3.21 Fluff Free News Digest

Good March to you and yours! We’ve had a couple of really warm days already so far, so we, the overly optimistic Minnesotans are ready to put away shovels and bring out lawn furniture. One of our AP team drove up to Duluth in shirtsleeves. But you know what happens when the snow goddesses, gods and non-binary deities see the snow shovels in storage!

But, but, but… on the other hand grantseeking optimism needs to remain strong to justify the work you do on proposals, budgets, applications, and letters of inquiry. So, keep both your snow shovels and your budget templates within reach.

Access Philanthropy & MN Council of Nonprofits will hold the annual Small Family Foundations Workshop

Thursday, April 08, 2021. Virtual Live/Online

Truthfully, who else talks about small family foundation fundraising except for Access Philanthropy? There are more than 1500 small funders (<$1 million in annual giving) in Minnesota, and most of them are small family foundations. So, get goods from AP folks and small family funders, and then walk away with a book, the power point and some access time to AP’s Small Family Foundation 300+ database.

  • For example, the Anna M. Heilmaier Foundation annually gives away about $330,000, is operated by US Bank Philanthropic Services, and focuses on health, disabilities, and music. By the way, Alex Bakkum, who used to oversee the Heilmaier operations, has just moved to Cincinnati. He was from Moorhead, so we know he’ll be back again someday.
  • Another great SFF: Belton Family Foundation. Marc and Alicia’s foundation has been around for five years, but now they’ve hired staff, put up a website – and most importantly – they want to connect with the community they serve. They want to hear from you (wow!). Good for them!
  • Carlson Family Foundation: one of the best youth funders in the U.S. evidently may not be doing a grantmaking cycles with new organizations.
  • McKnight Foundation has named Tenzin Dolkar as its program officer for its Midwest Climate & Energy program. Does the name ring a bell? Dolkar used to work for Bloomberg Philanthropy’s American Cities Climate Challenge, where she served as a climate advisor to the City of Minneapolis.
  • From General Mills Foundation: “we are in the midst of planning efforts and assessing if any resources would even be available yet to deploy in FY21”
  • Securian Foundation: one of our favorite funders, Securian Financial saw a 44% drop in income last year due to the pandemic. No word on what will happen to their foundation giving this year.
  • Ethical Corporations in Minnesota: According to Ethisphere these Twin Cities corporations are recognized as highly ethical institutions:
    • 3M Co.
    • Allianz Life Insurance North America
    • Best Buy Co. Inc.
    • Thrivent
    • U.S. Bancorp
    • Xcel Energy Inc.
  • Minneapolis Foundation will be assuming administrative responsibilities for the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. The Phillips folks will continue with their own board and make their own grant decisions, but the Foundation’s financial and backroom stuff will belong to the Minneapolis Foundation. Since the Phillips Foundation broke into three separate entities (MN, CO, and CA foundations), it no longer needs a major backroom operation

    The Minneapolis Foundation is providing similar services to WCA Foundation and hundreds of donor-advised funds, and used to perform backroom and staff services for the Ciresi Walburn Foundation for Children. Next WCA deadline is May 3rd.

Other Foundation News
  • From WK Kellogg Foundation: “All requests (to) the foundation must be submitted online at www.wkkf.org. We are upgrading our grantmaking system and application to better serve you and your communities. As a result, we will not be able to accept applications for funding from January 23 through March 14, 2021. Please visit our site again on or after March 15 to set up an account in our new grants portal and apply for funding.”
  • A New Foundation: Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is giving away $3 million for basic human needs.
  • Target Corporation and Target Foundation have a new foundation EVP, Kate Boylan, whose jobs will include communications, philanthropy, and general corporate social responsibility.
Corporate Foundations vs. Corporate Donations Programs (non-foundation gifts)

Interesting study on corporate foundations vs. corporate donations (non-foundation giving programs).

Corporations that use foundations instead of corporate giving programs are viewed as

  • More in touch with consumers, employees, and neighbors
  • More professional in their giving practices
  • More trusted in having the world’s self-interest at hand.
  • More trusted than corporations who only use employee matching programs

The truth is corporate foundations are, to some extent, regulated by the IRS and state attorneys general (Bremer, ahem). Legally, they are independent of the corporation, but since the funding and the people come from the corporation, they do have corporate interests at heart. However, their interpretation of corporate interest is generally broader and different from those who only use corporate donation programs.

Anecdotally, it’s true that corporate foundations have invested in the infrastructure, people, and corporate volunteers, and are generally more professional about their giving. Corporate donation programs are not JUST about corporate self-interest (some of it is about size and corporate capacity), but corporate donation programs are often more limited in their altruism.

What’s our fluff-free advice? – When you’re thinking about soliciting gifts from a large corporation, understand the limitations of a corporation that uses only an in-house donations programs in contrast to using a foundation.

Selective Job Board

A great month for philanthropy jobs. See the variety on the MN Council of Foundations and the Bridgespan Group jobs boards.

Access Philanthropy is looking for good researchers and writers. Great work with great clients and a great team of writers, researchers, and advisors (maryanne@accessphilanthropy.com)

  • Thompson Reuters is looking for a Director for their Social Impact Institute
  • Margaret Carlson Philanthropies needs an Environment Program Officer
  • SW Initiative Foundation needs a Youth Program Officer
  • PFund, one of the great, locally-focused, LGBTQ funders in the U.S., needs a Program Officer
  • Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and Heising Simons Foundation need Communications Officers
  • One of the Dayton family funds, the Constellation Fund, needs an Impact Research Assistant.
  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation is looking for lots of people. See the variety on the Bridgespan Jobs Board, including Director of Employment, Education and Training; Program Associate, Policy Reform and Advocacy – National; Senior Associate, Family Stability Assets. It would be great to have a few Minnesota voices in the Casey Foundations.
  • The New Mexico Community Foundation needs a new CEO. Last month, San Diego Community Foundation needed a CEO. This month Santa Fe. Who is quitting these jobs!?
  • Finally, if you don’t want any run-of-the-mill grantmaker job, the Toy Foundation is looking for an Executive Director. The position includes grantmaking, fundraising, policy, and collaboration
Google Ads.

No more excuses. Look at this. Here’s the link to the downloadable Google Ads Guide.

Giving Surveys
  • Minnesota International NGO Network (MINN) has a new annual report and global priorities survey of giving to Minnesota’s community of international-servicing organizations. According to the survey, the top MN International NPO priorities are general equality, education quality, and ending poverty.
  • According to the Ms. Foundation for Women, only 1.6% of funds from non-profits in the U.S. goes to programs supporting women and girls, and just 0.5% goes towards women and girls of color.
General Operating Support and Unrestricted Gifts?

Just as the pandemic was beginning last year, the Council of Foundations issued a public statement in which 850+ foundations agreed to offer more general operating support and put less restrictions on their grantmaking.
So far there’s not a lot of evidence that foundations are fully engaged in either – with two exceptions – multi-million-dollar gifts to huge national organizations are less likely to have all kinds of stipulations, and food/basic need grants have fewer restrictions. This is a good start, but someone should check whether unrestricted, gen op gifts are only for the wealthy NPOs, or whether these commitments also include mid-sized and smaller nonprofits.

COVID Giving Stats

We must admit that Covid philanthropy reports are getting as tedious as the damned virus itself. But let’s face it, last year was so different, so we’re all curious about what happened in our industry. Here’s a few trends from Candid, ARNOVA, and the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy:

  • Some 28% of U.S. COVID giving so far has been for social justice strategies, compared to 9-12% between 2003 and 2016.
  • 7% of surveyed COVID-related grants, ($727 million, 551 grants) address issues of racial equity
  • 10% of U.S. grant dollars, and 5% of U.S. pledged dollars for COVID, have been designated explicitly to benefit Black communities. Only 2% of Foundation 1000 giving has been designated this way in previous years.
  • 0.9% of total COVID-19 grant dollars has been designated to benefit Indigenous and American Indian communities, compared to just 0.1% in previous years.
Individual Giving Stuff
  • The percentage of households giving to charity declined to 53% in 2016 from 66% in 2020, according to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies. Lots of interesting articles about wealth and philanthropy on their website.
  • Looking for the next big major donor? According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 14% of millionaires are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color. The CoP has profiles of a few diverse donors.
The Oprah Effect? Celebrities and Nonprofits

Sports, movie, and television stars, and even politicians, have been part of the charitable solicitation world. There have always been questions about the value of using these celebrities for nonprofit work. The debate continues. But now some folks have done some great work with interesting findings:

  • Unless the celebrity has real experience with the charity’s work (they have the disease, they know about domestic violence from personal experience), don’t use them in your solicitation. People don’t believe them, and they view the charity less, well, … charitably.
  • It’s VERY easy for a celebrity solicitation to turn against the charity. Last year, when Ashton Kutcher sold wine and promised to give profits to COVID charities, lots of people were turned off by the connection of booze and COVID. Whenever Paul Newman made provocative news, his charity-supporting salad dressings were pulled off the shelves of grocery stores.
  • Using celebrities for international charities or abject poverty relief appeals is not well-advised. According to a survey, many people are put off when wealthy celebrities ask for money to support dire poverty in developing countries.

The bottom line from the study – connecting any old celebrity to any old charity is dumb. The cult of celebrities may still be alive and well, but even if your donors subscribe to People magazine, there’s a good chance their charitable decisions are not based on their favorite superstar’s charitable requests.

Signs of Life. Time for Spring Fundraisers?

The NY Times recently did an article indicating how the US retail industry is showing signs of re-opening:

  • 7 of 10 top selling garments at Urban Outfitters last month were dresses
  • Live Nation sold out 200,000 music festival tickets in a couple of days
  • Airline tix sales to Las Vegas were up 20% last month
  • Cruise ship tix recorded a 30% jump
  • Gym memberships rebounded in January (but then, they always do in January)

So, with younger people and others ready to move outside, is it time for your organization to start thinking about a late spring, summer, or early fall event? And does anyone have a good mailing list of high net wealth Neanderthals?

Need to Talk to Someone about Fundraising Problems and Concerns?

AP now has six senior advisors, all of whom have thirty-forty minutes to chat and lots of experience in grantmaking and grantseeking. (gail@accessphilanthropy.com or steve@accessphilanthropy.com)

One-Off Workshops

Besides the April 8th workshop on Small Family Foundations, here are a couple off the radar workshops

Neuromarketing Workshop from the SBA:

  • Neuromarketing is a scientific approach to understanding consumers’ decision-making. It pays close attention to the role of emotion, intuition, and impulse in making buying decisions. Now guided by science, businesses can make their marketing much more effective by applying Neuromarketing, just like Apple, Google, and Amazon have all adopted it to boost their revenues dramatically.

    The SBA is offering a virtual workshop on neuromarketing. Even if you’re not a small business you’re welcome to attend.

  • Bending the Arc of Grantmaking Toward Racial Justice
    Candid (the merger of Foundation Center and GuideStar) is offering a $10 workshop on March 30. The workshop features Lori Villarosa, Co-author of Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens and Founder/ED of Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE).
Fundraising Words to Avoid

Big Duck, a nonprofit communications firm, recommends avoiding these nine terms in 2021. Some will be tough to avoid, but good writers will do so. See the website for additional insights:

  • Pivot
  • Unprecedented
  • Now more than ever
  • Diversity (that one’s tough)
  • Best practices
  • Empower
  • Master
  • Tone-deaf, blind to, and other ableist language
  • Changemaker/changemaking
Speaking of Nonprofit Communications…

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide issued its 11th annual Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. It includes pieces on work in the pandemic, managing communications teams (including volunteers), growing communications efforts, email practices, and lots of stats on the effects and costs of communications tools.

Raising a Glass to the Folks Who Put a Union Label on California Wine Bottles.

If you can get together at the end of the month, raise your glass the United Farm Workers, the folks who unionized the grape and fruit fields of California. After decades of disappointment and lack of support from other unions, the UFW and its charismatic leaders Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez succeeded in establishing a union for migrant workers. Cesar’s birthday is March 31st. Arriba, abajo, afuera, adentro.

Word to the wise but not so optimistic: keep both your snow shovels and budget spreadsheets nearby.