Minnesotans have a long tradition of giving generously and giving often. We are a state filled with philanthropists who give of their time, talent, and treasure. In order to streamline the giving process for donors and organizations alike, GiveMN was born in 2009. A collaborative venture between the Minnesota Community Foundation and numerous nonprofit organizations, it was created as another platform to share stories, connect with donors, and accept and track charitable contributions. That platform became GiveMN.org, a year-round website linking people with nonprofits and schools.
One of the truly unique aspects of GiveMN is Give to the Max Day, set this year for November 12. When the idea was first launched, it sparked a blast of online giving — $14 million in 24 hours. Since the inaugural year in 2009, Give to the Max Day has become an annual tradition. Every year the state comes together, raising money for schools and organizations that strengthen our communities.
The concept of a statewide giving day has been so successful, it has since been adopted by other states, including Colorado and Georgia. Seattle, Miami, and Dallas-Fort Worth have launched regional giving days, and cause-based national giving days have originated to support autism and LGBT issues, among others.
“Minnesota is unique in two major ways,” explains Andy Goldman Gray, GiveMN’s interim executive director. “First, the vast majority of giving websites only accept donations one day a year, on the giving day itself.
GiveMN.org is open 365 days a year. Secondly, most other giving days exist as a program or initiative of the region’s local community foundation. GiveMN was born from a community foundation, but we exist as our own independent nonprofit organization with the mission to ignite generosity and grow giving across Minnesota.”
In the past six years, donors have given more than $125 million to 9,500 organizations on GiveMN.org.
A Greater Platform for Giving
As donors contribute to causes on GiveMN.org, GiveMN creates giving portfolios that track contributions by agency, category, and dollar value.
The site is not only utilized to connect people to causes, but as a way to feature various charities, and coordinate citizen donations and relief efforts in the wake of a natural disaster, as was the case with the North Minneapolis tornado in the spring of 2011 (more than $500,000 was raised by Minnesotans who wanted to help their neighbors rebuild).
For Springboard for the Arts—an economic and community development organization with a mission to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life—GiveMN has provided a greater platform to share content and accept donations. “It’s made online giving a lot more streamlined than the old days of tracking giving through a PayPal account,” says Carl Atiya Swanson, director of movement building, Springboard for the Arts. “More importantly for the creative life of the state, GiveMN has opened up a whole new way for us to support the small, artist-run projects that are part of our Incubator Fiscal Sponsorship Program.”
Springboard for the Arts is able to accept grants on behalf of the projects in the program, taking tax-deductible donations via their partnership with GiveMN. “We sponsor about 230 projects across the state,” Swanson says. “Each project has its own fundraising page, customized to their own content.” Springboard also publishes stories about artists who impact the community and shares practical toolkits to “make good things happen” via Creative Exchange, a resource for inspiration and action.
The organization has used the GiveMN platform in creative ways, too. They have created parody songs with a pop-up Give to the Max Day band, highlighted artists and their pets to show another side of creative people, and hosted “Power Hours” of matching fundraising to help generate buzz (and funds).
Donors make a big difference in many ways, Swanson comments. Their generosity makes it possible to connect artists to primary care services at community clinics, provide reduced cost or free legal services, and establish a new artist residency program. And while the support of donors is critical to the success of Springboard for the Arts, everyone can help the cause.
“Support creativity in your community,” he says. “Go out and see a show, buy from a local artist, hire an artist as a creative or business consultant, or create art yourself.”
Give to the Max Day is one of the many ways people can get involved with the Alzheimer’s Association. This year their goal is to raise $100,000 on November 12. “Thanks to generous donors, you can double your impact that day through a matching gift,” says Sue Spalding, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter. “If you are not available on the 12th, you can schedule your donation for that day at GiveMN.org beginning November 1.” Your gift will help the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter provide education, support, and advocacy for those living with Alzheimer’s, their families and caregivers, and our community.
Photo by Jeff Achen
Inspiring the next generation of philanthropists
At more than 80 million strong, the next generation of donors—Millennials (born between 1980-2001)—is the fastest growing group in the nonprofit world.
“There is so much research on Millennial giving,” Goldman-Gray says. “One of the major differences we’ve noticed is that—while Baby Boomers are more loyal and give to their same cherished organizations—Millennials are more engagement-and cause-based.”
Many young philanthropists are motivated to give time or money to causes that matter to them. They might give smaller amounts to multiple organizations, but if they do develop a sense of commitment to a cause, they’re passionate and loyal advocates. They want (and need) to know how their efforts are making a difference. (Transparency is second-nature to this group.)
Most Millennials give differently, too. This is the generation defined by digital innovation. They’re constantly connected, strongly influenced by what their peers are saying and doing, comfortable with crowdfunding and online giving (rather than mailing a check), and use social media to connect with and support causes. They are increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to give back—from creating personal fundraising pages on GiveMN.org to asking friends and family to donate to a specific cause in lieu of a birthday or wedding gift.
In the wise words of Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Give to the Max Day is November 12.
Give to the causes you care about on GiveMN.org.
Why I Give Back
Blythe Brenden—Blythe Brenden-Mann Foundation
“I feel it is very important to give back to my community to make it a better place and help those in need. I feel grateful to have the resources to support so many great nonprofit organizations. We live in a very generous community, and that makes me proud.”
Supports: American Committee for the Weizmann Institute of Science • Children’s Cancer Research Fund • Guthrie Theatre • Minneapolis Institute of Arts • Public Radio International • United Way • University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine • University of Minnesota Foundation • University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital • YWCA • Vital Voices
Bryce Quinn—Owner, Café Latte
“I’m regularly reminded of the value of giving back when I see the joy on the faces of those in need and know my contribution has played some role in that. Whether we’re serving a bite of a delicious dessert at an event, or touring a local children’s hospital to understand the impact of our donations, helping others less fortunate puts life into perspective.”
Supports: The University Children’s Foundation WineFest (his familyare honorary chairs this year) • Wine Women & Shoes • Love Your Melon • hundreds of community groups • schools • company fundraisers and charity events
Rik Lalim—Owner, Rikochet LLC
“There are so many people far less fortunate than I am. Giving of my time, talents, and financial resources is the right thing to do. We are here together to support one another. Even the smallest act of kindness can have a major impact on someone else.”
Supports: American Cancer Society • Make A Wish • CaringBridge • Hammer • organizations that help kids and pets
Scott Morris—International Sales Development Manager, 3M
“As a child I recall watching my mom bag clothes and food to give to those on the wrong side of fortune. My parents and grandparents always opened their homes to people in need, making a significant impact in the lives of others. This has instilled a sustainable value structure that resonates to this day. Giving back is at the core of my personal promise—thinking outside my border to improve the lives of others.”
Supports: African American Network • 3M Frontline • Twin Cities Rise! • American Heart Association • Penumbra Theatre • North Carolina A&T • United Way
Danielle St. Germain-Gordon—Director of Development, Guthrie Theater
“My parents were completely committed to education and arts experiences while I was growing up—shaping me into the passionate arts advocate I am today. I want all children, regardless of circumstance, to have the same, enriched opportunities I was fortunate to have.”
Supports: Guthrie Theater • AchieveMpls • Theatre Forward • Minnesota Citizens for the Arts • Ivey Awards • the Haitian Education and Leadership Program • Project SUCCESS • Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute
Sue Zelickson, foodie, columnist, philanthropist
“Giving of yourself is enriching and joyful in every way possible. Networking, connecting people, and sharing resources are natural instincts that I hope I never lose.”
Supports: The American Cancer Society, Hope Lodge, Perspectives Family Center, Kids Café, The Cookie Cart, The Metropolitan Airport Foundation, The Boys and Girls Club, The Liver Foundation, and Women Who Really Cook [*Sue founded Women who Really Cook as a networking organization for women in the food business 22 years ago; today it has evolved to an organization that gives grants to women culinary students. She also started the Kids Cafes at the Boys and Girls Clubs and Perspectives Family Center.]
Breanna Olson, Board Member, Alzheimer’s Association MN-ND Chapter; Board Member, Zenon Dance Company
“I give back hoping to make someone’s life a little better or make a difference in a positive way—but I’d argue that I’ve gained the most. I’ve come to believe that, for me, a fulfilled life is one done in service.”
Supports: Alzheimer’s Association (co-founded the Blondes vs. Brunettes Twin Cities flag-football fundraiser to tackle Alzheimer’s) & Zenon Dance Company
Brian Call, President, Rubicon Mortgage Advisors
“In my opinion, helping others is the single most important gift one person can give to another, and it doesn’t require a financial commitment to make an impact. Your gift of time is equally important, as it helps to build a deeper sense of community through your involvement.”
Supports: University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital; Minnesota Vikings Children’s Fund; Kids 1st Fund; American Cancer Society