Seven Predictions for the Future of Philanthropy in Minnesota

January 7, 2014

Road 2014Helping members understand trends that will impact the field is an important role of any membership association. In that spirit, I have developed a list of seven predictions for Minnesota’s philanthropic sector.

I admit that some of these predictions are based on current trends and others are wishful thinking, but I believe the true purpose of futurism isn’t to predict the future but to help shape it by presenting ideas that unstick us from our current realities.

Let me know which ideas you agree with, which you disagree with and what else you would add to the list.

many small light bulbs equal big oneShift to Collective Impact
As foundations become increasingly frustrated by the lack of movement on our communities’ most pressing problems, we will see them working across sectors to achieve large-scale social change. While this will mean many individual foundations putting their theories of change on the back burner for a more collective approach, the results will create a new incentive to be flexible.

Rise of the Funder Collaborative 
As foundations take a more proactive approach to accomplishing their objectives, they increasingly rely on networks to spur the substantial human and financial resources required to move the needle on complex community issues. This encourages innovation, sharing of best practices and a more targeted approach to creating change.

Mission-related Investments Grow
More foundations start intentional conversations about the “other 95%,” the 95 percent of foundation assets not used for grantmaking and typically invested in the stock market. Questions about how to better leverage those dollars lead to foundations putting a growing portion of their assets into mission-related investments that seek to achieve specific social or environmental goals while targeting market-rate returns.

An effort to recognize foundations that incorporate a specific percentage of mission investments into their portfolios is developed and popularized.

givemnGiveMN Gets an Upgrade
After 2013’s Give to the Max Day, which broke state records for online giving despite being fraught with technical glitches, GiveMN works with its website vendor Razoo to ensure site stability and reliability. In 2014, GiveMN reaffirms itself as the go-to place for online giving in Minnesota, and Give to the Max Day 2014 again breaks national fundraising records.

Solving Big Problems with Big Data
Realizing that the disjointed nature of foundation funding gives us only a small picture of what is happening in the nonprofit sector, more foundations pool their data and expertise to analyze nonprofit sector trends. Efforts such as Minnesota Compass and Generation Next are supercharged by foundations sharing proprietary information from grantee reports.

Minnesota Launches a Coalition of Communities of Color
Inspired by a summer 2013 meeting with leaders of a similar effort in Portland, Oregon, Minnesota’s minority-led nonprofits launch a united effort here. The coalition forms to address institutional racism and socioeconomic disparities, but the group gains momentum with their work addressing Minnesota’s persistent education disparities.

disasterPlanning for Disasters Before They Strike
As 100-year weather events and man-made disasters happen more frequently and become increasingly destructive, the current philanthropic strategy of convening funders to develop a plan after disaster hits becomes unworkable. Minnesota foundations team up with elected officials, first responders, the Red Cross, individual donors and nonprofits with deep roots in the community to develop a philanthropic response template that can be adjusted for each disaster.

- Trista Harris, MCF president

Philanthropy Responds to Typhoon Haiyan

November 13, 2013

typhoon1The Philippines has been devastated by Typhoon Haiyan, with thousands of people dead or missing and millions of lives impacted since it made landfall on Friday.

Minnesota grantmakers have responded quickly to the urgent needs faced by those affected, with many are mobilizing to donate money, supplies, staff time and other resources to assist in the relief efforts. These include:

  • Medtronic Philanthropy giving $100,000 to the Red Cross and matching all employee donations dollar for dollar, up to $50,000 per employee. It will also offer up to 5 days paid time off for employees to volunteer in relief efforts.
  • Ecolab Foundation donating bleach, sanitizers and other needed cleaning supplies.
  • The General Mills Foundation committing $150,000 in disaster relief support to communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

MCF is collecting all efforts by Minnesota grantmakers in support of this cause. See our website for the full list and for suggested resources you can use when considering your own response. Individual donors may be especially interested in this list of ways to help from the Star Tribune, and these tips from the Charities Review Council on how to give wisely and confidently.

Are you and your organization helping those affected by Typhoon Haiyan? Let us know in the comments.

Image cc mansunides

Corporate Giving Up Since 2007

July 25, 2013
The Polaris Foundation donated ATVs for use in relief and clean-up efforts after the May 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado.

The Polaris Foundation donated ATVs for relief and clean-up efforts after a May 2013 tornado in OK.

The latest news from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) says a majority of companies nationally have increased cash and noncash giving since 2007, boosting their support of community despite an uncertain economy.

In Minnesota, often recognized for the generosity of its business community, corporate support is crucial to community betterment. Corporations represent less than 10% of our state’s grantmakers, but they give nearly half of all dollars granted in the state. In 2010, their giving exceeded $636 million!

In the summer issue of Giving Forum, read more about how companies around the country and here at home have changed their giving to increase returns on their community investments by:

  • strengthening links between business goals and giving priorities,
  • intensifing collaborative efforts that promise real impact on tough social problems, and
  • augmenting cash grants with noncash donations of product, employee time and talent.

Local examples from Aveda, General Mills, Target, UnitedHealth Group and others are included in the issue’s lead article.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Grantmakers Respond to Duluth Area Flooding

July 2, 2012

An example of Duluth flood damage

We’ve all either experienced it first-hand or read the stories and seen the photos of the recent flooding in northeast Minnesota. Estimates come in at over $100 million for the the damage done to area homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Grantmakers in the region and around the state have mobilized to support the clean-up and rebuilding efforts. Among the activity we’re tracking at MCF:

  • Northland Foundation, AgStar Financial Services, Blandin Foundation, and Great River Energy have established the Business Flood Recovery Fund. Businesses impacted by the flooding may apply for grants of up to $5,000 to replace or repair inventory, equipment, supplies and buildings. The Northland Foundation has set an initial goal of $300,000 for the fund and continues to fundraise.
  • Northland Foundation has also made a $15,000 grant to support the relief efforts of the American Red Cross.
  • The Deluxe Corporation Foundation has donated $25,000 to the Red Cross to help victims of flooding in the Duluth area, and it’s coordinating a drive to collect donations of bottled water and cash.
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation has donated $10,000 to the Duluth-area Red Cross and $5,000 to the Cannon Valley Trail.
  • Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota has donated $25,000 to Salvation Army Duluth.
  • Catholic United Financial Foundation is pairing with Nechama Jewish Response to provide volunteer support to area homeowners.
  • Minnesota Power Foundation, RBC Foundation, Delta Dental of Minnesota, U.S. Bancorp Foundation and others are sponsoring the United Way of Greater Duluth’s Twin Ports Region Long Term Flood Recovery Fund, to help the unmet needs of residents when insurance, government or personal funds are insufficient to cover rebuilding or rehabilitation of homes.

For updates as MCF receives them, keep checking back on the Disaster Giving section of As the Star Tribune reminded us on Sunday, the Duluth area is still in need of donations and volunteers, and we can all play a part in supporting the recovery.

Photo cc BringMeTheNews

North Minneapolis Recovery Fund to be Honored

November 17, 2011

National Philanthropy Day is being celebrated in Minnesota this Friday, Nov. 18.

I’m thrilled to see that Minnesota Helps – North Minneapolis Recovery Fund will be awarded the “Outstanding Contribution to Philanthropy” award. It’s a well-deserved honor that comes just six months after a tornado slammed into the north side of our city. Thus far, the fund has provided $1,337,160 to assist the residents of North Minneapolis.

Shortly after the tornado hit, local foundations and the Greater Twin Cities United Way joined together to create the fund to quickly assist those directly impacted by the storm.

The effort has been led by the following partners, almost all of them members of MCF (marked with an asterisk).

  • The Minneapolis Foundation*
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way*
  • Best Buy Corporation*
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation*
  • CenturyTel, Inc.
  • Comcast*
  • Cummins Foundation
  • Faegre & Benson Foundation*
  • George Family Foundation*
  • The Grotto Foundation*
  • James R. Thorpe Foundation*
  • Land O’Lakes, Inc.*
  • Lunds and Byerly’s
  • McKnight Foundation*
  • North Star Fund
  • Park Nicollet Foundation*
  • Pohlad Family Foundation
  • The Saint Paul Foundation*
  • TCF Foundation*
  • US Bank – Private Client & Trust Services*
  • Wells Fargo Foundation*

Many of these partners made large donations and also matched contributions from city residents and others who answered the call for assistance. waived credit card fees on donations, so 100% of every donation went to help those in need.

Thanks to all of the funding partners and to those who contributed to the fund. We all make Minnesota a better place to live.

Funds Still Available
And, funds are still available for nonprofits, faith based organizations and public entities providing support and financial assistance to those most affected by this disaster. Learn more about how to apply for funds.

-Susan Stehling, communications associate

Ten Tips for Effective Disaster Response

October 28, 2011

The last few years have seen extreme weather worldwide, and Minnesota is no exception, with record-breaking flooding across the state and tornadoes striking Wadena and North Minneapolis. Philanthropy has played a pivotal role in helping Minnesotans get back on their feet after these weather-related disasters. Recently, MCF members involved in these efforts came together to share stories and discuss what they’ve learned. Here are ten of the top takeaways for how to best respond when disaster strikes:

  1. Make sure that your own organization has a disaster/business continuity plan.
  2. Have conversations with your board and staff about disaster response and recovery at least annually and be prepared to think and act flexibly.
  3. If you are a community foundation, know how to activate on line and other donation mechanisms (like quickly.
  4. Have a basic understanding about the roles of local, state and national government agencies in your service area related to disaster. In Minnesota, a great resource is Homeland Security and Emergency Management, a division of the Department of Public Safety.
  5. Provide matching funds for fundraising efforts and have a plan for announcing those matches in the media.
  6. When raising donations or matching funds, convey that dollars will be used for both short and long term recovery needs.  Long term recovery dollars are the hardest for communities to find (and you may want the flexibility to decide about “patient” capital later).
  7. Leverage (don’t duplicate) short term resources that will be available if a disaster occurs including Red Cross, Salvation Army, Lutheran Social Services, Catholic United Finance Foundation.
  8. Consider how disaster recovery and community rebuilding aligns with your existing grantmaking priorities (you might be surprised!) and what you can do to shorten forms, expedite approval procedures and simplify reporting requirements while supporting relief work.
  9. Support the MNVOAD (Minnesota Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) framework for organizing community based planning and response.
  10. Reach out to colleagues (especially those at foundations who have been thrust into disaster grantmaking by chance rather than choice) and don’t forget about these resource organizations for tools and best practices: Council on Foundations, Minnesota Council on Foundations, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Join the conversation: Has your organization been involved in disaster response? What would you add to this list?

Stephanie Jacobs, MCF director of member services

Photo cc biondisign

Grantmaking at Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies

October 26, 2011

Margaret Cargill

Read the fall issue of Giving Forum for an update on what’s happening at Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, where grantmaking has started in the areas of Environment; Relief, Recovery and Development; and Arts and Cultures.

  • Environment: Grants made in June focus on land-use solutions in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and neighboring Great Bear Rainforest in Canada; also Micronesia, to support efforts to preserve coral reefs and land-based resources. The next grants likely will be made in Asia, focused on marine- and land-use in Indonesia and Cambodia. Watch for a local subprogram focus on connecting youth with the outdoors.
  • Relief, Recovery and Development: First “rapid response” grants made in September 2011 to Midwest community foundations, to help residents affected by flooding and tornadoes.
  • Arts and Cultures – Native Arts, Teacher Education, and Folk Art: Organizations working on Native Arts in the Pacific Northwest are now being invited to apply for grants from the Native Arts program. Those doing similar work on Native Arts in the upper Midwest, including Minnesota, will soon be invited to apply.

Other program areas that the organization will address are under development. They will include: Aging services; children and families; animal welfare; and planned health.

Most, if not all, of these areas will include a component of local giving. Terry Meersman, vice president of programs for Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, explains:

“We’re clear about our program areas, and we’re clear there will be local giving. As much as possible, we’d like to be consistent in the areas we’re defining for national and global giving, but until we have things laid out completely, it’s hard to say that there will be an exact parallel structure locally.”

Read the Giving Forum article for much more information.

- Susan Stehling, communications associate


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