Minnesota Snapshot: Leveraging the past to build the future


MCF has been privileged to receive two grants from the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers initiative, New Ventures in Philanthropy.

With our first grant, we led a collaboration of key philanthropic partners in developing the Minnesota Toolkit for Giving and a corresponding website, minnesotagiving.org.  These resources provide donors with information on a wide range of charitable giving options, ranging from simply writing a check to support a favored charity to making more complex decisions on creating a private foundation or setting up a fund at a community foundation.  Created in 2001, the website continues to garner attention and had 31,000 unique visits in 2009.

Our second New Ventures-supported project focused on Minnesota’s long-held tradition of corporate giving and its nationally known 5% Club.  Concerned with waves of mergers and acquisitions resulting in the loss of many home-grown businesses and their contributions to communities, we designed this project to take the concept of percent giving and apply it to smaller businesses in rural communities.  From our experience with the 5% Club, we knew this would only be successful if conducted through established business associations – the Chambers of Commerce.  Now called Minnesota Business Gives and housed at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, this project has led to 36 community chambers across the state recognizing their business members for giving at least 2%.  In addition, each chamber has conducted a seminar on giving strategies for businesses; 17 seminars were delivered in 2009 alone. We also developed two publications, The Minnesota Business Giving and Community Involvement Workbook (modeled on workbooks created by the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers and the Oregon Community Foundation) and Giving Stories.

With these New Ventures projects completed, MCF empanelled a task force to explore how to further our mission to strengthen and expand philanthropy.  The task force has completed its planning work and is recommending to our board in June 2010 three inter-related initiatives that build on MCF’s former work and support our goal of “building the base of organizational philanthropic capital for today and tomorrow.”

We will:

  • Update and create a more vibrant Minnesota Toolkit for Giving on our website, making it a living resource with new stories, tools and directions for donors;
  • Undertake the first steps to pursue a tax credit for contributions to endowed philanthropy in community foundations;
  • Initiate a pilot project in a small number of Minnesota communities to provide information and resources to assist each community in developing its own culturally appropriate approaches to building philanthropic capital.

These works-in-progress focus on Minnesota’s rural communities. With our sector’s recent attention to building rural philanthropy and Nebraska Community Foundation’s various transfer of wealth studies, we believe our best bet at strengthening Minnesota communities is by building philanthropic capital throughout the state.

As we role out our new initiatives in 2010 and 2011, we look forward to sharing our successes and challenges with regional association colleagues.

For those interested in this project you can contact Bill King at bking (at) mcf.org.  And, if you are interested in promotion of philanthropy work, the Forum is creating a network of colleagues who have or are continuing to undertake efforts to promote philanthropy.  You can contact Michael Litz at the Forum (mlitz (at) givingforum.org) to sign up as part of this network.  Plans are to connect via a list serve and hold two conference calls annually to share our progress, successes and challenges as we continue to build the philanthropic capital within our regions.

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One response to “Minnesota Snapshot: Leveraging the past to build the future

  1. Pingback: Minnesota Snapshot: Leveraging the Past to Build the Future « Minnesota Council on Foundations Blog – Philanthropy Potluck

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