Reflecting on a Renewed Commitment to Racial Equity

March 18, 2014

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge the Racial Equity Framework

The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation, both MCF Members and affiliates of Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, hosted a breakfast earlier this month to announce their newly-developed racial equity framework.

A room full of guests listened as MN Partners CEO Carleen Rhodes and Amherst H. Wilder President May Kao Y. Hang shared findings from “Facing Race: A Renewed Commitment to Racial Equity.” The 30-page report serves as a call to action for leaders at both foundations, and stems from their longstanding commitment to fostering racial equity. The hope is that other foundations throughout Minnesota will use this as a tool in their own efforts to create a more equitable philanthropic sector.

In 2012 The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Community Foundation commissioned a taskforce; they drove the process that identified five different roles the foundations held in the community. With leadership placed in the framework’s center, the roles now include: Community Participants, Economic Entities, Funders, Employers, and Fundraisers. The roles are based on a corresponding set of expectations that the task force recommends board and staff use as an accountability guide. Here’s a deeper look into what each role looks like:

·         Community Participants: As Minnesota becomes more racially diverse, foundations owe it to themselves to host convenings that encourage open dialogue; take the time to meaningfully build connections with communities of color; and learn the ways in which racism impacts the communities they serve.

·         Economic Entities: This role recognizes how racial justice and economic justice are linked. It challenges foundations to do more than just hire a racially diverse staff by encouraging mindfulness around choosing vendors and investment firms.

·         Funders: Setting guidelines, developing programs, and supporting affiliate grantmakers in their best practices around incorporating a racial equality lens will help foundations to better reflect the diverse communities they serve.

·         Employers: Taking a look at internal systems, foundations should ask themselves “Are we intentionally recruiting, hiring, retaining, and advancing employees of color?” “How are we creating a workplace culture that values everyone’s contributions?” “Do our stakeholders and communities know about our commitment to eliminating institutional racism?”

·         Fundraisers: Community foundations have a unique role as fundraisers. A commitment to racial equity not only plays a key role in nurturing relationships with current donors; but it also is instrumental in cultivating new relationships with a more racially diverse, culturally competent generation of donors.

What is most encouraging about this new framework is how it holds leadership accountable to walking an influential walk – and talking a correspondingly influential talk. As members of the local philanthropic community, we have to examine our privilege, realize how we are a part of current challenges, and get ready to step beyond what’s comfortable in order to advance. This will require courage, honesty, and openness. It will also require foundations to invite feedback and insight from diverse communities to really take root.

This should be a proud day for MCF, whose groundbreaking Diversity and Inclusion Action Kit helped shape Facing Race.

- Venessa Fuentes, MCF Philanthropy Fellow

Nominate Grantmakers Making an Impact

February 13, 2014

NCRP-logo-color-with-tagline-2014The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy is on the lookout for grantmakers to honor with its 2014 NCRP Impact Awards, and wants to hear from you.

Which foundations do you think had the greatest impact and made positive, lasting change in 2013? NCRP is looking for grantmakers maximizing their philanthropy by:

  • Attacking the root causes of social problems
  • Empowering underserved communities
  • Helping improve the sector as a whole through public leadership

There will be one awardee in each of these four categories:

  • Large, Private Foundation (annual giving of $25 million or more)
  • Small/Mid-Sized Private Foundation (annual giving less than $25 million)
  • Corporate Foundation (any size)
  • Grantmaking Public Charity (any size)

Last year’s awardees included grantmakers from California, New York and Illinois. It’s time to get Minnesota on the map!

Nominations are due March 1. The awards reception will take place June 9 in Washington, D.C.

Nominate a worthy grantmaker today, and spread the word on Facebook and Twitter!

Mission Investing Gaining Minnesota Momentum

February 12, 2014

mieEvery seat was filled at Northwest Area Foundation on Tuesday at a grantmaker “think tank” on mission investing.

What is mission investing? According to Mission Investors Exchange:

Mission investments cover two distinct categories: market-rate mission-related investments (MRIs) that have a positive social impact while contributing to the foundation’s long-term financial stability and growth; and program-related investments (PRIs) that are designed to achieve specific program objectives while earning a below-market rate return.

In other words, it’s about  using the so-called “other 95%” (beyond the 5% annual grants payout) to achieve mission.

According to MCF’s latest Giving in Minnesota report, Minnesota grantmakers grant approximately $1.7 billion annually and hold almost $18 billion in foundation assets. Through mission investing strategies they can leverage a portion of that $18 billion for social good. (For more on mission investing, also check out NCRP’s Winter 2013-2014 edition of Responsive Philanthropy.)

The Minnesota Experience
Prior to Tuesday’s event, some Minnesota grantmakers completed an informal survey about their experiences related to mission investing. Highlights of the responses included:

  • Program-related investments (PRIs) as loans are a commonly used tool and are often directed to economic development for low-income neighborhoods and job creation.
  • Growth of mission investing is hampered by lack of staff expertise and capacity, as well as a dearth of effective and experienced investment and legal advisors who understand and embrace the concept.
  • Finding investments with a strong financial and social return and measuring results can be challenging.
  • Despite challenges, foundations are intentionally pursuing mission investing and even setting targets for percentage of invested assets.
  • Community foundations have a growing interest  in mission investing among donor advisors.

Also discussed during the “think tank” were increased opportunities to engage in mission investing outside of the nonprofit sphere, such as with social enterprises and for-profit businesses.

For instance, philanthropy could seed investments in green technology or otherwise put dollars behind ideas that will influence the marketplace for good.

Learn More
Several intermediaries and other organizations are already working in the mission-investing space in Minnesota, including Nonprofits Assistance Fund, Community Reinvestment Fund, MEDA, WomenVenture and others.

At the meeting, Peter Berliner and his colleagues from Seattle-based Mission Investors Exchange also offered their knowledge, expertise and connections. To meet local and national peers, grantmakers can sign up for the Mission Investors Exchange 2014 National Conference to be held in Minneapolis from May 13 to 15. (Early bird registration ends February 28!)

To connect with other Minnesota grantmakers who are pursuing mission-investing strategies, contact MCF at

As event organizers Brad Brown, former head of Social Venture Partners Minnesota, and Susan Hammel, executive director of the Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation, noted, mission investing is a lot less risky than perceived.  And a planned approach with full board engagement can really pay off – in social impact and financial rewards.

– Wendy Wehr, MCF vice president of communications and information services

#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

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

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

A Quick Introduction to Philanthropy in Minnesota

May 9, 2013
MCF President Bill King on Comcast Newsmakers

MCF President Bill King on Comcast Newsmakers

If you work in philanthropy, you know it can be difficult to succinctly summarize the various foundation types, the range of corporate giving initiatives, how grantmakers determine which nonprofits to support, how individual contributions fit into the giving picture and what role MCF plays in any or all of it.

Recently, MCF’s president Bill King did this in a 4-minute Comcast Newsmakers segment.

If you know a foundation staff person who could use some information on how MCF can help them connect with other Minnesota grantmakers or someone who just wants an introduction to philanthropy in Minnesota, have them watch.

Watch the video on the Comcast Newsmakers website.

Newsmakers also airs at :24 and :54 minutes after the hour on CNN Headline News, middays Monday to Friday, and weekends during morning and early afternoon hours.

If you’re a Comcast digital cable customer, Newsmakers is also a regular feature of Comcast’s Twin Cities-based Local On Demand content. (From Comcast’s On Demand homepage, choose the Get Local tab, then the Newsmakers tab.)

Did you learn anything when you watched? Let us know what surprised you about giving in Minnesota!

- Susan Stehling, MCF communications associate


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