Minnesotans are known for many things. They take way too long to say goodbye; they’re “Minnesota nice” without even realizing it; they make hot dishes (otherwise known as casseroles); they exclaim “Ope!” when they accidentally bump into people. And they’ve received national acclaim for their giving hearts and philanthropic endeavors. It’s a Minnesotan attitude focused on giving back in as many ways as possible.
The statistics back it up: WalletHub named Minnesota the most charitable state in the nation in 2018, with high percentages of Minnesotans volunteering and donating time to philanthropic causes.
It helps that there are so many altruistic organizations in the Twin Cities. One large example is GiveMN, an online donation portal through which givers electronically donate to any nonprofit or public school in Minnesota. Their biggest event of the year, Give to the Max Day, takes place every November—a one-day, 24-hour giving extravaganza. In 2018, the program raised $21 million, breaking its 2017 record of $20.6 million and the previous year’s record of $20.1 million. The donations are not limited to the website, either, with organizations putting on events around the state. Last year, the Minnesota Zoo Foundation in Apple Valley hosted a “Choose Your Own Adventure” event for families, and Rumriver Art Center in Anoka had an open house with class demonstrations to help raise donations—all in an effort to bring givers together.
Second Harvest Heartland, another outstanding organization, kicked off in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in 2001. Today, it’s one of the largest hunger-relief organizations in the country, with food shelves, soup kitchens, after school programs, senior centers and food-packing events held throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. The organization has also worked with GiveMN on Give to the Max Day by hosting a 24-hour Pack to the Max food-packing event, now in its third year.
While Second Harvest Heartland focuses on stopping local hunger in the Midwest, Feed My Starving Children raises up communities and people in regions where volunteers may never visit. This food-packing outfit works to relieve global hunger by putting together nonperishable, scientifically formulated meals, packing them in boxes and sending them to countries all over the world. In 2018, more than 1.2 million volunteers packed more that 333 million meals, feeding 913,555 hungry kids for a year. Each packing event takes two hours, and kids as young as 5 can help with the teamwork-oriented process.
Greater Twin Cities United Way, another local charity, aims to build stability and alleviate poverty in communities that need it most. For over 100 years, United Way has set up food banks, food shelves and meals. They also provide youth mentoring, New American orientation. In 2017, United Way invested almost $75 million in the greater Twin Cities, with over $22.7 million going toward education, including job training and workplace preparation.
360 Communities also focuses on local youth support. Their programs include two domestic violence shelters, a network of five food shelves, two resource centers and two educational programs that serve children from birth through high school graduation. These programs are made possible by approximately 1,300 volunteers each year.
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity literally builds up the community by stabilizing homeownership for those in need. Among other services, the organization sells homes with affordable mortgages, constructs completely new homes for families and repairs damaged or deteriorating homes.
Plenty of volunteering options exist for animal lovers. Wags & Whiskers Animal Rescue of MN does not have a permanent shelter location, instead housing all cats and dogs with foster families. If you are unable to foster, you can still volunteer by providing home visits or transportation and by helping out at adoption and fundraising events. The Animal Humane Society works with a wider variety of animals, including rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and birds.
Minnesotans know the importance of giving back, packing meals, donating to food shelves and mentoring youth. And with abundant charities, the Twin Cities’ community bonds are sure to keep strengthening.