Principles & Practices

Principled Philanthropy

Philanthropy in Minnesota has a history of being ethical and highly principled. As part of the Minnesota Council on Foundations continuing efforts to help foundations maintain and improve the effectiveness of their work, MCF has prepared several comprehensive resources to help foundations conduct their work legally and ethically.

Principles for Members

Although MCF encourages all grantmakers to follow the guidelines set forth in these documents, subscribing to the Principles for Grantmakers is required for MCF members. Subscribing to the Principles is an essential part of MCF's commitment to public trust and accountability.

Principles for Grantmakers

As a community of grantmakers, we embrace philanthropy's role in a civil society. We are leading advocates for public policy to sustain robust philanthropy. We work strategically through grantmaking and other means to improve the vitality and health of our communities, to educate our members and the field, and to achieve our collective mission of strengthening and expanding philanthropy. 

1. Ethics and Law Principle
To sustain public trust by adhering to the highest ethical principles and practices and abiding by all state and federal laws that govern philanthropy.

2. Effective Governance Principle
To achieve effective governance by ensuring performance in the areas of stewardship of assets, donor intent, fiduciary responsibility and sound decision-making.

3. Mission and Goals Principle
To be purposeful in our philanthropy by having a clearly stated mission and explicit goals.

4. Engaged Learning Principle
To foster continuous learning and reflection by engaging board members, staff, grantees and donors in thoughtful dialogue and education.

5. Respectful Relationships Principle
To build constructive relationships with applicants, grantees and donors by ensuring mutual respect, candor, confidentiality and understanding.

6. Transparency Principle
To achieve transparency in our relationships with the public, applicants, grantees and donors by being clear, consistent and timely in our communications with them.

7. Diversity Principle
To reflect and engage the diversity of the communities we serve in our varying roles as grantmakers, boards and employers, economic entities and civic participants.

8. Self-Assessment and Commitment Principle
To uphold the highest standards by regularly assessing ourselves against these principles and committing to implement them.

Principles adopted by the MCF Board of Directors in 2006; developed from the original 1996 version.