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Report: MN Non-profits a Good Investment

September 30, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS - It's a meeting of the minds in Minneapolis today (Wednesday), as leaders of many of the state's not-for-profit foundations discuss how their groups can work together to improve the quality of life around the state.

At the same time, a new study has been released that gives nonprofit organizations a pat on the back. It documents $138 of impact for every dollar invested by nonprofit foundations. Jon Pratt, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, says it's important that groups and their donors know their money is being spent wisely and purposefully.

"Putting money into people doing public policy, or lobbying or community organizing will have 138 times greater leverage. So, you're influencing the wider world and resources that are available to the subject."

The study revealed significant impact by nonprofit groups on increasing Minnesota's minimum wage and creating greater access to college education for people of color.

Although the report includes much to be celebrated, Pratt says, it also notes that foundations could be doing more to work on the racial disparities in housing, education and health in Minnesota.

"We have one of the biggest gaps in the United States between people of color and the mainstream population."

The study, "Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Organizing, Advocacy and Civic Engagement," documented the work of 15 local nonprofits and their allies during a five-year period. All engaged Minnesotans in the policy process and tackled initiatives on such issues as education, health care, living wages, civil rights and transportation. More than two dozen foundations provided funding for these efforts.

Laura Thornquist, Public News Service - MN