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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Minnesota charities show signs of economic rebound

  • There are fewer charities in Minnesota than there were seven years ago, but the number of nonprofit employees and service locations are on the rise. Industry experts say those trends are signs of an economic rebound after the recession caused many nonprofits to merge or close.
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  • There are fewer charities in Minnesota than there were seven years ago, but the number of nonprofit employees and service locations are on the rise. Industry experts say those trends are signs of an economic rebound after the recession caused many nonprofits to merge or close.
    The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Sunday that charitable giving in Minnesota also seems healthier.
    Many nonprofits have had to change the way they do business in recent years, in order to keep themselves afloat. Experts say the nonprofit industry seems to have stabilized after the recession, and positions or agencies that have closed are being replaced by similar nonprofits and programs.
    Ann Mulholland, vice president of grants and programs at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners and the St. Paul Foundation, told the newspaper that nonprofits are "absorbing other organizations, or parts of work from other organizations, and then those other organizations narrow."
    She said groups are then asking for funding to do more than deliver a particular service. They're also seeking broader changes in the system. For example, some nonprofits are taking part in a campaign to convince major employers not to ask about criminal history on job applications.
    When hospitals, colleges and universities are excluded, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits says the number of nonprofit jobs in Minnesota grew 2 percent per year from 2007 to 2012. That's during a time when the for-profit sector lost jobs.
    Project for Pride in Living Enterprises, which helps prepare felons and residents of halfway houses for work, is one charity that had to make tough choices to stay afloat. It merged with Rebuild Resources and the groups plan to rebrand themselves in January as Momentum. While some staff members were cut, and a logo and custom apparel shop was closed, three worksites in the metro area have helped Momentum stay on firm financial ground, said Janet Ludden, Momentum's president.
    "Yes, nonprofits have to think differently," she said. "One of the challenges is understanding that duplication is not going to be successful, and (to) find their own area of expertise, and not be all things to all people.
    "We've had to narrow our focus at Momentum — sort of took the best from each organization," Ludden continued. "And we made some hard choices to eliminate the things that weren't working."

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