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Putting trust first in community giving

By Nicole Hansen, Executive Director, Securian Financial Foundation

Promoting the welfare of others, through charitable donations or volunteer resources, is a staple tenet of a healthy community. Securian Financial has long been an advocate of philanthropy, and over the last five years we’ve made fundamental steps to improve our philanthropy and grant-making process.

The intention with our trust-based Philanthropy approach is designed to take us from advocate and ally, to leader and role model in the corporate grant-making space.

Securian’s approach to the grant-making process is simple: We believe that the funder/grantee relationships are stronger when they are built on the foundation of trust.

This is why the Securian Financial Foundation is rooted in Trust-based Philanthropy, a charitable approach that reimagines the relationships between donors, nonprofits and communities to rebalance power and decision making.

Relieving the burden on the nonprofit

When I joined Securian Financial as the Executive Director of the Foundation five years ago, the grant-making process and approach to philanthropy was very traditional. Today, we lead the way in the Twin Cities’ philanthropy space.

Many issues can create a drag on the grant-making process, but often at the core of the traditional approach is misinformation, creating a lack of trust.

We don't make our partner organizations gain our trust; we simply trust them right out of the gate.

Some of the issues in the former, traditional, grant-making process were unreasonably high expectations of the non-profits, irrelevant question-asking, and unrealistic standards in reporting requirements.

There’s a perception that over-governance and data reporting would protect our investment, and all it did was end up hurting the people we set out to help.

When an organization reaches out to us, we don’t demand more from them than they’re able to provide. And we don’t eliminate organizations from consideration if they don’t have answers to everything we ask. We don’t want to put unnecessary strain on an already overwhelmed nonprofit.

More than just writing a check

In addition to easing the burden on nonprofits throughout the grant-making process, The Securian Financial Foundation looks for other ways to reimagine what it means to make a difference in the community.

Rather than just writing a check, we can help nonprofits and the community in more ways than just that. For example, we look for opportunities where we can plug in our experts to do professional volunteer work like tax preparation and marketing services.

Other resources such as offering space in Securian buildings and leveraging hardware such as laptops are additional ways we can help that go beyond traditional philanthropy.

Encouraging others to follow Securian Fianancial’s lead

Since implementing a trust-based philanthropy mentality at Securian Financial, we have seen significant gains year-over-year in the community-giving space. In 2021, Securian Financial community giving increased by 15 percent over 2020. That brought Securian-affiliated charitable giving to an impressive total of $9.89 million in 2021 and a record-breaking $10.33M in 2022.

The best practices being adopted by Securian Financial Foundation, and the challenges to traditional grant-making therewithin, are proving to be significant steps in the right direction. My team and I are encouraged by the results we’ve seen.

We believe what we have put in place should be industry best practices, and we encourage and hope other corporations will follow our lead. The beauty of trust-based philanthropy is we prove trust, we give trust, we don’t make people earn it.

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Strengthening our communities

Learn more about how we build secure tomorrows in our Sustainability Report.

Bringing purpose to life

Strengthening our communities

Learn more about how we build secure tomorrows in our Sustainability Report.

Bringing purpose to life

DOFU 7-2023