Social Business Ventures

Help People Do Good Through Business

Social business ventures look beyond the bottom line to measure success. Rather than simply working to generate profits and create value for shareholders, they apply business strategies to generate social good and create value for their community.

The guiding goal of our Social Business Ventures initiative is to make our region the best place in the country to launch and grow social purpose business.

There are a lot of ways that businesses can create value in a community. We are particularly interested in supporting the growth of businesses that provide a product or service that addresses a social issue.

We plan to make investments in a handful of efforts to encourage and support more entrepreneurs to create and grow social business ventures. We also want to encourage more investors to consider social business ventures in their portfolio. 

We also offer Ecosystem grants which provide general operating support to organizations that help create an environment for our efforts to be successful.


We are soliciting proposals to establish and operate a social business seed investment fund to invest in social businesses in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same area. The purpose of the fund will be to help local social businesses grow their enterprises and impact as well as generate a financial return for fund investors. 

Responses are due by close of business on February 23, 2018. Next Street is managing this process on our behalf, so please direct questions to Frances Dougherty at  

Download the RFP (PDF)

We engaged Next Street to help us explore how best to support the capital needs of local social purpose businesses. View the slideshow of their findings.

About Our Investments

We work year-round – in consultation with community stakeholders, issue experts, our Board of Directors and others – to identify and develop promising investment opportunities.

After an extensive due diligence process, we make direct investments to support efforts that are best positioned to help accomplish our goals. These are typically significant, multi-year commitments to develop a promising idea or fund an existing program.

We do not accept unsolicited proposals for funding through our strategic initiatives. There will be occasions when we issue a call for proposals, however. The best way to learn about these opportunities is to sign up to receive Foundation news updates or follow us on us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Organizations can apply for our Ecosystem grants, which help sustain organizations that create unique and significant value for our grantees, Fellows, Rebuilders and others. These grants provide as much as $200,000 over two years in general operating support for organizations that:

  • Provide critical data and analysis 
  • Spread great ideas and build capacity 
  • Advance public awareness and policy
  • Build and support leadership networks

Learn more about Ecosystem grants.

Other Opportunities

Business leaders can also seek funding through our fellowship program:

Leadership Program