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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions   |   Grantmaking Questions   |   Lobbying Regulations


Q: How can I contact The McKnight Foundation or its staff?
Inquiries can be sent via our Contact Us or Staff and Board page, or via individual program area homepages. The Foundation's address is 710 South Second Street, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401; and our main telephone number is 612-333-4220. Our building's entrance is on Second Street South, between Portland Avenue South and 10th Avenue South.

Q: How can I contact the Foundation's board of directors?
Please send all inquiries to the Foundation at 710 South Second Street, Suite 400, Minneapolis, MN 55401. Inquiries will be forwarded to individual staff and board as appropriate. Our full staff and board of directors are listed in the Staff and Board section of this website.

Q: Is The McKnight Foundation operated by 3M?
No. The Foundation was founded in 1953 and endowed by William L. McKnight and Maude L. McKnight. Although Mr. McKnight was one of the early leaders of the 3M Company, the Foundation is independent of 3M.

Q: Can I apply for a job, internship, or volunteer work at McKnight?
The Foundation operates with a small staff of about 45, and openings are infrequent. As available, however, all positions and application instructions will be posted in the Job Postings section of this website. We appreciate the interest, but the Foundation does not accept resumes via email; offer volunteer or internship opportunities; or maintain employment or internship information about our grantees or other organizations.


Q: What are the basic requirements to be eligible for a grant?With very few exceptions, applicants must be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations to be eligible for a grant. We provide planning, operating, and project grants. We discourage the use of fiscal agents. Please note that the Foundation’s primary geographic focus in grantmaking is the state of Minnesota for our Arts, Education & Learning, Minnesota Initiative Funds, and Region & Communities programs.

Q: I believe my organization or program fits McKnight's guidelines. How do we apply for a grant?
Start with the Grant Programs page. Familiarize yourself with the guidelines of the program area in which you are seeking funding, and then call us at 612-333-4220 to discuss your inquiry with a program director. If McKnight's program staff determines that the Foundation can consider funding, we will provide instructions for submitting a proposal.

Q: Why can't I access the online application system to submit a new funding inquiry?
The online application system is accessible for two weeks prior to deadline. Deadlines vary among programs; check the "program guidelines" section of the program area in which you are seeking funding for deadline information.

Q: Does McKnight fund nonprofit organizations only?
With very few exceptions, to be eligible for a grant, applicants must be classified by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations. We discourage the use of fiscal agents.

Q: Does McKnight fund government programs?
Units of government may apply for funding for special projects that complement customary public functions. However, we will not fund activities that are traditionally the responsibility of government.

Q: What types of grants does McKnight make in the Arts, Mississippi River, and Region & Communities programs?
We provide planning, operating, capital, and project grants. Please consult the guidelines appropriate to your program for specific eligibility requirements within each funding area.

Q: Why can't I find guidelines that fit my area of work?
We believe that foundations can be most effective by concentrating their resources in a few programmatic and/or geographic areas. Inevitably this means we cannot support many worthy projects outside our program interests. McKnight does not generally support:

  • Activities that have a specific religious purpose
  • Assistance for individuals, including scholarships
  • Attendance at or travel to conferences or costs related to conferences
  • Business (for-profit) organizations
  • Chemical dependency treatment
  • Endowments, except in rare cases
  • Health services or policy
  • Scientific research outside established McKnight research programs
  • Services for seniors
  • Travel, except when related to other McKnight support of an organization
  • Work in the fields of mental health or disabilities, except for services to enhance parents' capacity to nurture their children
Please note, we will not respond to funding inquiries that clearly fall outside McKnight's stated areas of program interest.

Lobbying Regulations

The Foundation may consider funding requests for efforts such as advocacy to improve the policies and administrative rules of executive, judicial, and administrative agencies; information-sharing that is neutral, nonpartisan, and fully describes both sides of a pending legislative issue; and policy research and education.

As required by the Internal Revenue Code, the Foundation will not fund attempts to influence specific pending or proposed legislation, including referenda, local ordinances, and resolutions. This prohibition generally includes direct lobbying of legislators and other government officials with respect to specific legislation and mass media advertising campaigns aimed at influencing specific legislation.

If you have questions about the acceptability of a proposed activity, please review the detailed provisions describing prohibited activities included in Section 4945(e) of the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations Section 53.4945-2.