Resource-full Nonprofit Revenue Generation

February 3, 2014

resourcefullnesshomebannerToday on the blog we welcome Beth Bird and Kim Hunwardsen of Eide Bailly, to tell us about their organization’s Resourcefullness Award, and the ideas that sprang from it.

What do you get when you offer a $10,000 award for sustainable and creative revenue generation in the nonprofit industry? A flood of inspiring submissions!

Last year, Eide Bailly’s nonprofit services group did something different to encourage conversation and ingenuity around revenue generation – something our clients think about daily. We ended up with 99 submissions for the Eide Bailly Resourcefullness Award, three fantastic winners (video), and a host of creative and sustainable ideas to spark discussion. (Read this article on submission trends.)

Beyond celebrating the winning efforts, we wanted to use the Eide Bailly Resourcefullness Award as a springboard for sharing and collaboration.

The following highlights are from a January seminar that we held in Minneapolis to discuss the best ideas.

Future Trends
Susan Cornell-Wilkes and Brad Brown were judges for the Resourcefullness Award. In January, we asked about the nonprofit revenue generation trends they see gathering strength in the next five years.

- Crowd funding
- Nonprofits creating for-profit entities
- A focus on intergenerational wealth transfer

  • Organizations will be and should be looking for opportunities to involve multiple generations of one family in its endeavors. This will go a long way to creating present buy-in donor stability in the future.

- Moving beyond “Corporate” involvement in campaigns

  • Getting employees involved in the organization, rather than just accepting a corporate donation, will be the key to sustainability in funding from that organization and in growth of individual donors.

- Helping donors “experience” the difference their donations are making

  • Donors, especially younger donors, are looking to “purchase an experience.” They do not just want to hear from nonprofits in letters and email, but rather experience the effects of an organization work.

Our Take-Aways
The Resourcefullness Awards and our January speakers reminded us of two very important things:

  1. Organizations are getting more creative in their approach to revenue generation, but this does not mean an approach must be complex. Sometimes the simplest ideas create the best results.
  2. Well-placed and well-planned partnerships are some of the easiest and most fruitful ventures.

Give To The Max Day Strategies
We also heard from two organizations that employed creative Give to the Max strategies.

Erich Mische, executive director of Spare Key, described its media-grabbing, world-record setting 2012 strategy Pedal to the Max, which had volunteers on a pedal pub for 24 hours. The campaign helped Spare Key reach goals around having fun and grabbing attention while engaging donors, volunteers and partners. Mische said media coverage and social media played a huge role in broadening the reach of the organization’s message. And, Spare Key raised five times its original fundraising goal.

Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery’s development and communications director, Joel Bergstrom, shared its 2013 Give to the Max campaign, which used video and social media to draw attention and generate support. A donation of video production helped the organization create a powerful video that then led to media coverage. The organization used a Facebook contest to draw in visitors and donors, and advocates lobbied hard on social media for donations to Crisis Nursery. As a result, followers of the organization have increased and their messages receive greater exposure.

#GivingTuesday — Giving, Not Shopping, is the Spirit of the Season

November 26, 2013

gtIn America, the next week has, by my count, five named days. Most of them born of our “need” to shop.

On Thanksgiving, we’ll spend time with family, watch some football, express gratitude for our plenty and eat too much. (We may or may not acknowledge that Native Americans see the day differently than non-natives.)

Then on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, we’ll spend millions — much of it to buy stuff we don’t need.

That’s why I find #GivingTuesday to be a refreshing change from the three days that proceed it. On #GivingTuesday, we’re asked to share some of our plenty with charitable organizations and nonprofits in our community and across the country. It is a new national fundraising day to remind us that giving — not shopping — is the true spirit of the holiday season.

I’ve just about finished up my 2013 charitable giving — doing much of it on Minnesota’s recent Give to the Max Day. But, that day had its technical difficulties, and maybe you didn’t get around to giving what you had planned. Or maybe you haven’t tried online giving at all. If that’s the case, I urge you to consider participating in #GivingTuesday.

Why #GivingTuesday?
Many Minnesota nonprofits with matching dollars left on the table from Give to the Max Day will make them available on #GivingTuesday. Matching gifts multiply the power of your contribution.

According to The Able Altruist, published by Software Advice, 22% of annual giving to nonprofits comes in on December 30 and 31, which makes nonprofit budgeting awfully difficult. This way you’ll get it done a few weeks before the end of the year.

It’s a well publicized national day of giving with $100,000 in prize grants to the top 50 participating nonprofits from across the country.

And, it’ll be fun — social media will be buzzing with the hashtag #GivingTuesday on Dec. 3.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

AFP on the Future of Philanthropy

November 19, 2013
Andrew Watt

Andrew Watt

Last week, I attended an Association of Fundraising Professionals event called “The Future of Philanthropy and the Impact of AFP.” Andrew Watt, AFP president & CEO, spoke to a packed room at the Wilder Foundation. Some key points I took from his talk:

Public Policy

  • The nonprofit sector represents 10% of the workforce and raises over $300 billion annually. We need to do a better job of raising the public profile of the importance, relevance, and value of nonprofits.
  • The philanthropic sector needs to develop relationships with legislators and encourage more social investment and build more revenue streams.
  • The Charitable Giving Coalition is made up of 60+ organizations and focuses on the charitable tax deduction.

Public-Private Partnerships

  • Businesses are aligning philanthropic goals with business goals. Nonprofits need to think more strategically about relationships. We offer more to the partnership than brand awareness. For example, employee participation / volunteer programs result in an increase in production as shown by the research conducted by Gallup’s Q12 Meta Analysis.


  • Nonprofits are operating in a fragmented environment.
  • Funding models have permanently changed.
  • We must think more about generating revenue rather than traditional fundraising.
  • The future is in creativity, vigorous discussion, and questioning.
  • The sector needs more awareness and expertise in business development.
  • There is a great need for more leadership training.
  • The sector needs to change recruiting / human resource practices and parameters in order to increase diversity and inclusivity.
  • The U.S. should move towards a more creative-entrepreneurial approach. The philanthropic sectors in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia are leaders in this avenue.

Thanks to AFP for hosting this insightful event!

- Jennifer Pennington, MCF member services fellow

Wells Fargo Wins Outstanding Philanthropic Organization Award

November 18, 2013

MinnWFHMcoachBoth  MCF and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Minnesota promote giving and organized philanthropy in our state. AFP advances philanthropy by enabling organizations and individuals to practice ethical and effective fundraising while MCF promotes ethical and responsible charitable giving and grantmaking.

In recognition of National Philanthropy Day, every year AFP honors individuals and groups who, through their hard work and dedication, have enhanced philanthropy, their communities and the world.

This year, MCF member Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota will be honored with AFP’s Outstanding Philanthropic Organization award for its exceptional commitment to our state. Other awards will recognize individuals, families and small groups, and all will be presented at AFP’s celebration on Friday, Nov. 22.

$10 Million Plus to Minnesota Nonprofits
In 2012, Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota contributed more than $10 million to 1,200 nonprofits and schools statewide, focusing on core areas of vitality such as community development, education, human services and arts and culture.

In addition to these financial contributions, there is a legacy of direct volunteer engagement by Wells Fargo employees and executives, making their total impact on our community momentous.

Founding Member of Minnesota Keystone Program
A pioneer in the concept that corporations should commit a portion of earnings to the community, Wells Fargo was also one of the founding members of the Minnesota Keystone Program.

Whether through longstanding traditions or new innovations, Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota, under the leadership of Carolyn Roby, has consistently and strategically supported Minnesota nonprofits, substantively engaged its leaders in the community, and continues to enhance its role as a corporate philanthropic leader in the state.

Congratulations Wells Fargo!

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

The Future of Combined Giving

August 26, 2013

Nonprofits like United Way have a long history of combined-giving campaigns.

Although this year especially, it seems like summer just started, before you know it the kids will be headed back to school and fall combined-giving campaigns will be in full swing.

Combined-giving campaigns — such as United Way, Community Health Charities, Combined Federal Campaign and others — have a long history of nonprofit support. Traditionally, large employers have participated to encourage employee support of nonprofits. But today, with more small businesses and fewer people employed by large companies, campaign pitch meetings and payroll deductions don’t work at the old scale.

However, Steve Boland, financial specialist, Nonprofits Assistance Fund, says combined-giving campaigns aren’t going away anytime soon and believes that with a little creativity they will thrive well into the future.

In the summer issue of Giving Forum, Steve gives examples of where combined-giving has been and where it’s going. Read the full article here.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

Charitable Giving Deduction: No Change for Minnesota, But Debate Continues in U.S. Congress

May 16, 2013

As in past years, Minnesotans will be able to claim a deduction for charitable gifts when filing their state income taxes next year.

The committee of Minnesota lawmakers who iron out the details of the tax plan to raise state revenue has dropped consideration of a House proposal that would have changed the tax deduction to a credit. The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF), along with other nonprofit organizations, opposed the proposed change.

As explained by MINNPOST, changing the state’s charitable giving tax deduction would have produced significant revenue for the state, but it posed a worrisome risk to an important revenue stream for charitable organizations.

MCF worked with other nonprofit advocates to ensure the Governor and Senate held fast in opposition to the House proposal. In addition to lobbying at the Capitol, the effort included a guest editorial in the Star Tribune.

But What of U.S. Tax Reform?
While the push for potentially harmful changes to charitable giving law seems to have waned in Minnesota, tax reform proposals are just gaining steam in the U.S. Congress.

The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means continues to contemplate various tax reform proposals that impact the charitable sector.  Last week the committee issued a report proposing a variety of options, including changes to the federal charitable giving deduction.

MCF, in partnership with the  Charitable Giving Coalition, issued an immediate response to the report. We are particularly concerned about options that would unravel the charitable deduction and hurt our communities. We explained our concerns in a joint letter to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Contact Your U.S. House Member
MCF is now contacting Minnesota’s Congressional representatives in Washington to explain concerns about the ideas in the working group report and to ask them to oppose changes in the federal charitable giving tax deduction. We encourage MCF members to also contact Minnesota’s members in the House of Representatives to express support for the current charitable giving tax deduction and reject proposed changes.

Do you have questions about state or federal tax reforms affecting the charitable giving deduction? Contact me at MCF.

– Bob Tracy, MCF director of government relations and public policy

In Social Media, Is Less More?

February 7, 2013

twitter_cupcakeAllison Fine recently interviewed Kivi Leroux Miller, president of Nonprofit Marketing, for The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Social Good Podcast. They talked about ways to use social media for social change, and ways for organizations to improve their social media presence. Here are some of the highlights:

In order to be effective and focused on social media your organization needs to first answer this question: “What does your organization want to be known for?”

  • Gain traction by focusing on key messages for your organization and continually communicating those messages.
  • Don’t cut and paste the same information, but rather focus on repurposing content in different, interesting ways and using visuals where possible
  • Be selective and decide where the focus needs to be for your organization and then stick to it. It requires discipline and a thoughtful approach.

To help tackle internal capacity issues, volunteers can be utilized to assist with social media but need to be trained and understand the organizations messaging, plan, values and approach to the issues in order to be effective.

What are the trends in social media in 2013?

  • In addition to using Facebook, Twitter, email, blogs and their websites, many nonprofits are planning to explore Pinterest in 2013.
  • Miller believes that more nonprofits should be utilizing video for their messaging, but nonprofits are discouraged, thinking that it’s complicated and expensive.

Is social media effective for fundraising?

  • Miller believes it’s time to stop treating social media as an add-on to other fundraising channels, but rather put all the cards on the table (direct mail, email, social media, etc.) and integrate them for best results.
  • The other challenge for nonprofits is to figure out how to develop direct relationships with friends of people that support the organization. For example, if you donate to an organization on behalf of friend who is doing a fundraiser, does the nonprofit ask how the donor wants to be communicated with or give the participant control over how the organization relates to their friends? The core power of social media is relationship building, but it needs to be harnessed effectively.

Listen to the whole thing on The Chronicle of Philanthropy website, or through iTunes.

- Megan Sullivan, MCF operations and publications coordinator

Photo cc M i x y

Minnesota Grantmakers Optimistic About 2013

January 7, 2013

2013outlookbMCF reported today that Minnesota grantmakers forecast slightly higher giving in 2013. According to the 2013 Outlook Report, foundations and corporations believe their grantmaking will increase about 2% from 2012.

According to MCF’s Giving in Minnesota research, Minnesota grantmakers give approximately $1.4 billion each year to charities and scholarship recipients.

Education Giving May Grow

In the Outlook survey, MCF asked grantmakers to estimate changes in giving to specific subject areas they support.

  • Most (82 of 104) respondents plan to support education causes in 2013.
  • And 25 of the 82 plan to boost funding to education.

Support for Racial, Ethnic Populations Evident

MCF also queried grantmakers on their plans to support specific populations in 2013.

  • Most (82 of 104) respondents indicated their giving benefits racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Other key constituencies on which grantmakers will focus include economically disadvantaged populations and children or youth.

Optimism for Assets

Grantmakers are slightly more optimistic than last year about the outlook for asset values.

  • 56% of foundations expect their assets to grow in 2013, versus 45% who projected increases during 2012.
  • Almost 33% of foundations anticipate assets will remain constant in 2013.

Learn More at Webinar

MCF will host a webinar January 16 to detail the 2013 Outlook Report findings and provide additional context about the overall economic climate.

Bob Tracy, MCF’s director of government relations and public policy, will discuss how state and federal policy priorities will impact the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors.

For webinar details and to register, visit

Read the Full Report

Read the complete 2013 Outlook Report, including an analysis of anticipated giving by grantmakers of different sizes and types, and descriptions of non-cash support strategies:

The 2013 Outlook Report is based on a late 2012 survey of 104 foundations and corporate giving programs that represent 75 percent of all Minnesota annual grantmaking.

- Susan Stehling, communications associate, MCF


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