Give 2013


    Find out how you can effectively give of your time, talents, and resources.


    It can be a challenge to find the time to volunteer when everyone leads such busy lives. With 8,760 hours in a year, roughly 720 hours in a month, 168 hours in a week, and 24 hours in a day, surely there must be some way you can squeeze in the time to volunteer. The impact you can make on someone’s life, by giving just a few hours of your time, is immeasurable.

    Besides the obvious benefit of impacting the community, volunteering can help you make new friends, expand your network, feel a sense of accomplishment, learn valuable life skills, and provide a meaningful outlet for exploring your interests and passions. It can also be a fun experience.

    Many times, it’s the volunteers who are the life-blood of a nonprofit, like the dedicated volunteers at the American Red Cross who work directly with those affected by disasters or complete the necessary behind-the-scenes work to ensure the organization is ready for whatever curveball comes their way.

    “Volunteers deliver the majority of our direct services,” says Phil Hansen, CEO, American Red Cross Northern Minnesota Region. “They are the driving force behind our mission and our work in the community.”

    Volunteers are also at the core of the American Heart Association, with a mission to build healthier lives by fighting heart disease and stroke—the No. 1 and No. 4 killers in Minnesota and across the country.

    According to Kimberly Friend, executive director of the American Heart Association’s Twin Cities office, “Our 22 million volunteers around the nation are our voice, our face, and our feet within our communities, getting our programs out to those who need them most.”

    What legacy will you leave? Whether you’re single without kids, a new parent, or a grandparent, you are creating a legacy for future generations—a legacy determined by your actions, views, the friends you have, and the beliefs you share.

    Make volunteering your time part of this legacy.


    Aaron, an avid skier, volunteers his talents to Courage Center and helps those with physical disabilities experience the rush of downhill skiing through a one-on-one adaptive skiing program. Karla, described by friends as a “baby whisperer,” cuddles the neonatal babies at an area hospital. Don, an experienced attorney, regularly provides pro bono legal advice. Jeanne knits hats and scarves for those in need.

    Those wanting to utilize a particular skill through the American Red Cross may choose to volunteer with disaster communications or join an amazing cohort of nurse volunteers. Those interested in teaching may find a place offering preparedness presentations or teaching CPR or First Aid classes. Volunteers can assist at blood drives, help maintain facilities, respond to local and national disasters,
    and more.

    United Way volunteers
    Photo coutesy of united way

    There are many nonprofit organizations and charities that can greatly benefit from a specific skill set. According to, “In some situations, what’s needed is volunteers who work in specialized fields like medicine and health care, human rights and the law, financial management, website development and technology, teaching and education, graphic design, and construction. In other cases, it’s more about an individual’s talents—whether they engage them in a paid employment capacity or not; examples of these types of skills include writing, photography, strategic planning, public speaking, problem solving, and the arts.” Make a list of everything you’re good at (don’t be humble) and be honest about how you’d like to donate those skills.

    If you aren’t able to donate a lot of time or financial support to an organization, consider donating your talents.

    In the wise words of Anne Frank, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”


    We are building a legacy—a legacy of what we believe in—every day we are alive. How we respond to life’s challenges show our significant other, our kids, our friends, our neighbors, and our community who we are and what we stand for.

    Estate planning is a tangible way to look at our life—or legacy—not only in terms of relationships, but also in terms of wealth, possessions, and property. It is a way of reviewing
    how we can best give to the greater social good.

    “The benefits of charitable giving, as it factors into estate planning, tend to break into two categories,” explains Christopher J. Burns, Henson and Efron attorney-at-law. “The first is the social good category; the second is tax benefits. For some clients, the tax benefits might not be there, but the social good is always present.”

    Ordway Circle of Stars
    Photo by todd buchanan

    Planned giving, as part of an estate plan, is a type of charitable giving that allows you to express your personal values by supporting your favorite charities. More than 80 percent of Americans contribute to the nonprofit groups of their choice throughout their lifetimes, but according to research conducted in 2000, only around 8 percent of people chose to continue this support through a charitable bequest.

    By making bequests and planned gifts, you can help organizations make a difference in our communities.

    “Planned gifts can provide a perpetual source of support to a particular cause, charity, or community instead of a one-time contribution,” explains Robyn Schein, director of donor experience and engagement, The Minneapolis Foundation.



    A well-planned gifting program, explains Mark A. Adkins, a certified financial planner and wealth management advisor with The BWA Wealth Advisory Group of Merrill Lynch, can also significantly reduce or eliminate federal estate taxes, eliminate capital gains taxes, and reduce income taxes. “Planned giving helps ensure that your property goes to the organizations you want to have it. Unless planned for carefully, a large share of your family’s wealth could eventually be lost to taxes.” 

    Properly structured gifts, he says, can provide an income stream for the life of the donors. Giving may actually benefit your family after you’re gone.

    A planned gift can be made with cash or by donating assets such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, or business interests—even property/collectibles such as artwork and books (although those are often more complicated to administer).  When it comes down to it, charitable giving is fundamentally an expression of values.

    One organization that has greatly benefited from planned giving is Minnesota’s Nongame Wildlife Program, working to protect the state’s 500 species of wildlife. Funds have helped protect the loon, bald eagle, trumpeter swan, Eastern bluebird, Peregrine falcon, and osprey. Donors can designate the DNR Nongame Wildlife Program as a beneficiary when doing estate planning, or write in a tax-deductible donation on the check-off part of their tax forms (the line with the loon symbol beside it). The needs of Minnesota’s wildlife and land depend more than ever on all partners giving what they can.

    Minnesotans, as a whole, are a very philanthropic group. There’s a certain charitable spirit here among the 10,000 lakes, says Burns. “Pretty much everyone, during their income tax return, gives something to charity,” he says. “The goal is to educate more Minnesotans about the benefits of charitable giving.”

    When people of all ages, incomes, and social statuses come together to declare that the work of a nonprofit organization has an important place in the future—no matter what the cause—the results can make a profound difference.

    How to Give

    At one point in time, establishing a private foundation was the preferred way for single donors to retain maximum control over grant-making while creating a legacy of family philanthropy. It wasn’t cheap (there are extensive set-up fees), it wasn’t easy to operate, and it wasn’t, well, private (private foundations are required to file detailed tax returns on grants issued, investment fees, trustee fees, staff salaries, asset size, etc. and then publish a notice to the public that the tax return is available for public viewing. These are public records and are often compiled into grant-seeker directories).

    Eventually, community foundations—tax-exempt public charities created by and for the people in a local area—started popping up in states across the country in an effort to simplify the giving process. Operating as a sort of savings account for the entire community’s benefit, with funds growing in an endowment account, these foundations enable people to easily and effectively support the issues they care about.

    Gala dining table
    Photo by krivit photography

    The benefits of donating money through a foundation include helping donors meet their charitable goals through a variety of funds and planning options, knowledge and planning expertise, tax advantages, and simplicity. A community foundation is a public charity, allowing donors to receive maximum financial benefits.

    “We make it easy to support the issues you care about, while allowing the organizations you support to stay relevant as community needs and opportunities change,” explains Schein with The Minneapolis Foundation. For example, arming high school girls with digital cameras would have been unimaginable for Martha H. Gould, creator of one of The Minneapolis Foundation’s first funds. Neither the Perpich Center for Arts Education nor multimedia arts existed in 1922 when a provision in Ms. Gould’s will established a fund “for the assistance of young girls in an effort to obtain an education in art.”

    Community foundations, such as The Minneapolis Foundation, The St. Paul Foundation, and the Minnesota Community Foundation, also help families develop their priorities so they can focus on organizations that effectively utilize their contributions of time, talent, or money.

    Tools for Giving

    One way a person can give is by creating donor advised funds.

    “A donor advised fund is a like a “charitable checkbook” account,” Schein says.

    It’s essentially a charitable giving vehicle that allows a donor to make an irrevocable, tax-deductible contribution to a foundation or financial institution and make grants to charities over time. “People usually set up donor advised funds after an inheritance, year-end bonus, or other major life events that allows them to focus on their giving.”

    It’s convenient, cost-effective, and an easy way to involve future generations in giving.

    The costs associated with donor advised funds are so low that 99 percent of all the dollars contributed go to charity. Donor advised funds are a beautiful thing to nonprofits, which don’t have to accept securities as contributions—they simply receive a check instead.

    Charitable giving trusts also have unique advantages, allowing donors to distribute their wealth to both family members and charities through the same tool. They can be complicated, though, so it’s important to talk to a financial advisor or attorney.


    Whether you’re just starting the estate planning process or have had a plan in place for awhile now, think about the legacy you want to leave.

    “Planned giving is a great way to carry your individual or family charitable legacy beyond the scope of your life by supporting the causes, organizations, or issue that matter to you most,” says Schein. “It’s a deeply rewarding, effective, and meaningful way to make a lasting impact.”

    A planned gift has the power to keep giving long into the future.

    For more information about Leave A Legacy, a public awareness campaign created to encourage planned giving, visit



    Tell us about your organization:


    In 1979, Alzheimer’s disease was not well-known, and those facing it had difficulty finding information or support. That year, five women in the Twin Cities, women who were struggling to provide care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, founded what is now the Alzheimer’s association Minnesota-North Dakota to help others like themselves. This new entity also became one of the founding chapters of the national Alzheimer’s association, which now has more than 80 chapters nationwide.

    The Alzheimer’s association is 
the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care and support and the largest nonprofit funder of Alzheimer’s research. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s disease®, and our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

    What you should know:

    Alzheimer’s disease is not a part of normal aging; it’s a progressive, fatal disease. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and the only cause of death among the top 10 that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

    There are currently more than 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s—including as many as 1100,000 in Minnesota. By 2050 there could be as many as 16 million with the disease, which has the power to bankrupt families, communities and our health care system.

    Today, as many as half of people living with the disease never receive a diagnosis. Early diagnosis gives families the chance to start treatment early, when it is most effective, and plan ahead.

    What you can do:

    Alzheimer’s disease is an epidemic
and all of us will need to take action
if we’re going to achieve a world without Alzheimer’s. We need people
to join us, and there are many ways to get involved:
    • Learn about Alzheimer’s disease—its warning signs, who’s at risk, and what treatments are available.
    • Connect with the Alzheimer’s Association by participating in a support group, getting information about care options, or attending one of our educational workshops.
    • Advocate for those affected by Alzheimer’s and urge legislators to increase funding for research, care, and support.
    • Volunteer along with hundreds of others to provide essential services across our communities.
    • Participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s®, our annual signature event to raise funds and awareness in communities across Minnesota and North Dakota.
    • Donate to help fund vital research and care programs.

    For information and support, contact the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24/7 Information Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit us at


    If you’re a foodie:

    Minnesota Monthly Food and Wine Experience, March 3-4, 2013. Proceeds benefiting Minnesota Public Radio.
    Taste of the Nation, Share Our Strength, benefiting the No Kid Hungry Campaign to end child hunger in America.
    Moveable Feast, benefiting Open Arms of Minnesota, the only nonprofit in the state cooking and delivering free meals for people with illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, ALS, cancer, and MS, as well as their caregivers and dependent children.
    Minnesota Zoo’s Fish First, a seafood tasting event featuring top Twin Cities’ chefs, working to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources.  
    Brew Love, an annual beer tasting/food pairing event benefiting Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, a dental clinic on wheels delivering quality care to under-served children in the 14-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.

    If you’re a fashionista:

    Macy's Glamorama
    Photo by A. brisson-smith

    Macy’s Glamorama, a fashion show and concert benefiting the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
    Aegis Foundation Oscar Night, Feb. 24, 2013, benefiting Smile Network, a humanitarian organization that provides life altering, reconstructive surgeries and related healthcare services to impoverished children and young adults in developing countries; and The Sanneh Foundation, using the appeal of sports, especially soccer, to unite diverse communities, helping at-risk youth develop into leaders.
    Ever After Gowns Spring Boutique, dedicated to supporting young women in the Twin Cities area by providing them with new and gently-used formalwear for their high school prom.
    Maiden Minnesota, a fun and charitable shopping event featuring local women-owned businesses, benefiting Project Success, a local non-profit, youth-development organization that works with students over a seven-year period, from middle school through high school, to help them develop life skills that can transform their lives.
    Friends of St. Jude Masquerade Ball, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

    If you’re an adventure seeker:

    The MOST Amazing Race, up to 30 two-person teams race around Minneapolis and St. Paul, solving clues at various checkpoints. The money raised benefits the Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Club, alleviating hunger and homelessness in the Twin Cities.
    Mississippi River Challenge, July 27-28, 2013. This two-day, 39-mile paddling event benefits Friends of the Mississippi River, a nonprofit organization raising funds and awareness for a cleaner, healthier river.
    Twin Cities MuckRuckus MS, a military-style obstacle course of mucky fun. Funds raised benefit The National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter, providing programs and services to those living with MS, and supporting research to find a cure and cause.  
    Polar Bear Plunge, presented by Law Enforcement for Special Olympics Minnesota. The statewide plunge kickoff is Jan. 25, 2013.
    Spring Flood Run, April 20, 2013, a 90-mile motorcycle ride benefiting Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.  

    If you’re an animal advocate:

    Walk for Animals, benefiting the Animal Humane Society.
    Fore Paws Golf Tournament, a fundraiser for Helping Paws, furthering the independence of individuals with physical disabilities through the use of service dogs.
    Chef’s Brigade Dinner, March 3, 2013, benefiting We Can Ride, providing quality therapeutic horseback riding programs to people living with disabilities.
    Whisker Whirl Gala, benefiting the Animal Humane Society.
    Pause for Paws, a fundraiser for Second Chance Animal Rescue, dedicated to rescuing, caring for and adopting out homeless dogs and cats into loving and responsible homes.

    If you’re active:

    The Susan G. Komen 3-Day, a 60-mile three-day walk Aug. 23-25, 2013, funding local and national breast cancer research and public health outreach programs.
    The American Heart Association Heart Walk, May 4, 2013, raising funds to save lives from the country’s No. 1 and No. 3 killers – heart disease and stroke.
    Fight for Air Stair Climb, a 660-stair timed stair climb Feb. 23, 2013, benefiting the American Lung Association.
    March for Babies, a one, three, or four-mile route with funds benefiting March of Dimes research and programs, helping Minnesota moms have healthy, full-term pregnancies.
    Bike MS 150 Ride, June 7-9, 2013, a two-day bike ride from Duluth to the Twin Cities, benefiting the National MS Society, Upper Midwest Chapter. 

    Support all of your favorite Minnesota charities on Give to the Max Day. For more information, visit
    For an online calendar of charitable events, visit


    MN Zoo Beastly Ball

    Photo by Todd Buchanan


    When an invitation states “Black tie required,” the hosts expect tuxedos. They want the evening to be elegant and exceptional, and are relying on guests to respect the tuxedo tradition.  


    This terminology is used for those who want to host a formal party, but don’t want to exclude guests who might not be able to afford a tuxedo rental. A dinner jacket or dark suit is ok.


    This is the formal equivalent of business casual, which can be confusing. Tuxedo, dinner jacket, or suit? The reality is that all of these dress options “go,” but how will you feel most comfortable? When in doubt, call the organizers to see how they expect the majority of their guests to dress.


    If the party is more hip than classic/traditional, wear a jacket with a dark denim jean and narrow tie. 


    An invitation to a charity gala is a great excuse to get dressed up, either in an elegant gown, cocktail dress, or classy pant suit. Add pops of color with bold heels, statement-making accessories, or a clutch. Two words: Simple elegance.

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