Identifying a Strategy That's Right for Us

The Minneapolis Foundation recently asked Lou and Allan Burdick how their charitable giving evolved after they decided to change the vehicle they use for their giving, making the transition from a private family foundation to a Donor Advised Fund. Here’s what they had to say.


The Burdicks have given time as well as financial support to Patchwork Quilt.

Establishing a Donor Advised Fund at The Minneapolis Foundation in 2011 enabled us to be more creative and thoughtful about our philanthropy, while also remaining true to the traditional focus of the Burdick Family Foundation.

The lion’s share of funding from the Burdick Family Foundation had been providing general operating funds to social services and mental health organizations. Our passion has been to serve those in our community who are most in need. When a bequest enlarged our giving capacity, we decided to expand our horizons, extending and focusing our philanthropy to include more impactful grants. We made the decision to establish a Donor Advised Fund.

With each passing year, we more appreciate the benefits that have accrued from our move to The Minneapolis Foundation. We’re included in convening conversations related to issues of interest. We have strong staff support from individuals who not only relieve us of the administrative burden associated with a family foundation, but who provide solid counsel based on in-depth experience in the world of philanthropy. And we are introduced to opportunities that directly fit our mission.

“By identifying a strategy for education-related grants that also fit our long-term interests in social services and mental health, we believe we have set a course, with the help of our Minneapolis Foundation partners, that is exactly right for us and the organizations we support.”

– Lou and Allan Burdick

For example, with the education gap impacting the segment of the community we have traditionally served, we wanted to explore the feasibility of expanding our portfolio in this direction. Beyond grants to Risen Christ, an elementary school in South Minneapolis, and Patchwork Quilt, an after-school program in North Minneapolis, we had little experience. We realized that if we were to effectively make grants in this area, we had a lot to learn. And the number of options available was overwhelming.

With the help of our partners, we have learned.

We have been introduced to numerous organizations engaged in developing new strategies for improving education outcomes. We have identified several educational gifting opportunities that directly impact those who had not been part of our traditional outreach: College Possible, Project Success, and Minneapolis College Prep. Our advisors have also helped us carve out areas where a relatively small grant can help “move the needle.” And, with them, we are currently exploring opportunities to support school-related mental health programs.