Running a successful nonprofit isn’t easy, but there’s a new organization in North Dakota that’s making it a little easier. Strengthen ND focuses on building nonprofit capacity, advancing regional issues, and facilitating community solutions. The vision is to help nonprofits meet their missions most effectively. Megan Laudenschlager, the founder and executive director of Strengthen ND, shares more about the organization.
Tell us a little history of Strengthen ND.
Strengthen ND is a dynamic and multifaceted nonprofit organization; often referred to as a “nonprofit for other nonprofits.” In 2015, I founded Strengthen ND in response to the growing disparities being faced by rural North Dakota communities. By focusing on providing nonprofit capacity, building opportunities, advancing regional issues, and facilitating community solutions, we have been able to support and accelerate community development through our day-to-day work.
Our efforts have specifically been focused on working throughout central and western North Dakota to aid nonprofits and rural communities with action planning, strategic planning, fundraising, project management, budgeting and financial management, succession planning, and grant writing through workshops and one-on-one coaching. Additionally, Strengthen ND has worked as an intermediary for several grantmaking organizations to facilitate proposal recruitment and development for charitable investments.
Since September 2015, Strengthen ND has generated over $5 million of project proposals from rural communities for funding consideration from the Rural Community Grant Fund. Additionally, we have worked with Statoil and the Northwest North Dakota Community Foundation to help shape their short- and long-term community investment strategies. Strengthen ND also supports diversity, equity, and inclusion through its work with ND Change Network, a systems change and leadership program developed by National Arts Strategies. Most recently, Strengthen ND has supported community problem solving by facilitating grant writing processes with the community of Tuttle and Minot Mayor’s Committee on Addiction. Our work with Tuttle (located in central North Dakota with a population of less than 80) involved supporting the Tuttle Rural Innovation Center to obtain a $200,000 Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant for the development of local foods strategies for economic development and vulnerable populations support. With the Mayor’s Committee on Addiction, we facilitated the grant writing process to also obtain $200,000 from the Bush Foundation Community Innovation grant program for the development of strategy around addiction services and long-term support.
How are you different from other organizations like yours?
Strengthen ND is different from other nonprofits across North Dakota in that we act as a catalyst to support good work in our communities. Strengthen ND isn’t issue-specific or area-specific. We support anyone and anything in communities that will have a positive impact on its citizens.
What are some issues that you predict Strengthen ND will dive into in the next few years?
One of the most fun aspects of working across rural North Dakota is to view the different community dynamics and obtain a better understanding of all the work that is being done by people with little resources, but with a big passion to make their community the best it can be. With every area of the state being so different, we do see a few commonalities that are making themselves apparent over time, specifically increased pressures due to a rapidly aging population and the urbanization of our state. Currently, we are investigating strategies around enhancing services through local foods and community coordination to better support our small towns as they continue to react to their aging populations. Additionally, we are looking into replicable models and the economic implications of repopulating rural North Dakota by creating an inventory of abandoned or vacant farmsteads and strategizing around supporting new and emerging farmers.
How can a community or nonprofit access Strengthen ND for capacity building or problem solving support?
With the support that we provide to nonprofit organizations, we are able to create customized plans or processes to achieve their goals. Because of the fantastic support we receive from Otto Bremer Trust, we are able to ensure that any fees we charge for support or services are affordable to each organization based on their means. We welcome phone calls and emails from anyone interested in learning more at (701) 303-0840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.