State Watch

Minnesota Freedom Fund struggles to spend after raising $35 million

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), a small Minneapolis-based nonprofit focused on providing bail and bond funds for Minnesotans who can’t afford it, has been thrust into the national spotlight the past month.

After protests erupted in Minneapolis — and eventually nationwide — over the police killing of George Floyd, the Minnesota group began receiving a massive influx of donations from the across the country to help pay the bails of demonstrators in the Twin Cities who were arrested during the protests.

However, many on Twitter began criticizing the group after it was reported that the four-year-old nonprofit had spent only $200,000 of the $35 million that it had received. More criticism came when an outdated page of the nonprofit’s board circulated, seemingly showing a predominantly white board.

“The far-left organization that raised tens of millions off celebrities & the public to bail out protesters & rioters reveals that less than one percent has actually been spent on the cause,” reporter Andy Ngô tweeted Tuesday. 


The MFF told The Hill that the majority of its board is composed of people of color, a fact that BuzzFeed News first reported.

The organization tweeted on Monday that it appreciated “all those calling for transparency.”

“Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone,” the nonprofit tweeted. “We are working on doing more.”

BuzzFeed reported that the MFF was overwhelmed with the donations that came in, as it only had one full-time employee before getting $35 million. 
The nonprofit confirmed this to The Hill, adding that it also had a part-time staffer when the mass protests began. Per BuzzFeed, $35 million was 350 times the MFF’s annual budget, and the nonprofit said that before the protests it was only paying a maximum of $1,000 in bail a day.  
On Tuesday, the MFF continued its explanation of why more money hadn’t been spent.
“All protest-related bail so far that has come our way has been paid and we’re going to keep that up,” it said in a tweet. “At the onset of all this we set aside $10K for protesters, because it’s what we had.”

“People think there are protesters we have chosen not to bail out, and that’s simply not the case,” said Jared Mollenkof, one of the MFF’s board members, told BuzzFeed. “We have bailed out anyone and everyone that we’ve been told was arrested in relation to the protests.”

Mollenkof, who is black and works in Minneapolis as a public defender, added: “What’s important for people to understand is that we did not set out to raise any money, and there was no attempt by us to raise any money at the beginning.”

On the FAQ page on its website, the MFF indicates that it has temporarily stopped taking donations while it works on scaling up its operations, instead directing would-be donors to other nonprofits and bail funds in need.

Tags George Floyd George Floyd death George Floyd killing Minneapolis Minnesota Freedom Fund

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