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Minnesota Common Grant

Democratizing philanthropy one grant at a time.


Thank you for using the Minnesota Common Grant as presented by the Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF).

To create this Minnesota Common Grant, MCF convened a working group of eight foundations and eight nonprofits who are named on the Acknowledgements page. The working group members received input from around 70 additional nonprofit and philanthropic leaders who joined focus groups, small group meetings and subcommittees to advance the concept. Much of this common grant parallels the common grant language of Philanthropy Massachusetts.

The common grant is offered with the same spirit behind MCF’s Principles for Philanthropy – with a spirit of invitation. We invite funders to use all or part of this tool as part of a commitment to removing unnecessary barriers between grantseekers and grant dollars. The value of the common grant lies in our collective commitment. When we commit to use this tool, together, there is vast potential for our positive impact.

Our goal in providing common application sections and common language for narrative application questions is to reduce the burden on nonprofits seeking grants. If an applicant could fill out one application that many funders accept, or find questions/fields worded the same way across applications, it would save hours of wordsmithing to address slight variations in questions.

Ready to Use the Common Grant?
The Philosophy Behind This Tool

The Minnesota Common Grant is a tool for democratizing philanthropy, one step at a time. As more funders adopt the common grant, Minnesota’s philanthropic sector advances toward a more equitable grantmaking approach. Using the common grant is one way to demonstrate alignment with MCF’s Principles for Philanthropy.

The Minnesota Common Grant can become one aspect of your grantmaking process. As your grantmaking evolves over time, so too will this tool. MCF will update the Common Grant regularly, based on current needs and community insights.

Consider engaging through the following steps:

  1. Pare back the grantmaking process. Consider whether you are asking nonprofits for only what you really need. Just like Marie Kondo says, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.” Carefully comb through your full grantmaking process to figure out what’s nice but unnecessary to the success of your grantmaking.
  2. Reduce your own work. By creating a simple Applicant Readiness Tool in place of a Letter of Inquiry (or before requesting an LOI), you can limit the number of off-target applications, which saves time for the funder and the nonprofit, alike. Check out the Applicant Readiness Tool being used to narrow applications for the Justice Innovation Prize.
  3. Adopt the Minnesota Common Grant. By adopting the common grant, you’re signaling to nonprofits that you value their time and you’re demonstrating your commitment to democratizing philanthropy. The Minnesota Common Grant sections and questions can be added to applications in grants management platforms such as akoyaGo, Foundant and others; or grantseekers can edit and submit the document as presented online.