America’s Giving Style is a breakthrough new report that goes beyond the already available statistics on giving to reveal the heart and soul of what donors are trying to accomplish with their gifts. Its focus is on understanding individuals’ underlying belief systems and motivators of how to effect change, regardless of the issue being addressed. 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 Read more
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
The Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association represents a synthesis of recommendations made by more than 60 practitioners and thought leaders in the field. It describes ten principles and corresponding practices that contribute to a grantmaking organization’s effectiveness and that can be used to strengthen philanthropy education across the sector.
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.
The growing quantity of giving has not been matched by improved quality. The growth in the quantity of new philanthropy and the search for more effective philanthropy has now produced a “significant moment in the marketization of philanthropy.” A recent outpouring of books by foundation officials, consultants and academics has broadly emphasized the idea that “strategic philanthropy” in some form promises significant improvements. With these books, then, do donors, family foundations, and philanthropy generally have new usable knowledge to meet the challenge of quality grantmaking?
Why are so few market-based solutions to poverty getting to scale? What can be done so that they can deliver meaningful benefits to the poor? These are the questions raised by the recently released Monitor Inclusive Markets report Beyond the Pioneer. Its findings are in turn examined by the June 2014 Alliance special feature.
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 Read more
The recently released Monitor Deloitte report Beyond the Pioneer examines why so few market-based solutions to poverty are getting to scale and what can be done so that they can deliver meaningful benefits to the poor. Based on research spanning Asia and Africa, the report’s main finding is that many of the barriers to scale cannot or will not be addressed effectively by any individual firm. What is needed is external support in the form of market facilitators that can remove these barriers at an ecosystem level.Our own experience at Artha Networks Inc (ANI) over the last ten years, helping to build Read more
“Strategic philanthropy” has become a dominant theme among foundations in the past few decades. While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically. Four challenges to strategic philanthropy are identified, including strategies developed in isolation from grantees that execute them and misaligned foundation structures, processes, and cultures that do not support strategic endeavors. In order to get beyond the veneer of strategic philanthropy, foundation leaders need to be clearer about their own role in creating change, develop the strategic capacities to do so, and then apply those capacities, learn from them, Read more
Many social enterprises focus on measuring the success of individual grants and nonprofit initiatives. This traditional approach to measuring results neglects the reality that no single organization alone can solve the scale of today’s social challenges. This research highlights 20 social enterprises that developed innovative and coordinated web-based approaches to evaluate their impact across multiple grants and stakeholders.
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.
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. This change has been largely driven by outsiders, for example by business people entering the sector or by consultants. However, there has also been introspection within established grantmaking platforms and networks about the significance and purpose of grantmaking. For example, a keynote speaker at the 2013 conference of the African Grantmakers Network worried Read more
This paper defines a field, provides examples of how funders build fields, lists the elements of a strong field, and discusses effective donor practices to promote sustainable fields. The paper concludes with questions that can help to assess field strengths and needs, and a discussion of the best time to exit a field.
Networks have historically played an essential role in promoting progress in areas such as social justice, political reform, environmental protection, and public health. Foundations are increasingly recognizing the power of networks and looking for strategies to help networks achieve their potential. The most common strategies are: a) convene a new network around a mission in line with the foundation’s interests, or b) make grants to an existing network whose interests align with the foundation’s. Each strategy has practical limitations. This paper analyzes an alternative strategy developed by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (MRBF). In addition to providing networks with grants, Read more
GEO and Monitor Institute partnered to release Catalyzing Networks for Social Change, 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.
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the first community foundation in the U.S. This milestone brings with it both increased attention to the field of community philanthropy and the opportunity to demonstrate the significance of these institutions to the communities they serve. The goal of this microsite is to share what the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has learned in more than 35 years of supporting the field, offer key insights, and highlight our legacy of partnering with community foundations in a way that advances the vital work they do to strengthen their communities.
These courses help community foundation staff, board members and volunteers master the unique aspects of the community foundation field in short order. You’ll learn about effective practices, get helpful tools and information and have the opportunity to network with others in the field. Comprehensive and engaging, these courses are an efficient and affordable way to increase your knowledge of the field, to help you work more effectively.
This article examines The Skillman Foundation’s efforts to add value to its work through “changemaking,” which encompasses roles and practices beyond grantmaking through which a foundation advances its goals – and offers 10 lessons for grantmakers that want to assume a changemaking role. This approach draws upon and leverages the Foundation’s knowledge, networks and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments. Changemaking also required the Foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across traditionally siloed grantmaking programs, adding evaluation and learning staff, and increasing communication and alignment between board and staff. (The Skillman Foundation is pleased to share Read more
Foundations have begun to recognize that how they go about their work is as important as what they support. To be better armed to address the urgent challenges facing Detroit’s children, the Skillman Foundation has adopted a changemaking role that draws upon and leverages its knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments. Effective changemaking depends on the accrual of trust and respect that is built over time in relationships with community residents and stakeholders, public and private partners, and others with influence and resources. Changemaking required the foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across Read more
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. The Collective Impact Forum is the place to find the tools and training that can help achieve success. It’s an expanding network of like-minded individuals coming together from across sectors to share useful experience and knowledge and thereby accelerating the effectiveness, and further adoption, of the collective impact approach as a whole.
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. We are delighted that you are reading this Field Guide and discovering all the resources and connections that it has to offer community foundations interested in learning about, designing, and activating an impact investing program.
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
A highly publicized incident served as a catalyst for the Austin, Texas, community, convened by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, to address gaps in the behavioral health system. The foundation worked with the local behavioral health authority, the mayor’s office, police and sheriff’s departments, and the city health department to design the Austin Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force. The task force was succeeded by a monitoring committee that identified six focus areas in which to develop action plans and monitor community progress. This collaborative process aimed to strengthen public commitment to behavioral health services and create a cross-agency planning Read more
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.
“Conversations with Remarkable Givers” is a groundbreaking, free video series of frank and candid conversations with more than 60 remarkable, results-oriented philanthropists, providing unprecedented access to their strategic thinking, insights, and wisdom.
The Texas High School Project (THSP) was created in 2003 as a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state. This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the THSP alliance to create early college high schools (ECHS). The model has been scaled at different levels to produce direct, affordable pathways for students to both attend college and attain skilled careers. The ECHS schools have higher test scores, greater credits earned, and reduced dropouts rates compared to traditional schools. Foundations with a track record for supporting successful work can increase the overall commitment to joint projects and Read more
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.
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, causes, mechanisms, and goals.
Funders often focus their grants to build capacity, recognizing the important roles that leadership, skills, and infrastructure have on an organization’s effectiveness in carrying out its mission. This article reports on results from Mathematica Policy Research’s evaluation of Consumer Voices for Coverage, a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the role of consumer health advocacy coalitions in 12 states. The foundation based the program on a study that identified six core advocacy capacities, and designed it to strengthen these capacities. The evaluation found that the level of funding, substantial and targeted technical assistance, and the three-year Read more
This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans. Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were Read more
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
Traditional philanthropy is no antidote to the complex problems that challenge our world today. Donors must go beyond check-writing to proactively catalyze change using a variety of tools and practices. Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, 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.
Too often, it’s not the academics that bring down a charter school; it’s the building. Together with Civic Builders, hedge fund manager Brian Olson is offering leases to charter schools—under one condition.
Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic work—including founding or co-founding with her husband, Pierre, the Omidyar Network, Hope Lab, and Humanity United—demonstrates how she has translated her passions into social change. Includes: International philanthropy, Microfinance, Medical philanthropy.
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
What separates more strategic foundation leaders from less strategic ones? This research explores the state of strategy at foundations today and identifies behaviors and practices common to more strategic leaders. Case studies and interviews included in the report highlight strategic best practices.
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. This guide was produced in partnership with Mission Investors Exchange and Arabella Advisors.
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.
Organizational advocacy capacity is an increasingly important area of inquiry, raising questions about the opportunities (and limits) for achieving and sustaining policy change. The California Endowment implemented the Clinic Consortia Policy and Advocacy Program to expand grantee advocacy capacity to support the policy and operational needs of California’s community clinics. In-person meetings with decision-makers and developing working relationships were among the key advocacy activities undertaken by 19 grantees. Grantees secured several policy wins through a variety of strategies, including mobilizing member clinics to be potent advocates. The “return on investment analysis” indicates that grantees secured policymaker support for clinic programs Read more
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
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
During its time-limited lifespan, the Beldon Fund sought to maximize its impact with focused investments in environmental advocacy and health. The Fund pursued three unique but interrelated strategies to advance positive change on the issues it cared about: 1) Build capacity and clout, 2) Support civic engagement, 3) Broaden the base of support. A fourth strategy, Giving more than grants, supplemented the three main strategies. To pursue these strategies, the Beldon Fund developed two program areas through which it made long-term grants: 1) the Key States Program, which invested in building long-term sustainable infrastructure, capacity, and tools in a limited Read more
Education funders have historically used a “demonstration project” approach to funding, designed to lever change by demonstrating a new program and providing technical assistance to foster broader adoption. Despite demonstrating success with many of its grants, the Skillman Foundation’s education reform initiatives were derailed and undone by the instability of the district leadership, political landscape shifts, and disintegrating neighborhoods. A complete turnaround model must address the many issues facing a failing school, including culture, curriculum, school leadership, professional development, and classroom instruction. The stability of the central administration must also be considered. The new look at urban reform at scale Read more
Many of the social issues private foundations and other philanthropies attempt to address — poverty, homelessness, global climate change — are wicked problems. That is, they defy easy definition, lack permanent solutions, and have multiple stakeholders. The wicked problems framework helps make explicit the challenging nature of the issue to be addressed, requires an inclusive style of leadership that seeks stakeholder involvement, and demands candid exchange among stakeholders about the nature of the problem and effectiveness of efforts to address it. A wicked problems framework provides a set of criteria and questions for evaluators of advocacy efforts to ask all Read more
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
All too often, foundations have failed to institutionalize a process to establish standards of effectiveness and regularly assess themselves in relation to these standards. We draw this conclusion from a series of interviews with 61 foundation leaders (CEOs and board heads) of 42 staffed, grantmaking foundations. These interviews probed foundation leaders’ understanding of effectiveness, the methods they use to judge it, and how they say their foundations have changed or need to change in order to be more effective. As the following discussion shows, what is clearly needed in so many cases is for foundations to articulate specific understandings of effectiveness Read more
Questions about how much U.S. grantmaking foundations spend on staff, trustees, overhead, and other administrative expenses—and how much is appropriate to spend—are at the forefront of current debates on foundation practices. Over the past several years, stories in the media have spotlighted foundations with questionably high compensation and expenses. In turn, this media scrutiny has prompted action by policymakers to address perceived improprieties. In the foundation field, it has sparked widespread discussion at the national and local levels about what constitutes appropriate practice. Missing from these debates has been adequate information about current practices across a wide spectrum of foundations. Read more
Skillman senior program officer Marie Colombo collaborates with independent consultant Prudence Brown and Della M. Hughes of the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis University to examine how a foundation prepares and evolves in real time while working toward community change. (The Skillman Foundation is pleased to share this report with the permission of Foundation Review.)
This white paper was created to map the spectrum of activities that, taken together, endeavor to create well nourished, food secure communities. It will discuss the continuum of both publicly and privately funded activities that address food security in the U.S., to provide foundation staff and trustees with a framework for considering food security investments. For each general strategy or activity area, a brief overview will be provided, as well as some examples of investments that foundations and others make to support the work. The paper will serve as a guide to the growing interconnections between different activities, suggesting new Read more
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
The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption was created in 1992 to increase adoptions from foster care in North America. A decade later, the Foundation concluded that it needed to change its philanthropic approach to achieve that goal. In response, the Foundation launched the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids initiative, in partnership with Wendy’s, to implement and evaluate an alternative method to finding families for hard-to-place children. This case study examines the Foundation’s philanthropic strategy to enhancing its effectiveness, identifies lessons that may help other foundations, and draws implications for the respective roles of private and public initiative in addressing major social issues.
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.
In our experience, developing a philanthropic strategy is an iterative process, regardless of the economic climate. It requires the internal discipline to ask—and rigorously answer—three fundamental questions: How do we define success? What will it take to make change happen? How can we improve our results over time? We think of this process as getting clear, getting real, and getting better. In the following pages we’ll explore how leaders at the James Irvine Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation have wrestled with Read more
Getting real, lasting results from your philanthropic giving requires planning, strategy, realism and partnership. Whether you’re new to philanthropy or farther along, the materials in the Give Smart library can help guide you in your philanthropic journey.
As a foundation with an ambitious policy agenda and limited time frame, Beldon needed to be more than a grantmaker. Beldon founder John Hunting strongly believed that marshaling the foundation’s non-financial resources – its expertise and experience, convening power, influence with other funders, and the capacity to broker relationships among grantees – was key to creating lasting change.
Once thought to be uniquely American, philanthropy and civil society are now seen as global phenomena. This course highlights the obligations of philanthropy to support civil society as its primary vehicle for accomplishing its programmatic objectives. Examine individual giving, organized philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and corporate philanthropy as contributors to the common good throughout the world. Analyze the impact of technology on giving and the role of evaluation in assessing the ability of global philanthropy to sustain civil society. The course is taught through lectures, discussions, and readings.
Author: Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, New York University
“This has been the crossover year for Big Data — as a concept, as a term and, yes, as a marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream.” — The New York Times What Big Data is, and what it means for how grants are made, are key questions in philanthropy circles thanks to the explosion of data-minded collaborative projects like The Reporting Commitment. Are grantmakers using Big Data? How does a foundation begin its Big Data adventure? What about privacy concerns? Will focusing on numbers take the humanity out of philanthropy? GMNsight’s Spring 2013 Read more
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is a diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers reshaping the way philanthropy operates to invest in nonprofit success. Mission: Understanding that grantmakers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. Nonprofits are successful at achieving more meaningful change in our communities when they have the resources and skills to be effective. By not adequately responding to what nonprofits say they need most to maximize impact, funders can inadvertently do harm to the organizations and causes we intend to support. Changing grantmaker Read more
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
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
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.
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
Individuals and foundations can have an impact disproportionate to their resources during a recession by offering a philanthropic lifeline to organizations providing vital community services. Yes, foundation endowments recently have been hard hit and individuals who traditionally give to charity have suffered financial reversals. But many nonprofits in their communities are in truly desperate straits. Philanthropy can seed and reap significant long-term benefits for our communities by acting now.
To be a successful philanthropist, you’ll need to make good decisions about how to spend your money, time and influence. Here’s advice on how to do just that. Three practices will help you stay on track: Measure your grantees’ performance thoughtfully. Request and reflect on data that can inform decision-making. Ask: are my grantees and their programs getting results? How can I help them do better? Ensure your philanthropic strategy is tied to grantee strategies. Ask: Do my grantees’ results contribute to the overall success I am aiming for? Am I clear on how? Take into account external factors. What Read more
(Posted by NFF with permission from Americas Quarterly) The rise of impact investing is not inevitable… Most resources and most investors—whether trustees controlling large assets or individuals with smaller personal accounts—remain locked in a traditional approach that limits the social engagement of market forces and business. At the same time, established policies and regulations, educational opportunities, career paths, capital markets, and language all fail to support their aspirations and practices. In fact, most of the time they get in the way. Realizing the full potential of impact investing requires moving beyond the aggregation of a few inspiring anecdotes to build Read more
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.
When I first started out in social impact investing, it was hard to find anyone writing or talking about it (apart from my boss at Venturesome, John Kingston). But the tables have turned, and in the recent Alliance special feature, ‘Markets for good: removing the barriers’, we had not just one article but several from around the globe! It’s a joy to think that the field is now at a point that such an esteemed and diverse group of contributors can come together and debate the issues raised by Monitor Inclusive Markets’ report Beyond the Pioneer: Getting inclusive industries to Read more
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.
Informs the debate on operating support with new data about current foundation practices, attitudes underlying those practices, and the impact on grantees of foundation choices. The report explores what motivates foundation CEOs in their decision-making, examining the tension between CEOs’ sense of what is best for their foundations and what they believe will make the most positive impact on grantee organizations. In Search of Impact also probes the grantee perspective through an analysis of thousands of survey responses and a set of interviews with nonprofit leaders, revealing the importance of other grant attributes that have been overshadowed in the debate Read more
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
There’s been a lot of discussion about aligning investment practices and mission at foundations, but to what extent are foundations engaging in practices like impact investing and negative screening? To dig beneath the talk and better understand the current state of practice at large private foundations, CEP surveyed CEOs at those foundations to learn more. Analysis of responses from 64 chief executives suggests that the rhetoric seems to be outpacing the reality.
Grantmakers recognize the value of supporting effective, well-led organizations — strong organizations create meaningful changes in the world. To help us understand whether we are making progress in supporting nonprofits in ways that allow them to be successful, GEO conducts field research to track trends in grantmaker practice. In short, we want to know: is grantmaking getting smarter? GEO’s 2014 study highlights some important shifts in how grantmakers support nonprofit results, but also reveals where we’re falling short. To help inform this study, we convened a nonprofit task force and feature the perspective of nonprofit leaders throughout the report to Read more
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
Joel Fleishman, author of The Foundation: A Great American Secret, discusses the crucial role foundations play in fostering social innovation, breaks down the recent trends and misfortunes that shape the nonprofit sector today, and urges foundations to find greater success through greater openness.
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
By: Dara Major, Philanthropy Consultant Good content needs a good search – but sometimes a simple keyword search is not enough to produce the result a user seeks. That’s where a taxonomy comes in: a taxonomy is a classification or categorization system that groups similar items into broad topics or buckets. A taxonomy can help to organize knowledge “at a glance,” describe concepts not found directly in the content, and includes terms, categories and keywords. LearnPhilanthropy has developed a Real Simple Taxonomy, created with extensive testing and feedback at each stage (and ongoing) by dozens of grantmakers and others across Read more
Despite a significant influx of charitable dollars over the last 10 to 20 years, solutions to complex social problems remain elusive, while philanthropy has been facing growing pressure to account for its tax-free dollars; to demonstrate, replicate, and scale success; and to be transparent about failed social investments. When foundations and their nonprofit partners ignore a failure and move on, whether it is to protect their own reputation or the reputations of valued partners or simply because of the pressure to keep going, it is too easy to toss out the baby with the bathwater – to toss aside a Read more
The purpose of this two-part article is to enable foundations to increase the leverage of their grantmaking resources by working effectively with the dynamics of complex social systems. This article examines how foundations can align planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts with the behavior of the social systems they seek to improve. Asking powerful questions of staff, board, grantees, and other stakeholders helps to transform how they think about their goals and strategies. In addition to using the power of questioning, foundations function more systemically by suspending their assumptions about their effectiveness and what is possible, creating the cultural shifts needed, Read more
As foundations struggle with reduced assets in a still declining economy, what are the considerations regarding the current state of foundations and charitable life span? With a range of strategies to consider, how should foundations approach their asset base? Publications by panelist Francie Ostrower and Arthur Schmidt will frame the discussion.
This study takes a close look at four Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) funder cooperative groups that range in style from the relatively simple to the complex. The unique lens of the research is local donor collaboration as seen by the participants and staff themselves. In particular, the research explores three key issues: how local cooperatives begin, what makes them effective and sustainable over time, and the unique role that a regional association can play in furthering funder collaboration.
This article by Clara Miller looks at the rules of money and finance that govern the nonprofit sector in comparison to those in the for-profit sector. Test your knowledge of nonprofit finance – and the contortions that tie nonprofits up in knots.
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
Identifies seven challenges in grantmaking, as well as the practices and skills that can help you meet them: Planning My Work, Organizing for Impact, Working with Grantees, Finding Allies, Making the Grant, Understanding My Role, Leading on the Inside.
Leadership development for foundation executives June 21-December 30, 2015 At Exponent Philanthropy, we know some things about you. You are committed to serving your foundation, your board, and your community. You make it a priority to leverage the most from your time and money. And you often put others first, not always getting around to investing in yourself and your professional development. With you in mind, we developed the Master Juggler Executive Institute, a carefully crafted 6-month program for those in the most senior staff role at their foundations. Program Highlights A unique opportunity for executive directors/CEOs and the foundations Read more
Immerse yourself in a comprehensive learning experience, and fuel your passion for grantmaking and private philanthropy. Faculty members and guest speakers from across the philanthropic community help you to learn how to give wisely. Explore a variety of funding approaches through presentations, discussions, graded assignments, and problem-solving exercises for groups and individuals. If you are an independent philanthropist, a member of a philanthropic family, or a professional grantmaker with just a few years of experience in grantmaking, this intensive is designed for you.
Author: Academy for Grantmaking and Funder Education, New York University
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
Since 2006, Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners has supported 18 campaigns for philanthropic equity, totaling $326 million in financial investments. This report analyzes the role of philanthropic equity in the nonprofit sector, results generated to-date by philanthropic equity investments, and key challenges to developing a robust capital marketplace for philanthropic equity. The Role of Philanthropic Equity in the Nonprofit Sector: Many nonprofits with strong programs and great results fail to thrive. One reason is the way the sector is currently financed. Nonprofits are rewarded for keeping margins tight, and few have access to the type of capital needed to explore Read more
The Nonprofit Almanac 2012 is a detailed analysis of nonprofits’ place in the national economy and trends in wages, employment, private giving, volunteering, and finances. The Almanac features the most recent data on the philanthropic sector, presented in more than 50 charts and 100 tables. Topics include: The nonprofit sector and its place in the national economy Wage and employment trends Trends in private giving and volunteering Financial trends in revenue and outlays The size, scope, and finances of public charities Classification scheme for charitable organizations based on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities Glossary of nonprofit scholarship terms For Read more
This brief highlights trends from the eighth edition of The Nonprofit Almanac 2011, prepared by the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. We highlight the growth in the number and finances of 501(c)(3) public charities, as well as key findings on private charitable contributions and volunteering.
This report evaluates how The Skillman Foundation’s work practices and culture, and its relationship with its core intermediaries, supports the Foundation’s aspiration to be a high-performance learning organization.
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 which to invest millions of dollars in an inner-city.
Since 2010, through the Scaling What Works initiative, GEO has fostered a conversation about scale that considers a variety of ways nonprofits are creating more value for communities and how funders are supporting their work. Pathways to Grow Impact shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. The publication is the result of a collaborative project with Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group that sought to answer the question: How can grantmakers best support high-performing nonprofits in their efforts to grow their impact? Pathways to Grow Impact is for any grantmaker who wants his or her Read more
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
Impact investing has become a hot topic among donors and financial investors alike. But what does it mean, and why might you consider it as a philanthropic option? Broadly defined, impact investing means investing capital to generate social impact in a way that also provides monetary returns. These returns may vary from the initial principal amount upward (or, potentially, downward), depending on the nature of the investment.
Many foundations have substituted process accountability for accountability for contributing to social change. While process accountability is important, it sets a floor, not an aspirational ceiling. There are tools—such as risk analysis, systems approaches, and game theory—that can help philanthropy engage in work on complex social problems that cannot be deconstructed into a series of small, linear projects. Seeking to extend basic human rights to more individuals around the world, seeking to reduce racism in a given city, or seeking to change public health norms in small town—all of these aspirations require first a willingness to take on challenges that Read more
Most often associated with the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, which pioneered their use, Program Related Investments (PRIs) have become more common as the assets of foundations have increased. From 1998 to 1999, PRI authorizations nationally jumped from $203 million to $267 million—a rise of 31 percent. Still, PRIs represent only a small percentage of foundations’ awards; in 1999, the nation’s 50,000 foundations distributed $23 billion in the form of grants. This chapter explores why a foundation such as Robert Wood Johnson, with more than $8 billion in assets at the time this chapter was prepared, would make a Read more
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.
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.
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
This report highlights the important emerging work of leading diversity focused funds, whose efforts are helping to engage grassroots communities of color, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups and other historically disadvantaged populations in U.S. philanthropic giving and decision making processes.
Little is known in the United States about social impact bonds (SIBs), which are relatively complicated and expensive instruments for bringing evidence-based social programs to scale. They require an effective partnering by government, service providers, coordinating intermediaries, and socially conscious investors. A research team at McKinsey & Co. studied the potential of social impact bonds in the United States, in particular for financing the expansion of proven programs in homelessness and crime prevention. The team also created tools for stakeholders—investors, nonprofits, government agencies, and others—to help them determine whether SIBs are instruments they should consider.
Report defines and discusses the concept of social justice philanthropy and provides an assessment of its future in philanthropy. Social Justice Philanthropy: The Latest Trend or a Lasting Lens for Grantmaking? explores how grantmakers define and apply the concept of social justice to their work. The report’s findings indicate that social justice philanthropy is fraught with many definitional variations, as well as disagreements on how to apply social justice concepts to grantmaking. While many agree that social justice philanthropy is somehow concerned with a more equitable redistribution of economic, political, and social power, there is little consensus on what a Read more
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
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
This publication aims to increase the rigor with which impact investors frame their investment decisions and demonstrate the integration of impact investing across asset classes. In conjunction with the team of academics and practitioners who have produced this monograph, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors highlights some of the areas in which behavioral economics and innovative organizational and legal structures can be applied to the discipline of impact investing. By describing best practices in transparency, disclosure and rigorous decision-making, we also hope to bridge the divide between traditional and social purpose investing.
‘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.
Scaling solutions, building resilience, catalysing innovation: these are the philanthropy sector’s buzzwords du jour. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these goals – except that the current programme officer position isn’t set up to deliver them. If you want to have social impact, stop thinking of this role as managing a set of grants and instead consider what it means to be a network manager.
Gerry Salole, chief executive of the European Foundation Centre, once commented: ‘Philanthropy tends to get stuck in the swimming pool, when the real action is in the sea.’ The recent controversy about strategic philanthropy and the newly coined (or as it turns out not so newly coined) emergent strategic philanthropy seems to be a storm 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 Read more
To solve today’s complex social problems, foundations need to shift from the prevailing model of strategic philanthropy that attempts to predict outcomes to an emergent model that better fits the realities of creating social change in a complex world.
The world is complex and current methods of philanthropy effect lasting change in so few corners. How do we truly begin to make a difference? Including responses from 10 industry leaders, “Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World” explores what it takes to make change in an unpredictable environment.
Historically, organized philanthropy has given scant attention to giving among communities of color; however, as the population changes it is becoming more important to learn about and promote giving in these communities. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported the Cultures of Giving (COG) initiative over a five-year period to understand, develop, and support philanthropic giving within and among communities of color. COG began with two major principles of action – advancing strategies, approaches, and tactics of community philanthropy and connecting leaders of color in a community of practice such that they might learn, share, and collaborate with each other. Based Read more
This report looks at how 20 nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of underserved residents in the democratic process through policy engagement. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $114 return for every dollar spent.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
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
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.
Teen Philanthropy Cafe Snackable bites on giving, for teens This series introduces young people to strategic, thoughtful philanthropy, and inspires them toward giving with impact. Families and adults who work with youth can use these guides to facilitate peer discussions and fun activities around giving. On the menu Grantmaking Collaboration in Philanthropy The Path to Impact Leadership for a Changing World The Nonprofit Universe Thoughtful Site Visits Using Your Voice This project is a partnership of Exponent Philanthropy and Youth Philanthropy Connect, with funding by the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.
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. There is both an art and a science to deciding when and why to work with a broad base of stakeholders to attempt comprehensive community change. The key lessons are the following: (1) follow the noise and find the excitement, (2) ask questions and get into conversations, (3) set the rules of the game, 4) keep score, 5) get the right equipment and players, 6) know when to jump in and when to jump Read more
Beldon’s decision to establish a clear end date set the course for the foundation’s strategy and operations. Decisions about investment, staffing, programs, and preparing grantees for Beldon’s exit all flowed from the simple fact that an immutable closing date existed on the horizon. 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. Some of the questions we sought to answer were: How does having a sunset date affect program strategy? What is the appropriate way Read more
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 multiple intelligences. Read more
A guide for nonprofit leaders, their boards, and their donors.Scarce resources (both money and time) are routinely wasted in the critical linkage between donor and grantee. As a consequence, our communities—the causes and constituents we are trying to serve—are being unnecessarily shortchanged.What’s needed is more effective donor-grantee collaboration, so that philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support can get the absolute most from every scarce dollar they invest. Reduced to the essentials, there are three imperatives of true collaboration—for which both donors and grantees must share responsibility.The Donor-Grantee Trap details each imperative in turn. It is written for nonprofit executives, Read more
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers presents practical guidance for national funders to further relationships and deepen the impact of philanthropic investments made in collaboration with local funders.
Raising money for a pooled fund is time consuming and requires expertise with the funding topic and the target audience. Yet the process of shopping around a pooled fund or collaborative concept can be valuable in its own right, even if most do not participate. Shared interest around a topic or community is a necessary but insufficient reason for participating in a pooled fund. A pooled fund provides an opportunity for individuals and family foundations to learn and grow as donors. Someone with passion, organizational skills, and persistence needs to drive the process forward or it will likely fall by Read more
The future of family philanthropy is an uncertain one, with dramatic changes taking place both in families and in philanthropy itself. But along with the uncertainty comes possibility and excitement; along with future challenges there are energized new donors and emerging innovations that could improve family giving in ways few would have predicted just a few years ago. 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 Read more
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Jewish funders have, over many generations, built a Jewish nonprofit infrastructure that is considered a model across the United States and beyond. Will this infrastructure be sustained in the coming decades? Research has shown that Jews in the next generation are becoming less interested in formal religious practice and are distancing themselves from Israel. What does this mean for Jewish philanthropy? Will the next generation, which is more interested in informal experiences of Jewishness, continue to fund Jewish life? How does coming of age in an American society largely free of barriers to inclusion influence interests and involvements? We know Read more
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
This article reports on a study of 11 partnerships between public health departments and community organizations that were funded by The California Endowment to support advocacy and organizing to improve health outcomes in the communities. The evaluation examined the sustainability of the partnerships as well as the policy and advocacy work of the organizations. Almost 90 percent of the activities in policy change and community capacity building was sustained, whereas partnership and health department capacity building activities were the least likely to be sustained. The policy change legacies at the community level were strong and included empowerment of community members, Read more
Supporting organizations provide a broad array of services, including grants and other financial benefits, to the organizations they support. This study found that nearly 92 percent of the large supporting organizations with no apparent grants in our sample did, in fact, provide significant financial services and benefits to their supported organizations. Complex business and legal reasons similar to those found in the for-profit world appear to lie behind the activities of most of these organizations.
Lack of access to fresh, healthy food is a pressing issue for the 18 million Americans who live in food deserts. In California alone, nearly 1 million residents, 45 percent of whom are low-income, live in areas without supermarkets or large grocery stores nearby. In addition to providing access to healthy food, grocery stores and healthy food retailers also represent important economic drivers that create much-needed jobs and generate economic activity for local communities and local governments. Launched in July 2011 by a broad coalition of public and private partners led by the California Endowment, the $273 million California FreshWorks Read more
The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) supports over 180 organizations across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When SFF decided to invest in Burundi, it struggled to find the types of grantees the foundation wanted to fund— young, African-led, grassroots non-governmental organizations with localized knowledge about their communities, and innovative and creative solutions to address needs. SFF realized that the funding model created by international actors was further marginalizing an already frail civil society. SFF 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 Read more
The State of General Operating Support 2011 found some hopeful signs: we saw a notable bump in share of grant dollars reported as core support, from 16 percent average in 2008-2010 to 24 percent in 2011.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
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.
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
Given that companies are putting more than $14 billion a year into charitable causes, measuring results and ensuring real social impact should be important goals. A few corporate leaders are realizing these goals, including Goldman Sachs, Nike and Intel. MORE To do this they apply the same discipline to their charitable work that they do to their core business — insisting on strategic focus, investing at scale and measuring results.
Tiger Foundation was started by legendary investor Julian Robertson, Jr., founder of Tiger Management. One of the most successful hedge funds of the 1990s, Tiger Management quickly generated incredible wealth for its 20- and 30-year old investment staff. But from the beginning, Robertson also wanted to instill in his employees a commitment to giving back. Equally important, he wanted to cultivate in them the desire to move beyond “traditional charity” and participate actively in the philanthropic process. So he created a venue for doing so, establishing the Tiger Foundation in 1990 with a dual mission that drives the organization to Read more
By: Michael Moody, Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy These five resources in the LearnPhilanthropy Knowledge Library are ideal starting places for grantmakers involved in family giving in some way – as a trustee or staff of a family foundation or a donor-advised fund, as an individual donor, as a consultant or family advisor, etc. This list also points to some of the primary infrastructure organizations serving family grantmakers, and each source has multiple other resources for family donors who want to dig further. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Your Philanthropy Roadmap – The “Philanthropy Read more
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
By: Barbara Demarest, strategy consultant, Barbara Demarest Consulting 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 Read more
Sparked by the publication of Leap of Reason by Mario Morino, this symposium convened a select group of twenty leaders from government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and business to discuss a challenge that has limited the collective impact of the social sector: the lack of encouragement and support in the nonprofit community for disciplined, data-driven management. The symposium explored barriers to and opportunities for making performance management more common in the social sector. Participants discussed possible solutions that would advance performance management, including the Outcome and Effective Practices Portal (now called PerformWell), an online resource for nonprofits seeking assistance with identifying indicators Read more
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
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
Strategic decision-making in philanthropic giving and social investment requires good information about the potential and actual social benefits and impacts of that investment. But this information about social impact is hard to find and to generate. Methods for valuing social benefits are complicated, haphazard, and often unknown to most social investors and organizational leaders. This relative absence of standardized legitimized ways to document the social impact of philanthropic giving and social investments means that the complete, complex value of this work in advancing the public good is underappreciated. One way to meet this need for more information and valuation methods Read more
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
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
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
“The noblest question in the world is what good may I do in it?” Benjamin Franklin, Founder of the University of Pennsylvania, Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1737. 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.
Author: Center for High Impact Philanthropy, University of Pennsylvania
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
Allen Hancock opens the issue with a personal vignette highlighting the need to create a proactive giving plan. Letters to the Editor make their first appearance, enhancing the magazine’s community feeling. Reader’s Views depict the challenges inherent in finding or creating satisfying opportunities for giving. An academic perspective classifying types of giving styles is offered, as are 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.
The world is changing rapidly. Inescapable demographic, technological, economic, environmental, and social trends are reshaping our communities and altering the landscape of philanthropy. Keeping pace will be a challenge for community philanthropy: in today’s rapidly changing context, the systems that are helping community philanthropy organizations thrive right now may not meet the needs of their users in the future. Yet the status quo is not an option. Place by place, community philanthropy organizations will need to figure out what to hold onto, what to let go of, and what to create a new to better meet the evolving needs of Read more
The world around philanthropy is changing much, much faster than philanthropy itself. An intimidating range of forces–globalization, shifting sectoral roles, economic crisis, and new technologies–are changing both what philanthropy is called upon to do, and how donors and foundations will accomplish their work in the future. For philanthropic and civic leaders looking to cultivate change in today’s rapidly shifting landscape, simply tweaking the status quo won’t be enough. Funders will have to pioneer “next practices”–effective approaches that are well-suited to tomorrow’s more networked, dynamic, and interdependent context. With this in mind, Monitor Institute is pleased to announce the publication of Read more
‘Don’t just tell me what to do, come and help me do it!’ said an Indian government official to a researcher bearing results from studies into effective aid programmes. His response is salutary: there is much work now on increasing the use of evidence in public policy, so we need to understand what policymakers actually need and want, and what will help them be more evidence-driven. For foundations there is a clear message: it isn’t enough just to fund research. You have to make sure it reaches the relevant policymakers and in a form that is useful to them. Over Read more
As endowments set aside for charity, donor-advised funds have many similarities to foundations but do not face the same rules and restrictions that can intimidate would-be foundation donors. Donor-advised funds introduce a new ease to the establishment of endowments, calling into question the often burdensome policies associated with foundations. Donor-advised funds allow a wide range of people to establish small endowments—a development with exciting prospects for the future of philanthropy. However, donor-advised funds not only introduce a new way of giving, they also force a reevaluation of past practices. Because donor-advised funds are treated so differently from foundations on questions Read more
CEP’s research shows that program officers can be the distinguishing factor between a foundation that makes a difference—and one that simply makes grants. Working Well With Grantees: A Guide for Foundation Program Staff offers program staff critical guidelines for building better relationships with grantees. The findings and suggestions in the guide are based on data from tens of thousands of surveys of nonprofits conducted by CEP during the past decade. We’ve updated, summarized, or expanded upon findings from six of our publications that focus on how foundations and grantees can best work together. We also share for the first time some new data and analysis Read more
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.