Fundraising report finds nonprofits seeking $1.5 billion

For the first time since 1997, the Minnesota Council on Foundations has published a report on capital and endowment fundraising campaigns among the state’s nonprofits.

The total for current campaigns: a hefty $1.5 billion, but more than half of the amount comes from two college campaigns.

The full report can be seen here.

Ask the MCF why the decade-long hiatus and you get a shoe-is-on-the-other-foot answer. President Bill King said the council decided in the 1990s that the report should be funded by a grant, but no foundation was willing to write the check.

“That was a way for us to say, ‘How important is this?’ ” he said.

In the ebb and flow of funding cycles, foundation leaders have a renewed interest in the report. Part of the reason: Foundations have worked through the recent spate of major arts organization requests (the Walker, Guthrie and others). More projects will be waiting to fill the void, with a wave of the hand and a “What about me?”

Leaders from the Medtronic, General Mills and Cargill corporate foundations approached the council with a request for a snapshot to understand the universe of requests, King said. Medtronic and the Minnesota Council on Foundations paid for the $12,000 study so it could be shared with other foundations and nonprofits.

A menu of options
To Minnesota foundations, the report on current and planned campaigns is a menu of philanthropic options needed to plan long-range gifts. To Minnesota nonprofits, the report serves up potential funding competitors in the arts, education, health and human services.

The report lists campaigns with a 2008 launch date, including the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s $26 million plan to upgrade branch libraries; Allina Health Systems’ $50 million plan to build a new Center for Research, Innovation and Discovery, and the Steele County Red Cross chapter’s modest $500,000 campaign to buy a permanent home.

Some nonprofits reported upcoming campaigns even if they weren’t sure about the launch date or the total dollars needed. The report shows the YMCA of Greater St. Paul plans a $15 million campaign to build a new Midway facility, but it needs a location before it starts. The Washburn Center for Children plans a 2010 capital campaign to build, buy or renovate, but doesn’t have a dollar figure yet.

Those are just a few of the more than 100 current or planned multi-year campaigns listed. (Many have been under way for several years.)

The study has its shortcomings. The council sent out nearly 2,000 post cards to nonprofit organizations with budgets of $500,000-plus. It received 122 responses. That leaves the potential for a lot of missing information. For one, the University of Minnesota’s capital campaign plans were not submitted.

Which leads us to one more reason the council stopped issuing the reports. Since submitting information is voluntary, the council’s report sometimes was out of date soon after publication. It got so it seemed like a week after publication, a nonprofit would announce a major campaign, King said.

Some government funding is included in the latest report. For instance, the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library’s $26 million campaign expects $10 million to come from philanthropy. Wendy Moylan, the Friends’ director of development and finance, said the rest is expected from $10 million in city bonding and $6 billion in other government funds.

Nuggets from the report

• Two education campaigns skew the numbers significantly. The University of St. Thomas’ $500 million campaign (2003-2012) and Carleton College’s $300 million campaign (2004-2010) account for more than half of $1.5 billion total. (Nearly two-thirds of all capital/endowment requests are from educational institutions and of those, most are higher education.)

• Aside from education, the nonprofit infrastructure in greater Minnesota isn’t asking much. Greater Minnesota nonprofits account for slightly more than a quarter of the current statewide requests, and even that figure is misleading. The bulk of the outstater Minnesota requests — 94 percent — are from three large educational campaigns: Carleton College’s $300 million, the College of St. Benedict’s $80 million (2001-2009) and Bethany Lutheran College’s $28 million (2007-2012).

• As important as foundation funding seems, nonprofits as a group expect to raise 73 percent of their goals from individuals. They expect grant makers to kick in less than a quarter of the needed cash, with government providing 4 percent.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by John Olson on 04/29/2008 - 07:04 am.

    Individuals and corporations are experiencing tougher economic times which means that charitable contributions are frequently the first items to be reduced or eliminated.

    Anticipating 73 percent coming from individuals may be a stretch.

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