Donor Impact Report 2021


Could we have imagined the twists and turns of the last two years? Global threats of a persistent pandemic and climate change daunt us. Yet what matters most for our work is in focus: strengthening connections with the people and systems that impact clean and safe water for all.

The Freshwater community is rising. We grew stronger in 2021 amidst the storm. Our members, donors, and volunteers came together in record numbers. We embraced new staff and board member perspectives. We gathered viewpoints from people in Minnesota, across the Great Lakes states, and Native Nations. We watched 15 years of watershed science culminate in state law to improve water quality in the Minnesota River Basin. Your support made it all possible.

For millennia, people have cared for and respected water, but a warming planet and decades of intensifying land uses threaten its future. Now more than ever we need your partnership for protection, restoration and stewardship of our valuable fresh water for coming generations.

In appreciation of your support,
John Linc Stine, executive director

Smiling man

October 2020

Water Stewards certified (47 standard Stewards and 12 artist Stewards)

November 2020

Donated during Give to the Max Day

June 2021

Raised by donors during virtual Water Connects Us fundraising event

Making a difference

"Freshwater has helped me solidify and practice my passion for helping others."

—Olivia Forsheé, Freshwater intern

"As Water Stewards, we’re on the front lines of changing the environment working on rain gardens, French drains, rain barrels, pollinator gardens and lawns, sidewalk salt reduction, and lawn sprinkler reduction."

Chris Kunz, Water Steward and sustaining member 

"Your experience and leadership of the day were invaluable for us as we look to solidify the necessary direction for our organization moving forward."

—Freshwater facilitation client 

Fall leaves floating on dark water

Donors & members

Thank you to our wonderful donors for protecting the water we value.

In their own words: Why members support Freshwater

"I'm a Freshwater member because I'm concerned about our water for the future of my children and grandchildren." 

"Our donations to Freshwater Society play an important role in sustaining these training programs, funding research and conferences, tackling a wide range of projects, and thereby improving Minnesota’s freshwater resources. It is money well spent."

"I support Freshwater to keep touch with water issues in Minnesota and help coordinate across groups and agencies that work in water."

canoe at dusk

How do Freshwater's expenses break down?

Program expenses
Fundraising expenses
Management and general expenses

Take a journey through FY21

We hope you like our new Impact Report format! This is an interactive timeline packed with information. Click the links (blue text) to explore blogs and pages that provide details.

July 2020

Our donor-supported internship program empowers the workforce of tomorrow.

Three smiling interns

August 2020

Our community engagement programs expand with Adopt a River, a shoreline clean-up program.

In partnership with EOR and Perkins & Will, Freshwater staff begin supporting city of Rochester in advancing equity and climate resilience through their storm water planning efforts.

Our research program bears fruit for public safety. The Hennepin County Landslide Hazard Atlas is released to the public with an interactive map.

map with red and green dots

A groundwater course, Groundwater Basics for Resource Managers, launches through University of Minnesota Extension.

Our board and staff deepen their cultural competence by completing the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI).

September 2020

Equipped with community input, we rename our water stewardship program to include all Minnesotans.

Participatory engagement staff kick off two One Watershed, One Plan planning efforts for the Snake and St. Louis/Cloquet River watersheds.

St. Louis River at Jay Cooke State Park

We celebrate state budget recommendations that prioritize clean water investments.

Minnesota Capitol building

October 2020

We welcome Jocelyn Leung and her public health expertise to Freshwater staff as our new participatory engagement coordinator.

smiling woman, water frame

Our annual member drive kicks off; a record number join our community.

The Lower St. Croix One Watershed, One Plan process—our first!—comes to a close as the final plan is approved by the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources.

River flowing through cliffs and fall foliage

Steward work remains strong and more relevant than ever. One cohort graduates and a new program year launches, and artists continue to inspire action for water with Art for Water.

November 2020

Moos Speaker Dr. David Sedlak engages hundreds on global water security.

Donors set a high water mark investing $30,000 on Give to the Max Day.

December 2020

We vacate our old office and work remotely through the spring, and developers make quick work turning 2424 Territorial to dust.

We prepare our legislative agenda and move upstream on water policy.

December 2020

Online calendar sales peak before the New Year.

Calendar with red bow

January 2021

In partnership with EOR, Freshwater supports several west metro watersheds in exploring how mapping floodplain vulnerability can advance climate resilience in their communities.

January 2021

Eileen Kirby joined Freshwater as part of the team for our banking groundwater project, later joining our full-time staff as a policy and research coordinator.smiling woman, water frame

Board member Renee Willette joins US Water Alliance.

smiling woman, water frame

We kick off the legislative session by meeting with lawmakers, hearing testimony, and consulting with state agencies. We deliver policy recommendations to the legislature on managing aquifer recharge.

February 2021

We launch the research team charged with examining how Great Lakes groundwater is managed.

Map of Great Lakes

March 2021

Freshwater staff hone their facilitation and convening skills by completing a critical training in the skills that underpin our work for systems change and local water solutions.

April 2021

Gretchen Zampogna joins the team as our new communications and marketing coordinator to hone our message—don't miss our revamped Instagram page!

smiling woman, water frame

Earth month is jam-packed as Carrie Jennings facilitates a panel for the League of Women Voters and Moos speaker Alistar Boxall dives deep on pharmaceutical pollution.

We move into our new office space at 2550 University Ave. W.

Stewards spring into action with a rain barrel workshop.

The board prioritizes health equity and justice in a strategic plan revision.

May 2021

Amira Adawe joins our board, bringing her public health and nonprofit experience to Freshwater.

smiling woman, water frame

Risikat Adesoagun joins our board, adding another fresh perspective with her strategic communications and environmental background.

smiling woman, water frame

Carrie Jennings and volunteer scientists collect background data on soil in the fields of farmer partner Regi Haslett-Marroquin. The goal is to measure change in the soil’s infiltration and water-holding capacity over time as the farm shifts to regenerative agricultural practices.

Chicks (baby chickens)

A dry spring turns heads and foreshadows summer drought.

Sprinkler on garden

Our research team uses MPD infiltrometer donated by Upstream Technologies in field work.

June 2021

Donors raise $65,000 for clean and safe water through the virtual Water Connects Us. Food writer Beth Dooley shares a recipe and the Okee Dokee Brothers share music.

Freshwater successfully completes its consultancy role with the Rum River One Watershed, One Plan process. This comprehensive watershed management plan is now in its 60-day review period.

Bridge over river

Meet a few of our wonderful donors

Picture of sail boat on Lake Minnetonka

Dick Fowler

“We thought that maybe you and your team needed a financial hug during this difficult time.”


Doug & Teresa Andrys

Doug and Teresa founded and operate botanical business SunLeaf Naturals.

Woman with shovel, digging

Chris Kunz

Chris was certified as a Steward in 2017 and has since participated in a myriad of amazing projects!

Hahn Chang

Hahn Chang

During COVID, Hahn took his usual restaurant budget and channeled it to charity instead.

Photo of the people featured in this story

Darby & Geri Nelson

In recent years, inspired by their passion for education and the environment, they helped found a Freshwater student internship program.


Lundeen family

"We want our daughters to be able to have all the experiences we’ve enjoyed and for them to pass these traditions on to their kids."

Financial summary FY2021

Balance sheet

Cash/cash equivalents $583,332
Receivables $105,284
Prepaid expenses $14,659
Inventory $14,000
Fixed assets $28,302
Investments $6,091,137
Total assets $6,836,714
Liabilities and net assets  
Accounts payable $28,025
Accrued liabilities $100,614
Total liabilities $128,639
Unrestricted net assets $6,376,915
Temporarily restricted net assets $272,785
Permanently restricted net assets $58,375
Total net assets $6,708,075
Total liabilities and net assets $6,836,714


Income statement

Support and revenues $2,392,696
Program expenses $853,414
Fundraising expenses $131,060
Management and general expenses $186,236
Total expenses $1,170,710
Change in net assets $1,221,986

Freshwater staff

This screen shot is a good representation of how we worked during FY2021!

Screen shot of Zoom staff meeting
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Accountability and transparency are important to us. Freshwater is proud to be a Meets Standards organization with the Charities Review Council. We are committed to protecting the privacy of our donors. Read our privacy policy.

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Freshwater is proud be an associate member of the Minnesota Environmental Fund (MEF). MEF makes it possible for employers and employees to participate in workplace giving activities such as payroll deductions and volunteer opportunities that benefit the environment. MEF supports leading nonprofit organizations that protect clean water and more—now and for future generations.