Companion piece to the performance scorecard

Community Questions

graphic with question mark and yes

We created this section of the website to answer questions about how we work. Most of the questions here came through community outreach. (That outreach also informed our performance scorecard.)

Our goal is to make this useful and relevant. What else would you like us to include? We want to hear from you. Send us an idea for a question, any feedback you want to share or anything else you want us to know.

Community Questions

All our revenue comes from what we earn from investing the assets left by Archie Bush. We don’t fundraise or earn money in any other way. We know that, as an institution that came from wealth and grew its wealth over decades, we have benefited within an economy that excluded and harmed others. This was part of our motivation to redistribute $100 million of the Foundation’s wealth in 2022-23 to Black and Native individuals in our region, as a reparative action. We are intentional about investing our assets in ways that align with our mission and values.

The communities we serve are involved in our work in many ways. For example, we include past Fellows and other community leaders in selecting Bush Fellows. We also ensure community perspectives inform our grantmaking – from working with advisors to develop program strategies to getting community references about individual grants. We regularly survey people who directly experience our programs – including both applicants and people who help with selection – and make changes based on their feedback.

Yes! In the last three years (2021-2023), we made 44 grants and/or PRIs to organizations we hadn’t funded before. Our Community Grant Partners made grants to even more organizations across the region that were new to us. We know great ideas can come from any person or organization in the region, so we focus on making opportunities available to anyone. Learn more about our efforts to be more radically open through open-process grantmaking.

Yes! We believe organizations of all types and sizes can lead and support transformational change. Of our last three years (2021-2023) of grants and PRIs:

  • about 18% of grants awarded were to organizations with annual expenses of under $500K, with grant awards making up about 8% of all total granted funds
  • about 9% of grants awarded were to organizations that incorporated within three years prior to our investment, with grant awards making up about 6% of all total granted funds
  • about 9% of grants awarded were to support projects or initiatives working through a fiscal sponsor, with grant awards making up about 5% of total granted funds

*”% of grants” is how many grants of all grants; “% of granted funds” is how much of all grant funding

Yes! We know that operating support is the most valuable kind of support for organizations. We offer two operating grant opportunities: (1) Ecosystem grants, which support the organizations that others tell us are the most valuable in supporting problem solving in the region and (2) the Bush Prize, which returned in 2023 to provides creative capital to organizations that have a track record of making good ideas happen. More than $8.4M was paid out through these two programs in 2023.

There are way more great ideas and talented leaders than we can fund. We say no a lot more than we get to say yes. Applications can be time consuming, so we do webinars and offer 1-on-1 conversations to help people figure out if our programs are a good fit. We also try to make our initial application processes simple to minimize effort.

  • In 2023, 7 of the 162 Community Innovation proposals we reviewed were funded (about 4%). This percentage changes year-to-year based on the numbers of applications we receive and awards we make.
  • In 2023, 24 of the 590 Bush Fellowship applicants were selected (about 4%). This percentage changes year-to-year based on the number of applications we receive and Fellowships we award (up to 24 each year).

We consider a variety of things in serving the region equitably, including access to philanthropy and other factors. In 2023 we invested about $42.2M in the region through grants, Bush Fellowships and program-related investments (PRIs). Of this:

  • North Dakota received about 17% of our total funding, which is about $9 per capita
  • South Dakota received about 26% or about $12 per capita
  • Minnesota received about 57% or about $4 per capita

*These calculations include giving to Native people and Native nations—learn more on our performance scorecard. Also, an additional $50M grant as part of our Community Trust Fund work is NOT included in our geographic calculations.

Between 2021-2023, about 8% of our grants focused specifically on ideas and initiatives in communities of 2,500 or fewer people. Additionally, nearly 71% of grants focused on ideas and initiatives that included rural places as part of a larger regional focus. Part of how we're working to increase connections in rural places is through partnerships. We have community grant partners that have relationships throughout our region and we provide Bush funding to them to operate the Bush Prize and an open grant program for the communities they serve.

Bush Fellows have a wide range of backgrounds. We actively promote the Fellowship to attract applicants representing different places in the region and different cultural communities. We encourage people who represent a variety of roles, organizations and issues—including both inside and outside the nonprofit sector—to apply. While the following data aren’t all we collect, hopefully they offer a few insights. Learn more about the Bush Fellows.

  • 2019-2023 Fellows by areas in which they work: academic – 18%; business – 13%; nonprofit – 39%; public – 30%
  • 2019-2023 Fellows by geography: MN – 76%; ND – 10%; SD – 14%
  • 2019-2023 Fellows by race/ethnicity: American Indian/Alaska Native – 25%; Asian/Asian American – 17%; Black/African American – 37%; Hispanic or Latino – 9%; White only – 14%; multiracial – 7%