spring 2009


Resourcefulness Rules the Day in the Current Economy

By now, nobody needs to turn on the nightly news to know that times are tough. We are all living it. Nearly everyone is trying to do more with less.

Businesses across northeastern Minnesota have been hit with reduced demand for products and services, shut-downs, lay-offs, and cash flow struggles in a tight capital market.  

Nonprofit community organizations meanwhile are faced with increased demand for services while government funding, private donations, and grant support is declining as foundations sustain investment losses.

"Nonprofit, business, and community leaders, as well as funders have to be more focused, efficient, and creative," said Tom Renier, Northland Foundation's President.

"Putting our heads together – and pulling together – is the way to get through lean times."
–Tom Renier
But, not all the news is bad news. All around are examples of resourcefulness shining a light in a gloomy economy such as one recent Northland Foundation grant recipient, the Duluth Green Jobs Coalition. This collaborative effort engages several foundations as well as nonprofit service organizations to share expertise and resources. The result is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Coalition goals include positioning northeastern Minnesota to benefit economically from the coming wave of green initiatives and business, to reduce long-term impact to the environment, and to increase living-wage employment in the region with a special focus on job training and jobs for the underemployed.

The Northland Foundation likewise is committed to doing all it can to sustain both critical human services and jobs in the Arrowhead Region.

Northland's core priorities, established 23 years ago, remain essentially the same today: Economic Development and Diversification, Job Creation and Business Assistance, Opportunities for Self-Reliance, Connecting Kids and Communities and Strengthening Families, and Aging with Independence.

"Now more than ever it is important that our staff and Board of Trustees stay true to our mission and priorities," explained Renier, "in order to have the greatest impact."

Despite endowment losses similar to those experienced by foundations across the board, the Northland Foundation has committed to maintaining its current grantmaking and business lending levels as one strategy to support northeastern Minnesota during what is predicted to be an extended economic downturn.

Northland also realizes that even healthy, stable nonprofits and businesses may need more or different types of assistance to remain viable and vital right now.

"First and foremost, Northland is a grantmaker and business lender. But, we also provide encouragement, technical assistance, and direction toward additinal sources of funding, financing, or program support, " said Renier. "Putting our heads together – and pulling together – is the way to get through lean times."


To assist nonprofit organizations, the Northland Foundation has posted information and financial management worksheets such as a sample nonprofit chart of accounts, financial ratios, a cashflow tool, and other worksheets on our Web site.