Michigan Nonprofit Association

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Nonprofit Organizations (NGO)
A membership organization that serves the nonprofit sector in the state of Michigan, the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) has dedicated itself since 1991 to “serving the diverse nonprofit sector” (MNA, Staff, 2019). They provide access to various resources and to professional services and systems to nonprofits throughout Michigan to aid in improving and strengthening their communities.


The Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) is a statewide membership organization that has served the nonprofit sector in the state of Michigan since 1990. Open to all nonprofit and tax exempt organizations in the state, the MNA is dedicated to supporting nonprofit organizations through advocacy, resources, and training. The MNAs mission is to "serve nonprofits to advance their missions” through the core values of Collaboration, Diversity and Inclusion, Excellence, Integrity, and Leadership. Their vision is “Michigan's nonprofit sector will be a vital leader in building and sustaining thriving communities.” (MNA, “Who We Are” 2019)


Historic Roots
In 1988, then president and CEO of the Kellogg Foundation, Russell Mawby, asked a question: “What would happen if nonprofits from all around the state, regardless of their individual missions, came together in the spirit of collaboration and partnership?” (MNA 2014-2015) at a conference that would lead to the development of the Michigan Nonprofit Forum in 1990 (Our State, “Michigan” 2015). The Michigan Nonprofit Forum (MNF), as it was then known, was created to act as a think tank to discuss issues affecting nonprofits in Michigan, such as the lack of a single voice with which to address issues affecting the entire sector.

The MNF changed its name to the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) in 1995, transforming from a neutral forum into a membership organization that provides services and support directly to its members. Since the name change, MNA has continued to expand both its membership base and they services they offer. MNA now offers resources for fundraising and finance support, free and discounted education, tools for managing human resources, tools for technology, and opportunities to build relationships across the state (MNA “Membership” 2019) for all of their members. In addition, the organization has developed a public policy to “advocate on behalf of the Michigan nonprofit sector on public policy issues that impact all nonprofits, provide the tools and resources to be effective advocates and lobbyists, and Educate policymakers and the media on issues affecting Michigan nonprofits.” (MNA, “Public Policy” 2019).

MNA is also responsible for the development of the Michigan Nonprofit Caucus and works with organizations such as AmeriCorps VISTA, Michigan Campus Compact, Data Driven Detroit, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and more. One of their most recent projects is partnering with the Council of Michigan Foundations and local nonprofits around the state for Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign, so as to achieve a fair and accurate count for the upcoming national census. (MNA 2017-2018)



The Michigan Nonprofit Association has grown in recent years to become a major voice for the nonprofit sector in Michigan. Today, there are over 900 member organizations and is now a major provider of training, resources, and advocacy roles for those organizations and more.Member services not only include a cost-saving insurance program (health, liability, and other needed coverage), but also a comprehensive package of training and information. MNA also provides members with monthly funding opportunities, public policy alerts, job listings and a series of publications intended for the nonprofit sector and public policy makers who affect the sector (MNA 2019). Advocating on issues of importance to the entire nonprofit sector remains a major focus for MNA. They work to act as the guiding voice for Michigan nonprofits at both the state and local level, engage local nonprofit organizations to advocate on behalf of the sector, and work to publicize the issues at the local, state, and federal levels that affect the sector as a whole.

Not only does MNA work for the nonprofit sector throughout Michigan, but they also offer memberships to business, for-profit organizations and consultants as “business affiliate memberships,” and to individuals looking for career development opportunities (MNA, “Memberships” 2019).

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

The Michigan Nonprofit Association was born within the philanthropic sector. Created to serve all aspects of the sector in Michigan, the MNA has become the “premier place” for volunteers, nonprofit managers, and business serving the nonprofits of Michigan to come together under a single umbrella, that of a statewide association for nonprofits (MNA, “Membership” 2019). Since its founding, MNA has worked to establish partnerships with many types of organizations for the advancement of the sector as a whole. These partnerships have been especially evident in the areas of volunteerism and public policy advocacy.

Today, the MNA manages multiple programs and affiliates, including Michigan Campus Compact, the LEAGUE Michigan, and Highway T (MNA, “Volunteers” 2019). The MNA also manages the Volunteer Centers of Michigan (VCM) program which connects volunteer coordinators and managers within the state of Michigan and to discuss issues relating to volunteer centers. (Our State, “Volunteers” 2019). The VCM also collects data regarding volunteers in Michigan through the MNA (MNA, “Volunteers” 2019).

The MNA is just one example of a statewide nonprofit association, with 40 out of 50 states having one. The Council of Nonprofit Foundations keeps track of each state’s specific association, making them easily accessible across the nation. (Council, “Find Your State”) Statewide nonprofit associations are crucial to connecting organizations within that state border. Membership organizations like these help foster relationships among nonprofit organizations, among the people who work for them, among the people who want to work for them, and among the people that are benefited by them. They provide a sense of belonging, and help lead towards further connections across the country through other statewide nonprofit associations.

Key Related Ideas

  • Advocacy – a way to influence decisions regarding political, institutional, and social issues
  • Civic & Community Engagement – working to benefit the everyday lives of a community
  • Collaboration – working with multiple people or organizations towards a common goal
  • Public Policy – a set of principles and guidelines to follow
  • Volunteerism – the act of donating time or money without expecting compensation


Important People Related to the Topic

  • Donna Murray-Brown is the first woman President & CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association where she leads the strategic direction and overall operations of MNA’s body of work (MNA 2012-2013).
  • Carolyn Bloodworth is the current Secretary/Treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation and is the Chair on the Board of Directors for the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA 2017-18).
  • Paula Cunningham is the Executive Director of AARP Michigan and is the current Chair-Elect for the Board of Directors for the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA 2017-18).


Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • The AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Program provides an opportunity for nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and K-12 schools to create and develop initiatives to strengthen their communities. VISTA members are passionate and committed to their mission to bring individuals and communities out of poverty through year-long, full-time commitment to serve on a specific project at a nonprofit organization or public agency and focus their efforts to build the organizational, administrative, and financial capacity of organizations that fight illiteracy, improve health services, foster economic development, and otherwise assist low-income communities. (https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-programs/americorps-vista)
  • The Council of Michigan Foundations mission is “to grow the impact of Michigan philanthropy. Incorporated in 1975, CMF is a nonprofit association of foundations and corporations that provide grants for philanthropic purposes.” The Foundation is made up of “a community of philanthropists committed to improving outcomes for Michigan, and beyond. Through investing in the state's charitable organizations, convening business, government and nonprofit leaders, collaborating on critical issues, seeking innovative solutions, sharing knowledge and advocating, we leverage our collective voice to increase the impact of Michigan philanthropy.” (https://www.michiganfoundations.org/)
  • Managed by the MNA, Michigan Campus Compact (MiCC) is the only national organization made up of a coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to fulfilling the public purposes of higher education, building civic engagement into campus and academic life throughout 38 member campuses. Nearly 1,000 presidents are committed to the development of personal and social responsibility as vital to the educational mission of their campuses and building and sustaining a “network of colleges and universities to strengthen student engagement through sharing and expanding knowledge and resources, fostering community partnerships, and celebrating service leaders.” (https://micampuscompact.org/overview/)
  • Data Driven Detroit’s mission is “To provide accessible, high-quality information and analysis to drive informed decision-making. Data enables us to more objectively understand our community. Using data, we can have informed conversations about the current state of our community, how to best deliver resources, and create the deepest impact.” (https://datadrivendetroit.org/)

Reflection Question

How could advocacy by the Michigan Nonprofit Association aid nonprofit organizations in Michigan and around the country?


Bibliography and Internet Sources

  • Corporation for National and Security Service. n.d. “AmeriCorps VISTA.” AmeriCorps. Accessed November 1, 2019. https://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/americorps-programs/americorps-vista.
  • Council of Michigan Foundations. 2019. “Find Your State Association.” Accessed November 30, 2019. https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/find-your-state- association.
  • Council of Michigan Foundations. 2018. “Who We Are.” Accessed November 1, 2019. https://www.michiganfoundations.org
  • Data Driven Detroit. 2018. https://datadrivendetroit.org/.
  • Michigan Campus Compact. n.d. “Who We Are.” Accessed November 1, 2019. https://micampuscompact.org/overview/.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. https://mnaonline.org/.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2012-13. “2012-13 Annual Report.” Accessed November 3, 2019. https://www.mnaonline.org/docman/uncategorized/5-2012-2013-annual-report/file.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2014-15. “2014-15 Annual Report.” Accessed November 3. 2019. https://www.mnaonline.org/docman/uncategorized/343-2014-15-mna-annual-report/file.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2017-18. “2017-18 Annual Report.” Accessed November 3, 2019. https://mnaonline.org/docman/uncategorized/437-2017-2018-annual-report/file.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Home.” Accessed November 3, 2019. https://www.mnaonline.org/civic-engagement/michigan-campus-compact/8-home?layout=.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Membership.” Accessed October 27, 2019. https://mnaonline.org/membership.Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Nonprofit Services & Programs.” Membership. Accessed October 31, 2019. https://mnaonline.org/membership#benefits.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Public Policy.” Public Policy & Advocacy. Accessed October 27, 2019. https://mnaonline.org/public-policy-advocacy.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Staff.” Who We Are. Accessed October 27, 2019. https://mnaonline.org/who-we-are/staff.
  • Michigan Nonprofit Association. 2019. “Volunteer Centers in Michigan.” Accessed November 3, 2019. https://www.mnaonline.org/civic-engagement/volunteer-centers-of-Michigan.
  • Our State of Generosity. 2019. “Partner Profile: Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA).” Last updated January 10, 2015. https://ourstateofgenerosity.org/partner/michigan-nonprofit- association-mna/.
  • Our State of Generosity. 2019. “Project Profile: Volunteer Centers of America.” Last updated February 19, 2015. https://ourstateofgenerosity.org/project/volunteer-centers-Michigan/.

This briefing paper was authored by a student taking a Philanthropic Studies course taught at Grand Valley State University and revised by Katherine Watson, a student taking a philanthropic studies course in 2019 at The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.