Building a Stronger Midway- Holidays: a time for giving

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Tesha Christensen

By CHAD KULAS, Midway Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

As you look outside, you know winter is upon us. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we are in a busy time – between holidays, office/company parties, and wrapping up projects by the end of the year. But many also look for ways to help, in a popular time for giving back. According to Patrick Kirby, founder of Do Good Better Consulting, nationally 20-25% of fundraising is done in the fourth quarter with many organizations seeing much higher numbers.
In and around the Midway, there are several nonprofits. While we live in Minnesota, jokingly the land of 10,000 nonprofits (there’s actually only 9,127 nonprofit employers in the state) – there is an even bigger concentration the closer one gets to University Ave. Why?
For starters, we are closer to the State Capitol and many nonprofits are busy during the legislative session lobbying on behalf of their interests. A good transit system also helps, as many nonprofits rely on buses and trains to get their employees, volunteers and clients to their door. With cheaper rent than either downtown, the Midway and University Ave. are better on the budget while still being serviced by transit lines. There is also a synergy which occurs when several groups of a similar mission are close to each other. Like tech companies in Silicon Valley, nonprofits often want to be close to other nonprofits.
And nonprofits are good for the region. They make up 13.3% of the total workforce in Minnesota, and in two local zip codes (55104 and 55115) there are 425 nonprofits. Over 50% are in the category of human services and represent a broad range of ways to give back.
How do people help nonprofits? In several ways. For some, donating financially requires little time but can make a big difference. For those wanting a more hands-on approach, they volunteer their time. My family likes to shop for others, by buying gifts requested from families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. For some, giving back is something to do as a family or a group of friends. For others, it can be an office bonding opportunity.
At the Midway Chamber, each November we help support and promote the Shop with Cops program. The program features a cop shopping with a child for the child’s family; often the gifts purchased that day are the only gifts the family will receive for the holidays. Many times, the day starts with a shy child walking to Target with a police officer, and ends with the two laughing together as they wrap the presents. While there are similar programs throughout the country, it started here with the Saint Paul Police Department when a local resident wanted to see a better relationship between cops and youth.
In December, we hold a Celebration of Nonprofits at Hamline University where we feature programming geared at the nonprofit community. Up to 40 of our nonprofit members participate in an expo and directories of our nonprofit members are given to all attendees.
This holiday season, I hope you can think of nonprofits in our community who could use a helping hand and find a way to support any way you can.
Statistics used in this article are attributed to the 2018 Minnesota Nonprofit Economy Report, published by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. The data in the report comes from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages and Internal Revenue Service. Additional information about the nonprofit sector is available on the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ website, minnesotanonprofits.org.