Minnesota State Grants and Contracts Coalition

Empty Minnesota Capitol chamber with empty seats, the American and Minnesota state flags, and statues of prominent former Minnesota legislators.

Advocating for reforms to the state’s grantmaking & contracting policies and procedures, in ways that center the interests of Minnesota nonprofits.

State government depends on community-based nonprofits to provide efficient and effective services that would be more costly if provided directly by the state or by others.

Each year, Minnesota’s state government invests hundreds of millions of dollars in the nonprofit sector. The nonprofit sector, as a whole, earns about a third of its total revenue by providing services under contracts and agreements with governments. For some areas of the nonprofit sector- the financial implications of the partnership with government are even more dramatic. On average, human service nonprofit budgets are made up of about 70% government funds- these are called “grants” in Minnesota- but the majority of which really behave as contracts.

Many eligible nonprofits currently face significant barriers in accessing state funding.

Rural-based, small, and/or BIPOC-serving nonprofits tend to receive disproportionately less state funding than larger, established, and/or Twin Cities-based nonprofits. We also know that state agencies face their own obstacles such as limited funding for grants administration, lack of technology to support grants management, and more.

We recognize that many of these reforms could potentially be beneficial for state agencies and their staff- reducing administrative burden while strengthening our mutual capability to focus on improving outcomes and strengthening our communities’ well-being across the state.

If policy provisions are developed without input from nonprofits or without consideration of how nonprofits will be impacted, it’s likely the provisions will be at best ineffective and at worst harmful.

We need you to advocate with us for positive reform! Complete our Interest Form to receive updates on state grant reform efforts and opportunities for nonprofits to get involved.

Coalition FAQ

What is the Minnesota State Grants Coalition?

A group focused on grants & contract reform- strengthening and improving the nonprofit/government partnership.

This coalition is being formed to advocate for reforms to the state of Minnesota’s grantmaking & contracting policies and procedures, in ways that center the interests of Minnesota nonprofits.

Recently the state has invested in strengthening its grant management capabilities with a focus on expanding access to state funding and addressing funding inequities. We are at a critical juncture in the early stages of this work at the State, and it is important that nonprofits’ expertise and lived experience are incorporated into any changes designed to strengthen Minnesota’s grantmaking and contracting.

This coalition is open to all nonprofits and individuals who have experience with state grants or contracts or who hope to work with a state grant or contract in the future. Our work is to support all nonprofits that partner with the state in a grant or contract, with particular focus on those who have historically had disproportionate challenges accessing these types of funds, including greater Minnesota rural-based organizations, small organizations, and BIPOC-led and –serving organizations. For maximum effectiveness, we need nonprofits of all types to provide input and amplify messages.

This coalition will aspire to advocate and promote reform policy which centers the interests of nonprofits engaging in government funded work and strengthens the positive impact nonprofits have in our communities.

Why is this coalition being created?

Building a unified voice for nonprofits is critical to shape the future of State funding for nonprofits.

Nonprofit organizations are a critical partner for the state of Minnesota in strengthening our state’s workforce, strengthening our state’s economic infrastructure, and strengthening the well-being of our communities. Yet, this partnership is currently fraught- the state funding and compliance environment that nonprofits are forced to operate within are often archaic and inefficient for both nonprofit organizations and government agencies alike.

Taxpayer dollars are deployed across the state through complex contractual partnerships with nonprofit organizations on the ground. The state “outsources” much taxpayer funded work to nonprofit organizations who are embedded within communities around the state. In fiscal year 2020-2021, the state provided funding through grants and contracts of $1.5 billion. This is a significant source of funding for the nonprofit sector.

It is imperative that nonprofits are included in discussions and decisions about changes to state grantmaking policies and procedures.

Doing this work as a coalition is critical. Many nonprofits would like to see changes happen, but have deep concerns about negative consequences and retaliation for speaking up. Additionally, many organizations do not have capacity to advocate for change.

By coming together we have the opportunity to present a unified and compelling case which can carry more significant weight in shaping policy decisions than any one nonprofit can do alone. 

What will the Coalition advocate on?

We’ll be focused on the long-standing pain points nonprofits experience with State funding.

Specifics are to be determined by the coalition. Some issues that have long been pain points and are ripe for reform include: sufficient administrative cost rate(s), simplification of application and reporting procedures, flexibility in contract terms, multi-year contracts, adjustable contract funding levels, timely payments, payment process, upfront payments, fair wages, and centralized technical assistance, capacity building, coordination, and data collection.

The work will be both legislative (proposing bill language to the Legislature) and administrative (advancing this work through the Department of Administration’s Office of Grants Management and other state agencies).

Who leads the Coalition?

We have some committed leadership, but we also need you!

The two entities most involved in creating this coalition are the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and Metropolitan Alliance of Connected Communities. MCN and MACC are able to provide strategic advocacy guidance, to do the logistical work of convening the coalition and to act as the steering committee for the first phase of building the coalition.

What these two entities cannot do is know the full complexities of how state grants and contracts with nonprofits are being implemented by the 27 state agencies that provide grants. To determine the reforms needed most, the coalition must understand the current reality from the viewpoint of myriad nonprofit experiences.

My nonprofit doesn’t have a lobbyist. Can we be involved?

Yes. We want nonprofits from as many sectors, as many sizes, and as many areas of the state as possible.

A major part of the coalition’s work will be to prioritize what reforms are needed in state grantmaking, and to do that we’ll need to hear from you- and from as many types of nonprofits as possible.

All organizations with genuine interest in the subject who express interest will be welcome to the effort.

Are nonprofits allowed to do this work?

Yes, nonprofits are absolutely allowed to lobby for changes in law and other public policy, with some restrictions.

For most 501(c)(3) nonprofits, federal tax law requires that no “substantial part” of its overall activities consists of lobbying. For most nonprofits, it is unlikely that being a part of this coalition would be a substantial part of your work.

In addition, under the federal definition of lobbying, very little advocacy work is actually lobbying. We can share more information when appropriate with organizations that are concerned about lobbying limits. 

How can my organization get involved and/or support this effort?

Complete the Coalition Interest Form

I have more questions. Who do I contact?

Connect with:


Marie Ellis, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits

Trisha Reinwald, MACC