Funder Collaboratives Changing Philanthropy as Usual

November 17, 2014
Bill English of the Northside Job Creation Team

Bill English of the Northside Job Creation Team

MCF’s latest edition of Giving Forum is out now! This issue’s feature story focuses on the Northside Funders Group and the Start Early Funders Coalition for Children & Minnesota’s Future, two funder collaboratives sharing information and resources to make a bigger difference in their work.

Northside Funders Group

Tawanna Black of Northside Funders Group shares how the funders working in North Minneapolis embraced FSG’s collective impact model, the first place-based funder collaborative in the country to do so.

“In North Minneapolis in particular, we felt it was critical to have public sector dollars and strategies aligned with philanthropy to get the impact we want,” says Black.

Denise Mayotte and Frank Forsberg

Denise Mayotte and Frank Forsberg

Start Early Funders Coalition for Children & Minnesota’s Future

Frank Forsberg and Denise Mayotte, co-chairs of the Start Early coalition, then explain how the funders in this group decided to come together in 2011 to create a shared vision on moving early childhood efforts forward in Minnesota. Their efforts have resulted in the creation of MinneMinds,a statewide campaign to increase public funding for access to high-quality early care and education programs.

“This is so important because it’s the first meaningful new investment in early childhood education at the state level in 15 to 20 years,” says Forsberg. “And it was only possible because so many partners came together to make a unified ask of the legislature.”

Read On!

When you’ve finished that article, check out the rest of the new issue, with stories on MCF’s new member types, how we’re building philanthropy’s new living room, highlights from our recent Fast Forward interview, and much more!


Are We Really Working Together to Solve Problems?

September 9, 2014

4025619497_cc11ffd64a_zWe’re all working to solve grand challenges – they’re complex, entrenched, systems-level problems that defy typical solutions.

Again and again we hear that the only way we’ll make a difference on these issues is if we collaborate with folks from other sectors who bring perspectives different from our own.

We know that single-sector actions to address them, although well-intentioned, often make the problems worse or spawn additional grand challenges.

So, why don’t we collaborate more often? Sure, it’s hard work and first we have to grapple with all of our different views to create a shared vision for reform. But if we’re not willing to do that, are we really working to solve the problem?

If you struggle with questions such as this, we want to see you at MCF’s program on Thursday, Sept. 18: Funder Collaboratives: The Why and How of Scaling Grantmaker Impact.

  • We’ll discuss various structures that grantmakers use for collaborative work,
  • consider when it makes sense to join a learning network or funder collaborative and
  • determine which model is the best fit for your organization.

You’ll hear from grantmakers involved in successful funder collaboratives — including the Northside Funders Group and the Start Early Funders Coalition for Children & Minnesota’s Future — on what it takes to effectively come together for a common purpose and change the way we work.

This program is intended for grantmakers who are currently engaged in collaborations who can enrich our discussion and funders who are interested in collaboration but have not yet joined a formal network. Register today and we’ll see you next Thursday!

 

Photo cc edlabdesigner

Young Leadership Cohort Busts Down Barriers

August 20, 2014

11gfOdds are you’ve heard a lot about the need for grantmakers and nonprofit professionals to set aside the power dynamics that hold back their relationships and to come together as peers to address needs in their communities. If you’ve worried that’s just lip service to a never-changing problem, good news! Young people in the sector have taken up that call to forge deep relationships and work closely together.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and the Twin Cities chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network unveiled a joint Leadership Institute. The inaugural cohort contains 24 individuals, with an even mix of those who work at nonprofits and foundations, including many MCF members (and staff!).

With a focus on accessibility (no cost to participate) and co-creation (members of the cohort lead sessions), the Institute is a unique opportunity that models best practices we want to see from the sector.

Learn more about it in the article I wrote for the summer issue of Giving Forum!

- Chris Oien, MCF digital communications specialist


Take a Virtual Coffee Break!

July 29, 2014

gcftPhilanthropy – we need each other to do it well, and it’s imperative that we make time to share stories, compare notes and answer questions. My favorite way to engage is over coffee or lunch, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes online advice – I call it a virtual coffee break – will do.

I know GrantCraft for their excellent guides, and I’ve used many of them in my work. The site has now been completely reorganized, making lots of great content much easier to locate and use. They’ve also made it easier to find out what other grantmakers have got brewing and to contribute your own lessons learned.

Maybe you’re working on an initiative that’s new to your community but has taken off elsewhere, or you have a burning question that you’d like a lot of people to weigh in on right now. Those are a couple of the reasons I’m hoping that GrantCraft’s new features really take off.

I encourage you to take a fresh look at the site, share your wisdom and comment on the questions asked by others. All of the discussions on the site are searchable and will be archived. Today when I checked, there were funders wondering how others help grantees beyond grants, how grantmakers help grantees find new money, challenges that arise when collaborating with other funders and how your organization structures challenge grants. These are all questions that I know many of our MCF members can help answer for other grantmakers.

Every success I have had in this field has been because of connections I’ve made and people I’ve met. GrantCraft now provides us a virtual opportunity to widen our networks and learn from grantmakers we haven’t yet met. If we take advantage of it, we’ll each improve our own practice, and we’ll better the field of philanthropy together. Let’s use it to stimulate real results!

- Trista Harris, MCF president




President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” and Philanthropy Investment

February 28, 2014

obama9Boys and young men of color too often face disproportionate challenges and obstacles to success in our society.

Today in the U.S., if you are African-American, there’s a 50-50 chance that you’ll grow up without a father at home, and you’re more likely to be poor, to not read well, to be expelled from school and eventually to end up incarcerated.

And, as President Obama stressed yesterday, “The worst part is we’ve become numb to these statistics. We pretend this is a normal part of American life instead of the outrage that it is. These statistics should break our hearts and compel us to act.”

Act is what the President did Thursday as he signed a Presidential Memorandum establishing the “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force, an interagency initiative to determine what public and private efforts are working for young men and boys of color and how to expand upon them.

The President has built a broad coalition of backers to help break down barriers, clear pathways to opportunity and reverse troubling trends that show too many boys and young men of color slipping through the cracks.

For yesterday’s announcement, he was joined by philanthropic leaders — including MCF President Trista Harris and David Nicholson, executive director of the Headwaters Foundation for Justice — and representatives from communities, business, government and faith groups.

Foundations have already made extensive investments in support of boys and young men of color. Building on that, yesterday 10 foundations (including MCF members The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation) announced additional commitments of at least $200 million over the next five years to find and rapidly spread solutions that have the highest potential for positive impact in the lives of boys and young men of color.

Look for more next week on Trista Harris’ D.C. experience.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


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