Honor Those Committed to Human Service

February 20, 2014

VMBWebImageThe McKnight Foundation recently opened nominations for its 2014 Virginia McKnight Binger Awards in Human Service. Every year, this award honors up to six Minnesotans who have demonstrated an exceptional personal commitment to helping others in their communities but who have received little or no public recognition.

Nominations are welcome to recognize anyone directly involved in providing human services, especially those working to make their communities more responsive to the needs of poor or disadvantaged people in Minnesota. Criteria include:

  • Nominees may be volunteers or service staff working directly with people in Minnesota.
  • Nominees (and the work for which they are being nominated) do not have to be associated with any organization to be eligible.
  • Individuals may not nominate themselves.
  • Nominees may not be past Human Service Award recipients.
  • Nominees must be current residents of Minnesota.
  • Nominees may be any age.
  • Tenure of service will be taken into consideration.

A committee, composed of human service professionals and volunteers from throughout Minnesota, reviews nominations, checks references, and recommends candidates to the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Each awardee receives $10,000 and is honored at a ceremony in late summer.

Know someone worthy of a nomination? Submit it on The McKnight Foundation website!

Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative: Overview and Lessons Learned

January 14, 2014

jrpIn 2010, as a response to the ongoing unemployment crisis, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota explored options to enhance its overarching goal of helping people in poverty attain economic stability. This post is based on a webinar presented by the foundation in late 2013, reflecting on its first two years of work.

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota initiated focus groups and one-on-one conversations with established Twin Cities-based nonprofits that provide industry-focused job training and placement services. Through this period of discovery, foundation staff learned that the organizations lacked the flexible funding needed to measurably improve operations or pilot workforce training in new sectors.

Grants, Training and Capacity Building

From the efforts, grew the Phillips Sectoral Employment Initiative (PSEI), an ongoing, capacity-building effort that uses multiple tactics to help community-based job training programs improve. In the initiative’s first two years, PSEI worked with five organizations. Each received direct grants of $830,000 and was offered a range of learning opportunities.

Additionally, the foundation collaborated with the Corporation for National Service to provide a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA staff person to each grantee organization. The VISTAs gave grantees greater resources to pursue capacity-building activities. They created marketing and outreach materials, developed online tools, analyzed data to improve programs, expanded employer outreach and supported a coalition for systems change.

PSEI grantees identified capacity-building goals in four areas:

  1. reach more people;
  2. achieve better outcomes by improving training completion rates and decreasing time from completion to placement;
  3. improve supports and outcomes for participants with high barriers;
  4. and create systems-change by stepping-up advocacy on policy issues.

Initial Results Are In

The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota also worked with grantees to carefully track participant outcomes and collected data on more than 1,600 individuals served. An independent organization compiled the data and issued a report showing advances and continuing challenges. The report is available online.

Signs of progress include:

  • Programs improved performance on almost all key indicators, including program completion and job placement.
  • Use of multiple methods and tools was an effective way to grow program capacity.
  • AmeriCorps VISTA staff built program capacity and enabled programs to achieve mission in new ways.

Remaining challenges:

  • Employment disparities persist in the Twin Cities, especially for young black men.
  • Program completion and job placement rates improved, but they remain below targets.
  • Wages improved, but generally not enough to lift individuals out of poverty.
  • Women, many of whom are training for direct care positions, are more likely than men to complete training, but they continue to earn less. Direct care positions offer low wages, part-time hours and few opportunities for advancement.

The report also included recommendations for employment programs, offered suggestions on how to improve data collection and analysis, and advised funders on how they can more effectively support this work.

Learn more and find resources on the foundation’s website.

- Megan Sullivan, MCF operations and publications coordinator

A Good Food Future: The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network

January 8, 2014

healthyfoodToday on the blog we feature Pam Bishop, entrepreneur senior program officer, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation. She presented at the 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening about one of MCF’s member networks, the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network. She tells us more about it here.

At the November 2013 MCF Philanthropy convening, representatives from the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities (HFHC) Funders Network introduced the network during an interactive breakout session. Here is some of what was covered:

Who We Are
The Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network is a group of Minnesota-based funders who make informed, coordinated and strategic investments to improve key facets of our food system. Our shared commitment to the vitality and prosperity of our state’s communities and resilience of our landscapes inspire us to work together.

What We Do
This diverse group of funders:

  • Shares information about promising programs, organizations, issues and research.
  • Coordinates funding among members to ensure resources are well-distributed across organizations and initiatives focused on food systems.
  • Increases overall funding available for food systems-related work.
  • Convenes meetings for Minnesota’s funding community on relevant issues of interest around food systems and philanthropy.

Our joint agenda for learning and investment is based on the concept of collective impact. It emphasizes three strategic priorities:

  1. Facilitate Local Entrepreneurship across the food supply chain.
  2. Improve Access to Healthy Food to enhance wellness and health equity for all Minnesotans.
  3. Strengthen and sustain Farmland Access throughout the state.

For the next three years, these priorities will inform the content of HFHC-sponsored meetings for the broader funding community. They will also influence strategies to align and increase funding.

Each priority has a working group that meets regularly to plan network-wide learning opportunities and execute a successful strategy to coordinate and increase funding.

Get Involved
If you are a funder interested in these issues, here are some ways for you to get involved with the Healthy Foods, Healthy Communities Funders Network:

  • Join the HFHC listserv by contacting Tara Kumar, member services manager at MCF.
  • Attend the HFHC public meeting in early 2014. Watch for details — coming soon.
  • Join one of the HFHC working groups to collaborate with other funders on strategic alignment of funding on an issue you care about. Contact Tara if interested.

HFHC Funders Network has members from agencies, organizations and institutions that fund efforts to address social, environmental, economic and human health dimensions of food and agriculture in Minnesota.

For example: family, community and corporate foundations; state agencies, such as the Minnesota Department of Health; academic institutions, such as the University of Minnesota; health organizations, such as UCare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; and hunger relief groups such as United Way.

Photo cc NatalieMaynor

Tune in to American Public Media’s “A Lot to Give”

December 12, 2013

marketIf you listen to the radio, I hope you’ve heard “A Lot to Give: A Philanthropy Series” on American Public Media’s Marketplace this week.

APM summarizes the series this way: “an inside look at the rarefied air of big donors and philanthropy from the Wealth and Poverty Desk.” I’ve certainly found it to be more accessible and interesting than that description makes it sound!

By following the links (below), you can quickly read or listen to the completed pieces, which are 2 to 7 minutes in length.

Since Sunday, the series has covered the following topics. After each link, I’ve listed one thing I learned or had confirmed by the piece.

The roots – and some results – of the charitable tax deduction: To pay for WWI, in 1917 Congress was in the process of hiking the top income tax rate from 15 to 77%.

Hard truths
The realities – and pitfalls – of giving away money: Family foundations are only as healthy as the family is.

Why a foundation?
Charitable foundations aren’t just for the uber rich: 65% of all U.S. foundations are under a million dollars.


Beyond charity
Philanthropy’s edge: innovation and a long time horizon: Philanthropy is responsible for the painted lines that outline our roads.

Who Gives?
And, for fun, take the “Who Gives?” quiz about your giving and see if your causes are similar to Oprah, Bill Gates or Bono.

The series continues through the end of the week. To listen to new pieces, tune your radio to MPR news.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

The Future is Abundant

December 2, 2013

Grantmakers listening in at the MCF Philanthropy Convening

MCF President Trista Harris has long wanted to use the tools of futurists right now in the social sector. With that in mind, she presented “The Future Started Yesterday: So Now What?” at MCF’s 2013 Philanthropy Convening.

She opened with a viewing of a 2012 TED talk by Peter Diamandis, M.D., chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation. California-based XPRIZE Foundation’s mission is: Bring about radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity, and it offers large cash incentive prizes to inventors who can solve grand challenges

Diamandis’ talk, “Abundance is Our Future,” was based on his book, “Abundance – The Future is Better Than You Think” co-written with Steven Kotler. His TED talk opened with a barrage of news clips, and he explained that in our 24/7 world, we are bombarded with way too much information. Unable to absorb it all, and being human with a goal of survival, we are wired to sort the information and raise the bad news to the top.

“The media feeds us negative stories because that’s what we pay attention to,” he said. “It’s no wonder people are pessimistic and think the world is getting worse.”

“But perhaps the world isn’t getting worse,” Diamandis continued. “Perhaps in the next few decades, we have the capacity to create abundance.”

He defined abundance as creating a life of possibility, rather than a life of luxury. “It’s about taking that which was scarce and making it abundant,” he clarified. “Scarcity is contextual and technology is a resource-liberating force.”

Watch the full TED talk below, and stay tuned for a future blog post to read what Trista Harris thinks it means for the future of philanthropy!

2012 Grantmaker Rankings Released

October 28, 2013

123MCF today released its annual rankings of the top grantmakers in Minnesota based on cash grants paid in 2012*.

The annual rankings lists include: Top 50 Minnesota Grantmakers by Grants Paid; Top 50 Minnesota Grantmakers by Assets; Top 25 Minnesota Corporate Grantmakers; Top 25 Minnesota Private Foundations; and Top 25 Minnesota Community/Public Foundations and Public Charity Grantmakers. Also included is an alphabetical list of Noncash Charitable Contributions by Minnesota Corporate Grantmakers.

The top five Minnesota grantmakers by grants paid in 2012 were: Target Foundation and Corporation ($147.0 million); General Mills Foundation and Corporation ($104.4 million); The McKnight Foundation ($85.1 million); The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation ($82.0 million); and Cargill and The Cargill Foundation ($69.1 million).

Of the 50 top grantmakers by grants paid in 2012, 45 also appeared on the 2011 list. Cash giving by the top 50 grantmakers totaled more than $1 billion.

For the complete Minnesota Annual Grantmaker Rankings, see www.mcf.org/research/rankings.

*MCF’s 2012 annual rankings are based on the amount of cash grants paid by funders during fiscal years ending June 1, 2012, through May 31, 2013.

Much More Charitable Giving Research Online
Earlier this month, MCF released its Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition** research, which is a comprehensive analysis of annual giving trends by Minnesota foundations and corporations.

See www.mcf.org/research/giving for information about grantmaking to specific subject areas, geographies, beneficiaries and more.

**MCF’s Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition is based on the amount of cash grants paid by funders during fiscal years ending June 1, 2011, through May 31, 2012.

Image cc Theis Kofoed Hjorth

Minnesota Grantmaking Up By Nearly 15%

October 15, 2013

GiM_mediumThe Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) today released its Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition research, the most comprehensive analysis of charitable giving in the state. The research shows that foundations and corporations granted $1.7 billion in 2011*, an increase of 14.7 percent over the prior year.

Total charitable giving by individuals, foundations and corporations in Minnesota reached $5.5 billion in 2011, a 3.4-percent rise from 2010. Individuals donated $3.8 billion, 70 percent of Minnesota’s overall charitable giving.


Grantmaking by Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Boosts Totals

“New giving by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation accounted for much of the increase in foundation giving,” says Trista Harris, MCF president. “But even without that, Minnesota grantmaking rose 5 percent to an all-time high.”

Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking rose from $10 million in 2010 to $142 million in 2011. The unprecedented growth was due, in part, to the foundation paying out multi-year commitments to a large number of nonprofits, according to Sallie Gaines, Margaret A. Cargill spokesperson.

“A portion of the increase was due to this one-time satisfaction of multi-year pledges to about 475 grantees,” Gaines explains. Preliminary data show that Margaret A. Cargill Foundation grantmaking settled back to about $42 million in 2012.

Education Continues to Receive Largest Share of Grant Dollars

The one-time Margaret A. Cargill grantmaking dramatically boosted giving in six of eight subject areas in 2011, but overall subject area rankings did not change from the previous year.

Education continued to receive the largest share (28 percent), followed by human services (21 percent) and public affairs/society benefit (17 percent). Notes Harris, “Minnesota grantmakers are dedicated to supporting education, which is so critical at this time when our state is grappling with one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the nation.”


Half of Giving Stays in State

In 2011, 47 percent of Minnesota grantmaking dollars went to organizations and programs serving the state. A similar amount was distributed to groups serving other parts of the U.S., and 4 percent was given to support international causes.

“Seventy percent of corporate grant dollars went out of state, reflecting businesses’ goals of supporting their headquarters’ communities as well as other parts of the nation and world where they have facilities and customers,” explains Harris.

Corporate grantmaking is vital in Minnesota. In 2011, company foundations and giving programs comprised just 9 percent of the state’s 1,465 grantmakers, but they gave 43 percent of all grant dollars. By contrast, private foundations made up 85 percent of Minnesota’s grantmakers and gave 42 percent of all 2011 grant dollars. Community and public foundations accounted for the remaining 15 percent of giving.

*The 2011 research year, the most recent time period for which complete data are available, includes financial information from foundations and corporate giving programs with fiscal years ending between June 1, 2011, and May 31, 2012.

Additional Data Available
MCF determines trends in giving by subject area and geographies served by analyzing grants of $2,000 or more made by a sample of 100 of Minnesota’s largest grantmakers. In 2011, MCF coded 27,575 grants totaling $1.16 billion or about two-thirds of the state’s total philanthropic giving for the year.

A PDF summary of the Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report is here. For additional details on subject areas, geographies, beneficiaries, type of support and long-term trends in the state’s charitable giving, view a PDF of the full Giving in Minnesota, 2013 Edition report. You’ll find it all at www.mcf.org/research/giving.


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