April 19, 2014

Policy investments seen reaping benefits

Aaron Dorfman

Aaron Dorfman

Investments by individuals and foundations in long-term, systemic change are reaping measurable benefits for communities, a new report says.

Over a five-year period, 15 nonprofits in Minnesota received a total of $16.5 million for advocacy and organizing efforts, an investment that earned $138 for every dollar spent, says the study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

In total, the funding the nonprofits received resulted in $2.28 billion in benefits to Minnesota residents, the study says.

Those benefits included more students of color and immigrants gaining access to college, more former prisoners finding better jobs and improving their incomes, and higher wages for workers, the report says.

"When nonprofit organizations and foundations partner to tackle urgent issues in the state, they can achieve tremendous success," Aaron Dorfman, executive director of the committee, says in a statement. "It is especially effective when they use public-policy advocacy and engage directly the very people affected in the problem-solving process."

To boost their effectiveness, the study says, Minnesota foundations should increase the share of grant dollars targeted to advocacy and civic engagement; include nonprofit partners in foundations' strategic planning and grantmaking processes; and provide general operating support and long-term grants.

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