The State of Minnesota’s Native American Nonprofit Economy

nativereportEarlier this month, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Native Americans in Philanthropy released their Native American Nonprofit Economy Report. I had the chance to attend a community forum about the report, where we heard from those who put it together along with responses from several Native nonprofit and tribal leaders.

Among the many insights they shared about the state of Native American nonprofits in Minnesota, here are a few that stuck out to me:

  • Native-led nonprofits are an innovative group — 83 percent of them feel they’re better off now than they were five years ago and attribute that to a serious organizational focus on obtaining results.
  • The majority of Native American nonprofits are located in the Twin Cities metro area. This is a boon for the many Native people living in this urban area, but it also means Native nonprofits in rural areas are overlooked. Nonprofit resources are also badly needed within reservation communities.
  • Native nonprofits do not receive substantial funding from casino revenue. This is a common misconception, but the reality is that tribal funding of nonprofits is a distant fifth place as a source of revenue, behind government (federal, state and county) support, private foundation grants, earned revenue and private donations.

And some key recommendations for funders:

  • Consider long-term funding support for programs, operations and public policy advocacy, instead of one-year grants that can leave nonprofits constantly unsure if they will be able to sustain any momentum from their efforts.
  • Build close relationships in the Native community, and develop joint evaluation metrics using logic models based on community assets rather than deficits.
  • Make it a point to support youth and leadership development.

You can download the full report from the Native Americans in Philanthropy website. I recommend giving it a read and learning more about this important part of Minnesota’s nonprofit community.

-Chris Oien, MCF web communications associate

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