Using Research to Inform Grant Proposals and Guidelines

Source: Minnesota Council on Foundations 10/25/2012

To do their jobs well, grantseekers and grantmakers alike must stay well-informed about the giving landscape in Minnesota.

Research from the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) and other sources can help nonprofit managers make strategic decisions, write compelling grant proposals and diversify funding streams.

Similarly, grantmakers can use giving research to craft targeted guidelines to fund gaps and achieve greater success in meeting their missions. And by monitoring what their fellow foundations and corporate giving programs are supporting, grantmakers can discover opportunities to collaborate for even greater impact.

New Giving in Minnesota Report

In October, MCF released its Giving in Minnesota, 2012 Edition research report, the most comprehensive analysis of charitable giving in the state. The report showed giving by individuals, foundations and corporations totaled $5.2 billion for the 2010 research year, a modest 2.6-percent increase over 2009.

The 2010 research year, the most recent time period for which complete data are available, includes financial information from grantmakers with fiscal years ending between June 1, 2010, and May 31, 2011.

Individual Giving Tops Grants

Individual giving grew 3.4 percent to $3.8 billion and accounted for most of the overall increase in 2010. In the race to secure grant funding, nonprofits should note that 73 percent of the state's charitable giving came from individuals "“ so building individual giving should not be overlooked.

Grantmaking accounted for $1.4 billion of total 2010 giving, an increase of less than 1 percent over 2009. The total includes grantmaking by Greater Twin Cities United Way, which was included in the research for the first time to create a more comprehensive picture of charitable giving. Without that addition, total 2010 grantmaking would have declined 4.1 percent from 2009.

Foundation Assets Growing

While grantmaking had not fully recovered from the economic downturn, foundation assets began to rise in 2010. Assets grew 3.8 percent to $16.9 billion, still slightly below 2007's pre-recession level of $17 billion.

While the increase in foundation assets was positive, continued economic stability will be needed in order for giving levels to catch up to previous highs. Foundations typically base grantmaking on a one- to three-year rolling average of past asset performance, so 2008's 12-percent drop in foundation asset value continued to negatively impact grantmaking in 2010.

Corporate Grantmakers Lead

The Giving in Minnesota research indicates that corporate foundations and giving programs, which comprise just 9 percent of the 1,467 grantmakers in the state, gave 45 percent of all 2010 grant dollars. Private foundations "“ 85 percent of Minnesota's grantmakers "“ gave 38 percent of grant dollars. Community/public foundations accounted for 17 percent of the giving.

But corporate grantmakers were also more likely to grant monies beyond Minnesota's borders. In 2010, 51 percent of all dollars given by Minnesota grantmakers went to organizations and programs serving Minnesota. The Twin Cities metropolitan area received 31 percent, and Greater Minnesota and Minnesota statewide each received 10 percent.

Organizations serving other parts of the country and world received 49 percent of grant dollars, and many of those contributions came from corporations. This trend reflects businesses' goals of distributing support between Minnesota, where they are headquartered, and other regions where they have facilities and customers.

In addition to identifying giving by geographic service area, the Giving in Minnesota research covers subject-area giving, beneficiaries and support types. This information is based on analysis of 27,171 grants of $2,000 or more made by a sample of 100 of Minnesota's top grantmakers.

Largest Share to Education

The three subject areas receiving the largest shares of Minnesota's grant dollars in 2010 were education (27 percent), human services (23 percent) and public affairs/society benefit (16 percent). Education has captured the largest share of Minnesota's grant dollars in all but three years since MCF began conducting Giving in Minnesota studies in 1976.

Funding for arts, culture and humanities rose 20 percent to $129 million, while giving to education, human services, environment/animals and religion was up more modestly "“ between 3 and 6 percent each.

Other Grantmaking Trends

Based on available data, 55 percent of the Giving in Minnesota sample's grants could be coded to a specific beneficiary group. Of those, the largest share of 2010 dollars "“ nearly 25 percent "“ went to organizations serving children and youth.

Minnesota grantmakers continued to devote the largest share of their giving "“ 62 percent in 2010 "“ to program support. Twenty percent of grant dollars went to general operating support and 9 percent to capital projects.

More Research Services

MCF examines long-term trends in charitable giving annually. The full Giving in Minnesota, 2012 Edition research report is available free online.

In addition, MCF offers affordable annual subscriptions to Minnesota Grantmakers Online (MGO). This searchable database contains valuable information on more than 1,400 Minnesota foundations and corporate giving programs, 150,000 past grants and 20,000 Minnesota nonprofits.

Find the Giving in Minnesota, 2012 Edition full and summary reports here:

Categories: Grantmaking,Grantseeking,MCF News,MCF Research,News
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