By: Doreen Gosmire & Christa Meland
“We are about turning money into ministry,” said Sheri Meister, president and CEO of the newly named Dakotas and Minnesota Methodist Foundations.
As of January 1, 2022, the Minnesota Methodist Foundation and the Dakotas Methodist Foundation have formalized their partnership under a new name. The new name—Dakotas and Minnesota Methodist Foundations—is meant to invite all churches, individuals, and affiliated organizations with Wesleyan heritage to benefit from the organizations’ offerings.
“We will continue offering services and building relationships,” said Meister. “Our partnership with the Dakotas and Minnesota Conferences provides the opportunity to expand services.”
In 2019, following the retirement of former Minnesota United Methodist Foundation Executive Director Val Walker, Meister assumed an area-wide role in which she leads both foundations simultaneously. Since then, the Dakotas and Minnesota Foundations have grown their portfolios by 40 accounts; today they manage funds for 250 churches and ministries and oversee a portfolio totaling $47.3 million. They have also moved investments from the Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation to Wespath Institutional Investments (resulting in nearly $100,000 per year in savings), reduced administrative structures, and increased the number of staff that provide services to both conferences.
“It has been brought to our attention that our customer service is what entices people to make the change and move their investments to the Foundation,” said Meister, and customer service will remain a top priority of the foundations going forward.
Five staff members provide a range of services, including grants, scholarships, investment and endowment opportunities, and education for individuals and congregations. Jill Apple, who previously did fundraising for the Wesley Foundation campus ministry at the University of Minnesota, joined the team in September as associate director of foundation relations.
Meister says the foundations are in a position to continue to grow, and the new name provides an organizational framework to further expand services.
The Dakotas Minnesota Methodist Foundations are following the lead of Wespath Investments and a few other foundations across the country that have also expanded their reach by forming partnerships and expanding services.
There will continue to be two separate boards, one for the Dakotas and one for Minnesota. The boards serve an advisory capacity, focusing on building relationships and encouraging innovative ministry.
“We are here to concentrate on what is in the best interest of the churches, individuals, and agencies,” said Meister. “We are here and ready to provide comprehensive services to all.”