Minnesota Environmental Fund closes after nearly 30 years

Daydreaming of summer sunshine and trips to the Boundary Waters, it’s fair to say this and dozens of other natural treasures across our state have in some way benefited from the Minnesota Environmental Fund (MEF).

"The boundary waters are still so pristine because we have groups protecting them," Rylee Hince told FOX 9. 

Hince is a board member of MEF and says the longstanding nonprofit is officially closing. Final checks have gone out to partner groups statewide.

Structured similar to the United Way, MEF relied heavily on workplace giving through people’s paychecks. Since 1991 MEF has directed more than $14 million toward protecting Minnesota’s air, land and waterways while also combating against climate change and advocating environmental justice. 

"It’s been a resource for especially some of the smaller nonprofits doing work in Minnesota," Hince said. "They wouldn’t necessarily have access to those kind of funds without this sort of umbrella organization that is allowing those funds to pass through."

"We have a lot of members who came to us through MEF," said Pete Marshall, communications director for Friends of the Boundary Waters. 

Friends of the Boundary Waters is one of 20 partner groups that have been forced to further diversify fundraising efforts as styles of giving have changed. Donations coming into and distributed by MEF have slowed from about half a million dollars a decade ago, to more recently about $10,000. 

Marshall says regardless of fewer dollars MEF collaboration within the nonprofit sector will be a significant loss. 

"A big part of that was cutting away at administrative costs," Marshall said. "For any nonprofit you have to spend a little money to make money. So through MEF it wasn’t a lot of work we had to put on our end to receive those donations."

Now Hince hopes individual donors remember the need still exists for nonprofits everywhere, even when change is on the horizon. 

"It’s sad to see something that has been so helpful for Minnesota’s environment go away" Hince said.

To donate to any of the MEF partner nonprofits, a list can be found HERE.