Cross-Sector Approach

Our Foundation purpose statement calls out the importance of creative problem solving to make our region better for everyone, within and across sectors. This reflects our belief that the biggest challenges require the combined strengths and efforts of nonprofits, government and business.

We consider this when looking at our portfolio of grants across all our programs to ensure we are building problem-solving capacity within and across sectors.

Nonprofits. Most of our grant funding goes to nonprofits for their critical roles in building capacity in communities and bringing innovative solutions and practices to a range of needs. Nonprofits also play a central role – and often receive the funding – for collaborative change efforts that support business and government problem solving and help multiply impact. In addition to our direct support for nonprofits, we fund a number of efforts to build the problem-solving capacity of nonprofits in the region – like our current Ecosystem grants to Propel Nonprofits, African American Leadership Forum and Vision West North Dakota.

Government. The public sector has extraordinary power to address our region’s most pressing problems. Without a government that is responsive and effective, it is difficult to make significant, and sustainable positive change in any nation or community. We also know that our grantmaking dollars are small compared to the resources that governments in our region spend every year. So, we look for the highest-impact use our resources can have to benefit what government already is spending. Examples of grants to support government capacity to solve problems include recent grants to the State of North Dakota to support student-centered learning, and to the State of Minnesota for a new approach to tribal relations, as well as creating and supporting the Native Governance Center.

Business. Of the three sectors, business employs the most people and produces the largest share of GDP. What business does and doesn't do is really important to how well our region works for everyone. There are many ways to do good through business. Most businesses are employing people and providing some good or service that people need. Beyond this, many businesses work to create positive benefit in the communities they serve through their own philanthropy or socially responsible business practices. Throughout our region, we see lots of good things happening through business leadership and want to encourage more. Current examples of grants to build capacity to solve problems through business include our support of the Finnovation Fellows and Initiators Fellowship. This is also a focus of our impact investing approach.

We are always looking to fund collaborative work across sectors. Most of our Community Innovation grants support cross-sector work, with key players coming together to work in a new way. Our belief in the power of cross-sector efforts is also evident in our support of cross-sector leadership networks like the African American Leadership Forum and organizations like Dakota Resources that help support and integrate nonprofit, government and business strategies to do good.