Fund or supporting organization at the FM Area Foundation is less costly and takes much less time than creating a private foundation. We can help you establish a fund with a minimum contribution of $5,000. You recommend where your gifts go while leaving the administration and paperwork to us. This allows you to focus on the more meaningful aspects of charitable giving.