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I appreciated the Star Tribune's reporting on the changing face of corporate philanthropy (front page, April 15). As the senior vice president of philanthropic services for the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation, I have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the ways in which Minnesota companies are inspiring generosity through many different strategies. I'm here to tell you: Change isn't always a bad thing.

By being open to change, we can:

Respond to emergent community needs: Minnesota is home to some of the world's most powerful brands. With that power comes great responsibility to respond when a community need appears — often quickly and without warning. From a global pandemic to civil unrest following George Floyd's murder to personal emergencies, I applaud businesses of all sizes that have invested in new processes that allow for flexible, fast and equitable responses when and where it matters most.

Thoughtfully engage employees and communities: Our state's largest employers have a strong history of giving back — but they're not simply relying on history books (or the way they used to do things) to guide their future giving strategies. Instead, they're involving their employees in the process by democratizing the decisionmaking process of how resources are allocated rather than empowering a few to make these decisions. This could include creating internal task forces focused on community giving, offering volunteer time off and/or matching personal donations — all notable shifts that give employees a vested interest in how their organization supports the communities in which we all live and work.

Find efficiencies: Operating a corporate foundation requires a notable investment in time and talent to manage the day-to-day financials, reporting and grant-making. It's a heavy lift for even the largest organizations, and it's out of reach for most small to midsized businesses that often have the deepest ties to their communities. Today, this cumbersome process can often be managed more efficiently through partnership. For example, as a community foundation, our team partners with businesses of all sizes (in addition to individuals and families) across the state to bring together financial resources to then invest back into the community. Through highly collaborative and community-informed processes, we attempt to engage businesses in informed, thoughtful and transparent decisionmaking that best accomplishes their charitable goals and meets community needs. Because this is what we do every day, we can also bring both efficiency and insight that allow us to maximize the dollars that flow back into areas of need across our state.

To my fellow Minnesotans and partners in philanthropy: Rest assured, changes like these don't have to be bad. Through updated strategies and partnerships, change can often be good for business, good for employees and ultimately good for the communities we all strive to support.

Jeremy Wells is senior vice president of philanthropic services for the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation.