Minnesota NPOs Pushing For $200M in Aid
Deal Done For City of Hope To Acquire Cancer Network

A proposed Minnesota Nonprofit Relief Fund would provide $200 million to the North Star State’s nonprofits focused on small, rural human services and culturally-specific nonprofits, with grants running from $50,000 to $150,000.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) and more than a dozen partners released the plan last month, and organized a Twitterstorm on Feb. 14 encouraging advocates to tweet messages of support between 11 a.m. and noon for the relief fund with the hashtag #Relief4Nonprofits and tagging state legislators to pass the measure.

At the end of the 2021 legislative session, MCN made a similar request for $50 million. The new request for four times that amount is due to new data, according to MCN, from its latest COVID Impact Report, coupled with Minnesota’s projected $7.7-billion budget surplus.

Almost half of nonprofits (47%) said they could only operate for 12 months or less before exhibiting financial distress yet 44% of nonprofits are still seeing an increase in demand for services. The nonprofit sector is the third largest sector of employers in the country and accounts for 14% of the workforce in Minnesota.

Nonprofits have largely been left out of state and federal relief programs, according to MCN, with no designated relief dollars for recovery. Meanwhile other industries had access to programs with dollars specific to meet their needs. Less than 4% of all Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans went to nonprofits and less than half of eligible Minnesota nonprofits obtained a PPP loan.

The proposed relief fund, authored in the legislature by State Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Olmsted), is based on the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s (DEED) 2020 Small Business Relief Fund, which was a lottery process. DEED will accept applications, access eligibility, and determine which organizations win the lottery for each of six grant categories.

Based on feedback received during listening events and questionnaires to nonprofits in spring 2021, MCN aims to ensure the fund will:

  • Make the application as simple as possible
  • Require no or very minimal reporting from individual nonprofits
  • Providing general operating support
  • Prioritize categories: small, greater Minnesota, human services and culturally-specific nonprofits.

Grants would range between $50,000 and $150,000 across six grant categories, and prioritize small, rural, human services, and culturally-specific nonprofits. Half of the funds would be earmarked for nonprofits in the seven-county metropolitan area and the other half reserved for greater Minnesota nonprofits. Funds would be at the state level, either through the state’s general fund or remaining money from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Some 40% percent of total funding would go toward human services organizations of less than $1.5 million in revenue that provide services anywhere: