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Principles History

Developed in the context of building public trust.

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The original work of writing the Minnesota Council on Foundations’ Principles for Grantmakers took place in 1994-1995 through the work of MCF’s Philanthropy and Public Trust Task Force. The committee was named “philanthropy and public trust” in order to demonstrate a commitment to upholding standards beyond basic legal requirements – standards that would uphold the public’s trust in philanthropic organizations.

Former MCF President Bill King explained the effort in these words: Purposeful work in creating standards and identifying exceptional philanthropic practices keeps us engaged in continual improvements, brings others new to the field into the fold, and demonstrates to all constituencies our commitment to not just maintain but also seek the public’s trust.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations was founded in 1969 by several leading foundations at a time of increased scrutiny, as Congress had recently passed the first substantial regulation of philanthropy. From that beginning, MCF’s work focused on ethics, law and “lived” standards in the field. Our role was to advance the work of foundations in fostering public trust.

In 1996, MCF became the first regional philanthropic association to adopt a set of principles for foundations and corporate giving programs. Since that time, MCF members have subscribed to the principles each year through their membership renewal. Over the years, various regional, national and international organizations adopted MCF’s Principles for Grantmakers. MCF approved an updated version of the Principles for Grantmakers in 2006.

In 2020-2021, MCF reconvened the Philanthropy and Public Trust Task Force to again rewrite the principles, taking into account a heightened focus on equity and anti-racism and new demands for transparency and engagement from community partners. This time, committee members included a balance of grantmakers and grantee partners – committed to sharing a holistic view of philanthropy’s work across Minnesota. We offer these principles for the betterment of our organizations and our communities.

2021 Philanthropy and Public Trust Task Force

  • Angie Miller, Trustee, Northland Foundation
  • Armando Camacho, President & CEO, Wilder Foundation
  • Bo Thao Urabe, Executive Director & Network Director, Coalition of Asian American Leaders
  • Bukata Hayes, Executive Director, Mankato Diversity Council
  • Claire Chang, Senior Program Officer, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation
  • Heather Logelin, President, St. Croix Valley Foundation
  • Joel Luedtke, Program Director, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation
  • Kate Barr, President & CEO, Propel Nonprofits
  • Kelly Webster, Senior Program Officer & Legal Counsel, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation
  • Leslie Wright, Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations, Mitchell Hamline School of Law
  • Mercedes Plendl, Program Manager, Better Way Foundation
  • Molly Matheson Gruen, Program Operations Director, Bush Foundation*
  • Nichol Higdon, Vice President of Finance, McKnight Foundation
  • Paul Williams, President & CEO, Project for Pride in Living*
  • Sarah Duniway, Partner, Lathrop GPM LLP
  • Wendy Merrick, Program Director, West Central Initiative

* Committee co-chair

MCF Contributing Staff

  • Susie Brown, President
  • Kristen Cullen, Member Engagement and Grants Manager
  • Erin Jordan, Director of Marketing and Communications
  • Paul Masiarchin, Director of Member Services
  • Josh Vang, Member Services Manager

Thank You

MCF is deeply grateful for the work that each committee member contributed to this project. We also extend our thanks to Medica Foundation for sponsoring this work. 

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