10 Essential Roles of Foundation Board Members

As a board member, how can you make sure you bring your best to the table and bring out the best in your foundation? If you understand and embrace these 10 essential roles, you will help ensure that you are fulfilling your duties with wisdom and clarity — and doing your part to advance your foundation’s mission.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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10 Ways to Make your Materials More Inclusive

Follow these ten steps to help your organization become more inclusive internally and externally. Develop discussion materials that will make your dialogues more inclusive of varying learning styles and literacy levels.

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2014 Grantmakers Information Technology Survey Report

Together the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and Grants Managers Network (GMN) conducted an information technology survey of grantmaking organizations. The resulting report is designed to empower grantmaking organizations with information on new trends and insights into what peer organizations are doing so that they can make better decisions about the technology they use to support their missions. You can access the 2012 IT Survey Report here.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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2016 Salary and Jobs Survey Report

Results from GMN’s 2015 salary and jobs survey are now available in the 2016 Salary and Jobs Survey Report. More than 300 grants managers contributed to the salary and jobs survey. You’ll find data on– activities, staffing, and structures of grantmaking organizations; qualifications and experience of grants management professionals; compensation and benefits, including salary increases; job responsibilities for executive, supervisory/management, professional, and business support level positions, including specific components of grants management; and career activities and plans of survey respondents. The contents of the report can be used to– prepare for a performance and salary review; benchmark for strategic planning Read more

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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5 Ways to Mind the Philanthropy Shop Mindfully

Mindfulness is simply knowing what you are doing while you are doing it. CJ Callen lists five ways foundations can get off of the “mindless” treadmill and be fully present.

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A Community Information Toolkit

This toolkit offers a process and easy-to-use set of tools that will help you take stock of your community’s news and information flow and take action to improve it.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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A Guide for Training Public Dialogue Facilitators

This is a step-by-step guide for training youth and adults as small-group dialogue facilitators in a dialogue and community change effort.

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A Snapshot: Compensation in Corporate Responsibility

This info graphic provides a snapshot of salaries and compensation for corporate responsibility professionals. The full report is available with membership to ACCP.

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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Annual Board To-Dos

What’s on the agenda for your board this year? Are you covering the bases of good governance? Below, we offer a checklist of annual board to-dos—prepared for foundations that are up and running (not start-ups). *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only  

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Assessing and Advancing Foundation Transparency: Corporate Foundations as a Case Study

This article explores the mix of forces explaining variability in good-governance standards and practices by charitable foundations. A six-drivers framework for explaining improved foundation accountability and transparency is proposed and discussed in the context of a country study. Those drivers are: regulatory pressures, self-regulation, demands for information from donors and other relevant stakeholders, societal pressure derived from scandals, emulation, and third-party assessment. A simple tool for assessing foundation transparency internationally is proposed and then applied to corporate, endowed, and fundraising foundations in the U.S. and Spain. Foundations’ financial structure compounds with institutional factors to influence the stage of development of Read more

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Benchmarking Foundation Governance

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

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Board Self-Assessment for Community Foundations

A community foundation board has a particular responsibility to identify emerging issues in its community, set funding goals or priorities accordingly, and determine when or if the foundation should act as a leader and convenor. BoardSource’s board self-assessment tool for community foundations is designed to meet the unique needs of a community foundation board by assisting in strengthening the board’s governance practices as well as its ability to respond appropriately as opportunities and challenges arise within its community. It is based on BoardSource’s standard BSA and includes questions on grantmaking and community leadership, funding and public image, and stewardship and Read more

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Board Succession: From Planless to Inspired

Does your grantmaking organization have a succession plan in place? If you’re struggling with succession—or haven’t dealt with this tricky topic on your board—you’re not alone. In our most recent member survey, we learned that 27% of members have completed their plans, 29% are working on one now, and 39% plan to complete theirs in the future. I probably don’t need to tell you that a sound succession plan approved by your board is very important. Things happen, and simply having a plan in place can make everyone’s life much easier if something were to happen to you or another Read more

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Building the Bridge for Diversity and Inclusion: Testing a Regional Strategy

Transforming Michigan Philanthropy Through Diversity & Inclusion (TMP) is a six-year research and development effort of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). A unique experiment, TMP is the only statewide, comprehensive effort to promote diversity and inclusiveness among foundations in the country. Organizational excellence through diversity and inclusion requires an organization to find a goal that resonates with its stakeholders and then create collaborative communities that focus on achieving that goal. This strategy positions an organization to use the full diversity of those stakeholders for tasks such as problem-solving, innovation, quality initiatives, and the acquisition of resources. Diversity and inclusion Read more

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Case Study: Greater Milwaukee Foundation: Built for Leadership

Embedded in this case study are three Cool Tools that community foundations can access via the click of a mouse: Milwaukee’s “Good to Great” strategic plan Criteria for selecting leadership projects Metrics used to assess the Foundation’s leadership efforts Read the case study to learn more about: Building a board for leadership Operating from a values base Aligning staff Engaging donors and other co-investors Funding community leadership Increasing impact

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CEO Transitions in Family Foundations

Among the most important tasks that any board confronts is the choice of head staff person. If anything, this decision has even greater significance in family foundations. Whether the position is vacant because of the retirement of a beloved CEO or the departure of a problematic one, CEO transitions in family foundations typically have three major stages: clarifying the foundation direction, identifying a suitable successor, and realigning the foundation’s strategies and/or programs as necessary.

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Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP) Course

FMA’s Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP) program is the only nationally recognized certification program for existing and aspiring nonprofit accounting and fiscal management professionals. The course, offered in person or online, covers practical skills that can be immediately applied to your day-to-day operations, including: Financial Reporting Internal Controls Budget Development Governance As the only licensed provider of CNAP in New York, Chicago and online FMA holds regular courses taught by instructors with extensive nonprofit financial backgrounds. Learn Philanthropy members are entitled to a special discount of $100 off the cost of both the in-person and online CNAP programs using the code LP2020. Please Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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CFLeads Executive Leadership Institute

The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) is a one-year intensive learning opportunity tailored specifically for community foundation CEOs to strengthen their ability to step into complex leadership roles in their communities. Through three, small group, face-to-face meetings supplemented by one-on-one coaching, it is designed to strengthen CEO leadership skills and relationships. With a focus on challenging CEOs in positive ways in a supportive peer environment, the Institute is designed to stimulate creativity and inspire “out of the box” thinking. The initial ELI cohort will consist of 15 community foundation leaders drawn from a pool of CEOs from community foundations in older Read more

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Challenges and Strategies for Family Foundations With Geographically Dispersed Board Members

This article, based on interviews with leaders of 10 family foundations, investigates the impact of geographic dispersion on governance, administration, decision making, and grantmaking activities. The greatest challenges for family foundations with dispersed boards involve assembling an appropriate staff, ensuring strong communication between staff and board members, and focusing the organization’s mission. Maintaining family board member interest in the foundation’s geographic area and bridging and strengthening ties between generations were also concerns. In order to maintain family legacies, all case-study foundations found unique ways to overcome challenges and were deliberate in ensuring that board members stayed actively engaged in the Read more

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Changing Your Grantmaking Lens: Aging as an Asset

Do you view older adults in your community as a valuable and perhaps untapped asset… or as a population in need of increased philanthropic support? Based on interviews with family funders active in this important, complex and diverse funding area, the answer is a little bit of both, but more of the former than you might think.

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Community Leadership Stories

Leadership in Action Stories provide insight into how community foundations are approaching their community leadership work and putting the community leadership building blocks into practice. These stories illustrate the pathways and elements contained in the Framework for Community Leadership by a Community Foundation.

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Community Leadership Tools – CooL Tools

What makes these tools so cool? They were developed and are being used by your community foundation colleagues! And they can help build your community leadership potential. Check out the variety of tools shared by your colleagues to advance community leadership work. Includes: Strategic Plans and Frameworks; Choosing and Timing Community Leadership Opportunities; Diversity and Inclusion; Donor Engagement; and Metrics

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Considering Culture

This case study examines how organizations are applying evidence-based practices in culturally relevant ways and how local programs are adopting nontraditional approaches to successfully serve communities of color. Considering Culture is the fourth installment in a five-part Race for Results case study series.

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Diversity & Inclusion Action Kit

The Action Kit, designed around the Diversity Framework, is intended to help you identify what steps you and your organization can take to advance diversity and inclusion.

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Diversity, Inclusion, and Effective Philanthropy

Philanthropists are turning to diversity and inclusion as tools for effective giving. Adding these concepts to basic due diligence can create a philanthropy that is both responsive and efficient.

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Effective Foundation Boards: The Importance of Roles

Foundations are unique among organizations in the enormous latitude they have in determining their work and the manner in which it is done. This flexibility manifests itself particularly in the variety of roles that foundation board members can take. Most of the literature in the field focuses on best practices in board structure and processes. These are necessary in the spirit of responsiveness and legal accountability, but are not sufficient for effectiveness. Achieving role clarity, influence in decision-making and responsibility for impact are three keys to more effective foundation governance. These three attributes can be better understood and achieved by Read more

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Employee Empowerment: The Key to Foundation Staff Satisfaction

Employee Empowerment combines quantitative analysis of surveys and in-depth interviews with key staff from two foundations who received high marks from their staff.

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Engaging Diverse Communities

The guide shares and explains the experiences of several institutions that broadened their donor bases, services, and programs by reaching out to diverse communities. The publication focuses on the African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American communities. This guide explores how the philanthropic field has identified, attracted, and invited participation by individuals from culturally defined communities. This is not a handbook with explicit instructions on how to succeed with your outreach efforts: strategies and programs are still evolving; learnings are iterative.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Evaluating the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund’s Social Determinants of Health Portfolio

Research over the past two decades repeatedly demonstrates the relationship between poor health outcomes and socioeconomic factors such as poor housing, poverty, racism, and structural inequity. In 2005, the Northwest Health Foundation, supported by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, began an initiative to address these social determinants of health (SDOH). A variety of projects – short- and long-term, large and small – were supported over the five-year period for a total of $12.4 million. The mean project-implementation grant was $175,350 and 2½ years in length; capacity-building grants averaged $50,000 for 1½ years. In all, 323 social-determinant accomplishments were identified. The Read more

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

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

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Families Step Up to Meet Economic Crisis

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Foundation Payouts

In the first Alliance Audio series, editor Charles Keidan hosts a roundtable discussion with Angela Kail (Head of the Funder Team, New Philanthropy Capital), Cathy Pharoah (Co-Director of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School, City University London), and Jake Hayman (CEO of Ten Years’ Time) on the topic of philanthropy sector payouts. Following on from their pieces in Alliance over the last few months, these philanthropy experts and practitioners discuss the controversial topic of payouts; why they should be imposed, why they should not be imposed, and what they might mean for the sector as it stands at the Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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From Generation to Generation

Family foundations are often led by family members, generation after generation. But no one is born with the knowledge to run a foundation. In order to ensure smooth transitions, or at least minimize challenges, some critical points must be addressed in the very structure and practice of the family foundation. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

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From the Desk of the Junior Board

Perspectives from young board members. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

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Funding Cultural Adaptations to Promote Effective and Efficient Mental Health Service Provision

Given the changing demographics of the U.S. and documented racial and ethnic health disparities, behavioral health service providers must look at adapting their services to better meet the needs of their diverse client populations. Grantees implemented three types of cultural adaptations: sociocultural/organizational, structural/ service delivery, and clinical. Most adaptations were not directly related to the specific evidence-based practice and would be relevant in many service-provision settings.

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Fundraising Foundations

Creating a separate but affiliated fundraising organization — a foundation for the purpose of raising funds — is not for every nonprofit. If your board is considering the option, it is important to identify the various challenges and benefits such a foundation might bring with it.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Gender Transformative Giving The Next Phase in Feminist Philanthropy?

A new report from Women’s Funding Network, Public interest Projects and TrueChild calls to reinvigorate feminist and social justice philanthropy by grounding it in “gender transformative” approaches. Gender transformative approaches highlight, challenge, and ultimately try to change rigid gender norms and inequities. “Gender” remains a contested term in American philanthropy; donors who say they have a “gender lens” usually mean they prioritize increased funding and opportunities for women and girls. Yet such approaches often leave out men and boys, LGBTQ people, as well as issues of race and class. The report calls for a new philanthropic approach that addresses not Read more

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Generating Change: Investing in an Era of Nonprofit Talent and Leadership

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy developed this paper to provide a fresh, solutions focused framework to help funders address the pressing issue of nonprofit leadership development in ways that are flexible and appropriate across the diversity of the foundation field. Because EPIP is the funder network that develops new leaders for foundations, we know firsthand how imperative it is for the funding community to invest in the next generation— and all generations—of people who power their work. We all know that foundations are only as effective as the nonprofits they support, and grantees are only as effective as their leadership and Read more

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Grantmakers’ Role in Advancing Good Governance

Grantmakers are in a unique position to strengthen the governance of their grantees and nonprofits in their communities. For grantmakers already engaging around issues of good governance, this report provides new ideas to consider and suggestions for enhancing current activities. For grantmakers that are just beginning to engage nonprofits on governance issues, this report presents the case for investing in governance and shares a variety of ways to advance those efforts.

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Greater Openness About Finances

This article explores how Big Brother Big Sisters Metropolitan Chicago, a participant in The Wallace Foundation’s nonprofit financial management program and client of FMA, has utilized greater transparency about their financials, which has led them to make more informed business decisions. (FMA is pleased to share this resource with the permission of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.)

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Handling Conflict During Board Meetings

Since nonprofit board meetings depend on interaction among people with different values, perspectives, and communication styles, conflict is likely to occur. The impact of this conflict, however, largely depends on how it is handled. Use these key tips to manage conflict in your board meetings and ensure that all board members can have candid and productive discussions.

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Healthy Communities of Opportunity: An Equity Blueprint to Address America’s Housing Challenges

This research paper by PolicyLink, with Kresge support, examines how housing and development policies affect economic opportunity and community health, reviews recent trends that have increased housing insecurity, surveys practices that link health and housing opportunity, and suggests a reform agenda for policy changes.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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How Inclusion and Equity Are Transforming a Foundation and a Community

Racial inequities in health care, education, incarceration rates and economic stability have persisted, in spite of federal policies to promote equity. The Denver Foundation launched what is now known as the Inclusiveness Project in 2002 to help nonprofits, including funders, become more inclusive of people of color. The Project defines diversity as one component of inclusiveness; inclusive organizations are defined as learning-centered organizations that value the perspectives and contributions of all people. The Project operates on three levels: individual, organizational and sector. An extensive evaluation has shown that there are impacts at all levels, including increasing the number of people Read more

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How to Develop and Support Leadership that Contributes to Racial Justice

This publication offers recommendations and methods to help leadership programs promote racial justice through their work.

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How to Spruce Up Your Online Publications

Not long ago, foundations routinely produced print documents meant to be held and read. Now, with more and more organizations shifting to online publishing, the resulting “publications” are beheld and experienced in different ways than their former print counterparts. As we recently explored in a Communications Network webinar, online publishing is also moving far beyond simply uploading a pdf version of a print document. Instead, the ability to add video, link to other information sources and even invite users to read and post comments, provide opportunities to create online publications that contain content that is both informative and engaging. This Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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How-To: Content Strategy

This 8-minute read outlines five essential steps to the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.

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Innovative Philanthropic Financing for Community Change

This report provides a concise summary of the East Baltimore Revitalization Initiative, with a focus on how the Annie E. Casey Foundation used innovative financing techniques to support the project. The report provides background on the initiative, which is working to transform an 88-acre area near the Johns Hopkins medical campus that has been hard hit by disinvestment and social problems. The report details transactions that helped finance the initiative and highlights the critical role innovative financing can play in complex redevelopment efforts. The report also offers lessons from these transactions for the philanthropic community, local officials, developers and lenders Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Internal Communications: Strategies for an Overlooked—But Critical—Communications Channel

This recap of a presentation given at The Communications Network’s 2016 annual conference explains why internal communications are as important and necessary as external communications for the long-term impact and sustainability of your foundation. A framework and suggested activities are offered along with a handout and powerpoint presentation.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Investing in Leadership

Leadership is one of a number of factors that determine the effectiveness of a nonprofit organization’s work. Visionary leaders possess the ability to assess the way things are and then inspire us to help create new solutions. In this sense, leadership does more than set policies and define goals; it creates a paradigm for a better world. This brief guide, part of the Philanthropy Roadmap series, is designed for both emerging and established philanthropists. It sets out five key questions that donors can ask to evaluate leadership.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Investment Manager Diversity: The Hardest Taboo to Break

This case study examines how one community foundation — Silicon Valley Community Foundation with assets under management of $4.7 billion — approached the issue of increasing investment manager diversity with its investment advisor — Colonial Consulting which advises $30 billion of capital. These first-person accounts from the community foundation’s CEO and the investment advisor provide candid assessments of how they addressed the issue of increasing investment manager diversity. The hope is that by sharing these observations other foundations and their investment advisors will find the courage to discuss and address the issue of investment manager diversity, the hardest taboo to Read more

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Is the Policy Win All? A Framework for Effective Social-Justice Advocacy

This article offers a theory-of-change framework to help those engaged in social-justice advocacy to reflect on whether social-justice values are being retained in the process. A reproductive rights effort in South Africa provides an example of how social justice values can be lost in the advocacy process. The failure to sustain work on the ground pointed to the need to maintain a base of support even after a policy victory. Strategies must be revisited as social and political contexts change. One of the critical social-justice values that supports the establishment and maintenance of alliances is collaboration, which must continue to Read more

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Lessons for Philanthropy: A Journey into Indian Country

This report chronicles five years of work to build and strengthen relationships between organized philanthropy and Native Americans and First Alaskans in our region. With pictures, poetry and stories, the report explores how Philanthropy Northwest members are seeking to better understand Native history and culture, and to expand opportunities for deeper, strategic philanthropic partnerships between Natives and non-Natives. We hope that this report will spark new and deeper conversations, ultimately increasing the ties between Native communities and philanthropy. Download the full report, and the report’s addendum, “Trends in Giving to Northwest Indian Country.”

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Leveraging Grant-Making—Part 2: Aligning Programmatic Approaches With Complex System Dynamics

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

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Looking-Glass World of Nonprofit Money: Managing in For-Profits’ Shadow Universe

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.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Master Juggler Executive Institute

This leadership program offers: A unique opportunity for executive directors/CEOs and the foundations they serve, combining world-class training and executive coaching. Wisdom from seasoned experts in leadership, organizational development, and philanthropy, plus the collective experience of fellow foundation executives. A small cohort that supports deep connections, real accountability, and a personalized learning experience for each participant.    

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Moving Diversity Up the Agenda: Lessons and Next Steps From the Diversity in Philanthropy Project

The Diversity in Philanthropy Project (DPP) was a three-year, voluntary effort of foundation trustees, senior staff, and executives of philanthropy support organizations committed to increasing diversity and inclusive practice across organized philanthropy’s boards, staff, grantmaking, contracting, and investing. DPP had significant achievements, including mobilizing greater commitment among foundation leaders to voluntary action on diversity and enhancing both the knowledge base and data methodologies available for understanding diversity, inclusion, and equity in foundation work. The initiative also faced its share of challenges, including difficulty assessing the impact on the diversity performance of foundations, slow adoption of recommended principles and practices, and Read more

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Next Gen Philanthropy: Finding the Path Between Tradition and Innovation

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

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Foundation Management, Resources

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NNCG’s Knowledge Center

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

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Nobody’s (Philanthropically) Perfect

Scott Brazda is executive director of The Stuller Family Foundation. For 16 years, he served as a news and sports anchor at KATC-TV in Lafayette, LA, during which time he won seven Associated Press awards. Scott is a committee member for the United Way of Acadiana and Community Foundation of Acadiana, board member of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, and faculty member of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette communications department. Through this blog post he shares his experiences and lessons in seeking perfection in philanthropy.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Nondiscrimination Policy

Philanthropy can be more effective when foundations reflect the full diversity of the communities we hope to serve and impact. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people are a crucial part of the tapestry of our communities, and a growing number of foundations are seeking to assure that their institutions are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ people. An important step toward inclusiveness is explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This brief guide is intended to help your institution implement a nondiscrimination and equal opportunity employment policy that is inclusive of sexual Read more

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Nonprofit Capital: How to Think Differently about Its Use in Your Organization

This webinar helps participants better understand and work to optimize their organization’s capital structure, identify key sources and uses of capital, and understand how to budget for and monitor capital grants and expenditures over time.

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Online and in the Office: The State of Technology-Based Learning in the Nonprofit Sector

A survey conducted by NTEN and the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation revealed technology-based learning is a critical way in which nonprofits engage their stakeholders, but many are struggling to realize the cost savings of online learning and many lack the expertise to deliver training more advanced than webinars and videos.  

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Peer Networking and Community Change: Improving Foundation Practice

This article brings together the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 15 years of experience with peer networking— examining through two research studies the process of peer networking and its impact, both with community-based and funder groups. Peer networking helps people with common interests to exchange information, disseminate good practices, and build a leadership structure for work they do together, such as a community change initiative. Casey’s research identified 10 good practices for effective peer networking, as well as 10 challenges that can affect its success; a four-level model was created to provide context for these findings. The research indicates that peer Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing

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

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Foundation Management, Resources

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Pretty Good Tool: Collaboration Readiness

Do you have a collaborative mindset? This tool will help you take collaboration seriously – and playfully – and figure out your strengths and opportunities to improve your skills.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Program-Related Investments

Why is it that private foundations spend so little of their endowment on mission investing? Is there an opportunity to make it bigger? In this paper you will find an explanation of the barriers to mission investing, also known as Program Related Investment and Mission Related Investment, and a concluding hypothesis about what it will take to help remove the barriers. Educating foundation leadership, building foundation staff expertise, improving data quality and lowering the cost of making a mission investment are all issues to understand and address. If our hypothesis is correct, the time is now to build the necessary data, education Read more

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Resilience, Resolve, Results: A Compilation of Readiness Phase Studies of The Skillman Foundation’s Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative, 2008-2010

This report is a compilation of the executive summaries of the Readiness Phase evaluation reports and provides an overview of the Good Neighborhoods/Good Schools initiative.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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School, Work, Family, and Foundation Too

As young adults pursue degrees, settle into careers, and start families of their own, participation in a foundation can be far from the top of a to-do list. But this stage of life can be a wonderful time to be involved in the work of a foundation—a rewarding change of pace and a chance for new perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm at the foundation table. Whether you’re a young adult excited about becoming involved in your family’s foundation or a family member hoping to engage the next generation, where do you start? *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Strategies for Impacting Change in Communities of Color

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Supporting Asian-American Civic Engagement: Theory and Practice

This paper is a review of relevant research related to the civic engagement of Asian-American youth. Little work has been done to understand the civic engagement activities of Asian-American youth. However, unique promoters and barriers to Asian- American youth civic engagement exist, given this group’s distinct historical, cultural, and sociopolitical experiences. Asian-American youth may have two different ethnic and racial identities, and these identities may be related to different kinds of civic engagement. Asian-American students who have a stronger pan-Asian identity are more aware that their fate is linked with other Asian-Americans and therefore are more likely to engage in Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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The Art and Science of Storytelling (VIDEO)

As communications professionals, storytelling is what we do. We do it because it is one of the best ways to evoke an emotional connection to an abstract issue – to put a human face on the messages we convey. However, it’s how the story is framed that matters. Studies in neuroscience and psychology show that while stories can evoke a quick emotional response, carefully framed narratives that appeal to reason are also needed to inspire action. To help people understand this new research and learn more about how to use it in their communications practice we recently held a webinar, Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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The Makings of Phenomenal Foundation Executive Directors

An executive director of a small-staffed foundation juggles many roles: strategic grantmaker, convener, collaborator, and, at times, board wrangler, media spokesperson, technical assistance provider, mediator, and the list goes on. The characteristics described here are both impressive and daunting. They’re a tall order, and, indeed, part of a continual learning journey for even the very best executives. At Exponent Philanthropy, we believe that these skills can be developed, practiced, and honed.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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The Resiliency Guide

The Organizational Effectiveness team at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation has developed a Resiliency Guide – a framework for assessing organizational resiliency, and a resource for understanding its characteristics. The tool and accompanying resources are designed to be useful to grantees and grantmakers – hopefully facilitating their dialogue about the challenges of operating in a dynamic context. The Guide and related materials draw on the experience of the Foundation’s program staff and external experts, and incorporate feedback and perspectives from a range of grantees and colleagues.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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The Setting Matters: How to Create the Container for Achieving Results

The Casey video, Leading for Results: Creating the Container, shows how the foundation’s results-based leadership faculty create an environment so meeting participants can effectively focus on achieving measurable results.  

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The Trustee Handbook

Find detailed guidance on small foundation governance, grantmaking, tax and legal issues, and financial oversight and investments. Our most comprehensive resource for every trustee and board member. Includes: Updates on recent laws affecting small foundations; Sample documents to save you time and money; The requisite information for an effective trustee — all in one place.

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Top 10 Lessons Learned in Grantmaking

Presented by: Caroline Altman Smith and Helen Davis Johnson of the Kresge Foundation Philanthropy can be a complex field. Whether you’re starting your career, transitioning into a new role, or simply want a refresher, let us be your guide. This free, 30-minute webinar will introduce you to essential topics every philanthropic professional should know and give you three strategies for getting more informed about and connected to the field. Click “Go To Resource” to listen to the webinar*, or download the file to view the slides.   *Please note that the webinar recording starts a few minutes into the presentation.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources









Top Readings and Resources on Learning From Failure

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

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Transitions: an opportunity like no other

Following the January 2011 revolt in Tunisia against the regime of President Ben Ali, the country’s transition leaders adopted an open-door approach to foreign aid. An avalanche of mostly uncoordinated aid followed. Donors – private and bilateral – arrived asking questions like, ‘Who is your Mandela?’ They produced an event overload, sponsoring dozens of conferences and hotel-room trainings on identical topics. Funding opportunities and partnerships were concentrated in the capital, Tunis, and in few other parts of the country. Grant applications were often English-only. Talent was drained from local organizations to produce repetitive mappings of civil society for external donors Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Value Exchange Tool: For Building Business-Nonprofit Partnerships that Last

This simple method considers what a partner could potentially contribute, stacks up what a potential partner brings, and represents the value exchange at the heart of the partnership — in a single visual.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Webinar Recap – Climbing the career mountain with well designed side projects

How do you make the most of your time and energy? When you hit roadblocks in your career, how do you reroute or overcome them? What role does that secret passion project of yours play in helping you toward a future life that is exciting? Whether you have crystal clear career goals or you’re trying to figure out which way is up, this webinar will provide you with tools for choosing, designing and making the most of side projects. You will learn frameworks to consider possibilities from new angles, hear examples of how side projects can help lead to a Read more

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Webinar Recap – Investment 101 and Transformative Finance

This webinar explores how justice, power, and finance can work together to contribute to meaningful social change, and includes a grounding in “Investment 101” to help us all have the same language.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Webinar Recap- Developing Your Career Narrative

What is your story? Do you have a career narrative? This webinar focused on developing your career narrative for expanding your network, finding jobs, and applying to graduate school. A career narrative or story is critical in building trust as you pursue career transitions. This webinar helped participants understand why they need a career narrative and the five key elements of a career narrative.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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What Donors Value: How Community Foundations Can Increase Donor Satisfaction, Referrals, and Future Giving

To better understand how community foundations can best respond to the current environment, CEP asked donors about how satisfied they are with the community foundations with which they work. What matters most to them? What do these donors want from their community foundations? The research reveals that donor satisfaction is vital for community foundations. Donors who are more satisfied with their community foundation are more likely to indicate that they plan to continue giving and more likely to recommend the foundation to others. The data also show that the strongest predictors of donor satisfaction are donors’ sense of the foundation’s Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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What It Takes: How to Build an Effective, Modern Communications Shop

Communications Network has found that old modes of communication are no longer sufficient on their own, and it’s more important than ever for every member of your team to possess at least a basic knowledge of writing, messaging, branding, etc. They created a guide to help foundations improve their overall communication. There are steps you can take to improve your communications work in this ever-evolving field.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Who’s in the Room? Who Should Be?

Bringing people together is one of the key roles of philanthropy. It’s important to make sure you have the right people in the room so that the time spent is productive and the outcome is useful for everyone. To ensure you’ve tapped the right players for your next gathering, ask yourself these three questions before you issue invitations: What is our overall goal? What roles are essential to accomplish our goal? How can we make the best use of others?

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Why Bad Video Happens to Good Causes

Video is everywhere. Collectively, we upload 48 hours of video to YouTube every minute. Nonprofits and foundations upload hours of video to their websites, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. It seems like every good cause in the world is either using video or panicking because they haven’t started yet and feel like they’re falling behind. But simply posting video on your site doesn’t guarantee anyone will watch it. This webinar presents 10 critical elements of video production that you can begin applying to your organization’s video today. It all comes down to re-thinking your approach to video, the audience who Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Working Toward Diversity IV

Working Towards Diversity IV, released in 2011, paints a comprehensive picture of demographics, policies and practices on diversity and inclusion of Minnesota grantmakers. Survey results and analysis, focus group summaries and highlights from leadership profiles illustrate an ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion in philanthropy in the state. The first Working Towards Diversity report was published in 1995. Now in its fourth iteration, this latest research is a mile-marker to help Minnesota grantmakers understand their progress in upholding the values of diversity and inclusion in their organizations, in their grantmaking and in the community.

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Working With Government Officials: Rules for Private Foundations

This free (and fun) video resource covers the rules for private foundations related to working with government officials and ensure legal compliance, and takes approximately 60 minutes to complete. The training features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences. Participants can return to the training at any time for a refresher and click on the individual modules to refer back to specific topics.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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