Helping the Arts Learn, Grow and Thrive

June 25, 2014

artsWith contributions from The McKnight Foundation, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, and lead supporter the Bush Foundation, Arts Midwest’s ArtsLab program has launched Capacity Building and Resilience, a case study report that investigates how small and mid-sized arts organizations learn, adapt, and grow.

Examining the experiences of eight organizations participating in this leadership and strategy development program, this report identifies four capacities that have helped organizations in Minnesota and North Dakota thrive in the face of operational challenges, staffing and leadership changes, and shifts in funding. Key takeaways offer insights for similar organizations seeking to build their resiliency and for grantmakers supporting the arts and culture sector. The report also outlines key insights for grantmakers supporting the arts and culture sector.

ArtsLab is a training, mentorship, and support program that offers in-depth learning opportunities for community-based arts organizations. Designed to catalyze new ideas and craft tangible paths to strategic change, the program offers highly-participatory retreats, monthly webinars, and access to mentors and financial support. Since its inception in 1999, the program has helped artists, cultural leaders, and their organizations strengthen operations, build cross-sector relationships, develop leadership skills, and deepen their connections to their communities.

“This report helps ensure that the impact of Arts Midwest’s ArtsLab program will reverberate beyond the organizations and individuals it served over the last 15 years. We are proud to support ArtsLab because it is truly a testament to the power of leveraging art to think bigger and think differently about what is possible in our communities,” says Allison Barmann, strategy and learning vice president at Bush Foundation.

Learn more about ArtsLab and its new report to help build capacity in the arts on the Arts Midwest website.

 

 


Fast Forward: Gary Cunningham

June 24, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 12.09.07 PMThe third episode of Fast Forward, MCF’s series of conversations with philanthropy’s big thinkers, is out now!

This time, MCF President Trista Harris sits down with Gary Cunningham, vice president of programs for Northwest Area Foundation.

Gary discusses his recent article The Urgency of Now: Foundations’ Role in Ending Racial Inequity and what other grantmakers can take from it. Watch the video below:

In the extended video captured in our transcript, Gary also talks about his role in the African American Leadership Forum and the importance of communities organizing and speaking on their own behalf with a unified voice. Read the transcript on our website.

Catch the whole series on the Fast Forward homepage, and stay tuned for next month, featuring Trish Tchume of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network!


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

 


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.”


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!


Philanthropy’s Role in Disaster Relief

June 9, 2014
Damage from the 2009 Minneapolis tornado.

Damage from the 2009 Minneapolis tornado.

In December 2013, MCF’s board adopted the following policy statement:

Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery: MCF will promote disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and long-term recovery policies and procedures that involve marginalized communities, respond to their needs and define a realistic and effective role for philanthropy.

In May 2014, MCF’s Government Relations and Public Policy committee invited Holly Sampson, president of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation, and Erik Torch, grant program manager of the Northland Foundation, to share their experiences and lessons-learned since extensive flooding in 2012.

Presentation Highlights

  • One hundred-year weather events now happen every few years. Vulnerable populations — including seniors, those living in poverty, the mentally ill and those already living on the edge — endure the greatest and longest lasting challenges.
  • There is an immediate need for a common data system to track those affected, their needs and how they have been met. Because this doesn’t currently exist, disaster victims must “shop for aid.” This is unacceptable.
  • Recovery will take longer than expected. Disaster declarations, insurance pay offs and buy-out programs may take months or years. During this time, people can’t live in their old homes, but they must continue to pay those expenses along with expenses associated with new housing. This is a financial disaster for families.
  • Low-income and rental housing was hit hard. Landlords may leave it up to renters, without financial resources, to respond. There are not programs to replace renters’ possessions.
  • In Duluth, $2.7 million in private giving is being used to fix what insurance and the private sector could not. More and more, private giving is relied upon in these situations.
  • Disaster relief efforts require regional, institutional and cross-sector response teams. No one sector can do it alone. Grantmakers need to strategize preparation and recovery efforts to effectively serve families and stabilize communities.

Upcoming MCF Bus Tour

On August 11, 2014, MCF will sponsor a bus tour and workshop, “Responding to Minnesota’s New Reality of Disaster Relief,” to explore grantmaking and public policy responses to disaster preparedness, relief and recovery in Minnesota. Watch our events calendar for a listing — coming soon — or contact Tara Kumar to ensure you’re included.

How Funders in Other Hard-hit States are Responding:

Jesse Ball duPont Fund

After a deadly 2011 tornado hit Alabama, Jessie Ball duPont Fund published Creating Order from Chaos to help foundations identify their roles and points of entry in response to disaster planning and recovery. Its framework names three fundamental stages of disaster response and recovery.

  1. Planning and Preparation: community members, grantmakers and local officials create a system to support the community in case of disaster.
  2. First Response: occurs directly after a disaster occurs. Critical moment where federal and community agencies provide immediate resources and support to communities and families.
  3. Recovery and Rebuilding: federal and local leaders work toward rebuilding community and families to state of health.

Long after disasters hit and federal resources are spent, communities will still need help. Philanthropy can play a role by providing long-term sustainable engagement before and after a natural disaster.

The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation takes an innovative approach, working with communities to build resilience when hit by disaster and other stressors. It defines resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, business and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

It has identified five core characteristics of resilient communities:

  1. Constant Learning: The ability to internalize past experiences linked with robust feedback loops that sense, provide foresight and allow new solutions.
  2. Rapid Rebound: The capacity to re-establish function, re-organize and avoid long-term disruption.
  3. Limited or “Safe” Failure: Prevents failures from rippling across systems.
  4. Flexibility: The ability to change, evolve and adapt to alternative strategies in the face of disaster.
  5. Spare Capacity: Ensure there is a back up or alternative available when a vital component of a system fails.

Tiffany Wilson-Worsley, MCF government relations and public policy fellow

Photo cc mollyapolis



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