Impact Foundation wins 2015 Bush Prize for community innovation

Monday, December, 7th, 2015

Impact Foundation wins 2015 Bush Prize for community innovation graphic

Impact Foundation has been recognized with a 2015 Bush Prize for Community Innovation, one of eight organizations with a track record of making great ideas happen.

Eight organizations were chosen by Bush Foundation, based in St. Paul, Minn., for demonstrating a pattern of inclusive, collaborative and resourceful processes that solve community challenges. Bush Foundation viewed the models it recognized as highly effective and sustainable.

Impact Foundation received the prize for its work to teach and prepare nonprofit organizations how to tap into the $308 billion intergenerational transfer of wealth in North Dakota. This wealth transfer is forecast now and over the coming decades (2007-2061) in the state. This wealth can be used by nonprofits to expand programs and better serve people.

In North Dakota, giving to charity by individuals is placed at $95.3 billion over the period. The foundation also serves western Minnesota, which also has an entrenched culture of giving by an older generation of people who’ve saved and sacrificed.

In the United States, a consistent 80 percent of annual charitable giving is by people who give while they live and through their estates. Impact Foundation launched Impact Institute in 2005 to teach charities how to become exceptional at fundraising. Teaching is backed with coaching – one-on-one problem solving for charity leaders to troubleshoot their specific development issues. The idea is to ‘teach nonprofits how to fish’ – raising their own money from passionate donors, rather than foundations ‘feeding them for a day’ through small grants. This capacity to raise sustainable income removes the first barrier to greater results for people they serve: funding.

Through Impact Institute, more than 350 nonprofits across North Dakota and western Minnesota have been trained and thousands from their organizations are better equipped to tell their mission stories and raise more money.

Bottom-line numbers testify that Impact Foundation aimed its strategy wisely. A set of 24 nonprofits studied elevated their public support from $32 million in donations in 2007 to $63 million just four years later (study used the most recently-available IRS 990 forms). That was a total in just four years of $61 million more for serving people.

In 2008, DMF and Impact began Giving Hearts Day, the region’s first online giving day. What started as a swarthy band of 38 charities and $479,028 raised grew in 2015 to become 287 charities that raised more than $6.9 million in 2015 through more than 30,000 donations. There are 328 organizations set to participate in 2016.

“Innovation can be difficult to define in words, but the track record of these eight organizations paints a clear picture of the concept,” said Bush President Jennifer Ford Reedy. “They all think outside the box, and are open, resourceful and completely invested in finding solutions for the region.”

Bush Prize winners receive a package that includes a promotional video and an unrestricted grant equal to 25 percent of the organization’s prior fiscal year budget, up to $500,000. In the case of Impact Foundation, this amounted to $287,000.

“Through 10 years of training and coaching, a vast number of regional charities are reaching their full potential. We have an exciting vision for the future to expand our capacity-building in new areas including board development, leadership and nonprofit marketing,” said Pat Traynor, CEO of Impact Foundation. “Planning is well underway to explore how to best invest in further capacity building for nonprofits of the region through this award.”

Impact Foundation receives leadership from a community board that is chaired by Dan Carey, president of Vision Bank. Its additional directors are Dr. Susan Mathison, founder of Catalyst Medical Center, and former NFL football player Phil Hansen, now a businessman and NDSU Bison football color commentator.

Impact Foundation’s long-time partners Alex Stern Family Foundation and Dakota Medical Foundation can proudly share in the honor of this award because of their vision in launching the foundation, their guidance and continued investment in its mission.

The Bush Foundation received 110 applications for the 2015 Bush Prize. Panels of community members within each of the three states chose winners from their respective state.

“The Bush Prize is an investment in the future of organizations that know how to think bigger and think differently,” said Mandy Ellerton, Community Innovation director. “We want to take some daily pressure off these extraordinary organizations to give them the time and space to think creatively about their next steps and new challenges.”

The Grand Forks Housing Authority is another North Dakota recipient of the 2015 Bush Prize. Winners in Minnesota are: Hope Community, Minneapolis; Lakewood Health System, Staples; Minnesota Valley Action Council, Mankato. In South Dakota, awardees are Cheyenne River Youth Project, Eagle Butte; GROW South Dakota, Sisseton; Partnership Rapid City – Teen Up, Rapid City

The Bush Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. More information is available at