Rooted Philanthropic Subscribes to Principles for Philanthropy

When Rooted Philanthropic was established, we joined MCF in order to learn from and engage with our local community of grantmakers. We also committed to the Principles for Philanthropy.

The Minnesota Council on Foundations (MCF) was founded in 1969 by several foundations at a time of increased scrutiny. Congress had recently passed the first substantial regulation of philanthropy, reforming the philanthropic and charitable system to address abuses and create regulatory consistency and oversight. From that beginning, MCF’s work focused on ethics, law and “lived” standards in the field. MCF worked to advance the efforts of foundations in fostering public trust.

Since 1996, MCF members have subscribed to a set of principles and practices, affirming their efforts and intent to operate with these principles as a guide in order to foster and increase public trust. In 2020-2021, MCF convened a group of philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to rewrite the principles, taking into account a heightened focus on equity and anti-racism, as well as new demands for transparency and engagement from community partners. Today, more than ever, foundations are being called to address structural inequities and systemic racism; engage with and share power with community; deploy more of our assets beyond the required 5%; act with greater transparency about practices and processes.

Learn more:  MCF Principles and Practices.

The power of these principles is in their collective impact. As more foundations commit to these principles and engage in learning and practices that promote them – ethical leadership, equity and justice, continual learning, transparency, proximity and engagement with community – we collectively increase our impact, going from potential to real change.The goal is not perfection.  No one institution is perfect.  Rather, the goal is to commit to a journey that actively engages the foundation within each of the eight principles. Each foundation starts with where they are at and moves from there to realize the potential of each principle. Where there is opportunity, there is growth. By engaging in learning and change, the philanthropic sector increases the public trust and lives up to its ultimate goal of “love of humankind”.

Rooted Philanthropic Subscribes to the Principles

When Rooted Philanthropic was established, we joined MCF in order to learn from and engage with our local community of grantmakers. We also committed to the Principles for Philanthropy.  Here are a few examples of how that will practically show up in our work:

Stewardship:  One of our values is Generosity we believe that the urgency of the moment requires we give more of our time, talent and treasure than is legally required. To this end, our founders have committed to making grants well beyond the 5% Minimum Distribution required by the IRS.  With assets of approximately $8M, we will give away $2M in FY 2023.  In FY2022, we distributed $1M.  Each year our founders contribute to the assets, which allows us to maintain a fairly consistent level of resources. Furthermore, the foundation will sunset in 25 years, while continuing to distribute well beyond the minimum requirements.

Community Engagement: Another value is Community-Led – We engage with and listen to community because the solutions to community needs are best addressed by those most impacted by these issues. As we have articulated our funding pillars, we have convened multiple East Side community stakeholders to advise and give feedback and input on the needs and solutions to community issues. When we convene, we value people’s expertise and time by providing stipends and food. We are committed to ongoing community engagement to iterate and refine our funding strategies. We have also seated an Advisory Board of folks with lived experience and expertise in our funding areas. 

Equity & Justice: An additional value is Equity – We recognize that social and economic imbalances require intentional inclusion where all can participate and prosper. Our focus is the East Side of Saint Paul, with its diversity and multiple ethnic communities. The East Side has been a landing spot for so many cultural communities for many generations where they have established deep roots and raised families. Yet the East Side has seen decades of neglect and disinvestment. As we begin investing heavily in the East Side, we are prioritizing efforts by BIPOC leaders, institutions and entrepreneurs to ensure that our resources go where the need is the greatest and the opportunities are maximized.

As a newer foundation in the Minnesota philanthropic landscape, we are not bound by the conventions of our past.  Our founders are entrepreneurs and as such they are looking for innovative ways to deploy resources that may or may not be tried and true.  Our first priority is our community, and while we subscribe to the adage of “first do no harm” we more importantly subscribe to the idea that philanthropy should take risks, meeting the community where they are and taking their lead, and finding ways to plant deep roots that create noticeable impact. 

As founder Chuck Runyon says, “We are not the heroes of this story. Those who do the work in the community are.”  Our job is to find and uplift their work in any way we can.