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.

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

Engaging “New” Philanthropists

January 2, 2014

Presenters (clockwise from top left) Kelly Drummer, Noelle Ito, Nareman Taha, Bo Thao-Urabe

Members of communities of color must look to their own communities to find new models of giving that will work there.

That was the overriding message at the “Everyone’s a Philanthropist” session at the 2013 MCF Philanthropy Convening, featuring presenters:

Each is a member of a community with a long tradition of giving coupled with growing assets – defined as skills, community knowledge and finances. Community members also have an increasing awareness of the lack of philanthropic investment in their communities and want to be part of solutions that create greater good. Here’s how they answered a few questions.

Tell us about your “cultures of giving.”

Bo Thao-Urabe: In Asian communities, your personal well-being is judged by the well-being of your family.

Noelle Ito: Don’t assume that donors from our communities are all young and financially strapped; it’s not true. For many of our donors, it’s about more than writing a check. People want to get their hands dirty and learn about issues in their communities. And, just because I’m Asian American, don’t assume I know about all Asian American issues.

Nareman Taha: It’s very much about one-on-one relationships. I recommend that people go into a community, learn about how its members look at donating and see if they can build on that tradition.

We started by doing focus groups in a number of communities and found that Arab Americans were charitable, but they gave as individuals. Many didn’t understand organized philanthropy. Now, as a community foundation, our giving is more visible. We say, “Look we’re an Arab-American organization that is supporting the community.”

Kelly Drummer: Reciprocity is very important in the Native American culture. The structure of the Tiwahe Foundation – giving from individuals to individuals – grew out of that culture.

We want to be around for a long time, so we knew we had to build our endowment. We are now asking for donations of $1,000 –and spread over five years, that’s just $17 a month.

What’s the best way to engage with new communities and populations?

Thao-Urabe: It’s about relationships. Get to know a community and how they support each other. Work with the community to determine what kind of investment it needs to build its future. Get community members to see themselves as donors. Many of them already give, but they do it without recognition.

Determine how community members can combine their traditional values with the tools of American philanthropy.

Taha: Build relationships with existing religious and social service organizations that are already working in the community. Associating your work with theirs can increase your credibility.

Drummer: It’s about getting people to realize that giving in small amounts matters. You don’t need to have a lot of money to give. I say, “If you think you can’t give $120, how about if you give $10 each month for a year?”

How do your organizations work with foundations?

Ito: Foundations serve as fiscal agents for our giving circles, so they process our checks. Many of our giving circles also have a 50 percent foundation match.

Taha: W.K. Kellogg Foundation and others have lent us their expertise, their research and their support. They have been extremely helpful.

Drummer: The Minneapolis Foundation has provided a home for our endowment. We partner with Blandin Foundation and Bush Foundation on leadership development programs.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate

#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

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

Member Post: GiveMN Surpasses $75 Million Raised

August 28, 2013

presenter-logoMCF member John Larsen of the John Larsen Foundation has been deeply involved with GiveMN, joining its board at the beginning of this year. He stops by the blog today to let us know about a significant milestone for GiveMN, and for nonprofits around the state.

GiveMN hit a significant milestone this month by passing $75 million raised by and for nonprofits and schools on since 2009.

GiveMN is most well-known for Give to the Max Day — the world’s largest online giving day. Last year more than 53,000 people gave $16.4M to over 4,300 Minnesota nonprofits and schools in just one day. As if those numbers weren’t mind blowing enough, the statistic that FLOORS me is that 13% of people who gave that day (and filled out the survey) said it was their first time giving to charity… EVER! That is amazing! Charities work so hard to find new donors and GiveMN has figured out a way to reach new audiences for giving through this fun event.

GiveMN has also helped nonprofits and schools connect with donors they had never before reached.  86 percent of nonprofits surveyed said they received donations from new donors on Give to the Max Day. And, GiveMN is helping under-staffed nonprofits navigate new technologies and new ways of giving. Did you know that 39 percent of survey respondents said they have zero paid fundraising or development staff? For those nonprofits and schools, GiveMN is not just a low-cost tool for online fundraising, but a welcome resource from which to receive training and support.

I’m proud to be a member of the GiveMN Board of Directors for these reasons and so many more. Congratulations to Dana Nelson and her small, but mighty staff at GiveMN. Special thanks to the Minnesota Community Foundation for its visionary leadership to launch GiveMN.

Thank you, GiveMN, for keeping Minnesota at the forefront of e-philanthropy. I look forward to seeing what is next for our communities, donors and nonprofits leveraging this exciting giving platform!

Charitable Giving Continues to Slowly Grow

June 18, 2013

givingusaThe new Giving USA report, presenting 2012 national charitable giving estimates, finds giving continues to grow slowly, following the growth of the economy. Since the drops in giving in 2008 and 2009, the trend has been slow but steady growth. Total 2012 charitable giving by individuals, foundations, bequests, and corporations is estimated to be $316 billion, a 1.5 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars.

While the economy appears to be the strongest factor in charitable giving changes, public policy uncertainties may have had an effect on larger individual donors in 2012. In response to the debate about the future of the charitable deduction, individual donors likely either bumped up giving by “pre-paying” 2013 gifts to be sure to take advantage of the credit or did not donate in case deductions for large gifts didn’t carry over into future years.

2012 quick stats:

  • $316 billion: total charitable giving by individuals, foundations, bequests, and corporations, a 1.5 percent increase from 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • $229 billion: giving by individuals, up 1.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Represents 72 percent of total giving. Includes $236 million donated by individuals for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.
  • $46 billion: giving by foundations, a 2.3 percent increase in inflation-adjusted dollars. 15 percent share of total giving.
  • $23 billion: giving from bequests, down 8.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. 7 percent of the total giving picture.
  • $18 billion: giving by corporations (foundations and giving programs), largest increase at 9.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. Increase reflects growth in corporate profits and includes Hurricane Sandy giving. 6 percent of total giving, continuing to be the smallest share.

Visit for more information on Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, a publication of Giving USA Foundation.

- Anne Graham, MCF research associate


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