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People: philanthropy’s great strength

Pick up any edition of Alliance from the past few years, and one message is clear. In truly unprecedented ways, the global philanthropy sector is on the move, popping up in new places, growing in scale, diversifying in form, and, more than ever before, stretching to tackle the momentous challenges that define our times such as climate change, food and water security, and immigration. While there is much talk of the financial resources needed for success, much less attention is paid to the equally if not more important human resources.





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“Working with Financial Professionals”

This issue of More than Money, “Working with Financial Professionals” offers practical advice for finding a good fit with financial professionals. Writers describe recognizing a disconnect between their values and the values of professionals who may have been inherited with the wealth from the prior generation. Tips for being a good client. Tips for managing financial professionals. Two readers share the unorthodox practices of professionals they depend on, letting readers know that there are alternatives to growing principal and reducing taxes as the goals of wealth management.





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“Partners in Social Change”

This issue, “Partners in Social Change,” of More than Money offers stereotype-busting profiles of rich people who share power and resources and work passionately for the common good. One writer describes becoming a successful businessman specifically so that he would have more money to give away. Others describe the process of donating money and resisting the temptation to become controlling or patronizing of those who receive the resources. Alternative formats for foundations and finding grantors are detailed. Writers describe including spouses as partners, learning activism (or teaching activism) to their partners. A family confronts its political polarity, finding acceptable middle ground on Read more





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“How Much to Give?”

This issue, “How Much to Give,” in More than Money, discusses the challenges to define how much is enough to give. Enough is subjective, arbitrary. Trying to apply a formula is ultimately unsatisfying, as the circumstances surrounding wealth are different for everyone. This issue details specific creative approaches for individuals arriving at their own definition of how much is enough to give.





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“Family Foundations”

This issue on “Family Foundations” in More than Money, offers many tales from the family foundation frontlines. Lots of cartoons supporting stories of challenging family dynamics en route to matching funding decisions to personal values. First person descriptions of decision-making styles both affirming and autocratic; conflict between generations; upsetting the family order. Also, stories of family foundations structured to welcome input from all who wish to participate, foundations reorganized and given to community leaders, and creative cooperation in finding areas to fund.





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“Creative Giving”

This issue on “Creative Giving” in More than Money, offers a comprehensive look at giving. Who gives, how much, where to, and why. Sprinkled with statistics and analysis, powerful individual stories describe giving outside the lines. Writers talk about giving money unconventionally, seeking ways to give, and seeking gift recipients by their own rules, not according to established giving norms. Some giving alleviates the loneliness often endemic to inheritors. Others seek to share the joy in giving. Models for giving beyond that which supports culture, arts, education and policy institutions that serve the donors lifestyle. Compare your giving habits: amounts, Read more





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“What Makes Giving Satisfying?”

This issue of More than Money, “What Makes Giving Satisfying?” offers an academic perspective classifying types of giving styles, opportunities for ‘team giving,’ democratizing funding choices by involving others in funding decisions, using foundations to identify individual activists, and tips for creating donor-advised funds.





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Collective Impact Forum

The Collective Impact Forum exists to support the efforts of those who are practicing collective impact in the field. While the rewards of collective impact can be great, the work is often demanding. Those who practice it must keep themselves and their teams motivated and moving forward.





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Working Better Together: Building Nonprofit Collaborative Capacity

Collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but key capacities are needed to enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.





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Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: A Funder’s Guide

GEO and Monitor Institute partnered to release this guide, to explore what it takes for grantmakers to cultivate a network mindset, offer recommendations for how funders can effectively build the capacity of networks and identify five network approaches that are helping grantmakers and social change makers to harness the power of networks.





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Four Essentials for Evaluation

GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. Four Essentials for Evaluation builds on our previous publication, Evaluation in Philanthropy, to offer grantmakers a practical perspective on how to build or strengthen the capacity of their organizations to tap the transformative power of evaluation for learning. This guide provides grantmakers with ideas, insights and examples from their peers to help them develop and strengthen the following four essential elements that are part of any successful evaluation approach: lead, plan, organize and share.





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Learn and Let Learn

This publication explores how learning communities can be powerful tools in creating and shaping peer connections that help expand knowledge, deepen skills and enhance practice. Learn and Let Learn offers key insights for grantmakers drawn from six in-depth case studies of learning communities gathered for GEO’s Scaling What Works initiative by the Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.





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Pathways to Grow Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in the Journey

This publication shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. it offers a framework for understanding different approaches to scaling impact, stories from nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations’ impact, and practical recommendations for grantmakers seeking more effective ways to achieve better results.







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Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements

GEO has prepared a publication that provides a framework for understanding the array of roles that funders can play in supporting movements and networks. Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements offers an orientation to some of the inherent benefits and barriers to supporting movements and provides insight into ways that grantmakers can explore collaborative efforts for social change.





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WIDESPREAD EMPATHY: 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVING GREATER IMPACT IN PHILANTHROPY

Through examples from the field, the publication provides concrete steps grantmakers can take to build a gut-level connection with their stakeholders. Having widespread empathy allows funders to base their decisions and actions on an authentic, firsthand understanding of the perspectives of grantees, community members and other partners. In turn, we become more effective as our work is grounded in more thorough, ground-level knowledge of organizational and community priorities and needs.





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CRACKING THE NETWORK CODE: FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR GRANTMAKERS

GEO’s newest publication sets out to crack the code behind the network mystique. In fact, there is a method to working more efficiently and effectively through networks, and a critical first step for grantmakers is adopting a network mindset, which may require dramatic shifts in attitude and behavior for some. Cracking the Network Code outlines four principles that comprise the network mindset, illustrates the principles with a range of examples of networks that have achieved real results, and offers practical questions and recommendations to help grantmakers achieve the benefits and avoid common pitfalls of working through networks.





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The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook

We know that grantmakers who understand and act in the best interest of grantees achieve better results. Practicing smarter grantmaking can make the difference between pretty good performance and achieving the best possible results. But, where should you start? Take smarter steps forward in your grantmaking with The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook. Find the answers you seek to more than 50 common questions captured from your GEO peers. Receive a primer on the grantmaking practices that are most supportive of nonprofit success. Turn knowledge into action with practical tools, frameworks and related resources that you can share with your colleagues to Read more





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Top Readings and Resources on Learning From Failure

Over the past several years, there has been discussion in the world of philanthropy about failure. Here is a collection of ideas about failure – whether you learn more from it than success, how you learn from it, how organizations look at it, and the importance of failure in achieving eventual success. These different viewpoints on failure and learning come from both the field of philanthropy and from other sectors. Following Up on Failure – from The Chronicle of Philanthropy regarding learning from failure Failing Forward – posted on both Lucy Bernholz’s Philanthropy 2173 and Alliance Magazine’s blog Exploring Failure – Stanford Social Innovation Review Embracing Failure at Read more





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Expert Q & A: How can we make learning fun for new grantmakers?

By: Jessica Bearman, principal, Bearman Consulting I went to Google and did a quick search on “Fun and Learning” and quickly noticed that with or without the quotation marks, all the hits were resources for kids. Searching on Adults Learning and Fun yielded a bunch of websites devoted to icebreakers… as though fun can be part of learning, as long as it’s contained at the beginning of the meeting or workshop. And so then I asked myself: “What makes learning fun and how can fun make learning better?”  Based on what we know about how adults learn, here are some quick Read more





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Expert Q & A: How do learning needs and styles differ across generations, and how can family foundations teach philanthropy to the next generation?

By: Sharna Goldseker, Executive Director at 21/64 From your work across multiple generations in philanthropic organizations, what are you seeing as key learning needs? Much of the work we’ve been doing at 21/64 for the past twelve years coincides with research that shows each generation brings a unique set of values, skills, and experiences to the philanthropic table. The first key learning need is around values clarification, which we believe leads not only to better working relationships among funders but also to more effective philanthropy. Beginning to uncover one’s own values and learn what values motivate others is critical to bridging the generational divide. Often, Read more





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Expert Q & A: How can philanthropic organizations create a learning culture even while “leading under pressure?”

By: Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, Associate Dean and Clinical Full Professor, University of Michigan Ross School of Business; co-author with Dr. Erika Hayes James, Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis For the last decade my co-author, Erika James, and I have researched how organizations lead under pressure and especially in crisis situations. Although most organizations do not frequently confront crises, leading under pressure has become a new norm. Pressurized situations can be the result of budget constraints, time limitations, stakeholders’ demands, shortage of resources or employee strife.   From our research, we discovered that Read more





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Expert Q & A: What can someone working at a corporation in an area unrelated to corporate philanthropy do to orient himself or herself when joining the corporate citizenship team?

By: Ann Cramer, director, Americas, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs 1.   Get a basic orientation of your own corporate culture, values, and direction – corporate philanthropy and citizenship today is a lot different than employee engagement (volunteerism) with “tee shirts and balloons,” or even community relations and contributions.  Use local corporate donor groups as well as the Council on Foundations and United Philanthropy Forum affiliates to learn with and from colleagues. 2.  Read some of the really key/basic works.  For example: Rosabeth Moss Kanter”s “From Spare Change to Real Change;” The work of Michael Porter, Mark Kramer, John Kania on  foundation strategy, collective impact, shared value; Read more





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Expert Q & A: What can someone new to grantmaking, but joining a foundation in mid-career, do to accelerate his or her learning curve in this new field?

By: Judy Mohraz, trustee, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust 1.   Start by getting a handle on the soul of philanthropy, as well as the work of philanthropy.  Read the key works, for example: Mark Constantine’s Wit and Wisdom: Unleashing the Philanthropic Imagination; Joel Fleishman’s book, The Foundation:  A Great American Secret; Harvard Business Review articles on strategy written by Mark Kramer, Michael Porter, and others. 2.  Get some exposure, if you don’t already have it (and if you do, don’t let it lapse…) to non-profits and the pressure they live under every day.  Know the basic mechanics of good governance, in a non-profit context, and the Read more





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Expert Q & A: How can African-American philanthropy professionals network more effectively?

By: Karen McNeil-Miller, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Find/Create a network of other African-Americans as one of the many professional/social/personal networks you seek to form. Join and become an active member of ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) Intentionally seek out and request one-on-one conversations with: Several experienced African-American executives to provide perspective; Executive Director of ABFE; Prominent African-American philanthropists in your town. Don’t allow yourself to be viewed as solely responsible to represent and be sensitive to the minority perspective in your foundation.