McKnight Foundation

17 survey respondents

Location: 710 South Second Street, Minneapolis, 55401 MN

EIN: 41-0754835

Write a Review



What was the overall relationship with the funder?

How many hours did the grant application process take?

16 hours




How would you rate this funder's accessibility?



How successfully do you think the funder is accomplishing its current philanthropic goals?

Important Information

2017 Deadlines:

Types of Grants Awarded:

Geographic Focus:


Key Personnel

Financial Summary

For Fiscal Year

Total Assets:

Total Grants:

Change in Assets FY :

Amount of Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits:

Sample Grants to Minnesota Nonprofits in

Largest Grant:

Smallest Grant:

Average Grant:

Top descriptors for this funder

10Positive leader in the field9Builds relationships8Worth the time to pitch5Gives more than money4"Gets" nonprofits and issues4Likes site visits4Responsive4Repeat funding3Culturally sensitive3Friendly3Openminded3Risk taker

Advice from a Friend

McKnight Foundation

Aug 17, 2021

Reviewer 1703 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2020

In 2021, there were many unique questions just to move to the second phase - which is full proposal. Then, four more full questions were introduced, each with 3000 word limit. For organizations new to grant writing or with limited resources for grant writing, I would skip McKnight until their process better matches their mission to support under-served groups.

More Feedback

Response from McKnight Foundation

Aug 23, 2021

Thank you for your feedback. We are grateful for the time you have taken to share your experience.

We are glad to hear that the webinar was helpful! For those who were not able to attend last year’s webinar, which overviewed the strategy and guidelines of our new Vibrant & Equitable Communities program, you can view it here:

We plan to hold another webinar in late 2021. To ensure you are alerted, you can sign up using the following link (please be sure to check the “Vibrant & Equitable Communities” option):

We understand and acknowledge how difficult it can be to navigate the grantmaking process. At the McKnight Foundation, are committed to having clear funding criteria and application directions on our program web pages. We also provide sample forms for grantseekers to preview ahead of time. That said, we fully acknowledge that we can always do better.

On the specific question about word count, we’ve heard a diversity of perspectives. Some applicants request maximum flexibility on word count to have space to tell their stories. Other applicants find this implies we expect a lengthy response. We try to balance varied needs and requests.

To approach these questions systematically, we have begun a broader redesign of McKnight’s grantmaking process. We understand and share your goal of increasing flexibility so nonprofits can focus more fully on their missions.

We welcome any additional thoughts or feedback you would like to share. You can reach us at [email protected].

Oct 16, 2020

Reviewer 6931 - Did not apply

McKnight Foundation, (Vibrant & Equitable Communities) "we do not make grants for basic social services; health services"(Total foundation assets as of 2018 IRS filing: $2,407,441,662)



More Feedback

Apr 12, 2019 1

Reviewer 6026 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2018

Reaching out to a program officer is advisable before pursuing funding. Read through their documentation and stated value sand objectives. Making sure your activities align well with their values and mission is key.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Builds relationships

More Feedback

Dec 04, 2018

Reviewer 9765 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2018

McKnight is a well-known and popular funder so their process is competitive. You really must meet with a Program Officer before applying for the first time, and you should check in with them each and every time you reapply. Like many foundations these days, there can be an uncritical push from higher ups to "scale" your operations for a more "regional" impact, even if the essence of your success is a hyper-local focus. Our best practice is to stay true to what makes us unique, and what our constituent board believes in, even if that means there is a ceiling to how much McKnight will support us.


Culturally sensitive, Friendly, Builds relationships, Likes site visits, "Gets" nonprofits and issues, Responsive

More Feedback

Jul 11, 2018

Reviewer 1024 - Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

Get to know their programming areas and be prepared to demonstrate your relationships with other organizations they partner with. Reach out to the appropriate person and be clear about your inquiry. Consider engaging them in ways beyond, "I have [a program], do you have [$] for us?"


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Risk taker, Culturally sensitive, Friendly, Builds relationships, Likes site visits, "Gets" nonprofits and issues, Responsive

More Feedback

Sep 06, 2017

Grant Applicant - applied in 2017

If there seems to be a fit, reach out to them. I have found the team I work with, and one program officer in particular, to be extremely helpful and forthcoming. They have an intellectual and theoretical approach to their work, but will help drill down and back up so it's more accessible to on-the-ground work. I also, like other reviewers, greatly appreciate their support for systems-change work.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Risk taker, Insightful, Builds relationships, Openminded, Responsive

More Feedback

Jul 11, 2017

Grant Applicant

Greatly appreciate McKnights willingness to tackle complicated policy issues at high systems levels. It's so important - thank you!

More Feedback

Jul 10, 2017 3

Reviewer 524 - Grant Applicant

The McKnight Foundation chose to create six greater mn mini-foundations called the Initiative Funds in 1985. The concept was sold as Increasing philantrophy to nonprofits, etc. in Greater Mn. Grantmaking in greater mn would increase because the initiative funds would grow philantrophy from the private sector. As a nonprofit leader in greater Mn I would say that after 32 years of the Initiative fund experiment the Initiative Funds have grown philantrophy for their own organizations, but have had little impact on increasing private philantrophy and capacity for nonprofits in Greater Mn. The Minneapolis based Mcknight Foundation discontinued funding of Greater Mn nonprofits directly many years ago and recommends rural nonprofits go to their local Initiative Fund for grants. Initiative Funds make few and very small grants. Creative rural projects that need greater resources must look elsewhere for adequate funding and support.
The local Initiative Funds are now competitors with local nonprofits for private philantrophy from corporations, individuals, foundations, and local, state, and federal government dollars. The Initiative Funds have grown large, well paid professional staffs to enhance their competition for resources. Minneapolis McKnight needs to revisit their original purpose of growing private philantrophy in Greater Mn and focus on developing strong, resilient, and economically creative communites in rural Mn. McKnight Minneapolis needs to resume grantmaking directly to projects in Greater Mn that are community based and are impactful. The Initiative Funds are too busy competing forlocal resources and self promotion to impact rural issues.


Inadvertently exerts negative influence in the field, Doesn't "get" nonprofits and issues, Culturally incompetent, Risk averse

More Feedback

Response from McKnight Foundation

Sep 01, 2017

Thank you for your comments on the Minnesota Initiative Foundations (MIFs). We can certainly appreciate the struggle for funds in Greater Minnesota. We must, however, correct some of the inaccurate statements in this review.

The MIFs contribute to strong, vibrant communities and serve as a model for locally powered, rural philanthropy.

Since their inception, they have collectively given away more than $200 million to more than 34,000 nonprofit organizations in Greater Minnesota. Contrary to the reviewer’s statement, this amount is substantially more than what McKnight had granted directly prior to the creation of the MIFs.

Furthermore, grantmaking is only one small part of what the MIFs do. With economic development a central part of their mission, the MIFs offer small business loans and technical assistance for new entrepreneurs to help grow the regional economy. They have invested about $252 million in local businesses in Greater Minnesota, creating or retaining more than 46,000 jobs.

In addition to our support of the MIFs, McKnight is pleased to fund many individuals, organizations, and communities throughout the state through a variety of awards and direct grant such as affordable housing in Duluth; the Regional Arts Councils; clean energy projects throughout the state, and many others. In fact, half of the funds McKnight distributed last year in the state of MN went toward Greater MN or statewide programs.

While we need to correct the facts for the record, we do appreciate hearing these concerns, and we urge you to raise these questions to the MIFs directly. By design, they are autonomous foundations with independent boards that make their own decisions on how to allocate resources.

Jul 06, 2017 1

Reviewer 438 - Grant Applicant

It's McKnight. One of those foundations your board keeps asking you to "get money from." But McKnight, while huge, is very specific in its interest and priority areas. Their staff is trained to be responsive. I have never waited too long for a call back, and I've submitted within four of their grant programs. I usually understand fully why an organization is/is not eligible after reading the guidelines, but staff has provided additional clarity. The proposals I've submitted AFTER talking with staff (and being encouraged to apply) have a high percentage of getting funded.


Positive leader in the field, Builds relationships, Likes site visits

More Feedback

Jun 26, 2017

Grant Applicant - applied in 2016

They have had webinars to explain their funding priorities and have worked to make a personal connection to our organization.


Positive leader in the field, Gives more than money, Insightful, Friendly, Builds relationships, Responsive

More Feedback

Response from McKnight Foundation

Sep 01, 2017

Yes, we recently had a webinar on our Mississippi River program. You can watch that here:

Would you like to share your experiences about this funder?

funder logo

McKnight Foundation