“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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“Key Organizational Boundaries from a Systems Perspective”

In this blog post Bridgeway describes three especially important organizational boundaries from a systems perspective.  

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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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“Shifting Organizational Boundaries”

The final post in this three-part series explains how organizations can consciously shift boundaries as their environment changes.

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“Why Boundaries Are Important in a Boundary-less World”

This blog post explores the relevance of boundaries in an increasingly complex world. Over the next two months we will examine what are some key organizational boundaries that managers need to establish, and how they can consciously evolve these boundaries as the external environment changes.  

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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Foundations and Donors

This blog post lists five key Do’s and five key Don’ts for foundations and donors to have the greatest impact in the communities they serve.

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10 Ways Foundations Can Work With the Public Sector

This resource shows how foundations can be potential partners in making public policy.

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1st Annual Report on America’s Giving Style

A collaborative study from Bolder Giving and WiserGiving, America’s Giving Style analyzes the strategies and approaches that donors use to solve complex problems through their charitable giving. Most donors are focused on fixing immediate problems but typically will use a combination of strategies to effect long term, sustainable change. Furthermore, most sophisticated donors try to align their giving with their beliefs, though for many their current giving habits do not match their ideals and ambitions.  

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A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

This report illustrates the ways in which limited life foundations approach spending down in nine key areas, including investing, grantmaking and strategy, and communications. The results show that most leaders of limited life foundations choose to spend down because of the belief that it will lead to greater impact. And though these foundations’ leaders wrestle with a similar set of issues in their work, the interviews revealed that there is no one way to spend down.

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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.      

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About Mission Investing

This resource discusses market-rate and below-market mission investments made by foundations and other mission-based organizations to further their philanthropic goals.  

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Answers to the 10 Most Asked Questions about PRIs

A program-related investment (PRI) is a type of mission or social investment that foundations make in order to achieve their philanthropic goals. This article answers frequently asked questions about PRIs.

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Blueprint for a Healthier America

This report, produced by the Trust for America’s Health with support from several foundations including Kresge, calls for a new approach to health which prioritizes improving health and addressing major epidemics in the United States. The report highlights pressing crises and how investments could yield positive returns on investment by adopting proven health strategies, such as substance use prevention, programs to promote physical activity and connecting health and social services.

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Bridging Silos, Improving Systems

Systems that provide services to children tend to operate in silos; foundations can play a role in helping bridge these silos by supporting “systems building” efforts. Using examples from two foundations and two communities, this article explores the challenges and lessons learned in systems building work. Educating grantees and other community members about systems and systems building is a critical first step in the process. Supporting systems building requires an iterative process and foundations should continuously reinforce the importance of systems building activities.

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Bringing grantmaking in from the cold

Increasingly, the practice of grantmaking as a tool for bringing about social change has fallen out of favour, replaced by newer, snappier-sounding forms of philanthropy. In laying out their wares, venture philanthropy, strategic philanthropy, philanthrocapitalism and, most recently, ‘catalytic philanthropy’ have all made claims for greater effectiveness.  

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Building Civic Capacity and Communities

A collection of peer-to-peer resources focusing on work being done to strengthen communities. Includes community foundation models, and civic and community capacity resources.

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Building Collaboration From the Inside Out

This publication is focused on building an organization’s collaboration muscles. It offers guidance on steps grantmakers and nonprofits can take to adopt a “collaborative mindset” and align values and practice so they can be better partners in collaboration. It is based on research and interviews with grantmakers, nonprofit leaders, technical assistance providers and thought leaders from 2013 through 2015.

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Capital and Collaboration – An In-Depth Look at the Community Investment System in Massachusetts Working Cities

This publication presents the work of the Capital & Collaboration Initiative, a cross-sector effort designed to increase the scale, efficiency and impact of investments in Massachusetts cities of more than 35,000 people (excluding Boston.) The initiative has identified several cross-cutting priority areas for action that are important to achieving their broader goal of transformative change.

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Collective Impact

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.

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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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Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing

Mission Investors Exchange and the Council on Foundations are thrilled to welcome you to the Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing: Reflections from the Field and Resources for Moving Forward. You will discover all the resources and connections that it has to offer community foundations interested in learning about, designing, and activating an impact investing program.

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Community Investment: Focusing on the System

This paper reviews some of our initial work on community investment (CI) as system. Our goal in writing it is threefold: • To encourage people to think about the system for organizing CI demand, • To suggest ways to make the system visible and tractable in a given place, and • To offer some suggestions based on current and past efforts on how to make the CI system more robust.

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Community Voice in Impact Investing – Webinar

Lisa Richter moderates a lively conversation in this series to share how impact investing organizations serving rural communities are engaging residents and organizations as partners, including through: leadership development community surveys partnerships with grassroots organizations and government member-owned institutions, and technology-driven communications  

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Constructing Collaborative Success for Network Learning: The Story of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool

Despite conversations about the importance of community collaboration, foundations continue to struggle with how to best frame and support collaborative success. Existing tools to assess collaboration may not fit with either a foundation’s values or a specific program strategy. From a foundation perspective, developing a community self-assessment tool reinforced the idea that collaborative functioning is crucial and deserves attention. This article shares a story of the development and initial use of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool as a process of social construction critical to collective action and a possible indicator of network learning.  

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Creating Shared Value

Creating shared value involves value creation for business that simultaneously yields more profit and greater social impact, resulting in powerful transformations and opportunities for growth and innovation in both business and society. The concept of creating shared value focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress, and has the potential to unleash the next wave of global growth and competitive advantage.

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Data at a Foundation’s Fingertips: Creating and Building Dashboards

Technology Affinity Group (TAG) commissioned us for this report on how foundations use dashboards, which combines insights from conversations with 10 different foundations–including previous research on methods for thinking about data-based decision making–to offer a step-by-step process to design and create your own dashboard. To help you learn from the experiences of those foundations that have gone before you, we also included eight detailed case studies of foundations that have created their own dashboards and what into the design and implementation process.

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Designing Technical-Assistance Programs: Considerations for Funders and Lessons Learned

Funders use technical assistance (TA) to expand organizations’ capacity, identify solutions to problems, and develop strategies for long-term change. In this article, the authors document considerations for funders in developing strong TA programs, based on their evaluations of two state-based TA programs.

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Dimensions of Change: A Model for Community Change Efforts

The Dimension of Change Model (DOCM), developed by the authors, is offered as a potentially useful tool for foundations, government, bodies, consultants, coalitions, and even individual organizations that are initiating or engaged in substantive efforts to bring about community change. The dimensions contained in the model – structure, parameters, intention, approach, and people – offer a frame for addressing key aspects that emerge from the literature as fundamental to all change efforts. The model is offered as a way to design, implement, adapt, and evaluate change initiatives. The work of First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission in Marin County Read more

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Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

This resource features the stories of foundations and individuals who transcend traditional philanthropy, and illuminates the six catalytic practices that all donors can employ to achieve greater impact.This book provides a blueprint for foundation leaders, trustees, and individual donors who want to catalyze change in the world.

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Effective and Emerging Approaches to Mission-Related Investing

This white paper defines mission investing strategies, including: socially responsible investing (SRI); environmental, social, and governance (ESG); mission-related investing (MRI); and impact investing. Readers will also learn more about a nine-point impact investing roadmap with questions to help develop your foundation’s investment strategy.

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Embedded Foundations: Advancing Community Change and Empowerment

Embedded funders are foundations that have made long-term commitments to the communities in which they are located or work. Foundations have a long history in funding community development, often with few concrete results. Political conditions, the increasing divide between rich and poor, inaccessibility of education, lack of housing, and continued segregation and racial discrimination are issues that need be addressed concurrently and resources need to be drawn from a variety of sources, particularly the neighborhoods themselves. This complexity has created an impetus for embedded philanthropy. Embedded funders work participatively with the community and frame evaluations in less theoretical, more actionable Read more

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Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations

This actionable guide to impact investing will help those new to the field get started. It includes definitions, key questions to consider, resources, and case examples from small foundations across asset classes and issue areas.  

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

In this webinar experts will elaborate upon what Impact Investing 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.

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Expert Q & A: Strategic, Emergent, or (fill in the blank) Philanthropy: What’s the Right Approach?

By Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting Over the last century or so of philanthropic practice, multiple pathways for achieving results have emerged. Two of the most widely adopted  (and most recently debated) are “strategic” and “emergent” philanthropy. Both have deep roots in the field, as well as a range of adherents and even skeptics.  Other approaches in various stages of experimentation, adoption, or rejection include “philanthrocapitalism,” and “venture,” “catalytic,” and “high engagement” philanthropy. What’s a grantmaker to do? Which approach, hybrid, or combination of approaches is right for you/ your program or initiative / your organization?   How can Read more

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Families Step Up to Meet Economic Crisis

NCFP offers the following 10 steps you can consider during a tough economic climate, based on what family foundations are telling us they are doing, .

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Family Foundation Resources

This page aggregates some of the latest reports, best practices, how-tos, guides, policies, for family foundations.

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Five Ways To Position Your New Foundation For Success

This blog post is for foundations that are new or transitioning. It asks five important questions that can be used to help decide which course of action your foundation will take. These include: Is a foundation the best charitable-giving vehicle for us? What do we want to accomplish? How will we continue to learn? Who do we need in our network? How will we invest in our own success?

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Foundation Effectiveness: Definitions and Challenges

Drawing on interviews with 61 foundation leaders, Ostrower discusses foundation leaders’ understanding of effectiveness, their methods for judging it, and their views on how their foundations have changed (or need to change) to become more effective. The 2004 study points to the need for foundations to articulate specific understandings of effectiveness, remain attentive to these, and develop a regular process for assessing themselves in relation to their approach to effectiveness.

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Foundations and the SDGs: the ‘conspicuous absentees’ speak out

The philanthropic community has been ‘conspicuously absent from the SDG debate’, according to Kevin Watkins of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, writing in the March 2015 issue of Alliance. However, as he suggests, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will take final shape later this year, are likely to have a significant influence on the environment in which foundations operate. We asked a number of people from different regions why foundations should take the SDGs seriously, and how their influence is likely to make itself felt on their work both domestically and internationally. Their response suggests that, even if they Read more

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From Tower to Ground: Systems and Policy Change in the Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative

This chapter assesses the Foundation’s progress in systems and policy change across four elements: Influence, Champions, Leverage and Scale.

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Give Smart — Philanthropy That Gets Results

Getting serious about philanthropy is like embarking on a voyage. It is exciting to explore your beliefs and aspirations, learn from experts and practitioners, and experiment with different types of grants and organizations. But the journey can also quickly become overwhelming; the social and environmental needs are so great that it can be hard to know where to start! To help, we’ve created a wide range of resources to inform and inspire. Explore the sections to learn more about how to get started in your philanthropy and to keep improving as you go.

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Giving While Living: The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story

This monograph, “Giving While Living: The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story” PDF, examines how Beldon handled the practical implications of putting the foundation on a ten-year spend-out course while seeking to accomplish an ambitious mission. Though it draws on historical materials – reports, strategy papers, financial models, written policies and external evaluations – the context and insights come from interviews with key staff members, grantees, John Hunting, and board members.  

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High Impact Philanthropy Blog: Rethinking the E-Word

The following post was originally published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog as part of a series exploring the meaning and value of strategic philanthropy. Evidence-based philanthropy. To some, that phrase offers the promise of long-overdue rigor. If the first principle of philanthropy and social impact is to do good, then evidence-based philanthropy ensures that we honor its corollary: Do no harm. To others, that phrase represents all that is going wrong with philanthropy and social innovation—the rise of the ivory-tower theorists and technocrats whose logic models and fixation with metrics blind them to real-world knowledge and common sense. It’s time Read more

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High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality: Focus on High-Need Secondary Students

For donors seeking to improve student outcomes, the critical question is: How can my funds improve teaching quality? This report outlines high impact philanthropic models based on our analysis of available evidence from academic research, expert advice, and practitioner information.

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How to Find (or Develop) Impact Investing Deals (webinar)

This impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. Walk away with a list of resources to explore with your team and grow your knowledge base on the tools available to further your mission.

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Impact Capital Measurement

This report describes five different foundations’ approaches to measuring the social impact of program-related investments (PRIs). In addition, it reviews three other approaches to measuring the social impact of other impact investments that may be relevant to foundations.

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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. Impact investing, which seeks to generate social and environmental benefits while delivering a financial return, is growing in popularity. A worldwide market in excess of $400 billion is projected by 2020.

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Integrated Transactions: An Emerging Focus For Community Development

This paper examines development models that intentionally integrate elements from two or more sectors, the capital challenges inherent in such projects, and the unique role that CDFIs and philanthropy play in overcoming those challenges. This paper focuses on neighborhood-level efforts that go beyond single sector investments that are emerging through partnerships and collaboratives working to deliver community driven solutions. Includes case studies.  

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International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations: Local Communities with Global Reach

This report, a joint effort by the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center, examines the current state and recent trends in international giving and engagement by large U.S. community foundations. The first-ever analysis of this type suggests that many community foundations are beginning to adopt a broader, more nuanced definition of “community” than they have in the past.

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Invest Northwest: Ten-Year Final Performance Review

The experience of developing, launching, managing, and evaluating Invest Northwest has provided important lessons for the Northwest Area Foundation’s and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s mission investing programs. These lessons are also relevant to impact investors and place-based investors. With the fund coming to a close, this report documents these lessons and reflections, as well as the history of Invest Northwest, the fund’s financial performance, and its strong social performance.

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Laying the Groundwork for a National Impact Investing Marketplace

Impact investing is an umbrella concept encompassing several investment tools, including mission related investments (MRIs), program related investments (PRIs), and screening mechanisms for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities. The practice of impact investing is rapidly gaining momentum, but the level of activity among individual and institutional investors, including philanthropists and foundations, has barely penetrated projections of market potential. Foundations are among the most reluctant investors and represent the smallest share of current activity. The academic, nonprofit, Denver-based Impact Finance Center1 (IFC) has established a proof point for creating impact investing “marketplaces” at a statewide scale across all sectors, asset classes, Read more

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Learning-Circle Partnerships and the Evaluation of a Boundary-Crossing Leadership Initiative in Health

Leadership development approaches that are focused on individual knowledge and skill development do not suit the leadership needs of low income communities and communities of color in addressing the multiple factors that influence health disparities. Boundary-crossing leadership is rooted in a social justice perspective and seeks to address the isolation and fragmentation faced by those who are working to address systemic inequities. A multicultural approach to evaluation honors different ways of knowing, recognizes that groups have different learning questions, acknowledges and addresses power dynamics that exist between funders and grantees, and ensures that evaluation is culturally relevant and constructive for Read more

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Making Change by Spending Down

This case study shares funder wisdom by highlighting more than 20 voices that support spending down. It offers numerous perspectives on the spend down that result in a detailed collective story. There’s no one right way to do or think about spending down, but sharing and listening help build a strategic approach.    

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Making Change Happen

You will find outlined here a process that can help both experienced and emerging philanthropists. The goal is a functional model for creating social change, complete with plans for how to monitor the progress of the project.

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

Existing resources in the field can provide the technical blueprints for making impact investments; by openly sharing its experiences, the Surdna Foundation hopes this report will serve as a case study for others in the philanthropic community who choose to explore impact investing tailored to their mission and goals, and that it will contribute to collective learning in the fields of mission-related investing and family philanthropy.    

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

This report charts the journey from the time the Surdna Foundation board of directors and staff began exploring impact investing in 2014 to the decision-making process and experience of implementing impact investing policies. “The Surdna Foundation’s founder, John E. Andrus was committed to inclusion, social justice and sustainability,” said Peter Benedict II, Surdna Foundation’s board chair. “By sharing our experience and some of the lessons we learned in this report this centennial year, we will contribute to collective learning in the fields of mission-related investing and family philanthropy and celebrate these core values.”

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Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs

This report discusses how through a better understanding of what defines a quality job and a set of practical methods for measuring the quality of jobs created, we believe Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and others in the impact investing community will be better positioned to make more effective investments that support good jobs for workers, businesses, and communities.      

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New Perspectives on Michigan Community Foundations

How can we understand the activity of Michigan community foundations in the context of their local populations? How have Michigan community foundations changed over time? This report begins to explore answers to these two questions, building on a decade of work by the Council of Michigan Foundations and their annual Community Foundation Data Book to offer new insight into community philanthropy across the state. Combining both longitudinal and contextual population data, this report offers new ways to think about community foundation growth and alternative benchmarks for individual community foundation trustees and executive leaders to use in planning and evaluation.

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New Voices at the Civic Table: Facilitating Personal and Social Change

This article describes six pilot initiatives of the Alliance for Children and Families — New Voices at the Civic Table (New Voices), a philanthropy-funded effort to challenge human service organizations to integrate civic engagement as a permanent part of their infrastructure. All six New Voices models included common elements: leadership training, civic education, experiential learning, participatory decision-making, networking, and reflective evaluation. Each also reflected one of four primary variations to civic engagement based on their community needs and demands: self-efficacy, constituent involvement, mobilizing, and organizing. Results demonstrate that civic engagement in human services not only produces a means for promoting Read more

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Paradigm Shift: A Foundation/Grantee Partnership Using Data to Drive Neighborhood Revitalization and Assess Impact

The Wachovia Regional Foundation spearheaded the formation of a partnership to create a participatory outcome evaluation framework for its neighborhood revitalization work. The framework integrates the use of primary and secondary data and has been modified and improved to strengthen a variety of the foundation’s comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts. Forty-one community-based organizations have utilized the framework as a key tool to craft and implement neighborhood plans in a 62-county region. The framework has enabled grantees and residents to better understand and capitalize on market dynamics, enhance their participation in revitalization activities and begin to demonstrate the impact of sustained, strategic Read more

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Participate: The Power of Involving Business in Social Impact Networks

This handbook focuses on the particular models for building social impact networks that engage the private sector. Why would a network want to include a company? Why would a company want to participate in a network? Can an effort create social impact while delivering business value? What makes network relationships durable? What are the different needs around accountability, leadership, governance and mindset? And what kinds of roles are best suited for companies to play?  

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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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Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

Philanthropy scholarship has the potential to inform practice and policy so that societal wellbeing is enhanced and positive change achieved. How can we make this happen? This special feature suggests two possibilities and also documents some successful experiences of knowledge transfer that may serve as prototypes for bridging the divide.

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Place-Based Philanthropy: Investing in Community Change

This article discusses how a growing number of family foundations have taken a commitment to geographic location to another level, and made the strategic decision to engage in place-based philanthropy, dedicating the majority of their giving and personal involvement in a specific community.    

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Ramping Up Your Foundation: Key Considerations for Planning and Managing a Significant Increase in Giving

This guide is designed to help foundations thoughtfully and responsibly plan for a significant ramp up in giving and/or adjust to a sudden infusion of assets. Drawing on the experiences of a number of foundations that have undergone this transition, the primer addresses key considerations for foundation leadership in the areas of governance, staffing and operations, grantmaking and evaluation, investments, and tax and legal arenas.

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Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change

This article examines success factors that relate specifically to the ability of a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) to achieve the scope and scale required to generate community-level outcomes and to sustain those positive impacts over time. The CCIs selected for study represent a wide range of goals, strategies, and organizational structures. Six factors were found to cut across scope, scale, and sustainability. These factors include having a single broker or entity that holds the vision of the change effort; clearly defined roles; alignment among interventions, resources, and geography; meaningful community engagement; competent leadership and staff; and strategic, cross-level relationships. Additional Read more

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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.

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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City

This GEO blog post shows how the development of the Healthy Communities Leadership Academy has allowed the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to see more authentic and effective collaboration as well as stronger connections and relationships.

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Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

As foundations seek to catalyze broad-based social change, there is a need for greater understanding of what social movements are, how they evolve, and how foundations can support them. Movement building presents unique challenges to foundations. Because movements, by definition, must be driven by the people who are most affected, foundations cannot determine the goals and timetables of a movement. The authors identify five core elements to movement building: organizing an authentic base; leadership; vision and ideas; alliances; and advocacy infrastructure. A framework for evaluating movement building is proposed, which can help foundations identify measureable outcomes and track progress throughout Read more

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Staying the Course: How a Long-Term Strategic Donor Initiative to Conserve the Amazon Has Yielded Outcomes of Global Significance

This article examines how the design principles of a major philanthropic initiative have influenced its performance, and provides a practical example of strategic philanthropy that can contribute to the current debate over the merits and flaws of this approach.

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Stewarding wealth for the common good: how an Asian family office incorporated climate change mitigation into its portfolio

‘From an Asian perspective, climate change is not a distant threat – it is happening today. I want to make sure that the way my capital is invested is part of the solution and not the problem.’ So says Annie Chen, founder of RS Group, a Hong Kong-based family office. Air pollution in Beijing, bushfires in Australia and typhoons in the Philippines underline her remarks. Consequently, RS Group incorporates climate change considerations in all its activities and across asset classes, with the dual goal of contributing to climate change mitigation and ensuring its investment portfolio is fit for the future.

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Strategic or emergent: why are we stuck in the swimming pool?

Responses to John Kania, Mark Kramer and Patty Russell’s ‘Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World’, published in the summer issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, have come largely from the US and from people who write regularly about philanthropy. Many of them have focused on the way consultants behave and how they interact with foundations and non-profits – in other words, the philanthropy system. We would like to broaden that debate and in doing so to leave the swimming pool and venture out into the sea.

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Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility

Moving past generic CSR principles: learn how societal influence is becoming the new frontier of competitive advantage.

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Tactics in Philanthropy: The Case of the Moving Spotlight

In recent years, strategy has been a much discussed topic in philanthropy, while tactics have received little attention. The experience of the MacArthur Foundation’s environmental program and its Moving Spotlight approach provide examples of the importance of tactical decisions. Tactical decisions such as the timing of grants, foundation staffing levels, and the timing of evaluations all contribute to grantees’ ability to achieve outcomes. Structure and flexibility can be complementary approaches to grantmaking if the tactics are well thought out.

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Taking the Bull by the Horns: Creating a Culture of Community Leadership

In this video from the Community Leadership Video Catalogue, a staff and board team share their perspectives on Spartanburg County Foundation’s transformation from charity to philanthropy.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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The Art of Community Double Dutch: Knowing When to Jump In

This article uses the childhood experience of learning how to play Double Dutch jump rope as an allegory to navigating complicated community leadership through civic engagement.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Best of the Humanistic and Technocratic: Why the Most Effective Work in Philanthropy Requires a Balance

Key points: As a more technocratic approach to philanthropy has emerged over the past 15 years, it has been seen as the opposite of humanistic philanthropy. Rather than a dichotomy, these approaches are on a continuum. The best tools from each approach can and should be brought to bear, including the wellthought out and disciplined strategies and results orientation of technocrats and the values base, intuition, responsiveness, and flexibility of the humanists. Staff and board leaders at foundations should articulate the humanistic-technocratic blend they desire, deliberately distill it into the organizational culture and everyday practices, and hire staff who possess Read more

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Future of Family Philanthropy – Predicting and Preparing

Based on the candid peer conversations and insights from thought leaders that were offered during two “National Summits” on family philanthropy, this brief envisions the changes in the field, and suggests ways to adapt family giving for a better future– a future of new families, new generations, new kinds of relationships, and new methods for creating change.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results (Second Ed.): Book Review

The second edition of The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results is a straightforward guide, with excellent and varied examples, that achieves its purpose of giving readers a “basic understanding of how to create and use logic models” (p. xii). As enthusiastic champions of logic models, the authors adhere to the assumption that articulating precise and detailed logic models will lead to better results.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Pioneer Portfolio and the Quest for the New New Thing

This introduction presents a glimpse into a new Anthology chapter that looks at RWJF’s Pioneering Portfolio, designed to explore the innovative ideas.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Social Impact Incubator: The Segal Family Foundation Invests in Burundian Civil Society

In this case study, the reader will learn about The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) and how they decided that the only way to advance their grantmaking was to build the capacity of local organizations to be leaders and change-makers, as well as inform and influence donors on the pivotal role of civil society in Burundi. To achieve this, SFF created the Social Impact Incubator.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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The Women Effect

Try this exercise. When you think ‘women’ and ‘investing’ what do you think about? This piece is going to ask you to think about the ‘women effect’ as a factor across multiple dimensions where ‘women and girls’ and ‘impact investing’ come together. Across all asset classes, and a variety of stakeholders.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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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

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Through the Looking Glass: Foundation Evaluation and Learning and the Quest for Strategic Learning

This article addresses different models that foundations use to establish staff evaluation and learning functions, what other organizational considerations they should take into account in order to prioritize strategic-learning work, and what tools and approaches can be used to initiate strategic learning. Interviews with officers from more than a dozen foundations revealed that strategic learning does not require wholesale structural and cultural change; an incremental approach, instead, can phase in greater complexity as foundations expand staff capacity. The interviews also uncovered several areas where further exploration of system building and practice at foundations has potential for advancing the field.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Top Learning Frameworks for Grantmakers

By: Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting The specific learning needs of grantmakers can vary widely – depending on mission, goals, structure and context and, ultimately, individual roles and competencies. We’ve scanned the sector for existing, high-quality learning frameworks that illustrate a range of perspectives on roles and competencies in a variety of operating contexts, with the understanding that most grantmakers work within multiple frameworks. The examples below include a mix of knowledge (what grantmakers should know) and competencies (what grantmakers should be expected to do) – and are useful whether you are an individual program officer new to your Read more

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Trends in Global Philanthropy Among U.S. Foundations: A Brief Review of Data and Issues

International grantmaking has increased dramatically in the past two decades, at a rate faster than domestic grantmaking. The increase in international grantmaking, stimulated by increased interest in global issues, was fueled by increased foundation assets and especially by new foundations created since 1990. While many of the issues confronting international grantmaking exist with domestic grantmaking, they have special aspects and increased importance because of the global context. Many foundations have now accumulated information about how best to work in partnership with other foundations, governments, and business; these lessons would benefit all foundations. Thoughtful collective action taken by foundation membership organizations Read more

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Unlocking the Power of the Proxy: How Active Foundation Proxy Voting Can Protect Endowments and Boost Philanthropic Mission

This report features a step-by-step process to assist foundations in developing proxy voting guidelines in a simple and cost effective manner. Key recommendations include: find a champion to coordinate the process and develop a proposal for the board of directors explaining the benefits associated with aligning philanthropic mission and funding areas with investment strategy. Once guidelines are developed, options for implementing a policy including hiring a proxy voting service, asking a broker or money manager to vote in line with the policy, or develop the capacity to vote in-house. The report contains a comprehensive Resource Section listing sample voting policies Read more

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Valuing Social Return on Investment

This report seeks to identify and describe state-of-the-art approaches to valuing social returns on social investments (SROI), to review the organizational challenges to implementing an SROI measurement process, and to examine in detail organizations in the Netherlands and the United States that have attempted to use SROI measurements. The focus of each piece of the project was SROI methods and valuation in the health care field, specifically. In the conclusion, the report distills some best practices and practical tips for conducting SROI measurements.

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Watch it Now: An Introduction to Integrated Data Systems

This quick video shows how this powerful tool works by linking and leveraging secure information already gathered by public agencies. Participating organizations decide what data to share, where to store this information and how it can be used. This new picture has fewer statistical blind spots, which can help lawmakers and leaders develop smarter policies, programs and strategies for supporting system and community solutions.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Webinar Archive: Common Ways to Engage in Impact Investing

This is the second in a series of three webinars based on Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations, produced in conjunction with our partners at Arabella Advisors and Exponent Philanthropy. This new impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. In Common Ways to Engage in Impact Investing you will hear about some of the diverse impact investing strategies that small-staffed foundations are putting to use. Foundations employ a variety of tactics, from below-market to market-rate investments, and across asset classes and Read more

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Webinar Archive: Why Foundations of All Sizes Engage in Impact Investing

This is the first in a series of three webinars based on Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations, produced in conjunction with our partners at Arabella Advisors and Exponent Philanthropy. This new impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. In Why Foundations of All Sizes Engage in Impact Investing, you will hear from small-staffed foundations as they discuss the motivations behind their impact investing programs, the benefits their foundations receive as a result, and the case they had to make to Read more

Categories: Models & Approaches

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What are the issues with donor-advised funds?

This 2016 post from the Urban Wire reports that the rise of DAFs raises policy questions that affect the full spectrum of charitable organizations. Ultimately, the most important question surrounding DAFs is whether their efficiency and rapid growth offer new opportunities to expand charitable activity more generally.  

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What Does Community Philanthropy Look Like? Case Studies on Community Philanthropy — Volume 1

This publication was commissioned Barry Knight of CENTRIS to develop these case studies featuring profiles of eight community philanthropy initiatives from around the world.

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What Is High Impact Philanthropy?

High impact philanthropy means getting the most good for your philanthropic dollar. It is the process by which a philanthropist makes the biggest difference possible, given the amount of capital invested.  

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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What Is My Giving Style?

If you were to ask a donor, “What type of donor are you,” he or she might pause and respond with another question: “What kinds of donors are there?” A number of observers of philanthropy have written about different types of philanthropists. While categorizing donors into types may be useful, most philanthropists’ gifts will fall along a spectrum of giving styles. Donors may find themselves pulled to supporting direct services and write a check to an organization whose sole purpose is to feed the hungry. Later, they may be moved to make a gift that addresses the root causes of Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Models & Approaches

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What’s Next for Community Philanthropy?

Monitor Institute launched the What’s Next for Community Philanthropy initiative in January 2013 to engage community foundations and other community philanthropy organizations in a large-scale innovation and design process to help them open up to new models and new possibilities that will help them better serve their communities in the years ahead.  

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Will Donor-Advised Funds Revolutionize Philanthropy?

Donor-advised funds allow a wide range of people to establish small endowmentsa development with exciting prospects for the future of philanthropy. The entry of the mutual fund industry into the realm of charitable endowments may make the process manageable for people of average means. This 1999 paper compares the relatively simple donor-advised funds with foundations, which are subject to burdensome tax regulations and record-keeping requirements. This paper points to the need to examine closely regulations that may hinder giving through donor-advised funds rather than encourage it.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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Words to Give By: Leading Voices in Advocacy Funding

A compilation of interviews with foundation leaders on the importance of supporting advocacy.

Categories: Legal Issues and Laws, Models & Approaches, General Grants 

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Your Philanthropy Roadmap

This is the first in a series of guides to engage and educate donors – notably new and emerging donors – in planning, implementing and sustaining effective philanthropy programs. Part of our Philanthropy Roadmap resources to support effective giving by donors worldwide, this guide sets up the framework for the topics in the series, as well as introduces the approach RPA has been using successfully for some time to guide donors along their philanthropic journey.

Categories: Models & Approaches

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