A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It

This article argues that philanthropic endeavors should be undergirded by a theory of philanthropy. Articulating a theory of philanthropy is a way for a foundation to make explicit what is often only implicit, thereby enabling internal and external actors to pose and resolve significant questions, understand and play important roles more fully and effectively, and improve performance by enhancing alignment across complex systems. A theory of philanthropy articulates how and why a foundation will use its resources to achieve its mission and vision. The theory-of-philanthropy approach is designed to help foundations align their strategies, governance, operating and accountability procedures, and Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









A Handbook for Giving Circle Hosts: Tools and Resources for Developing and Sustaining Giving Circles

The Forum’s handbook of tools and resources for giving circle host organizations, including tools for deciding whether to host a giving circle, key questions to ask and a checklist of giving circle and host duties.

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Catagories: Essentials, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Benchmarking Evaluation in Foundations: Do We Know What We Are Doing?

Evaluation in philanthropy – with staff assigned to evaluation-related responsibilities – began in the 1970s and has evolved, along with philanthropy, in the four decades since. What has not changed, however, is a regular questioning of what foundations are doing on evaluation, especially since the world of philanthropy regularly shifts, and changes in evaluation resourcing and positioning tend to soon follow. This article presents new findings about what foundations are doing on evaluation and discusses their implications. It is based on 2012 research that benchmarks the positioning, resourcing, and function of evaluation in foundations, and follows up on a 2009 Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Benchmarking Foundation Governance

On a typical foundation board, what are its members’ most common areas of expertise? How common is it for an original donor — or a family member — to sit on a board? To what extent are board members involved in grantmaking? There are lots of questions out there about foundation governance. Yet there has been little data about foundation boards’ structures and practice. In surveying foundation CEOs as part of a larger benchmarking study, CEP worked closely with BoardSource to design and include questions related to governance to collect and bring to light new data on foundation boards. Benchmarking Read more

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Governance , New Standards, Codes, and Ethics









Black Out: Understanding LGBTQ Advocacy and Black Communities

Black LGBTQ communities have always been at the intersection of racial justice and LGBTQ advocacy and activism, although their continued invisibility within these movements have marginalized their voices due to homophobia, transphobia, bi-phobia and racism. Although pioneers such as James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansberry, Audre Lorde and Bayard Rustin used activism to advance racial justice and LGBTQ issues, there is still more work to be done. LGBTQ Black communities experience a unique form of discrimination at home and within faith institutions, schools, workplaces, health facilities and communities. This session, co-sponsored by Funders for LGBTQ Issues and The Third Wave Fund, will examine Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations

The Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations is designed for entry- to mid-level grantmakers, both professional and volunteer. The curriculum provides a structured program built upon the core competencies necessary for philanthropic giving by individuals and grantmaking organizations. This program, the only one of its kind in the United States, addresses a long, unmet need—to train grantmakers to give wisely and with more sophistication. Upon completion of the program, students have: Knowledge of the history of philanthropy in the United States and elsewhere in the world Familiarity with the law, the financial structures, and the nature of nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations Read more

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Catagories: CONTENT PARTNER, Essentials, In-Person Workshop, Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation









CMF/JCP Grantmaking Series

For the second year in a row, the Council of Michigan Foundations is pleased to partner with the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy to offer the Grantmaking Series, a practitioner-led learning series that teaches the techniques of effective grantmaking to both new and seasoned foundation professionals. The sessions are highly practical, academically rigorous, and designed to be as accessible and affordable as possible. Participants who complete the series will receive a Certificate of Completion. This year, we will offer five live and five on-demand webinars (1.5 hours each). To qualify for the Certificate of Completion, participants of the 2015 Grantmaking Series Read more

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Catagories: CONTENT PARTNER, Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation, Webinar









Community Investment: Focusing on the System

Community investment in the U.S. is one of the most robust impact-investing sectors in the world. With support from public policy and subsidies from public and philanthropic sources, private capital flows to community investment from foundations, banks and insurance companies, individuals and others in the form of loans, bonds, tax-credit equity and structured investment vehicles. Often, CI involves specialized intermediaries skilled at working with marginalized communities and blending multiple sources of funding. But practitioners frequently describe CI as working against, or around, the conventional finance system. It targets underserved people and places – where conventional markets are seen as absent, Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

What differentiates an exemplary foundation from the rest of its peers? What can foundations do to improve its relevance to nonprofits, the economically and socially underserved Americans and society as a whole? Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact is the first ever set of measurable guidelines that will help foundations and other institutional grantmakers operate ethically and maximize the impact of their dollars.

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation









DEI Self-Assessment

D5’s self-assessment is a tool for identifying areas of work that your foundation is already engaged in and opportunities for growth. We invite you to complete the assessment to: Capture your foundation’s current situation Spark conversations about DEI and what is possible Identify tangible action steps that will improve your foundation’s effectiveness and strengthen its relevance in our increasingly diverse society

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









Diversity, Inclusion, and Effective Philanthropy

Philanthropists who want to increase impact and reduce waste are turning to diversity and inclusion as tools for effective giving. Good intentions do not make for philanthropic success on their own. Blind spots cost philanthropists – and the causes they espouse – dearly. A gift can be given for the right reasons to the wrong group. A grant can be generously dispersed, but without careful research. An investment in a social enterprise with great promise can be rendered impotent by a misguided business plan. To make the most of their philanthropic dollars, donors practice due diligence. Staff, advisors and even Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Grantmaking, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Evaluating Complexity

While evaluation has traditionally focused on assessing programmatic impact according to pre-determined indicators, a new approach is needed for evaluating complex initiatives, as well as initiatives operating in complex environments where progress is not linear, predictable, or controllable. 9 propositions can help evaluators navigate the unique characteristics of complex systems, improve their evaluation practice, and better serve the needs of the social sector.

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation









Everything You Need to Know About Impact Investing (In 1 Hour!)

It seems like everyone is talking about impact investing these days… but is it right for you and your organization? In this webinar experts will elaborate upon what it is, how to decide if it’s right for your organization and explore some of the the biggest hurdles holding individuals and organizations back from directing funds to impact investing. Industry experts Jean Case, Melanie Audette, and Dan Brillman, who will now be joined by Stacy Donohue and Kate Ahern lead the discussion and share how organizations can unite purpose with profit.

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Five Proven Ways to Use Donor Advised Funds

Through this webinar we explore and discuss the basics of Donor Advised Funds (DAF) with a wide range of topics covering: What is a Donor Advised Fund How does a Donor Advised Fund work How does a Donor Advised Fund differ from a Private Family Foundation Starting a Charitable conversation with your clients and Trends  

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Foundation Grantmaking over the Economic Cycle

American grantmaking foundations must pay out a minimum of 5 percent of their investment assets each year for charitable purposes, and they are penalized for dropping below a five-year average rate with a higher excise tax. These rules, combined with many foundations’ tendency to simply pay out at a fairly constant rate, tend to make foundation grantmaking procyclical: payouts decline during economic downturns. This brief covers a conference discussion on whether grantmaking might productively be made more countercyclical and examines changes in foundation grantmaking between 1997 and 2010, largely based on National Center for Charitable Statistics data.

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Catagories: Essentials, Grantmaking, Making and Managing Grants, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









Funding Locally

Imagine sustainable change at the grassroots. Imagine giving to address specific issues in specific places while building local communities and infrastructure. Now don’t limit yourself to your hometown or a place where you have roots or relationships. Instead, imagine you can do it anywhere in the world.

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Catagories: Essentials, General Grants , Making and Managing Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









GrantSafe

IRS regulations require that private foundations verify the exempt status of any 501(c)(3) public charity before making a grant, to ensure it is currently in good standing with the IRS. The most accurate and comprehensive source for this information is the IRS Business Master File (BMF). While the BMF is publicly available, it is neither simple nor easy for an individual to decipher. GrantSafe’s proprietary technology eliminates that hassle and complication. Finding an organization is now as easy as typing in the organization’s name or tax ID number. A green check mark or red “X” instantly tells you the status. Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, New Grants Management









Impact Investing: An Introduction

For many years philanthropy and investing have been thought of as separate disciplines—one championing social change, the other financial gain. The idea that the two approaches could be integrated in the same deals—in essence, delivering a financial return while doing good—struck most philanthropists and most investors as far-fetched.   Not anymore.

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Influences of Venture Philanthropy on Nonprofits’ Funding: The Current State of Practices, Challenges, and Lessons

This article looks at the current state of venture philanthropy practices in the nonprofit sector, based on data from a survey of 124 nonprofits that engage in venture philanthropy. The survey probes to what degree nonprofit funders are implementing core activities of venture philanthropy – use of market-based funding instruments, providing strategic assistance, board participation, and use of social and financial performance criteria. Seven venture philanthropy organizations were also interviewed for this article. Various tactics they have used to mitigate internal and external tensions are examined, including complying with diverse interests to balance conflicting views if internal tension is moderate Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Lobbying Defined for Private Foundations

This fact sheet explains what activities count as lobbying under federal tax law for private foundations.

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Catagories: Essentials, Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits









Logic Model Template

Sample Logic Model Worksheet for Racial Equity and Particular Issues

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Catagories: Essentials, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Making Change by Spending Down

In September 2013, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) and GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, partnered to tell the story of how the ACBP began spending down. There are few stories of foundation spending down—that is, spending all of a foundation’s endowment deliberately with the intent of closing—that have been publicly told, and none to our knowledge using a primary medium of a blog series. ACBP’s goal was to build on GrantCraft’s strength of sharing funder wisdom by highlighting more than 20 voices connected with the spend down over the 28-month period until it closed its doors. Both organizations value transparency, and so periodic blogs felt Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Making Change Happen

Effective philanthropy is about the thoughtful creation of something new in the world. It harnesses rigor and strategy – as well as commitment and strength of heart – to build a practical path from donors’ ambitions to their desired impact. It starts with a philanthropist’s values and motivations, and moves through the careful, well-researched selection of appropriate goals until it produces its core element – a giving strategy. This strategy is hugely important because it dictates how a philanthropic investment will actually make change happen.  

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Catagories: Essentials, Mission and Values, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Next Gen Philanthropy: Finding the Path Between Tradition and Innovation

Enjoyment and meaning in giving begin with individual motivations and values. People with wealth share the challenge all human beings face—how to find your own individual way, your own path toward meaning, while also maintaining a connection to family, community and history. You must stand on your own even as you stand in the great and ever-evolving succession of ancestors and descendants. Philanthropy starts with an inward journey—an exploratory mission into the heart and mind.

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Mission and Values









NNCG’s Knowledge Center

Inform Your Practice. Increase Your Impact. Welcome to NNCG’s Knowledge Center — a searchable, online database of resources for and about grantmaking, produced by highly qualified and experienced philanthropy consultants. NNCG’s Knowledge Center contains a wealth of reports, case studies, infographics, issue briefs, videos and more that offer ideas, research and helpful information about almost every aspect of philanthropy. Each item was authored or published by an NNCG member. NNCG constructed the Knowledge Center in partnership with the Foundation Center’s IssueLab — one of the most respected and trusted sources of information in the philanthropic field.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, Online Publication, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropic Paths: An Exploratory Study of the Career Pathways of Professionals of Color in Philanthropy

This study conducted by Forward Change provides a holistic, in-depth picture of the career experiences of 43 philanthropic professionals of color ranging from Program Officers to CEOs working in a diverse array of foundations. The study surfaced a set of potentially common points of entry, career pathways and obstacles of professionals of color in philanthropy, as well as the factors that helped shape those pathways.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Individual Development - Strengthening/Building Your Career, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. Foundation Center is pleased to again partner with Lucy to offer the Blueprint as a GrantCraft guide. The Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year. Some ways you might consider using this Blueprint include: With colleagues at your organization, this publication can open conversations about the context for your work and any thoughts on expanding your strategic framework. With grantees, this publication can foster conversations outside Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing

It is not a surprise that we are seeing a growing interest among trustees and foundation leaders in mission-related investing (MRI). With over $600 billion in the endowments of U.S. private foundations, it is logical to consider how these funds can be put to use beyond generating income for grantmaking and begin to be a catalyst for social change via investments in market-driven entities. With this guide, Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing, plus other research that has been collected on MRI, there is now a strong body of work that can provide donors, trustees, staff of foundations, and the Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Rural Fund Development 101:Starting and Growing Rural Community Endowments

Across rural America, people are joining together to do something new and different. They are launching and growing community endowments. Community endowments resemble savings accounts that grow over time. Local residents are using the interest earned on these community endowments—and the local energy and leadership that come from building them—to improve the quality of life for people, organizations and the places they call home. This guide, Rural Fund Development 101, will help you understand the basics of community endowments and how to create one.

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) examined the perspectives of foundation CEOs and learned that there is much agreement on the audiences for their transparency efforts. Foundation CEOs also agree about what they believe is the most important information to share with those audiences. Foundation CEOs’ views on transparency, which largely match those of grantees, focus on the substance of their work, as opposed to financial disclosures or governance practices. However, foundation practice lags behind CEOs’ beliefs, especially in the area of sharing information about what works. Those who view transparency as unequivocally positive argue that transparency allows foundations to gain Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Supporting Social Entrepreneurship

For philanthropists accustomed to more traditional grantees, yet interested in backing these groundbreaking leaders, funding social entrepreneurs can feel like entering uncharted territory. Donors might find themselves intrigued by the potential for change, and yet, at the same time, unsure of what to expect in a field where the unexpected is the norm.   That’s why we wrote this brief guide. Think of it as an introduction to social entrepreneurship. Part of our Philanthropy Roadmap series, the guide is designed to help philanthropists evaluate whether they want to include support for social entrepreneurs in their giving or investment programs, and Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









The Source Codes of Foundation Culture

This publication begins an exploration into the set of influences shaped by grantmakers’ founders and leaders that affect organizations’ internal cultures. Funders can use this document to support conversations among board and staff to articulate and understand the origins of organizational assumptions, examine beliefs and behaviors, and identify aspects of culture that drive or impede effective work.

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Catagories: Essentials, Mission and Values, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









Theory of Philanthropy Inquiry Tool

Some 30 elements that can feed into a comprehensive theory of philanthropy represent a customizable tool for exploring the issues foundations face. A foundation can use the tool to gather data and perspectives about specific aspects of its heritage and approach; what is learned in addressing the elements can then be synthesized into a succinct and coherent theory of philanthropy. Produced as part of A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Too Good to be True? The Opportunity and Cost of the $1 Building

A study commissioned by The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program finds that arts organizations have experienced a wide range of outcomes when acquiring low-cost or free buildings, also known as “$1 buildings.” In many cases, the actual costs of acquiring such buildings were much higher than organizations anticipated, according to the study, conducted by Boston-based Technical Development Corp.

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Catagories: Essentials, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Vital Funding Part Two: Grantmaking Strategies for Improving LGBTQ Health

Vital Funding Part Two builds upon the rich conversations from the first LGBT Health Funding Summit and Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ special report, Vital Funding – Investing in LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing. This second report identifies several potential strategies for funders concerned about health disparities, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ communities to increase access to insurance coverage for LGBTQ people; build the capacity of the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ health services sector; increase LGBTQ cultural and clinical competence of health service providers and systems; strengthen HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ health policy and advocacy infrastructure; and support efforts to address mental and behavioral health and Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Vital Funding: Investing in LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

LGBTQ communities face stark health disparities ranging from high rates of HIV/AIDS and cancer to disproportionate levels of substance use and mental health challenges. This report assesses the scale and character of foundation funding addressing the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities. Between 2011 and 2013, domestic foundation funding for LGBTQ health totaled $50.4 million. In a rapidly changing landscape for both health policy and LGBTQ issues, funders now have several unique opportunities to achieve lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities.

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Catagories: Essentials, Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Webinar Recap – Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement: Strategies for Success

In the wake of Ferguson, Eric Garner, and the burgeoning #blacklivesmatter movement, the campaign to improve black male achievement has become more urgent than ever. During this webinar, we were joined by policy and communications experts who’ve been building and sustaining the movement for years. Through the lens of the Foundation Center’s landmark report, “Building a Beloved Community: Strengthening the Field of Black Male Achievement” we explored the capacity-building and systems-change strategies from the bird’s eye to the grassroots to learn what’s working.

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Impact?

Everybody’s talking about it. Individual donors, foundations, impact investors, and nonprofits all say they want it. But what do they all mean? This analysis examines the different ways people are using the term and the implicit assumptions that can prevent progress. It ends with the 3 key questions that enable donors to cut through the noise and stay on the path to making the positive difference in the world they seek. Although helpful to all donors interested in practicing high impact philanthropy, the analysis offers specific examples related to addressing the needs of women and girls, thanks to our collaboration Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation