Are We Really Working Together to Solve Problems?

September 9, 2014

4025619497_cc11ffd64a_zWe’re all working to solve grand challenges – they’re complex, entrenched, systems-level problems that defy typical solutions.

Again and again we hear that the only way we’ll make a difference on these issues is if we collaborate with folks from other sectors who bring perspectives different from our own.

We know that single-sector actions to address them, although well-intentioned, often make the problems worse or spawn additional grand challenges.

So, why don’t we collaborate more often? Sure, it’s hard work and first we have to grapple with all of our different views to create a shared vision for reform. But if we’re not willing to do that, are we really working to solve the problem?

If you struggle with questions such as this, we want to see you at MCF’s program on Thursday, Sept. 18: Funder Collaboratives: The Why and How of Scaling Grantmaker Impact.

  • We’ll discuss various structures that grantmakers use for collaborative work,
  • consider when it makes sense to join a learning network or funder collaborative and
  • determine which model is the best fit for your organization.

You’ll hear from grantmakers involved in successful funder collaboratives — including the Northside Funders Group and the Start Early Funders Coalition for Children & Minnesota’s Future — on what it takes to effectively come together for a common purpose and change the way we work.

This program is intended for grantmakers who are currently engaged in collaborations who can enrich our discussion and funders who are interested in collaboration but have not yet joined a formal network. Register today and we’ll see you next Thursday!

 

Photo cc edlabdesigner

Take a Virtual Coffee Break!

July 29, 2014

gcftPhilanthropy – we need each other to do it well, and it’s imperative that we make time to share stories, compare notes and answer questions. My favorite way to engage is over coffee or lunch, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes online advice – I call it a virtual coffee break – will do.

I know GrantCraft for their excellent guides, and I’ve used many of them in my work. The site has now been completely reorganized, making lots of great content much easier to locate and use. They’ve also made it easier to find out what other grantmakers have got brewing and to contribute your own lessons learned.

Maybe you’re working on an initiative that’s new to your community but has taken off elsewhere, or you have a burning question that you’d like a lot of people to weigh in on right now. Those are a couple of the reasons I’m hoping that GrantCraft’s new features really take off.

I encourage you to take a fresh look at the site, share your wisdom and comment on the questions asked by others. All of the discussions on the site are searchable and will be archived. Today when I checked, there were funders wondering how others help grantees beyond grants, how grantmakers help grantees find new money, challenges that arise when collaborating with other funders and how your organization structures challenge grants. These are all questions that I know many of our MCF members can help answer for other grantmakers.

Every success I have had in this field has been because of connections I’ve made and people I’ve met. GrantCraft now provides us a virtual opportunity to widen our networks and learn from grantmakers we haven’t yet met. If we take advantage of it, we’ll each improve our own practice, and we’ll better the field of philanthropy together. Let’s use it to stimulate real results!

- Trista Harris, MCF president


Channel One Regional Food Bank Wins All-Star Grant

July 18, 2014

Baseball’s All-Star Game happened earlier this week in Minneapolis, and with it came the announcement of the nonprofit awarded the Twins “All-Star Fans Choose” grant.

Nearly 75,000 fans voted to help award the $500,000 grant, with Channel One Regional Food Bank ultimately selected. The food bank plans to use the $500,000 grant to add more than 20,000 square feet of warehouse space at its Rochester location and build a kitchen and classroom to better serve and feed people in need. Channel One serves 13 counties in Southeast Minnesota and LaCrosse County in Wisconsin and an average of 100,000 people a year.

Six other finalists were each awarded $50,000:

  • Camp Fire Minnesota in Chanhassen
  • Cookie Cart in Minneapolis
  • Hmong American Farmers Association in Vermillion
  • Madison Claire Foundation inWoodbury
  • Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge in St. Michael
  • People Serving People in Minneapolis

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

Congratulations to Channel One Regional Food Bank and all the finalists!


Wells Fargo Highlights Corporate Social Responsibility

June 18, 2014

wfFor many corporations, doing good in the community goes beyond making grants. They also embrace corporate social responsibility (CSR), which involves using business practices that improve social welfare.

To that end, MCF member Wells Fargo just released its 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report, highlighting achievements and progress made toward reaching its CSR goals. Goals Wells Fargo set for itself and accomplished include:

  • Providing $7.7 billion in principal forgiveness since 2009, helping financially challenged homeowners.
  • Financing $1.2 billion in “green” affordable housing and commercial proprieties in low-to moderate-income communities since 2012.
  • Launching a Human Rights Statement and Supplier Code of Conduct.

And some additional highlights from this year’s report:

  • Investing $12 billion in environmentally sustainable businesses since 2012, including “greener” buildings and renewable energy projects.
  • Providing $14.2 billion in loans and investments to community development projects since 2011.
  • Volunteering more than 4.7 million hours of community service since 2011.
  • Delivering financial education to nearly 375,000 people since 2011.
  • Achieving a 23 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.

Download the report for all the details. And for more on how Wells Fargo is thinking about CSR and what it means to the company, read this recent post on its blog about shifting from “responsibility” to “relevancy.”


Fast Forward: Phil Buchanan on Effective Practice in Philanthropy

May 27, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 12.09.07 PMThe newest edition of MCF’s Fast Forward series is out!

In this episode, our president Trista Harris speaks with Phil Buchanan, president of The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). CEP is a nonprofit that helps foundations assess and improve their effectiveness and performance. Phil identifies the four components to effective practice as:

  • Clear goals
  • Coherent strategies
  • Disciplined implementation
  • Relevant performance indicators

Phil and Trista discuss the challenges foundations face in receiving honest feedback, tools CEP has developed to address those challenges, and his advice to foundations interested in becoming more effective organizations:

Read the transcript of the interview on our website, then stop by the Fast Forward main page to catch last month’s interview with Margaret A. Cargill Foundation’s Mark Lindberg if you missed it!

 

 


What Do the Latest Giving Trends Mean for Minnesota?

May 15, 2014

afpStaff of foundations and nonprofit organizations alike look to the annual Giving USA report for insights on the latest giving trends and what they mean for Minnesota.

Giving USA 2014 will be released on Tuesday, June 17, and the release will be quickly followed by “first look” events in seven cities — including St. Paul — across the nation.

If you’d like to be among the first to hear expert analysis and local perspectives on the 2014 findings, attend First Look: Giving USA 2014  presented by Campbell & Company in conjunction with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Minnesota (AFPMN).

The event in St. Paul will take place on Thursday, June 19, from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m., at the Town and Country Club, where a presentation of report findings will be followed by a moderated panel of local experts.

Registration is $20 for AFPMN members and $40 for non-members; breakfast is included. See afpminnesota.org/event/first-look-giving-usa-2014/ for details and a link to register.

The report is used by grantmakers and nonprofits to:

  • Benchmark fundraising performance against national data;
  • Plan for the future, based on long-term trends in giving;
  • Educate new staff members and board members in the broad context of philanthropic giving, so they have a better understanding of their organization’s funding patterns; and
  • Strengthen grantmaking and other philanthropic activities.

Giving USA: 2014 was compiled by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University for the Giving USA Foundation.

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


Fast Forward with Philanthropy’s Big Thinkers

April 22, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 12.09.07 PMMCF is pleased to announce the launch of our new Fast Forward series!

Through these monthly videos and periodic podcasts of interviews by MCF President Trista Harris, Fast Forward will feature conversations with big thinkers in the field of philanthropy.

You’ll learn about the latest trends in Minnesota grantmaking, gain insights on strategies behind important philanthropic efforts and come away inspired with ideas and approaches you can take back to your organization.

We’re launching with an interview with Margaret A. Cargill Foundation’s Mark Lindberg, director of the Relief and Resilience program. Here, Mark tells Trista about the foundation’s work in the area of disaster relief and resiliency building, its focus on lower-attention events that don’t typically receive much philanthropic support and its interest in engaging local community members as key partners:

The full transcript of this interview is available on our website, which is also where you’ll also find new Fast Forward episodes as we produce them. Interview highlights are also featured in the spring issue of Giving Forum, in your mailbox soon.

Let us know what you think! And look for a conversation with Phil Buchanan of the Center for Effective Philanthropy to come in May.


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