What we do: lead, build and invest

We lead initiatives to create a region of the healthiest people, build the fundraising success of health-related nonprofits, and invest in new ideas that can create widespread health improvement.

Obesity is the single largest and costliest health threat to America and our region. It’s a root cause of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and many other chronic illnesses.

Our lifestyles in this modern world conspire in many ways against healthy choices. That’s why we’re helping fill childcares, schools, workplaces and community settings with healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity to get and keep more people at a healthy weight — adopting lifestyles for long, vibrantly healthy life.  By making the healthy choice the easy choice, we’re shifting norms and reversing this obesity epidemic for the next generation.

We’re also investing in innovation that holds the promise to transform health in our region.

We further invest our resources in helping nonprofits become exceptional at fundraising. With money for their missions, organizations multiply their impact to health. Our fundraising training teaches charities “how to fish” and has been trained to nearly 5,000 people from more than 400 nonprofits in North Dakota and western Minnesota. Organizations using the system are raising vastly more and are better equipped to solve health problems we face in this region.


Our story of changing impact: from hospital to capacity-building foundation

Dakota Medical Foundation was formed in the 1960s by pioneering physicians and community leaders with the vision to build a progressive new hospital on Fargo’s growing south side. Initial tax exempt status was granted May 26, 1962.

The new $1.8 million Dakota Hospital opened two years later with 76 beds and 11 physicians. It developed into a major referral center with a large campus, and became renowned for its kidney dialysis, joint replacement, open heart surgery and other specialties. It was known, too, for its deeply dedicated physicians, high quality patient care and pursuit of continual innovation.

Eventually, the hospital was sold to a for-profit organization and the proceeds began the $94 million endowment for DMF to begin grant making to health-related nonprofits in 1996.

Since inception, DMF has invested more than $72 million to operate health initiatives and fund strategies to multiply the results of more than 400 organizations in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

In 2007, Lend A Hand was launched to guide and improve volunteer efforts to raise funds for people experiencing medical crises in Cass and Clay Counties. This initiative helps approximately 50 local families each year.

DMF has evolved from passive grant maker to the role of capacity builder.  We leverage our expertise, financial investments and collaborative networks to solve complex, multifaceted health issues such as childhood obesity.

We lead initiatives to measurably improve health and access to care. Since 2005, we have built nonprofit organizations to be extraordinary fundraisers that produce superior results through our Impact Institute.

Service Area

Based in Fargo, Dakota Medical Foundation serves health-related entities, charities and people in:

  • North Dakota counties of Barnes, Benson, Cass, Dickey, Eddy, Foster, Grand Forks, Griggs, Kidder, LaMoure, Logan, McIntosh, Nelson, Ramsey, Ransom, Richland, Sargent, Steele, Stutsman, Traill, Walsh, and Wells.
  • Minnesota counties of Becker, Clay, Clearwater, Hubbard, Mahnomen, Norman, Ottertail, Pennington, Polk, Red Lake, Wadena, and Wilkin.

In limited circumstances, Dakota Medical Foundation undertakes statewide health initiatives.