Sun Up with Sunrise with Special Guest Nonoko Sato Video Transcript
Title slide, Welcome to Sun Up with Sunrise Banks. Terri Banaszewski
Our colleagues– and I think it’s only appropriate that for our first Sun Up with Sunrise this morning, we actually have the Sun Up in Minnesota. So I’m very happy about that. I need this sunshine and I’m sure the rest of you do as well.
I want to welcome everybody. I’m Terri Banaszewski. And I’m Vice President of Business Development for Sunrise Banks. Have been around the community for 20 plus years and with Sunrise for 21 and 1/2 years. So glad you are all tuning in. I know many of you that have signed up in the audience and look forward to seeing you in-person very soon. Maybe by summer time or fall we’ll be able to get these back in-person, which would be wonderful.
I want to give a few business updates with the bank prior to Rick introducing our guest speaker.
Slide, Bank Business Updates – Lobbies and Hours, 2021 Impact Report, Community/Project Updates, N.M.T.C.
As you know, our lobbies have been open since the middle of ’21. And we have regular hours in all of our branches right now. Our retail staff and our teller line have been working feverishly through this whole pandemic. So I have to give them a big shout out because they’ve shown up for work every day that they can.
And we are pretty much hybrid on the rest of our staffing right now. But if you need a banker or someone in our back room, certainly call. We will get you to the right person. And our response times have improved greatly. So we’re happy to take care of any of your needs. So I don’t think I have my number posted here. But if you run into any issues, feel free to reach out to me and I can give you that number at the end of the broadcast.
We’ve just launched our 2021 impact report. We will have a link posted on your screen that gives you some background on a number of things that we accomplished during 2001. And a few items I want to mention out of that include our SBA department and our PPP program.
During 2021, we originated 1,945 loans for about $135 million. 76% of those loans were less than $50,000. So we were in the marketplace where it makes a difference. And we support our non-profits and our small business owners so much. So we were happy to participate in that. And just a reminder, if you still have a PPP outstanding, please reach out to your banker and get that forgiveness process started because that will be coming to an end very shortly.
Other updates– during ’21, we also had two branches that we decided no longer had the activity levels that were needed to sustain them. So we were happy to sell them to local non-profit buyers to continue to serve our communities and have those non-profits occupy our Vandalia location and our Arcade location over on the East side. We also want to remind people non-profits, business owners, consumers that on the cash management front of things, we have numerous products to assist our clients.
There’s been an increased amount of fraud activity happening all the time. And the industry as a whole is seeing increased fraud from email hacking to check fraud, to identity theft, debit cards, mobile deposits, ATMs, you name it. Things are going on out there. So just a reminder it’s always good to engage your banking partner relationships to receive recommendations for services that could help in that regard and best practices to protect your assets.
Lastly on my little agenda here, I want to mention our new market’s tax credit program. It’s been a very powerful tool that many area non-profits have been able to leverage over the years to expand their services to our community, particularly in places where the need is the greatest. We’re always willing to meet with organizations and businesses to share more about this program and how it works as a powerful tool for economic development and is very favorable to the borrower.
Some recent and fun examples of projects we’ve helped include– Juxtaposition Arts, which broke ground this fall on their expanded campus that will expand their work as the only Black-led teen staffed art and design center, gallery, retail shop, and artist studio space in North Minneapolis. The new NDC entrepreneurship training center opened in the fall of 2021 as the new NDC headquarters and an entrepreneurship training center and business incubator aimed primarily at serving the minority owned small businesses in our community.
Without new markets tax credit allocation from Sunrise Banks and other CVEs supporting these amazing organizations in our community, these projects would not have happened. So with that, I’d like to end my welcome and turn the floor over to Rick Beeson, our EVP of government relations and corporate development. And many of you know him. So go ahead, Rick. Take it away.
Thanks, Terri. And good morning friends of Sunrise Banks. And welcome to another Sun Up with Sunrise. And this morning, of course, we’re very excited to have Nonoko Sato, executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, with us. The not-for-profit sector is very important and a very significant part of the Sunrise Bank business model. And we have a history over many decades of working with this wonderful group of mission-based businesses with their financial needs.
And having been here for almost 35 years, it’s been absolutely amazing to watch the growth of this industry owing really to both the government’s retreat in providing direct social service to folks and our communities, but also the changing, increasing needs of the community and the people.
Nonoko leads the largest and most broadly based industry group, representing thousands of organizations. And although she’s relatively new in this position, she’s been with the council for 3 and 1/2 years prior as associate director. And she also ran around non-profit of the Bay Area for 10 years and importantly, continues to volunteer. So she walks the walk, talks the talk, walks the walk with her own volunteer activity.
She’s a graduate of Carleton College here in Northfield. And we’re really, really pleased to have her here. It’s good to see you again, Nonoko. And I’ll pass the virtual mic over to you. But before I do that, I’ll just mention as when she concludes her opening remarks, we’re going to open this up for questions. So feel free to ask the question in the chat room. And I’ll fill those and send those over to Nonoko. Thanks, everybody, again for attending. Nonoko?
Slide, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Executive Director: Nonoko Sato.
Thank you so much, Rick. Good morning, everyone. Nice to not see you all on this virtual screen again.
Slide, State of the Nonprofit Sector
But I’m going to just move this over to the next screen. So as Rick said, my name is Nonoko Sato, she/her pronouns. And I just wanted to do a little quick presentation around the state of the nonprofit sector.
Slide, About M.C.N.
And before I do that, in case you don’t know who we are, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, as Rick said, is the largest statewide association of nonprofits in the country. We serve over 2,300 member nonprofit organizations throughout the state. And our mission is to inform, promote, connect, and strengthen the individual nonprofits and the nonprofit sector.
About M.C.N. continued. Images of the May 2020 and December 2021 Minnesota Nonprofits Economy Reports.
So I just wanted to do a quick, quick plug if that is OK. A couple of things that’s coming up, one that we are really excited about and keeping our fingers crossed is that we are hoping to bring back our annual conference in-person at the RiverCenter in St. Paul, October 13 and 14. And we’re currently looking for presenters. We are paying for intellectual property now. So we encourage you to apply. And if you were selected as a workshop presenter, there is a stipend that’s attached to that.
In addition, we have the Mission Nonprofit Awards nominations due. And those are four areas in innovation, anti-racism initiative, advocacy, and responsive philanthropy. And that will come with a video to highlight your mission work. And we’re always looking for really amazing organizations to highlight throughout the state.
A lot of folks know about our 2022 Salary Survey. We do this every two years. So this is the year that we’re going to be doing again. And we’re also going to be tying that to the Who Leads in Minnesota information that we are partnering with the Wilder Foundation. And so that really kind of looks at both government corporation, as well as the nonprofit sector and looking at the demographics of who is leading in Minnesota. That’s been really helpful as well. So both of those surveys should be coming out soon.
And then lastly, I will talk about a sort towards the end of my quick presentation, but we encourage you to sign your support for the Nonprofit Relief Fund. Nonprofits have been generally left behind in terms of one-time relief funds during COVID-19. And we are really pushing for a very specific fund that helps to support the nonprofit sector. I have some links. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me directly, or please go to our website and we’ll be able to share that with you.
Slide, Access to health plans through Benefits Minnesota.
Last but not least, I wanted to bring your attention to Benefits Minnesota, which is an Association Health Plan that we launched in 2020. It is a member only benefit that supports nonprofits. It offers coverage for two or more eligible employees. So small organizations are eligible. And we offer five high-quality plan networks throughout the state. We partner with Gallagher and Medica on that. For more information, please visit benefitsminnesota.org.
And this is actually tied to our workforce challenges that I’m about to talk to you about.
Slide, Key challenges facing nonprofits. www dot Minnesota Nonprofits dot org.
Mainly that we have some key challenges and I hope perhaps this is not necessarily news to you. Just like any other sector, nonprofits are struggling in terms of recruiting, retaining staff and volunteers. And I think volunteers in particular are left behind. Yes, like there are staffing challenges, of course, but volunteers also provide search key resources to our nonprofits. And it is also really difficult for our members to be able to recruit volunteers at this time.
Of course, we’re also seeing changes in the workforce with less workers and more demand in terms of jobs. There are expectations that workers tend to have within the organization. So that is leading to some shifts in cultural operations and internal operations. And in addition to that, after the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent racial uprising that happened in Minneapolis, there’s a lot of organizations that really deeply care about the work of equity and DEI, and how they’re trying to infuse that into their day-to-day work.
You also might be struggling with this as well. Do we go back to in-person? Do we stay remote? Do we offer a hybrid option? Some organizations, of course, have the option to choose and some organizations don’t. If you are working directly with the community you serve, you have to be in-person. But that is also tied to the way that we can support our workers who are looking more for flexible opportunities in terms of work that they have to do and where they can do that work.
In terms of also the workforce shortages, this is also leading into many leadership transitions as well. We’re seeing a lot of executive directors retiring. And organizations are ramping up their efforts to recruit really talented talent into these organizations. As well as mental health support, I think there is more of a conversation around that both in terms of physical and mental safety within the work. And it is exhausting, especially the direct service organizations should know so that there is more of a demand for mental health support as well.
Nonprofits are also reporting more increase in demand. Communities are really in need and yet they’re seeing a diminished capacity, their ability to be able to serve them. And also trying to meet community support and expectations. I’ll try to speed this up a little bit. Here we go.
Slide, Minnesota’s nonprofit economy. A bar graph displays the number of nonprofit employees versus percent of State’s total workforce between 2012 and 2021, with a jump in 2018 but a slight dip in 2021.
This graph right here, we have done a non-profit economy survey each year. But in 2020, we pivoted to do a COVID-19 specific impact report. We have done five of those. So these are statistics and data that we are getting back. In our last fifth edition, which was released in December of last year.
So nonprofit economy continues to remain strong. We are still 14% of the economy. But as you can see, there was a dip between 2020 and 2021 in terms of the number of workers that returned. So the reason why we’re still 14% of the overall workforce is that all the different sectors have seen a dip in terms of the number of workers returning. So we’re still at 14%, but we have lost about 30,000 workers since 2020 and 2021.
Slide, Posted jobs/Opportunities by month. A bar chart compares numbers by month between 2020 in blue and 2021 in orange, with a starting point of 1,412 in January 2020, a significant drop in April and May to a low of 502, then a slow and steady increase to 995 in February 2021 preceding a jump to 1,363 in March, and ending at 1,456 in December 2021.
This is just the statistics from our job board. And so 2020, you should see the blue lines. And then, of course, you see a huge dip in March and April of 2020 when the pandemic hit. And then you can see in orange– sorry, just like I’m trying to look at this little smoke. In orange, you see that the jobs have come back in full force starting in March of 2020 as well.
The thing is that the number– [AUDIO OUT] 2021 was about 60,000 compared to 10,000. Prior to that, the average number of posting that people are looking at increased by 32%. So there are less people looking for jobs than there are jobs actually available out there.
Slide, Nonprofits received limited relief. Only 3.7% of all PPP loans went to nonprofits. Less than 1/4 of 1% of loan dollars from the Main Street Loan Program went to nonprofits (and only nonprofits that earn revenue similar to business were eligible). Only 15% of nonprofits reported being able to use the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Contracts for services and capital gains to nonprofits alone don’t support nonprofit relief and stability.
Then in addition to that, nonprofits, as I mentioned earlier, have received limited relief. So only 3.7% of all PPP loans went to nonprofits. Less than 50% of eligible Minnesota nonprofits obtained a PPP loan. There are so many reasons behind this, of course. One being that you need to have a banking partner. And so a few more partners with an amazing banking partner like Sunrise sometimes it was really hard to obtain them.
Nonprofits also struggle in putting in a loan in their books and whether or not– are we actually going to get this forgiven? Had a lot of questions around that. Also in the initial PPP loans, excluded organizations had more than 500 employees. And that was a really big challenge because there are still smallish compared to very large institutions. And they, of course, needed a lot of help. In the mainstream loan programs as well as the Employee Retention Tax Credit, again, fewer nonprofits also received those support that was available as well.
Slide, What changes to programming, operations, or methods of service delivery have you made or experienced in the last six months? A bar graph shows changes from highest to lowest percentages: 51% augmented programming or service delivery, 46% workforce shortages and hiring challenges, 43% reduction in programming, 41% staff turnover and retention challenges, 31% reduction in budget, 30% increased fundraising, 23% reduction in hours of operation, 14% eliminating staff positions, 12% hiring or salary freeze, 9% no changes, 8% involuntary furloughs, 6% cutting salary or benefits, 4% considered merging with another nonprofit, 3% voluntary furloughs, and1% ceased operations.
This kind of shows– I’m sorry. I’m going to be looking at a different screen that could just be a little bit bigger– kind of shows the responses that we received around changes to programming that organizations have made over the past six months. Keep in mind this was again released in December. But still I think this applies.
Many organizations augmented their programming to really meet the core needs of their communities, workforce challenges, and hiring reductions in programming, staff turnover. These were the really big common themes that we heard from a lot of different nonprofits throughout the state.
Slide, Shifts and conversations in the sector.
Then in addition to that, here are some shifts and conversations that we were hearing this sector. And I’m also curious to hear from you all at some point if you’re also hearing the same. So of course, nonprofits have always struggled in providing competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain strong talent. Our work is complicated. It’s intersectional. And we really need strong and talented and experienced leaders in our field.
And it is really difficult to do so when we are constantly underpaying and are unable to offer benefits to bring that talent into our sector. And this has become more of an issue, of course, with the workforce challenges, as well as a huge burnout that we are hearing from direct service providers. So that is something that organisations are constantly trying to address.
Questions around, what is an adaptive and flexible work environment look like, especially after COVID? We all know that now we can work semi-remotely from home. But we’re missing the opportunity to be in community with each other. We have missed the opportunity to have face-to-face conversation. Many communities were unable to served because they needed to be in-person. So these are things that we are all grappling with.
And then as employers, we’re asking questions around, what does it mean to be a human-centered organizations? How do support our staff, especially around mental health? And then questions around like, what does it mean to be an anti-racist organization? How do we infuse DEI into our work? It’s always a challenge, of course. And it’s a constant conversation that we need to be having. But when you have so many different priorities, how do we also infuse that into our day-to-day work?
And I think a lot of writers know this. A lot of nonprofits are always pressured to do more, or to innovate, to scale, to have a new idea. And we certainly have those. But if we don’t have the base capacity, if we don’t have the foundation to be able to do that work, it makes it a really big challenge. And we’re trying to shift that conversation away from constantly growing, constantly innovating to let’s think about the core capacity that we actually really need to do the work. And then we can talk about innovation and growth.
We are trying, of course, like asking nonprofits to join our conversations around philanthropy reform and access to funding. It is really challenging when there are so many barriers to be able to obtain funds, to be able to meet all this needs that I just talked about. And so we want to continue to push on those changes that we know that we can see so that nonprofits can actually do the work that they’re there to exist for.
And lastly, a lot of direct service organizations really feel that their work is really a band-aid. If you were trying to meet the needs of housing or address food insecurities, these are just issues that needed to be addressed at the fundamental level. Why do these disparities exist? Why are there homeless people?
But right now we just need to make sure that these folks have a safe place to be, that families are being fed. And so I think that there is also a desire from the nonprofit sector to really address the underlying historical root causes that we’re all trying to address. Almost done, Rick. Sorry about that.
Slide, 2022 M.C.N. Priorities.
So just to wrap us up, these are sort of our priorities for 2022. There is a lot to address. And we’re trying to hone in on things that we think that we can help really make a difference in terms of the nonprofit sector. So our big one is, as I mentioned, the Nonprofit Relief Fund.
The governor has proposed a $50 million fund in his proposal. We are really pushing for a $200 million nonprofit relief fund, especially knowing the surplus that the state has projected, as well as its one-time funding that is coming in through the American Rescue Plan Act. And we really need your support in calling your legislators. Right now both the House and the Senate bills have not included the Nonprofit Relief Fund despite the fact that we are so critical to the recovery of the Minnesota economy.
So we are also trying to make sure that not all nonprofits, because the fact that we need the relief funds were not accessible to many nonprofits. That how do we make sure that if there are funds available to nonprofits, that we can access them? And so we’re working with grants administration office. We are trying to set up our own website around all the different one-time dollars that are coming into the state so that makes it accessible to nonprofits. We will continue to work on that as well.
We always constantly trying to strengthen incentives for charitable giving and volunteerism. At the federal level, for example, we are trying to raise the amount of volunteer mileage reimbursement that volunteers receive. I’ve heard from a couple of people that volunteerism it’s great and it’s really expensive, especially in rural communities.
If you have to drive many, many miles to go and help support your communities and the gas prices are the way that it is, if you’re only being reimbursed for $0.14 per mile versus $0.58 per mile that the corporations receive, that is going to be a really huge burden on the individuals who really want to contribute their time and talent into the nonprofit sector.
In addition to that, in terms of being a robust and supportive workforce, we believe in affordable health care and child care and paid medical family leave. So we continue to advocate for that. We believe in an importance in civic and participation in democracy, and the role that nonprofits can play in encouraging their communities to participate and having their voice being heard. We are trying to support traditionally marginalized communities, communities of color, rural communities, small communities and trying to help direct those funding to those communities.
We do also support the Federal Aid Act that is just seeking reasonable transparency and reform for donor-advised funds as well as lastly, responsive research and resource on impact of COVID-19. So we’re looking at either continue to do these COVID-19 impact reports using our surveys and our platform to hear back from communities– sorry, from our organizations and our members so that elected officials and decision makers can really hear directly from us.
Slide, Join Us! A list of workshops. April 19 – Cultural Differences: Leading Through Anti-Bias Practices. April 20 – Bite-Sized Learning: Ask Me Anything. Strategic Planning. April 27 – Board Training Series: Boards that Deliver: Are you Structured for Success? April 28 – Bite-Sized Learning: Effective Hybrid Meetings. April 29 – Collective Healing: Breaking the Cycle of White Supremacy. May 3 – Leading in Uncertainty. May 5 – Transforming Difficult Conversations. May 5 – Nonprofit Fundamentals Series: Bring Out the Best in Your Board – Tips for Effective Engagement.
And I can’t leave you without plugging our amazing workshops that are coming up. So I encourage you to go to minnesotanonprofits.org/events and look at all the amazing workshops that are coming up in the next two months. With that, I stop. [CHUCKLES] Rick, over to you.
Well, thanks, Nonoko. That really illustrates the wide range of services that the council provides and the issues that the sector is dealing with.
Slide, Q&A. For additional information on our 2021 Annual Impact Report, please visit: 2021 sunrise banks impact report dot com.
We’re starting to get some questions here. And I’ll be forwarding those. So I’ll start out with one. Nonoko, I know you were appointed by Governor Walz to the Council of Economic Expansion to this last fall to develop recommendations. And the bills you talked about in the priorities I assume or sort of show– are reflective of what the council did. But what were the takeaways from that work?
I am glad that you were appointed. It would astound people on the street to know that nonprofits are 14% of the employment population in the State of Minnesota. I really think it’s a big takeaway. But if you talk a little bit about that responsibility. And then we’ll drill a little deeper into the legislative activity.
Sure. Yeah. And you know what, I just want to commend Minnesota because yes, Minnesota nonprofits are 14% of the economy. Nationwide, nonprofits represent 10% of the economy. So we are really killing it in terms of our participation in terms of civics. Our voting habits are really good as well. So we are strong and so grateful for so many different nonprofits are doing incredible and impactful work in our state.
So I’ve been appointed. I believe there are 15 of us on the governor’s council. I represent obviously the nonprofit sector. But we also have folks in the corporate sector, in labor organizers, different direct service providers. So many of us represent a wide range of sectors. So I am one voice.
And there are two tasks. So prior to 2021, our Phase 1 work was to recommend to the governor how to best use the one-time funding that’s coming in towards an equitable Minnesota. And so not surprising I hope to many of you, but we have identified, of course, the need for child care and health care as a way to bring people back into the workforce. If you don’t have stable housing, if you don’t have a place to have your children safe during the time that you are working, it is really, really difficult, of course, to come back to the workforce.
We also looked at how do we encourage more workers to not even just come back, but also come into our state and support the current workers who are currently living in Minnesota. So we talked about how do we think about youth and youth development and creating a pathway towards careers and introducing them to different types of careers. We also talked about the importance of health care, of course, infrastructure in Minnesota.
So those are just like the big general recommendations that we made to the governor in Phase 1. And now in 2022 through June, we are in Phase 2, which is to really think about the long-term economic recovery or prosperity for Minnesota. So right now we are in subcommittees kind of trying to dig a little bit deeper into issues that we think would really help to bolster the Minnesota economy.
So things around highlighting Minnesota strength around our culture and outdoor education, our civic engagement and how do we continue to ensure that people have voices around our caregiving communities. These are folks who are really struggling to help support these mental health professionals and social workers and caregivers, like folks who work in preschools all the way to nursing homes. They were burnt out and exhausted and underpaid.
And so what are some ways that we can encourage not just people who want to go into those fields so that we can continue to make sure that the support is there, but to help support the workers who are currently doing their best in this environment and supporting the needs of our communities?
So those are recommendations that we would be making to the governor. And many of the commissioners are also working in partnership with us. We’re bringing in a lot of different speakers. We think it’s really important for us to hear directly from the community. So we’re utilizing our networks that exist to try to bring in speakers so we can learn more. And the face to recommendations we’re hoping will come out in June.
So if you like to learn more, I think the easiest way is to Google the Minnesota Governor’s Council on Economic Expansion. And if you research Phase 1, there’s a big report that was released at the end of last year that you can read a little bit more about in terms of the details that I just talked about.
Thanks, Nonoko. And before we went on the air, Nonoko and I had a chance to talk about the legislature. We’re down to about five weeks of session left. And I was able to join the Minnesota chamber yesterday and listen and talk to legislators on both sides of the aisle. There seemed to be a common thread about getting the bonding bill passed.
I know a lot of the nonprofits have got specific bills for their facilities or other projects. And a good takeaway was that appears that will be done. A little less optimistic on other issues related to reconstruction of the urban areas and such. But we always stand. And I’m personally willing to help on any buddies bonding bill or legislative basket that relationships on both sides of the aisle.
And we’re down to about five weeks. So probably will not be a special session because they’re all running for reelection both House and Senate. And so we’re really coming down to brass tacks. And we have the final legislative thoughts Nonoko, I know you’re up on the Hill probably frequently carrying the message and working on the issues–
Actually, I have a team of policy folks working for me. So we have two arms. I don’t know if you knew that. But we also, of course, have the Minnesota Council Nonprofits policy team who are really focused right now on the Nonprofit Relief Fund and also this bill that is gaining a little bit of traction, especially in the Senate around putting in regulations for organizations, nonprofit organizations that receive government funds. So they’re really focus their attention on that. And with COVID as well, even though we are Minnesota-focused, we have to do a little bit of work at the federal level as well.
And then our other arm is called the Minnesota Budget Project. And they’re a team of really incredibly smart folks who analyze tax policies to help support low-income families and Minnesotans, essentially the communities the nonprofits tend to serve. And making sure that the tax policies really do center the needs of the lowest income Minnesotans because their prosperity, of course, impacts all of us as well. So yeah, I hope that answered your question a little bit.
Yeah, great. Thank you. We’re getting some questions from founders of nonprofit organizations. And as bankers, I always look at founding executive directors as really entrepreneurs in a way. And I was impressed when I was on the Bigelow Foundation how many emerging not-for-profits there are, really local, really specific focus not-for-profit. So does the council able to help those startups in the same way that it does and can with other more mature and established organizations?
Yes, of course. So I mean, our resources, our trainings include things around how to start a nonprofit, which just kind of walks you through step by step in terms of how to go through all the different filings and articles of incorporation, and how many board members you have to have. These are education that we think is really important for folks who are trying to start a nonprofit.
Of course, there are fiscal agencies. We do not fiscally sponsor any organizations. But our friends that Propel, for example, they support many small BIPOC-led nonprofits organizations that just need to start, with the idea that with enough support that they can go and fly on their own and become their own separate entity.
So there are, of course, avenues to become a fiscally sponsored organization. I think what’s also interesting is the rise in more of a mutual aid program. So they’re not officially nonprofits in terms of their tax codes. It’s really around neighbors helping neighbors and communities seeing the community need and giving money directly to those communities. And so because of the fact that they’re not quite entities necessarily, we’re trying to figure out the best ways to support them. But they are meeting community needs.
And this is an approach that many communities have felt that is going to work best for them rather than donating directly to a nonprofit, then the nonprofit help supports the community. How do we ensure that I see a need right now? And this is the way that we’re able to help support them. So those kind of programs are certainly popping up. And so there are different ways of us– I suppose like a startup. These entrepreneurial spirit is seeing in many different ways in our sector.
Great. Here’s a question from one of our small business owners. And it’s about what they can do to help nonprofits. And I know speaking for the bank, in the areas of financial education and financial inclusion, we rely so much on the not-for-profit sector. They’ve done so much work.
And we’re able to work with our customers, families, and individuals, and businesses to work with those needs that wouldn’t otherwise be provided. And the bank doesn’t have the expertise. So it’s not just government that’s relying on this sector, but it also is the private sector. But in general, what can they do? And if you could address that, and then I’ll go.
No, of course, different people have different opinions about this. So I encourage you to talk to the leaders of nonprofits that you care about. Because I think within your own small business community, or your neighborhoods, or even as an individual may have a cause that you really deeply care about. And they’re all needing your help.
And so talking directly to them and asking about what they need, I think, is a really good first step rather than relying on a big– like we oversee so many different nonprofits. So I can’t tell you like this particular nonprofit needs this particular thing.
As small businesses, though, I think as you are hearing about one-time relief funds that help support small businesses, which we I think really care about as well. We want to see that small businesses thrive in our communities. I would really like to see folks remind themselves that nonprofits, small nonprofits, are also small businesses as well.
And so what we have seen is when there are relief funds that are available for businesses or for small businesses, a lot of times nonprofits are left behind in that. And so as much as you can help advocate for the nonprofits and say like, hey, that’s great that we have this opportunity to receive this fund to help us. Our nonprofit is included. Those are kind of the conversations and continuous questions that we ask all the time. And more people asking that question I think will be really helpful for us as well.
Great. There’s a theme from a couple of questions, Nonoko, about the fear of moving past the murder of George Floyd and moving past the focus on BIPOC business, sort of human nature to deal with the crisis that’s in front of us and maybe broad economic recession, or a war, or any of that. That incident was so recent, but there’s a concern about forgetting about it quickly. And you addressed a little bit of that in your priorities.
Sure. I mean, the sheer fact that whoever are asking these questions are asking them is a good thing. And I think we always continuously need to be asking it, especially work around racial equity is not new. It’s been going on for centuries. And so communities of color in particular have been fighting for their civil rights and for their voices to be heard, for their needs to be recognized, to have a seat at the table. I think those are things that has always existed. It just became more aware to the dominant culture perhaps after George Floyd was murdered in 2020.
I also think that the work around diversity, or equity, or inclusion, or whatever that term is– I mean, the thing is like the words keep on changing all the time. But fundamentally, I think we all want the same thing. We want to see communities thrive. And I believe like if we are able to apply the philosophy of universal design, so that is a philosophy around the fact that if you support those who are in need the most, everybody else benefits.
So one of the examples is let’s say those ADA compliant door buttons that you push that wheelchair folks can go into the door. Those were created, of course, with folks who have mobility issues in mind. But I use them when I’m pushing my stroller, or have groceries in my hands and I just need to use them. Yes, it was designed for one particular type of folks, but then other people benefit from that as well.
And I think it’s really overwhelming to have to think about like, how do we build a culture or how do we help support communities that are in need? And how do we diversify my staff when all I just need is just people to come and work for us? I just don’t even have time to bring in a diverse perspective into our organization. I mean, I could put it in the argument there to say that actually organizations really benefit from diverse perspectives.
But I also encourage folks to think about the fact that diversity is not just about race and ethnicity. It can be. And I think it is important for us to center that. But it is also around if you work for an organization that serves people with disabilities, are different types of disabilities represented in your organization?
If you are working for a youth-based organization, are youth represented in the voices, in the decision-making voices as part of your board, of your advisory board? If you’re statewide organization, are all voices centered and recognized in your decision-making processes?
Those are all diversity work. And I think if you recognize those small changes that you are making, ultimately it is a journey. It’s not a checklist. Sometimes I know a lot of people want that checklist to be like, yeah, we did this, this, this, this, and now we’re done with DEI work. It’s never going to be the case. This is a marathon. And that I’m grateful that people are still asking those questions. We don’t want to forget. We want to make sure that we’re continuing this path.
And I think that there are many different ways to be able to apply that lens into all aspects of our work from HR of course to how we view our policies, to how we talk to– what kind of communities that we are trying to center and meet with. And it’s also an individual work as well. I think we all need to be doing our own individual work and understanding what is my place and what is my privilege that I have. And how do I use that to help serve people and communities?
Great. A couple of times, Nonoko, you mentioned rural. And at least from my standpoint, it’s easy to be metrocentric. This is the world in which we live every day, but you do represent greater Minnesota. And poverty and needs are I guess the conservative, but they’re also more dispersed and maybe more hidden. Can you talk about their particular needs? And what are those challenges?
Yeah, of course, it’s always hard for– I think this is also tied to DEI. When you’re so ingrained in like things that’s happening around you all the time, it’s really hard to think about people who are– people and communities are not necessarily part of your immediate network. And I’m also certainly guilty of that as well. And that’s part of the reason why it’s really important for me to remind myself that we are statewide organizations and the need of rural communities are vastly different, but also somewhat the same as metro area.
And so what I’m hearing from organizations and rural communities is just we need more affordable– you know what, we just need housing. We need housing so we can bring people here so that they have a place to live, so that we can attract more workers in our area.
But their need is unique because of the fact– and I also think it’s really important for us to distinguish the difference between greater Minnesota and rural Minnesota. So this isn’t necessarily a divide between metro, or these Twin Cities versus everyone else. It is also a question around how rural small, small tiny communities are being supported and heard.
And that is, I think, one of the most frustrating things for many communities that I’m hearing from is the fact that they’re just not heard. They’re being ignored. Elected officials are constantly like hearing the loudest voices, which tends to be, of course, a well-populated areas, whether that’s the Twin Cities, of course, from Rochester, Duluth. Those are big communities. So they are in greater Minnesota, but they’re not quite rural.
When one mental health organization closes in a rural community, there are no other mental health organizations within 30, 50 miles that communities can access. That is not quite the case in the metro area. And so yes, it is devastating for communities when an organization has been instrumental closes down because of funding, or because of so many different factors. But the impact, I think, is more exponential in rural areas.
Volunteerism is also an issue. We in the metro, we’re lucky that we have certain infrastructure in place for public transportation. In some rural areas, the buses run twice a month. And so how as a volunteer are you supposed to go if you don’t have a car?
I think in terms of civic engagement as well, I just heard that voting places can be 10 miles apart. If you don’t have a car, if you don’t have a reliable form of transportation, how are you supposed to have your voice heard, and to be able to go and take a good chunk of your workday to go and vote for values that you believe in when everything is so farther apart?
Yeah. And I think there are not enough funding sources as well. I mean, yes, there’s more concentrated nonprofits. There’s more people and communities in cities. And yet there is still a need in rural communities. And I really feel strongly that they cannot be forgotten. And that funders need to remember that they are still there and doing critical work. And as much as they can, they need to also be thinking about how they can best support rural communities.
Great. One of the comments I heard from a legislator in greater Minnesota was the redistricting result in fewer elected officials from those areas. So their voices are even less than they were before the census tract.
You mentioned a couple of times– we have a question about mental health. And this is maybe top three common themes that we’re hearing for employers, for families. Is this going to show up? And I know you were close to the council foundations. Is this a theme for sort of grant writing? Does it go forward? And would you encourage folks to be a workshop on that going forward at all in terms of how grant should be written and what areas they should be?
Sorry, this is like a particular round meant to help support mental health?
OK, yes, funding is needed, [LAUGHS] period. I think funders who do not fund personnel cost, I think, should be re-evaluating their grant strategies. People are the core assets of any non-profit organization that at least employs one staff member.
And if that person or people are not able to do their work effectively, if they cannot take care of themselves, how do they– this is the airplane role, right? Like, you hear this all the time. Every time we sit in the airplane, you have to take care of– put the mask on first before you help your dependent. And this is the same thing. If you can’t help yourself, how are you expected to help others?
And so yes, non-profit organizations should be able to provide adequate mental health support perhaps in the form of a professional. They need money to be able to do that. They need money to be able to pay for the benefits, to be able to offer their staff health benefits. I mean, personally, this is a personal view. But I just feel like this is a fundamental human right to access adequate– not even adequate, strong and affordable health care.
And in addition to that, I think leaders can also be thinking about how they can be supporting their staff and their organizations in terms of paid time off being more– doing more of a check-in. I know leaders are also struggling as well. This isn’t necessarily to say like leaders should add more to their plate.
But their job is to help make sure that their organization is thriving. And that’s also that management and support, and leading by example. When you are tired and exhausted, you take that mental health day and you take that sick day. And make it OK for other staff members to do the same.
I think that’s also tied to sort of the workforce or the changing culture within organizations as well, as we’re thinking about flexible hours and more time off, and maybe a significant break during the summer, or something along those lines. I mean, there are different organizations thinking about ways that they can help support their team.
I think the biggest thing for me is that leaders in the organization should be really listening to their staff because they’re the ones who are actually doing the work. They’re the ones on the ground. And if they tell you like, this is what we need, then you can work in partnership with them to build an organizational culture that is going to help support them and recognize the fact that they are doing extremely difficult work.
And keep in mind non-profit organizations, especially those who are in direct service, they are also supporting the mental health needs of their community as well. And so it’s a challenge, of course, when you as a professional, as a trained professional in mental health trying to help support community members in terms of their mental health and you know you’re not getting it yourself. It’s just becomes really demoralizing and really, really difficult.
And then compounded with that, most likely they’re underpaid because federal reimbursement has not met up with inflation. And so mental health professionals or organizations are not being reimbursed at a rate that they could be paying their staff. So there’s a lot of different challenges there. And I think there’s one like advocacy. There’s also the role of philanthropy. There’s roles of leaders. And there’s also the role of workers as well to make sure that mental health needs are being met across the organization as well within our communities.
There are so many takeaways from what you just said about mental health. One that’ll key on is donors and foundations, they’ll want to pay for personnel costs. And I know as a region of the university are very generous donors. They steered toward buildings and facilities, or maybe for scholarships for students. But it isn’t setting to sort of pay to add on for personnel costs, but that’s really what’s needed. We talk about mental health. We need direct services to folks.
OK, well, we are quickly running out of time here. And so I think we’ll wrap up. This has been really a terrific presentation. You’ve given us so much to think about. And it’s impressive everything that you’re doing personally leading the organization and as well as the organization. And we stand by to help the council in any way we can and as well as those organizations who are with the bank.
I want to remind the nonprofits on the line, we have a big platform. We’d love to carry your story on our platform. So feel free to reach out to Terri or myself, or your banker if you want to have your story told because your story is unique. It’s important. And it’s powerful. So we’ll do that. Any final comments, Nonoko, before we move along?
No. Yeah, thank you, Rick, for inviting me here. I noticed somebody talked about women and girls. But I just wanted to note the fact that the nonprofit sector in Minnesota, 75% of workers are women, identify as women. And that does add to the challenges of workforce because sectors that are represented by women are rebounding at a slower rate than sectors that are predominantly men, I mean, particularly because of the disproportionate impact that many women carry around child care and caregiving responsibilities.
And so yeah, I mean, it’s all like intersectional and tied together. And I just wanted to note that because I think it’s really important for us to recognize that women play a very important role in our economy and we need to be supported. So whoever asked that question, thank you, and thank you for supporting women and girls.
Well, that’s great. Thanks very much, Nonoko. Someone did ask– we will share the slides. We’ll talk about how to get that done. And Nonoko, we weren’t able to ask all the questions. So she’ll be able to address some of these individually. I know there are some reaching out to try to get her to be a speaker and come out and visit their organizations.
OK, well, on behalf of Sunrise Banks, Terri, thank you, and our staff that helped arrange this session this morning. Have a great spring day, and we’ll talk to you soon. Thanks, everyone.
Slide, Thank you for joining us! Sun Up with Sunrise Banks. For additional information on our 2021 Annual Impact Report, please visit: 2021 sunrise banks impact report dot com.