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About Us

Investing in the Future

We invest in innovative community-based, community-led solutions to ensure safety, opportunity and pathways to economic security for women, girls, gender-expansive people and families across Minnesota.

Our Mission

The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota invests in ending systemic inequities and driving innovation for gender and racial justice.

Our Vision

A world of opportunity where all women, girls, gender-expansive people across intersecting identities – and their families – have the power to create and lead safe, prosperous lives.

How We Define “Woman”

Women and girls includes anyone who identifies as a woman and/or girl. Our programs are inclusive of transgender and gender-expansive people that experience gender-based structural harm.

Diving Deeper

Our Work

We leverage community investments, research, policy and advocacy, strategic communications, and cross-sector convening to ensure gender and racial justice.

Our People

Together, we are building power to create a world of safety, economic justice, holistic well-being & reproductive justice, and leadership for all women, girls, and gender-expansive people in Minnesota.

Our History

When founded in 1983, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota became the nation’s very first statewide community foundation dedicated to gender equality.

“When the young women in our state do better,
we’re all going to do better.”

Hope Hoffman
Cabinet Alumna, Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota

A Just and Feminist Future

Transformation in philanthropy requires looking at our role in social change and where we need to challenge and reimagine. As a community foundation, when we talk about systems change, we’re talking about changing the conditions that impact every woman, girl, and gender-expansive person’s life — for the better.

Our WFM Ecosystem, inspired by the original feminist Mother Nature, asks:
Where you see yourself in our ecosystem?

Our Research

We Conduct Research to Listen, Learn, and Drive Action

Data show that women, girls, and gender-expansive people, particularly from Black, Indigenous, and communities of color and those who live in Greater Minnesota, experience systemic barriers in economics, safety, health, and leadership that create longstanding disparities and limit their ability to thrive.

We conduct qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the lives of women and girls within communities, identify barriers, and fund solutions.

Woman reading equity in design report


Want to learn more?

What is a community foundation?

Community foundations are the original place-based grantmakers, and bring together grassroots leaders and donors to improve the lives of people in our communities.

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities. Community foundations vary widely in asset size, ranging from less than $100,000 to more than $1.7 billion.

Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. In 2011, they gave an estimated $4.3 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in fields that included the arts and education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief. The Community Foundations National Standards Board confirms operational excellence in six key areas—mission, structure, and governance; resource development; stewardship and accountability; grantmaking and community leadership; donor relations; and communications. Foundations that comply with these standards can display the official National Standards Seal. Right now nearly 500 community foundations have earned the seal.

How does a community foundation work?

A community foundation is governed by a board of directors of community leaders and is administered by professional staff. Operating expenses are paid from an annual fund fee and from gifts designated by donors to cover foundation operating and program costs.

How do community foundations differ from private foundations?

A community foundation is supported by a broad and ever-widening group of unrelated individuals, families, corporations, and institutions. The only thing that connects all of our donors is a desire to improve local communities.

Because of their broad base of support, community foundations are classified by the IRS as publicly-supported charities. This gives community foundations tax advantages not enjoyed by private foundations.

Private foundations, by contrast, are generally supported by a single individual, family, or business. Rarely does it make sense to establish a private foundation if the principal endowment is not large.

What is an endowment?

An endowment is a type of fund that is set up to produce income for charitable purposes. A typical endowment fund will distribute only the income generated from investments; its principal will never be distributed. A typical distribution rate from a foundation endowment fund is 4-5% per year. The Women’s Foundation of Minnesota distribution rate is 6%, as recommended by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

An endowment fund is likely (though not, of course, certain) to remain permanent as long as principal is never invaded, and as long as the distribution rate reflects the long-term growth patterns of investments.

What are the tax advantages of donating to a foundation?

We offer the best tax advantages for charitable donations available under law, qualified under section 501(c)(3) of the internal revenue code. By avoiding classification as a private foundation, we can offer greater tax advantages than a private foundation.

Annual & Financial Reports

Research + Grantmaking + Policy + Cross-Sector Partnerships

Each year, we invest millions of dollars in innovative, community-led solutions across the state so that all women, girls, and gender-expansive people in Minnesota have safety, economic justice, well-being, and leadership.