Attitudes and Practices Concerning Effective Philanthropy

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If efforts to strengthen philanthropy are to be effective, they must be informed by reliable data on the current state of the field.

In 2003, the Urban Institute conducted a survey of 1,192 grantmaking foundations in order to construct a wide-ranging and rigorous portrait of attitudes and practices concerning effective philanthropy in the foundation field. The survey results tell us a great deal about how foundations see themselves, how they function, and whether they are fully functioning in the ways that they feel they should be.

The specific attitudes and practices covered in the survey fall under the following general topics:

  • Ideas about foundation effectiveness;
  • Approaches to grantmaking;
  • Grant application and review processes;
  • Monitoring and evaluation;
  • Investments (program-related investing and social investing);
  • Collaboration and professional involvement;
  • Communications;
  • Staff training and development; and
  • Self-assessments of effectiveness.

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