Donations from outside of Minnesota are flooding Twin Cities nonprofits in a surge of giving after the death of George Floyd and the riots that destroyed parts of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Organizations that were looted or burned, or that work with racial justice issues, have seen an unusual uptick in out-of-state donations as the Twin Cities remain the epicenter of a global outcry over Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Local foundations and nonprofits also have launched rebuilding funds. On Wednesday, the Pohlad family, the owner of the Twins, announced it was dedicating $25 million to racial justice, partnering with organizations to address inequities.
More than $8 million has streamed in on the fundraising website GiveMN, mostly from out-of-state donors — more money in the past two weeks than all the money given during March, April and most of May to help nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s incredible that the support is coming in and it’s going to need to continue,” said Jake Blumberg, who heads GiveMN. “It’s really heartening … the response has been so significant.”
But about 85% of donations on GiveMN’s site the past two weeks are from outside of Minnesota — the opposite of what the site typically sees. The average donation is smaller, about $45, three times less than the average amount on GiveMN’s Give to the Max Day, the largest giving day in the state each year.
Like the influx of giving for COVID-19 relief, Blumberg said, the increase in giving to organizations such as the Little Earth Residents Association, which is providing food and resources to the American Indian community, and media organization Unicorn Riot is a “disaster reaction, too.”
The Minnesota Freedom Fund, which pays bail bonds, didn’t do any organizing campaign, and yet the small Minneapolis nonprofit has drawn $30 million from more than 900,000 donors, mostly outside of Minnesota thanks in part to celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Steve Carell promoting it. The average donation: just $41.
One of those distant donors is Lea Klein of Los Angeles. Though far from the Minnesota protests, she was moved to help, contributing to the Minnesota Freedom Fund.
“It’s the heart of the George Floyd protests,” Klein said of Minnesota. “If there’s any injustice in the U.S. it affects everyone.”
Steve Boland, treasurer for the nonprofit, said “It’s stunning to see that kind of thing. Donors … came to us.”
At one point, the nonprofit was so overwhelmed by donations that it asked people to send money to other groups. Boland said people across the country have felt compelled to do something to create change in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death. Since arrests have subsided, he said the Minnesota Freedom Fund will use donations for a campaign to end cash bail in Minnesota.
In St. Paul, the Hamline Midway Coalition and Union Park District Council also received a burst of donations, with about $500,000 given over two weeks to help damaged businesses.
“There’s some hope; people want to build something better,” said Brandon Long, executive director of the Union Park District Council. “We’re showing the community can lead itself.”
Arson destroyed the building housing the American Indian nonprofit Migizi, and it will take several million dollars to rebuild. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations have come in, mostly from outside Minnesota. Kelly Drummer, who leads the nonprofit, credits Indian news coverage and help from the state’s 11 Indian communities in spreading the word.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” Drummer said. “It really puts Migizi and the urban Indian community on the map. Out of this, there is a lot of light.”
At the Northside Funders Group, executive director Sarah Clyne hoped to bring in $1 million after West Broadway Avenue businesses were destroyed. Within days, donations poured into the site from all over, pushing their goal to $5 million.
“I don’t think anybody expected the incredible amount of support we’ve received,” Clyne said. “I think all eyes are on our city right now.”
However, Clyne said, it will take much more than $5 million to rebuild the North Side. North Minneapolis was already dealing with disparities such as higher business vacancy rates. Some businesses were still recovering from the 2011 tornado. Then the pandemic shuttered businesses, and arsonists hit.
North Siders quickly mobilized to create a temporary food shelf and start the rebuilding process.
“This is actually what north Minneapolis does; we’re constantly in triage,” said Felicia Perry, executive director of the West Broadway Business and Area Coalition, which will disburse the donations. “It’s really a show of what grassroots compassion can do.”
Dozens of GoFundMe sites have also drawn thousands of dollars for businesses and local efforts, and more than $14 million for Floyd’s family.
At the 38th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection that’s turned into a massive memorial to Floyd, Valerie Quintana, 51, and Mary Claire Francois, 18, saw some needs that weren’t being addressed. So they organized street cleanups, put up port-a-potties and provided hand sanitizer, garbage bags and canopy tents for those handing out water and food thanks to a fundraiser that’s topped $12,000.
The St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation has given $100,000 to nonprofits to heal racial trauma. More than 40 foundations — from Target to the Vikings — are giving $2 million to organizations helping black and Indigenous communities.
The Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis Foundation and St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation teamed up with a fund to aid small minority-owned businesses and also started an initiative to reform the criminal justice system.
The Headwaters Foundation for Justice is looking at both short- and long-term needs with a new fund to support both rebuilding businesses and pushing for racial justice.
“People are feeling really inspired,” said Maria De La Cruz, the executive director, adding that donations have come from as far away as the United Kingdom. “What’s really interesting is how much money is flowing into Minnesota during a pandemic.”