As the Nonprofit Resource Specialist program now ends its 15-year run with Bremer, we sign out grateful for our relationships with so many hard working, fantastic nonprofits in our communities across Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. We have enjoyed celebrating and sharing your news and accomplishments in this blog, as well as our tips and tidbits to help you do your best work.

As each of us moves on to new endeavors, we hope our paths will cross with you again. We count you among friends and know you will continue to do great work in your communities. We wish you a happy 2014!

Bremer Bank NRS Team (Howard Barlow, Fargo; Kelly Greenlees, Grand Forks; Kathy Grochow, St. Cloud; Maltee McMahon, Wisconsin; Myrna Meadows, International Falls; Lois Schmidt, Willmar/Marshall; Jerry Stai, Minot; Holly Witt, Alexandria; Amy Wyant, Brainerd)

A Great Partnership


Heather Thormodson, RSVP Director, West Central MN Communities Action  and Mary Quirk, Executive Director, MAVA

Heather Thormodson, RSVP Director, West Central MN Communities Action and Mary Quirk, Executive Director, MAVA

The Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administration (MAVA) has become a great partner with the Bremer Nonprofit Resource Specialists. They have reached out to rural areas of the state through the NRS’s to conduct a variety of trainings and initiate local volunteer networks.

Today, MAVA released its 2013 survey report on the Status of Minnesota’s Volunteer Programs in a Shifting Environment. The survey of 320 organizations found organization’s are seeing change in all aspects of volunteer engagement:

  • Change in who is volunteering
  • Changes in what volunteers are seeking
  • Reliance on volunteers is increasing
  • Volunteers involved in new roles

According to MAVA Executive Director, Mary Quirk, “In this new normal for most nonprofits of high demand for service and tight finances, many nonprofits are turning to volunteers in new ways to accomplish their mission. At the same time, with changing demographics, volunteers are increasingly seeking short term volunteer commitments, and roles that use more of their work place skills. Many nonprofits are thriving in volunteer engagement, developing new strategies for engaging volunteers, while a smaller number struggle with finding desperately needed volunteers.”

The Executive Summary and Full Report are available at www.mavanetwork.org/shiftingenv.

Holly Witt, NRS, Alexandria

Think Big or Ask Big?

photoSterling Sperim, CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, kicked-off the MCF Philanthropy Convening recently challenging leaders to “ask” big. Referencing a favorite book of mine and one that was the basis for training sessions I delivered in 2012, Sterling sited the importance of big questions from the book, “Governance as Leadership” by Richard Chait, William Ryan & Barbara Taylor.

He emphasized the critical value of the generative approach – an approach whereby you question assumptions and values. Through a World café discussion model, this lead to dialogue, exploration and further discussion around diversity, racial equity and inclusion. These discussions challenged people with thought-provoking questions in long-standing practices, processes, and procedures. From those discussions, a quote emerged that helps in looking at things differently – “a thriving culture equates to a thriving economy.”

To learn more about the generative approach, check out “Governance as Leadership” and feel free to respond with thoughts, reactions and experiences!

Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

Twenty-nine seconds into this video, I see a frustrated guy, huge frown, big sigh; then I hear him say,“happens every time I’m in a hurry.” Well, I’m thinking, I can definitely relate to this, and although I am in a hurry at the moment, I watch some more. I watch for the next five minutes all the way to the end. It’s a powerful story with an important message.

Can I share it with you during this season of Thanksgiving? I’m banking on you’ll be less hurried and more happy (I mean, happier) after watching!

Thank you and kudos to United Way of West Central Minnesota for this fantastic 2013 campaign video with local actors and local scenes.  

Lois Schmidt, NRS, Willmar

St. Cloud Gives on Give to the Max Day! During Minnesota’s biggest online giving day November 14,Minnesota’s generosity….totaled $17 million!

St. Cloud area nonprofits gathered at the Tuscan Center on Give to the Max Day to celebrate Minnesota’s biggest online giving day! Minnesota’s generosity resulted in giving totals of more than $17 million to nonprofits and schools across Minnesota from over 52,000 donors.

The St. Cloud Gives carnival celebration centered around carnival games, legos, family-friendly activities and raising the awareness of the contributions that nonprofits and schools provide to our communities on a daily basis. View photos of the event.

Kathy Grochow, NRS, St. Cloud

I recently came across this article in the New York Times and though it had some useful insights. Happy giving season!

Myrna Meadows, NRS, International Falls

How to Choose a Charity Wisely
by John F. Wasik

Donating to charities this time of year used to be relatively efficient and painless. After watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you plunked some money into a Salvation Army bucket, wrote some checks, contributed some household items and were done.

Yet with charities increasingly involved in awareness campaigns, complex networks of cause marketing and often exorbitant overhead, donating to the most effective charity has never been more challenging.

Read the entire article.

DSC_5765Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) recently announced its annual award winners to outstanding volunteers and leaders of volunteers. Among the winners is Bremer Bank Nonprofit Resource Specialist Lois Schmidt, who works in the Willmar Charter. Schmidt was awarded the MAVA President’s Award. More on the award from MAVA below:

The President’s Award is given at the discretion of the Board President and Executive Leadership at MAVA to recognize an individual or organization that has provided outstanding support to advance MAVA’s strategic efforts or the field of volunteerism.

Lois Schmidt has been a significant partner and friend to MAVA since the early days of its founding. She supported the concert of MAVA and endorsed the organization’s application for the initial Impact Foundation Award received to start the Volunteer Resources Leadership Initiative (VRL). Lois has been valuable in shaping workshops and resources in ways that have made MAVA truly statewide.

Lois continues to contribute as an important voice to MAVA for issues of Greater Minnesota, interpreting what she observes in her role as a Community Resources Specialist for Bremer Bank, to the benefit of volunteerism and its needs in rural communities.

Overall, Lois’ key accomplishments are central to MAVA’s ability to move from being a metro organization to a true statewide organization. She is always an advocate for volunteerism and has contributed greatly to bringing resources to support the field of volunteer management.

Congratulations Lois!