Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Morning of Provocative Thinking

Art Rolnick
I attended a Morning of Provocative Thinking for nonprofits that Bremer’s Nonprofit Banking group hosted. Nearly 50 nonprofit leaders and board members had the opportunity to hear from a variety of speakers offering advice on how to meet needs in new and different ways.

Retired Federal Reserve chief economist Art Rolnick was the keynote and spoke about the importance of investing in early childhood education. He made the argument that the more well-educated your workforce, the healthier your economy will be. His belief is that building sports facilities or luring new businesses to a community are not true economic drivers – rather, it’s a well-educated workforce that will drive the economy.

Rolnick has helped launch a pilot project with the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation – a Bremer Bank client. The pilot targets specific high-risk neighborhoods and provides scholarships to families in need so that their kids can afford high-quality pre-school. A key learning from the pilot is that ‘mentoring’ has had the greatest impact on long-term success of the kids and families who participate in the program.

Nonprofits in attendance were advised to, “Develop a cost/benefit model to build support for investments in a program or project that may not deliver immediate benefits, but rather require a longer timeline to show results.” He also advised that to succeed at fundraising in a challenging economy you need to make the case that your cause is a priority – that funding it will have a positive impact on society as a whole.

Teresa Morrow, director of Corporate Communications, Bremer Bank

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