Impactful giving

The Minot Area Community Foundation continues to build a legacy of positive impacts

Allan Blanks/MDN 

Across the wall of Ken Kitzman’s (to the left) office, are framed photographs of the hundreds of donors who have entrusted their gifts to the Minot Area Community Foundation. Each day, Staci Kenney, right, and members of the foundation are reminded of their responsibility to honor the visions of their donors.

Allan Blanks/MDN Across the wall of Ken Kitzman’s (to the left) office, are framed photographs of the hundreds of donors who have entrusted their gifts to the Minot Area Community Foundation. Each day, Staci Kenney, right, and members of the foundation are reminded of their responsibility to honor the visions of their donors.

Over the span of 17 years, the Minot Area Community Foundation has established a trusting bond with its donors while building positive partnerships throughout the city of Minot.

Ken Kitzman, president of the Minot Area Community Foundation, is proud of the foundation’s progress and honored to serve the vision of his donors.

“We have the best job in Minot,” Kitzman said. “We work with the best people. They’re very humble and they just want to do good things.”

From providing gifts to Minot-area churches to creating city-wide parks for the youth, the Minot Area Community Foundation is helping donors to give the gift of a positive impact.

According to Kitzman, creating a community impact starts with earning the trust and the respect of donors.

“When we started, we struggled to stay alive and we worked really hard to do the right things,” Kitzman said. “This has been a long-term process. You have to earn the respect and trust of the donors and it’s taken a long time to do that. We work a lot with the state and even though a donor may believe we are worthy of their support, we may not see their gift for 10 years.”

In addition to gaining trust and respect, the combination of hard work, impeccable decision making along with unshakable patience allows the Minot Area Community Foundation to provide meaningful differences in the lives of Minot-area residents.

Today, the Minot Area Community Foundation is a name that Minot families trust and a respected establishment on the rise.

“Our reputation of doing good is starting to resonate within the community,” Kitzman said. “The dollars that we’re doing now is staggering to us. We’ve gone over $14 million in grants given back to the community.”

Currently, the Minot Area Community Foundation is responsible for more than 100 different types of funds designed to impact families, infrastructure and resources available in Minot.

Numbers aside, Kitzman and the members of the Minot Area Community Foundation treasure the names and faces of visionaries, who make it possible to impact Minot’s future.

Throughout the hallways and across the wall of Kitzman’s office, are framed photographs of the hundreds of donors who’ve entrusted their gifts to the Minot Area Community Foundation.

Each day, members of the foundation are reminded of their responsibility to honor the visions of their donors by doing their best to be an impactful organization.

“Their photographs create the big picture,” Kitzman said. “These are the people we work for and every one of them has a unique story about who they are. When I started, they were all alive and now there are 20 people on this wall who are no longer with us. Our commitment to them has never changed and our job is to carry out their wishes.”

Friend, donor and beloved member of the Minot community is the late Mike Dolan.

When Dolan’s name is mentioned inside the Minot Area Community Foundation, fond memories paired with a bright smile is instantly expressed by Kitzman.

“Mike Dolan was a very good businessman,” Kitzman said. “He had the vision to say ‘We shouldn’t be spending out just for today, we should be spending out for the future.'”

Recently, the Minot Area Community Foundation gave a grant of $60,000 to the Young Women and Children’s Homeless Charity in Minot, from the Arnold I. Besserud Fund.

Staci Kenney, the finance and program director of the Minot Area Community Foundation, described Besserud as a quiet man who frequented soup kitchens.

After Besserud died, the Minot Area Community Foundation upheld his wishes by sharing his gift to soup kitchens, food pantries and shelters across Minot.

“The YWCA is the largest provider for homeless care for women and children,” Kitzman said. “They do more sheltering than anyone else in the community. This was the Besserud Fund. When we think about him, we believe he would be nodding his head because we got this one right.”

Getting it right comes from listening to donors and focusing on the impact.

“The dollar amount doesn’t determine the impact,” Kenney said. “Everytime you drive by a playground at Roosevelt Park or visit the hockey rink at Maysa Arena, it feels good to see people enjoying themselves along with their children. Again, it’s the impact that really matters not the dollar amount.”

Founded on the principle of creating community impact, the Minot Area Community Foundation was established in 2000.

During the flood of 2011, the vision and strength of the Minot Area Community Foundation would be tested.

“Those were really hard times,” Kitzman said. “We had some amazing volunteers. I believe we had a core of eight. They prayed and they cried as people yelled at them. The people had no one else to talk to, we were the first line of human beings that many people had interactions with. Those were really emotional hard times for the flood recipients and the volunteers. We were trying to do everything that we could.”

Along with the dedication of his volunteers, Kitzman recalls the outpouring of donor support for the Minot community.

When Minot needed a positive impact, the Minot Area Community Foundation was there to lend a helping hand.

“That experience was a good turning point,” Kenney said. “Our name gained recognition and we continued to take more steps to show the community what we could do.”

For Kitzman and Kenney, both have emotional and familial ties to Minot.

As members of the Minot community, Kenney and Kitzman feel a lifelong calling to serve the place they call home.

“Community is a big deal to us,” Kitzman said. “We have an ethical and hometown uniqueness about Minot. It’s real, this is home and what we do is very near and dear to many people. I think this is why we’ve had success with the donations and contributions.”

To learn more about the Minot Area Community Foundation, visit www.centerforcommunitygiving.com.

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