Do Social Media Fundraisers Really Work?

August 15, 2014

14929011085_3d3b3d9fd3_mThat’s the question WCCO sat down to answer with MCF President Trista Harris this week.

The ALS #icebucketchallenge is everywhere right now, with thousands dumping ice water on their heads and millions raised for the ALS Association. So how much fundraising comes from social media, and does it work?

“It’s a small percentage, but it’s a growing percentage,” Trista said in the news clip, adding that she’s sure many others have also tried to create their own funny YouTube campaigns that haven’t attracted notice. “Sometimes you catch the tail of the tiger.”

When they do work, Trista said, the visibility they garner is akin to advertising. “You may hear a commercial 35 times and not do anything, but that 36th time you go, maybe I really do want to go to that place.”

Head to WCCO’s site to read and watch the story!

 

Photo cc ucentralarkansas


Giving USA Comes Bearing Good News!

June 19, 2014

gusaI attended the St. Paul stop on Giving USA’s 2014 road show this morning. There, Adam Wilhelm of Campbell & Company updated us on 2013 national giving trends, which can be summarized as good news.

According to Wilhelm and Giving USA 2014, total charitable giving in the U.S. rose 3% (adjusted for inflation) between 2012 and 2013 to $335.17 billion. This is an increase of 12% since the start of the Great Recession, and Wilhelm predicts the U.S. will pass the pre-recession high of $350 billion in charitable giving in a year or two.

Wilhelm says, “Wealthy individuals are feeling good about their accumulated wealth, so it is a good time to talk to them about their giving.”

According to Giving USA, wealthy donors are giving to their favorite charities — including universities, hospitals and arts institutions — so overall giving in those areas is up. Meanwhile, giving to social service and church groups — more dependent on the financially squeezed middle-class — is flat.

In 2013:

  • Giving by individuals — the largest slice of the pie at 72% — totaled $240.60 billion, up 2.7% over 2012.
  • Giving by foundations — now 15% of total giving — was up 4.2% to $48.96 billion. This increase was driven in part by a 10.5% increase in giving by community foundations.
  • Giving by bequest through a will or estate plan — 8% of the total — was up 7.2% to $27.73 billion.
  • Only corporate giving — 5% of the total — was down 3.2% to $17.88 billion, the result of a slow rate of growth in pre-tax corporate profits last year. Corporate trends of increased in-kind and global giving continue.

What Organizations are Benefiting?

  1. Religion was the top recipient of gifts, but total giving to religion continues to slide. It went down slightly in 2013 to 31% of the total or $105.5 billion, which represents the lowest percent given to religion in 40 years.
  2. Overall giving to Education increased by 7.4% (2013’s largest increase) to $52.07 billion.
  3. Giving to Human Services was fairly flat, increasing by .7% to $41.51 billion.
  4. Giving to Health was up by 4.5% to $31.86 billion.
  5. Giving to Public Affairs/Society Benefit (which includes giving to donor-advised funds) was up 7% to $23.89 billion.
  6. Giving to Arts, Culture and Humanities was up by 6.3% to $16.66 billion.
  7. Giving to International Affairs fell to $14.93 billion (due to fewer disasters worldwide in 2013).
  8. Giving to Animal Welfare and Environment increased to $9.72 billion (due to larger investments in climate change and anti-fracking initiatives).

Takeaways from event panelists included the following: 

  • Individual giving is a growth market. Giving by other sectors is not growing as quickly.
  • More and more often, individual donors are researching charities and want to see the impact of their gifts.
  • If your organization is not doing planned giving, it should at least be doing bequests. “It’s easy!”

Visit Giving USA for much more information or to purchase Giving USA 2014.

For more information on Minnesota giving, visit mcf.org/research

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

 


Vote Now for the Twins All-Star Fans Choose Grant Winner

June 12, 2014

480_fans_chooseEarlier this week, the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball announced the seven finalists for the first-ever “All-Star Fans Choose” grant.

Voting is open now through July 10 to help award a $500,000 grant to one of seven Upper Midwest nonprofits. The winning nonprofit will be announced during MLB All-Star Week in July.

The seven finalists and projects are:

  • Camp Fire Minnesota in Chanhassen, to improve and expand Camp Tanadoona, a 90-year old rustic summer camp.
  • Channel One Regional Food Bank in Rochester, to add more than 20,000 square feet of warehouse space and build a kitchen and classroom to better serve and feed people in need.
  • Cookie Cart in Minneapolis, to renovate and reconfigure the current location to double the number of teens who can participate in employment and training programs.
  • Hmong American Farmers Association in Vermillion, to construct a farm where Hmong farmers can rent land long-term, learn sustainable agricultural practices, aggregate their produce with other farmers and learn to operate and grow a farming business.
  • Madison Claire Foundation in Woodbury, to build a fully accessible, inclusive playground where children with disabilities can play alongside others and disabled parents can play with their children.
  • Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in St. Michael, to renovate a former Girl Scout Camp north of the Twin Cities for a year-round school for teen boys experiencing problems with drug and alcohol abuse.
  • People Serving People in Minneapolis, to renovate the kitchen and dining hall at the largest family homeless shelter in Minnesota  to improve safety, sanitation, food recycling and meal service processes.

The “All-Star Fans Choose” grant is a part of an extensive legacy giving campaign, including the contribution of more than $8 million toward local projects and national charitable initiatives. The program is a partnership between MLB Charities, the Twins Community Fund and the Pohlad Family Foundation.

Learn more about the grant program and the seven finalists at the All-Star Fans Choose webpage. Best of luck to all the finalists!



The “Secret Sauce” Behind McKnight’s Impact Investing Decision

May 1, 2014

Wolford_Kate_13Today on the blog we welcome Kate Wolford, president of The McKnight Foundation. McKnight’s board recently voted unanimously to develop an impact investing program. Here Kate explains the process behind the foundation’s decision to mobilize the “other 95%.” 

This March, McKnight announced its commitment to invest an initial $200 million, roughly 10% of current endowment assets, across four strands of impact investing. On the heels of a relatively quiet year of board and staff learning and program design, we have plunged into the vortex of an incredibly dynamic field of activity. I’ve been inundated with inquiries from prospective fund managers, invitations to a dozen seminars, and lots of related research.

Although the field is growing, impact investing is still finding its footing among foundations nationally. In a spirit of shared learning, I offer a few thoughts on how McKnight got to this point.

McKnight’s History
McKnight isn’t new to this arena. The Foundation made its first Program-Related Investments in the 1980s. Different from a grant, a PRI functions as a low-cost loan, provided at below-market rates to strengthen the recipient’s mission-focused work.

About five years ago, McKnight rebooted our PRI program — which by then had fallen somewhat dormant — and we’ve now invested about $21 million in PRIs aligned with goals in our Region & Communities and Mississippi River programs. (That’s in addition to grants totaling about $28 million last year across those programs.) Also, McKnight employs eight investment firms, representing over $1.3 billion of our portfolio, who are signatories of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment.

It’s Path to Today
A combination of factors led McKnight’s board of directors to embark on a systematic learning and program design agenda around impact investing in 2013, including:

  • A family foundation to the core, McKnight’s very active board still includes direct descendants of the founders. Fourth-generation family members are keen to align more endowment dollars with program goals, mobilizing our “other 95%” beyond grant dollars. (Federal tax laws require private foundations to distribute just 5% of net investment assets annually for charitable and administrative purposes.)
  • In 2012, McKnight adopted a Strategic Framework focused on strengthening our adaptive leadership and credible influence, and signaling impact investing as an emerging interest.
  • Among McKnight’s staff and some grantees, interest has been growing to explore more direct market-oriented levers for change, alongside our longstanding policy work.
  • Given the Foundation’s major program commitment to accelerate the Midwest’s transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as growing global efforts to shift incentives and investments away from fossil fuels, timing seemed right for us to explore related tools and opportunities.

Foundation-wide Engagement
Recognizing value in foundation-wide engagement, the board established a work group comprising our board chair, two directors who serve on McKnight’s Investment Committee, one director who does not serve on the Investment Committee, and several staffers representing key administrative, program and finance functions. During a year of intensive exploration, we learned about opportunities and challenges across asset classes, about the current field of impact investing, and about field enhancements philanthropy might be able to help incent or create. We explored a variety of ways to structure and staff a program.

And we sought out the informed wisdom of philanthropic colleagues; for example, former W.K. Kellogg Foundation president Sterling Speirn spoke with our full board about Kellogg’s experience in mission-driven investing.

Although the work group was most actively involved, its members updated our board at each quarterly meeting, and the board focused its annual retreat around the topic. One huge retreat outcome was unanimous board approval to develop an impact investing program composed of four stands with initial allocations of $50 million each — Mission-Related Investments (Public Markets), Mission-Related Investments (Private Markets), Mission-Driven Investments, and Program-Related Investments.

Conversations, Vigorous Debate, Thoughtful Implementation
These decisions were a long time coming and the result of deep learning and exhaustive conversations among our board and staff. Ultimately, I believe those conversations will emerge as our “secret sauce” — vigorous debate, and an inherent commitment to thoughtful implementation.

Although our process may at times feel like a constant churn of learning and refinement, we’ll do well to embrace this disruptive push and pull as precisely what it feels like to be adaptive leaders in emergent space.

Visit McKnight’s blog for a more detailed look at its process.


Bush Foundation Launches Leadership Network Grants

April 24, 2014

Bush-AltLogo-ColorFor decades, the Bush Foundation has worked on leadership development in Minnesota and the surrounding region. Earlier this week, it announced a new grant program with that focus.

The new Leadership Network Grant program supports organizations working to inspire, equip and connect leaders to effectively lead change. Grants of up to $200,000 will support efforts that:

  • Inspire and equip people to successfully lead in their communities
  • Connect people of different backgrounds and perspectives across geographies, sectors, ideological divides or cultural communities

Bush Foundation is particularly interested in proposals that build the cultural agility of leaders or expand leadership development opportunities for communities underrepresented in leadership positions in our region.

It is accepting applications now through June 12, 2014. Access the application and learn more about the grants on the foundation’s website.


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