“Getting the Word Out”: A Foundation Memoir and Personal Journey

This chapter is a personal reflection by Frank Karel on his years as vice president for communications of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He looks back on the early days, when the Foundation was groping to find an appropriate role for communications, and traces its evolution to the present. Karel is uniquely qualified to provide this retrospective. He has had the singular experience of heading communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation twice. During his first tenure, between 1974 and 1987, he originated many of the communications strategies that the Foundation follows today. After leaving to head communications at the Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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10 Rules Every Foundation Should Know About Compliance

Running a private charitable foundation can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences—a chance not only to make a real difference in the community—but also to carry out your philanthropy with the personal signature and control that only a private foundation can offer. This booklet summarizes 10 common issues and pitfalls with compliance we encounter in the daily administration of hundreds of private foundations, ranging in size from $250,000 to over $500 million. This information is provided to make donors, directors, staff and advisors more aware of some of the factors that govern private foundations. It is not intended as Read more

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11 Essential Practices for Effective Grantmaking

The options for effective grantmaking are more varied today than ever. What used to involve simply making financial gifts to qualified nonprofits now has grown to include public-private partnerships, social impact investing, program-related investing, crowdfunding, and many more avenues for achieving a foundation’s mission. Whether your foundation is just getting off the ground or has a venerated history that’s about to enter a new phase, you’ll have many choices to consider as you plan your way forward.

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2012 Tracking Report: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations

The 2012 Tracking Report (2012) is the most comprehensive study of its kind, capturing data on 4,068 grants awarded by 399 foundations in order to identify gaps, trends, and opportunities in LGBTQ philanthropy. This year’s report finds that domestic foundation funding for LGBTQ issues exceeded $100 million for the first time while overall LGBTQ funding was largely stable in 2012.

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21 Terms Every Private Foundation Should Know

Like many specialized spheres of interest, the world of private foundations has its own language, with unique terms and specific definitions you are unlikely to encounter elsewhere. Fortunately, the majority of these terms are relatively easy to comprehend and with a brief introduction, you’ll soon become quite facile with philanthropic jargon. This booklet will help you understand 21 common and not-so common terms pertaining to private foundations. Some of these terms are related to specific rules and regulations governing private foundations and will help you stay in compliance with IRS regulations; others will help you communicate with professionals in the Read more

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A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems 2016

Along with our partners, the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and Idealware, GMN is excited to share our 2016 update of the popular A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems. This in-depth report has been expanded for 2016 to look at the features and processes used by more than 30 grants management system. The Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems compares the strengths and weaknesses of these different grants management packages to see how they stack up against industry standards.

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A Practical Guide to Integrated Communications: A Workbook for Nonprofits

Between more traditional channels of communications like direct mail, email, and newsletters and all the new channels you’ve adopted, like social media, multimedia, and blogs, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your organization’s messaging. How do you create and maintain a consistent voice across so many channels? How do you coordinate your various communications to work in tandem rather than competing, engaging constituents and inspiring them to take action rather than confusing, overwhelming, or annoying them? Channels cannot thrive in a vacuum. Your constituents will think of them all as one voice—your nonprofit’s—and so should you. Read more

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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.

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Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide

Do you know if your communications are working? Have you ever asked? If the answer to both questions is “no,” you’re not alone. Few foundation communicators claim they regularly – if at all – formally evaluate their work. To help, the Communications Network has published Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide. This guide walks users through a nine-step process for creating plans for monitoring and measuring their communications. In addition to step-by-step planning advice, the guide includes several case studies from the Lumina Foundation for Education, The Wallace Foundation and others where the data from evaluation efforts helps Read more

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Are We There Yet? How to Know Whether Your Communications Are Effective

This article describes the results of a study on current knowledge and practices in evaluating foundation communications. The study consisted of three parts: an online survey of practitioners, a series of in-depth key informant interviews, and an extensive literature review. The study found that while most practitioners agree that evaluating communications is necessary to make decisions about their communication strategy, more than half did not regularly do so. Lack of experience or skills was the second top barrier cited, after lack of human/financial resources. Those who have more experience with evaluation were more likely to feel that it was not Read more

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Assessing Impact

Experienced donors know how important it is to have reliable, relevant information about the programs they fund. Assessment, done in tandem with your grantees, can provide this information. Without it, donors risk missing their planned destination by miles. With it, they can orient their giving. This guide reviews various ways to assess philanthropic impact. It looks at what assessment can accomplish and what it has difficulty measuring. It sets out a series of questions donors can ask as they consider how to proceed with their philanthropy. And finally, it details some of the limitations inherent in trying to understand exactly Read more

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Assessing Nonprofits’ Communications Capacity: An Online Self-Assessment Tool

Foundations increasingly recognize the importance of strategic and effective communications to advance their social-change goals. This article provides a framework that helps foundations to better understand the communications capacity of their grantee partners. Based on a detailed analysis of a survey of 529 foundations, universities and nonprofits, the authors created a six-point index that identifies the characteristics and practices of organizations that are ranked as highly effective at using communications to advance their goals. The six indicators are: Involvement of organization leadership in communications, communications planning and organization-wide planning, staffing and the use of outside expertise, donor understanding and support Read more

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Assessing the How of Grantmaking

As grantmakers, most of us pay attention to what we fund—grantmaking strategy and impact—and who we fund—the grantees we support. But what about how we fund? Practices matter. Your grantmaking practices are one of the most public—and sometimes one of the only—expressions of your organizational values that grantseekers experience. How do you want the world to see you?

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Can Foundations Train Their Grantees to Be Effective Communicators?

How can foundations assess the effectiveness of training programs designed to help grantees develop effective communications skills? The Hewlett Foundation commissioned a study to explore just this question, and shares lessons learned including: – Make sure participants, and the organizations they’re from, are ready for training and can “put adequate human and financial resources into place to support communications.” – Invite teams, not individuals, to take part in training. – Robust follow-up is key. What people learn in class won’t stick if the lessons aren’t reinforced. and: – Support efforts to integrate communications with program strategy. If foundations really want Read more

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Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations

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

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Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

One of the goals of this program is for the participants to share their experiences with the broader field. See what grantmakers have learned while developing strategies, particularly as it relates to the principles, practices and benefits of grantmaker-grantee partnerships.

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CMF/JCP Grantmaking Series

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

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Coaching and Philanthropy: An Action Guide for Grantmakers

This guide was created as a resource for grantmakers as they explore these and other questions about coaching. The guide has three parts: Master the Basics, Make the Case and Make It Work. The guide also includes examples of grantmakers that have embraced coaching as an important form of support for grantees, as well as recommendations for the field of philanthropy as it seeks to broaden the use and effectiveness of coaching.

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Collaborative Funding for Greater Impact: A Case Study of the Cincinnati Experience

What does it take to bring a diverse group of local and regional grantmakers together to apply for a Social Innovation Fund grant and, on receiving the grant, to design and implement a consensus plan for moving forward on issues of shared concern? Last year, a group of 15 grantmakers launched the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Social Innovation Fund to deliver coordinated funding and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations working to improve outcomes — from cradle to career — for young people in the region. But how does this partnership really work? This guide explains Greater Cincinnati’s story and offers takeaways that Read more

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Communicating for Impact: Strategies for Grantmakers

Foundation communications goes far beyond an annual report or the occasional press release about grantees. And it’s no longer the exclusive domain of big foundations, communications staff, or consultants. Integrating communications is critical to advancing programmatic goals. See how grantmakers use a “communications lens” to develop strategy, evaluate impact, take advantage of new media technologies, and more.

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Communication That Counts: Lessons From South African Social Investors

Communication That Counts offers practical lessons in communicating for impact based on the experiences of funders and others involved in social investment in South Africa. The insights in Communication That Counts are pertinent both to South Africans and others beyond its borders, as it explores universal themes related to how to communicate with partners, social investors, and grantees; how to identify and achieve communication goals; and how different media can help enhance different messages. The guide was developed in partnership with Tshikululu Social Investments.

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Community Foundation Handbook: What You Need to Know

This guide introduces community foundation CEOs and their staff to the spectrum of choices available to them in the different aspects of their work: governance, management, administration, resource development, donor relations, grantmaking, community leadership, communication, marketing, and more. Although written primarily for staff, the chapters are broad enough that board members and volunteers will find them valuable. For newcomers, this handbook will serve as a comprehensive orientation. For seasoned staff it provides a useful refresher.

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Consumers Guide to Integrated Software for Community Foundations

GMN is pleased to share the Consumers Guide to Integrated Software for Community Foundations with you. The report was developed by Idealware with support from GMN and the Technology Affinity Group. The Guide looks at the features and processes used by five different integrated software solutions to help community foundations and donor-advised funds manage funds, track grants throughout their life cycles, solicit donations, provide online support for donor advised funds, and tracking accounting data. We hope you find this helpful in your work and will share it with your colleagues. It compares the strengths and weaknesses of the packages, showing Read more

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CRACKING THE NETWORK CODE: FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR GRANTMAKERS

GEO’s newest publication sets out to crack the code behind the network mystique. In fact, there is a method to working more efficiently and effectively through networks, and a critical first step for grantmakers is adopting a network mindset, which may require dramatic shifts in attitude and behavior for some. Cracking the Network Code outlines four principles that comprise the network mindset, illustrates the principles with a range of examples of networks that have achieved real results, and offers practical questions and recommendations to help grantmakers achieve the benefits and avoid common pitfalls of working through networks.

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Cultivating Change: A Statistical Review of Grantmaking That Impacts the Lives of Black Men and Boy

Based on a survey of 24 foundations distributing 120 grants for black men and boys, the report analyzes foundation and grant characteristics, provides implications for philanthropy, and lists the grants used in the dataset.

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Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

From 2003-2012, the country’s top foundations dedicated only 0.8 percent of total grants to nonprofit leadership development. And yet, as shown by recent historic progress around immigration, criminal justice and other social justice movements, we need leaders who are strong, skilled and connected to successfully realize positive, social change.

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Diversity in Action: Strategies with Impact

This monograph features foundation CEO and trustee reflections on the impact of a broad array of diversity and inclusiveness efforts. They address many of the issues foundation leaders face every day including how to ensure that your grant resources have the most impact possible. The authors have identified diversity and inclusion as important tools in advancing their organizational missions and program goals. Their strategies range from institutional issues such as board development and staffing to community outreach and redefining grantmaking success.

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Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

When funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.

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Donor Decision Tool: Questions to Ask When Researching a Nonprofit

Whether you are a donor or a grantmaker, as you embark on getting to know your potential grantees, you may find it helpful to keep this guide with key questions pertaining to: Strategy and results Leadership Financials Organization and operations The guide also includes a worksheet to help you keep track of your progress and there is a supplemental resource here: http://learnphilanthropy.org/donor-decision-tool-research-nonprofit/

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Due Diligence

Due diligence—the process by which a funder assesses an organization before deciding to invest—can cause anxiety for grantmakers and grantseekers alike. In part, this is because it’s poorly understood. In this guide, we dispel five myths, distinguish between legal compliance and the rest of the due diligence process, and clarify legal requirements.  A publication of Project Streamline – an effort of funders and nonprofits to improve grant application, monitoring and reporting practices. It is a collaborative initiative of the Grants Managers Network, in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Association of Small Foundations, the Council on Foundations, the Forum Read more

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Eliminating Discrimination and Inequalities in Access to Water and Sanitation

This policy brief aims to provide guidance on non-discrimination and equality in the context of access to drinking water and sanitation, with a particular focus on women and girls. It also informs readers on the duty of States and responsibilities of non-State actors.

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Engaging Other Funders

The Beldon Fund’s ten-year experience with spending out while seeking to accomplish an ambitious mission yielded a range of useful lessons. They cover the practical nuts and bolts of putting a foundation on a spend-out course as well as specific tips on effective program strategies to achieve impact. This lesson shares how they brought more funders to the table.

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Entering the Lion’s Den: Developing the Skills to Create Long-Lasting Community Improvements

In this video from the Community Leadership Video Catalogue, seasoned leaders share how they affect policy and provide lessons on how to manage the risk.

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EPIcenter: Evaluate Practice Improvements

EPIcenter is a benchmarking library that enables users to evaluate practice improvements by learning how others handle specific issues and comparing their own methods against those of other grantmakers. The EPIcenter will enable GMN to document how funders are making grants now, see how practices are changing over time, and determine whether and how grantmakers are adopting effective practices. Six mini-surveys cover the following topics: grant applications, grant decisions, grant reporting, grant monitoring, compliance, and paperless grantmaking.

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Equity: is Your Foundation Ready to Invest in Building Opportunity for All?

Research shows that one of the greatest impediments to a prosperous future for all of Michigan’s people is unequal access to resources. To help foundation leaders and their boards begin essential conversations about marginalized populations and determine the extent to which their organization’s culture and grantmaking practices are aligned with a commitment to expanding opportunity in the communities they serve, CMF developed this discussion guide and self-assessment.

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Evaluating Community Change: A Framework for Grantmakers

Place-based initiatives involve multiple partners joining together to tackle pressing community-wide issues. In order to better understand and quantify the positive impact of these complex, long-term initiatives, this publication offers a framework of measures and potential indicators that can help grantmakers’ evaluating process and ultimately improve their work.

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Evaluation Benchmarks

The Beldon Fund established a set of performance benchmarks for success based on whether its programs were increasing the effectiveness of its grantees and drawing more resources to the field as a whole. They list the indicators the foundation developed to measure the impact of its portfolios.

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Expert Q & A: How can African-American philanthropy professionals network more effectively?

By: Karen McNeil-Miller, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Find/Create a network of other African-Americans as one of the many professional/social/personal networks you seek to form. Join and become an active member of ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) Intentionally seek out and request one-on-one conversations with: Several experienced African-American executives to provide perspective; Executive Director of ABFE; Prominent African-American philanthropists in your town. Don’t allow yourself to be viewed as solely responsible to represent and be sensitive to the minority perspective in your foundation.

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Families Funding Change

Social justice grantmaking is an important part of many family foundations’ strategies. These foundations use their reputation and financial capital for systemic reform by funding work such as nonprofit advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement. Yet, many family foundations also encounter hurdles when they consider a shift to strategic social justice giving.

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Family Foundation Sample Documents

Explore a curated collection of templates designed to assist with Family Foundation operations.

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Financial Inclusion – Opportunities and Risks for Donors

People living in poverty often lack access to safe, reliable ways to manage the little money they have. As a result, they face de facto exclusion from the financial system the rest of us rely on. To address this problem, a unique philanthropic project, funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Bankable Frontier Associates, formed partnerships with five large banks in the developing world. The approach was straightforward: research and implement new approaches to providing poor people with the financial tools they deserve. This philanthropic-public-private collaboration focused on sustainable financial inclusion—developing savings accounts that could Read more

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Five Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Grantees

We all know that strong relationships with grantees are important for productive partnerships that lead to greater impact. This blog from the Center for Effective Philanthropy will give you tips and explain the best ways to build those relationships.

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Foundation Communications: The Grantee Perspective

Reveals the key components of effective foundation communications with grantees. MORE Based on analyses of thousands of grantee surveys, this issue paper argues for a more holistic approach to foundation communications than is often practiced today. This report highlights best practices and provides practical management implications for foundation leaders.

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Foundation Grantmaking over the Economic Cycle

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

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Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support

Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support, looks at how funders collaborate with and bring support to indigenous communities around the world. Through examples from a diverse range of foundations, this guide explores how grantmakers work with indigenous peoples, the approaches they take, and the practices they find effective. This guide was developed in collaboration with International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP).

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Funding Locally

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

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Funding the Extraordinary: An Evaluation of the Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture Program’s Institutional Capitalization Grantmaking

This report showcases NFF’s evaluation of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. To see two executive summaries that distill findings from this report, see “Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization” and “Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers.”

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Getting Started in Philanthropy

Giving can be one of the most meaningful, life-enhancing aspects of our lives. More than a gesture, giving has the potential to help turn around the most serious problems in our troubled world. What we get in return can be invaluable. The question of how much to give is not frivolous. How do we, individually and as a society, stop hoarding financial abundance, using it as a scorecard, or simply pretending it’s not there? What will help us share our resources wisely? This publication provides six questions to ask as you begin your giving journey. With each one, we’ve offered Read more

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Grant Writing Resources

This page takes organizations through the grantwriting process step-by-step and includes additional resources, books, and tips.

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Grantmaking in the South: An Opportunity to Support Equity and Resilience

NCRP’s Ryan Schlegel interviewed Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation’s executive director Justin Maxson and network officer Lavastian Glenn about philanthropy in the South. Among the topics they discussed: foundations’ support for social change in the South, how to strengthen partnerships between Southern and national funders, and what has changed in the South since Lavastian authored an article in the summer 2013 edition of Responsive Philanthropy.

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Grantmaking Should Be Grounded in Real Costs

There is growing recognition that supporting nonprofit organizations with limited, restricted funding does not work. So what can we all do to make sure this recognition leads to systemic change that sets up nonprofit organizations for success and honors funders with the results their generosity deserves? This article explores what needs to be done in order to ensure that effective grantmaking is grounded in understanding the real costs of operating individual nonprofit organizations.  This article was originally published as Pay-What-It-Takes-Philanthropy, published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review in June of 2016.

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Grantmaking to Communities of Color in Oregon

Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington is addressing a knowledge gap by presenting research that can help inform the grantmaking decisions of our members. While diversity can be defined in multiple ways, the project team chose to focus on a single question: How much giving by Oregon foundations is reaching Oregon’s communities of color?

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Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

Grants Managers Network (now PEAK Grantmaking) looked across the field to better understand attitudes and perceptions about grants management and grantmaking practices. They took deep dives to learn more about foundations that are intentionally moving toward “successful structures” that integrate operations and program for greater impact.

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Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers

Connecticut Council of Philanthropy made this concise resource listing the eight guiding principles for Connecticut grantmaker accountability and suggested effective practices.

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How Are Foundations Communicating Their Work on Diversity? A Case Study

This case study is designed to encourage foundations to communicate with the public and the community about their work on diversity. The report considers the views of leaders of five prominent foundations in the United States. Based on their answers, experiences, and explanations, the study describes the various methods of communicating. The report explains how foundations can start using new media sources and how foundations might benefit from partnerships with other organizations and community members. In the end, we hope to encourage a discussion about best practices and whether such a platform is appropriate, given the challenges that emerge through Read more

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How Can We Prepare for Collaboration?

Because collaboration is hard and messy, many grantmakers and nonprofits are uncertain about the best way to move forward. The first step is to look inward and ensure that the right elements are in place. This piece discusses several steps that grantmakers can take to prepare for any type of collaboration.

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How Do I Build Strong Relationships with Grantees?

Collaborating effectively with your grantees is critical. This publication from the Bridgespan Group and GiveSmart outlines the keys to building strong relationships with grantees that are grounded in shared goals and buoyed by a productive working relationship.

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How To Guide: Saying Goodbye: Exiting Grantee Relationships with Care

Although you may end up giving some grantees more money, you will also, inevitably, have to transition away from others by reducing or ending your support for them. Here’s what to think about.

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How to Make Your Writing Clear and Concrete

Effective writing, whatever your field, shares some basic characteristics. It is Clear and Concrete, Courteous and Collegial, Current and Consistent, and Concise. We call these the seven C’s of effective writing. This article will address the first two C’s, Clear and Concrete, and share tips on how to state your case so others can understand it and respond.

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Innovations in Open Grantmaking

Innovations in Open Grantmaking seeks to provide inspiration and early proof of concept regarding innovative practices at every stage of the grantmaking process. The examples and lessons included can act as suggested guidelines for future research and experimentation around more openly and effectively providing access to public money.  This guide includes: Introduction to Open and Effective Grantmaking: What it is, why it matters Innovations Pre-Granting: Ideation challenges, improving the quality of applications through matchmaking, and prioritizing bottom-up participation Innovations in Granting: Open peer review and participatory judging, evidence-based grantmaking, expert networking, and open alternatives to grants Innovations Post-Granting: Opening data about grants, grantors, and Read more

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Integrated Transactions: an Emerging Focus for Community Development

This paper examines development models that intentionally integrate elements from two or more sectors, the capital challenges inherent in such projects, and the unique role that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and philanthropy play in overcoming those challenges. These innovative, emerging models are combining people and place-based strategies to deliver deeper impact to low-income communities, and often require more flexibility and technical support to move forward than the typical capital project. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and philanthropy are well positioned to provide the critical capital and technical assistance that make these projects possible. Unlike fully integrated, outcomes-driven models that Read more

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Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits

Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits explores the experience of Social Innovation Fund subgrantees to understand the capacities that enabled these nonprofits to scale up their programs rapidly and the types of support from their intermediary grantmakers that proved most helpful. While the SIF model may differ from other grantmaking, the experiences of subgrantees and intermediaries have much to offer the broader philanthropic community in reinforcing what it takes to grow nonprofit impact.

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Investing in Community Change: An Evaluation of a Decade of Data-Driven Grantmaking

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation has a well-established continuum of grantmaking and technical-assistance programs designed to improve the quality of life for children and families living in low-income communities in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The foundation’s decade long focus on neighborhood revitalization has helped to shape a resident-driven, collaborative, long-term, and data-informed approach designed to make neighborhoods more attractive for large-scale investment. In 2014, the foundation engaged The Reinvestment Fund and Success Measures at NeighborWorks America to jointly evaluate the impact of its grantmaking and related programs from 2003 to 2013, to determine if practices in its approach Read more

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Investing in New Orleans

This report tells an important story of the positive role philanthropy can play in developing new communities and affordable housing. The effort of reshaping post-Katrina New Orleans was part of what Casey calls “responsible redevelopment,” the activities and support services required to make the rebuilding process successful for low-income families and their kids through economic development and community action. The paper distills insights from the Foundation’s experience that may be useful to philanthropies and their partners in other places.

Categories: Types of Grants, Strategy and Evaluation, Grantmaking and Changemaking

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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? A National Study of Philanthropic Practice

A comprehensive study of the attitudes and practices of staffed grantmaking foundations in the U.S., which examines the connection between listening to and learning with grantees and improving practices to achieve better results. In light of the global economic downturn, this survey also highlights some of the key shifts in grantmaking since 2008 and what they mean for supporting nonprofit resilience.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Jargon Finder

To help you keep your writing and speaking free of jargon, we are pleased to present Jargon Finder – an online collection of foundation and nonprofit jargon, defined and discussed. Examples include “capacity,” “impact,” and “leverage.” Most of the examples are excerpted from Tony Proscio’s three book-length essays on jargon originally published by The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: In Other Words; Bad Words for Good; and When Words Fail. The Communications Network thanks the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation for its permission to feature these words on our site.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Landscape Scan: Building Diverse and Inclusive Foundations, Lessons from Michigan

This document synthesizes themes and highlights examples and lessons from the Knowledge Symposium on Diversity and Inclusion in Philanthropy: The Michigan Experience convened by the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Diversity in Philanthropy Project on March 2‐4, 2009 in Detroit and pre‐symposium interviews with approximately 20 Michigan foundations and 17 national content experts. The Symposium was the launch of CMF’s five‐year Transforming Michigan Philanthropy Through Diversity and Inclusion initiative.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Laying the Groundwork for Collective Impact: A Working Paper

This paper offers detailed suggestions for leaders of multisector initiatives working to generate collective impact on local community issues. It focuses on the critical early phases of the work and tackling issues such as poverty, education and workforce preparation. Topics such as cultivating leaders, creating a “backbone” organization, using data, engaging the community and promoting equitable opportunity are discussed. This paper will be of interest to funders, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and civic leaders interested in improving their communities.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Lending, Learning, Leading

This report tells the story of the CDFI Leadership Learning Network, a Casey Foundation initiative to equip leaders of community development finance institutions with the tools of results-based leadership (RBL). The Foundation shares lessons learned from the network, core RBL concepts and profiles of CDFI leaders as they apply RBL skills and tools to the work of their organizations.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Lessons in Funder Collaboration: What the Packard Foundation Has Learned about Working with Other Funders

Funder collaboration has been a hot topic in philanthropy for years. But interest has grown of late as more funders realize that individual efforts simply are not enough to address complex social problems. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has championed this view for decades as it has worked with dozens of other funders towards a common purpose. Clearly, collaboration can be a powerful means to amplify resources and impact, as this report presents in some detail. But good intentions aren’t enough to ensure success. Bridgespan’s exploration of Packard’s collaborations identified a number of factors that significantly raise the chances Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Leveraging Social Networks in Direct Services: Are Foundations Doing All They Can?

Social networks are critical to physical and mental health, and they shape how people see themselves and their possible futures. Social networks represent an under-leveraged resource in social services’ efforts to alleviate poverty and other social challenges. Foundations may be unintentionally creating barriers to practice that leverages social networks by incentivizing individually-focused, highly specific services delivered in standardized, replicable ways. “Network-oriented” practice can help craft a new way forward that threads the needle between everything-is-different-for-everyone and everything- is-the-same-for-everyone. By focusing funding on efforts that build and support social networks, foundations can deepen and sustain the impact of their funding.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Management Principles for Nonprofit Organizations

Effectively managing fundraising and philanthropic organizations is the key to meeting goals, motivating employees, inspiring the board, and building public trust. Whether you manage one person or 100, you need to know the tested principles of effective management. This course addresses the ways in which fundraising and philanthropic organizations differ from other organizations, the many roles of the manager, and the critical difference between management and leadership. Class sessions focus on strategic planning; staff, volunteer, and board management; effective budgeting; time management; and basic legal issues.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Measuring a Leader

EPIP encourages its members to develop a particular set of skills and values necessary to be effective leaders in building a just, equitable, and sustainable society. We promote diverse perspectives and value innovation for meeting societal challenges. Together with human resource professionals, EPIP created the following list of skills vital to EPIP member leadership development. Learn more about: Strategic and Analytical Skills Leadership and Management Skills Communication Skills Decision-Making Skills Innovation and Problem Solving Skills Social Justice and Racial Analysis Skills Influencing and Fundraising Skills And be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter at #EPIPLeaders.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid

Civil legal aid for families living in poverty or near poverty has often been an overlooked partner in philanthropic efforts to improve the bedrock economic, social and health conditions for low -income people and communities. It’s the indispensable underpinning for much of the work funders already support, a complementary strategy that can increase the impact of a funder’s efforts. But it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Providing more civil legal aid is not just a matter of addressing problems that low-income people encounter; it’s also a matter of ensuring basic access to justice for them. Some foundations have embraced Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Not All Grants Are Created Equal: Why Nonprofits Need General Operating Support from Foundations

Not All Grants Are Created Equal explores the debate on foundations providing project support versus operating support. The report investigates the types of organizations that receive the most general operating support and lays out the case of why nonprofits need general operating support and why foundations are often reluctant to provide it.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Out in the South, Part One: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Issues in the U.S. South

This report is the first in a series of reports entitled Out in the South. This first report, Part One: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Issues in the U.S. South, explores the underfunding of LGBTQ communities in the U.S. South in comparison to the rest of the country. It identifies who is funding in the South, and examines the issues and strategies currently being funded.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Paper Diet Report

A new way to (not) think about paper In 2010, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 334 pounds for each person living in the U.S., according to the American Forest & Paper Association. And that’s just the paper that was recovered. In 2010, GMN released “Beyond the Recycling Bin: Greening Practices of Grantmakers,” (PDF) which reported on paper use, energy efficiency, and green travel practices of member organizations. GMN’s survey showed that grants managers are overwhelmingly interested in greening practices, and their actions can impact the overall greening of their organizations. The Paper Diet began in 2011 where “Beyond the Recycling Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Participatory Grant Making: A Success Story From Southern Africa

The Other Foundation (tOF) is an African trust dedicated to advancing human rights in southern Africa, with a particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. This report outlines the work that was involved in the development and implementation of the pilot grant making initiative, as well as reporting on the first grants that were allocated by the foundation. tOF received 114 applications for funding, from seven different countries, through an open call to support work that ‘advances the rights and wellbeing of LGBTI people in Southern Africa’. 12 peer reviewers from six different countries in southern Read more

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Pathways Forward: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Immigration Issues

This report provides detailed data on the current scope and character of foundation funding at the intersection of LGBTQ and immigrant rights. It also includes an overview of the ecology of advocacy and service organizations working to address the needs of LGBTQ immigrants, and offers recommendations for funders.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Pay-What-it-Takes Philanthropy

It’s time to break the “starvation cycle,” a vexing pattern of underfunding and underinvesting that prevents countless nonprofits from maximizing their impact. Despite years of conversation around the topic of funding the real cost of programs, many grantmakers continue to pay flat—and too low—overhead rates regardless of a their grantees’ actual needs. “Pay what it takes” philanthropy looks to remedy the situation by providing a flexible approach to funding, grounded in real costs. By taking into account the true dollars needed, this new approach has the potential to shift funding from programs and services to what it actually takes to create Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Peer Action Learning Network

As a part of CMF’s Transforming Michigan Philanthropy through Diversity & Inclusion initiative, the Peer Action Learning Network is an expert-led, 11 month engagement series designed to strengthen participant foundations’ capacity in diverse and inclusive leadership, management and grantmaking.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Pennies for Progress

In 2008, on the eve of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, America’s foundations were doing better than ever. During the economic calamity that followed – as the housing, labor and stock markets collapsed – foundations weathered the storm better than most. Meanwhile, the public these foundations serve was suffering. One might expect foundations, whose charitable dollars escape taxation by virtue of serving the public good, to have increased their support for underserved communities during and after the Great Recession. We found that in the decade that ended in 2013, foundation support for America’s marginalized communities grew just 5 percent as a Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook

Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook: Leveraging Your Dollars is designed to provide foundations with the information they need to both fund and conduct advocacy. The Playbook provides examples of how foundation investments have generated meaningful policy change, as well as links to other publications and fact sheets that will allow foundation leaders to quickly answer their questions and access additional information. Many nonprofit leaders view advocacy as a tool that advances their mission, empowers their supporters and members, triggers public debate and discussion, and leads to solutions for pressing problems. Active, successful nonprofits with policy goals understand that employing advocacy strategies is perfectly legal including, within limits, tactics Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: The Power Dynamic

Funders must be aware of the power dynamic that exists between those who give away money and those who rely on philanthropic gifts, be empathetic to it, and be supportive. When we acknowledge this dynamic, bring grantees into the conversation, and build authentic, trusting relationships, we increase the opportunity to create meaningful impact together. In the newest video in our Philanthropy Lessons series and campaign, learn how to work well with grantees and hear how relationship building can help funders manage the power dynamic.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Value Beyond Dollars

To create the most impact, philanthropy must bring value beyond grant dollars. Funders have the opportunity to play important roles as mentors and conveners, supporters and motivators. 38 percent of foundations provide technical assistance and 37 percent convene grantees or organizations in their funding areas, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report.

Categories: Video, Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Who Knows More?

If we give ourselves a license to learn from our grantees—and the people they serve—we can be more effective. Hear from leading philanthropists about building respect and trusting the people who are working day-in and day-out with the complex issues we care about. 64 percent of Foundations use information received from grantees to inform grantmaking, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Working Collaboratively

Philanthropists are working on complex problems and no one person or group has all the answers. Working collaboratively–with grantees, other funders, and others in their communities–creates synergy and wisdom, power and possibility.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard

NCRP’s recent webinar, “PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard” connects the Kresge Foundation, the subject of a recent Philamplify report, to the practice of place-based grantmaking, and discusses how foundation investment in communities is a prime strategy for long-term success. For additional resources about place-based grantmaking, check out the recording of NCRP’s PIMBY webinar

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Private Foundation vs. Donor-Advised Fund Comparison Chart

A private foundation is a legal entity controlled by the founder. By contrast, a donor-advised fund is a giving account legally controlled by the sponsoring charitable organization. With a private foundation, the donor controls who sits on the governing board and how funds are spent. A donor-advised fund is governed by a board selected by the sponsoring organization. The donor may only “advise” how the donated funds are granted and invested. With a private foundation, the donor retains total control over where assets are custodied and how they’re managed. With a donor-advised fund, assets are typically limited to the investment Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Program and Communications – Making Good Things Happen Together

Michael Smith, SVP Social Innovation, the Case Foundation, admits he’s a convert to the benefits communications can bring to program work. As he says in this video, in his early days at the foundation, he thought his job was to create program strategy and then hand off his work to the communications team to think about what they can do with it. Not so anymore. Smith says his conversion came after seeing “the real benefits the communications team was bringing to the work we were doing.” While Smith acknowledges his views may not be shared widely by foundation program staff, Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Promoting Collaboration Among Grantees

This one page quick reference sheet provides tips on ways to promote collaboration among grantees, and ensure successful collaboration.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers

With the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, NFF released two summaries sharing lessons learned on capitalization in the arts sector. The summaries distill findings from NFF’s study of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. This summary, Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers, is written for arts funders who are looking to make smart and impactful investments. It includes tips for planning a grantmaking strategy, making the grant match the need, and ensuring that the grant is implemented successfully.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Rethinking the funding equation: Can general operating support become the new normal?

Nonprofit leaders are raising their voices on the issue of operating support. While I stood silent as a professional working at Treehouse, today’s leaders are starting to speak up about the great need for unrestricted funding. Vu Le, a Seattle nonprofit leader, has received national recognition for his humorous, spot-on blog that contains several posts about this issue. Yet with all of this momentum, why does general operating support still account for only a relative fraction of all grantmaking?

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

As consumers and producers, people of color have been affected disproportionately by systemic problems in the food system. This article describes the Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy initiative, a joint effort of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to build the capacity of organizations led by people of color to engage in policy and advocacy work. Grantees successfully built their capacity to engage in policy work (e.g., increased capacity to identify policy targets), increased their organizational capacity (e.g., diversified boards), improved their communities’ capacity (e.g., created opportunities for dialogue and improved access to fresh Read more

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Shake Up Your Grantmaking with Youth Philanthropy

Involving youth in philanthropic activities is not a new idea. It’s something that parents, teachers, mentors, churches, and so on have been doing for a long time. Teaching kids about donating their time, resources, and talents to charitable causes has its obvious purpose… to pass on responsibility of our society, our legacies, to the next generation. But there is a more recent movement that takes that idea and desire to mold the next generation of philanthropists to a different level. Youth participating at the board level of grantmaking might seem like a scary prospect, but it has its proven merits. Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Sharpen Your Focus – 5 Questions That Will Improve Your Grantmaking

Giving money away is a complicated business, but Putnam Consulting Group has found a few simple questions that can bring a lot of clarity to the process. The questions are straightforward, but they lead to deep issues that can have a profound impact on the way you direct your grantmaking. As you consider your next initiative, take some time to ask these questions.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Sink or Swim? Jumping into the pool of foundation communications

This webinar is designed to give communications practitioners in foundations insight into important things to know about their jobs, including: How important is brand? How do you make things run smoothly? (No staff posting drunken pics from grantee site visit on foundation Facebook page) Do we need a communication plan? What’s my role with other staff and our grantees? How do I know if I am doing a good job? Whether you are brand new to this work or an old hand curious about questions people new to this work bring to their jobs, watch the webinar, listen and learn.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Site visits: A useful tool for effective and engaged grantmakers

For some families, the site visit is the penultimate act before a grantmaking decision is made. They narrow down the number of grantees to a few that have made the greatest impression, or seem like the best fit for their mission, and use the site visit as a final criterion. Site visits can also help families to evaluate how well a grant already awarded is working in accomplishing the philanthropy’s goals. Visiting grantees, in an open and un-intimidating manner, can help you gauge the impact your grant is having on a given issue or organization, and to maintain ties to Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GHR Foundation

Co-designing with grantees and partners from Day 1 can lead to stronger collaborations, flexible solutions and more meaningful impact. GHR Foundation is using its design-build approach to engage at three levels of partnership: direct service, systems change, and global platform.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale

This sponsored supplement, “Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale,” was produced by Stanford Social Innovation Review for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO). It was created to capture the latest thinking about how nonprofit organizations, grantmakers, public funders, and social entrepreneurs can increase the impact of successful solutions to urgent social challenges. In the following pages, leaders from across the social sector offer their perspectives on “scaling what works”—what it means, what it takes to do it right, and what needs to happen to ensure that proven and promising solutions find their way to more communities and Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Social Catalysts: A Case Study of 15 Successful Diversity Focused Funds

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.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Speak Your Peace: A Communications Strategy for Changing Community Culture

Strategic communications can play a crucial role in advancing tangible community-wide impacts. “Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project” (SYP) was developed by The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Millennium Group to improve the civility of public discourse, under the premise that this would strengthen community decision making, expand civic engagement, and increase residents’ interest in elected office. The SYP campaign promotes nine principles (or “tools”) adapted from Forni’s book Choosing Civility (e.g., pay attention, take responsibility, apologize, give constructive criticism). City councils, county commissions, and school boards in the region adopted the nine tools as ground rules for Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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State of the Practice 2011: Survey Finds Use of Digital Communications on Rise In Foundations

Communications professionals at America’s grantmaking foundations are responding to the digital age, according to a new survey from the Communications Network. This survey of 155 foundation communicators shows U.S. foundations are making use of all forms digital communications, especially social media, a top priority. The survey results suggest the growth of social media and other emerging digital technologies is changing the way foundations communicate with target audiences.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Stepping Up and Stepping Out: Profiles of Philanthropy Responding to an American Crisis

Stepping Up and Stepping Out profiles three philanthropic organizations that are making investments with a specific intent to create opportunities for black males: A Legacy of Tradition, Chicago Community Trust, and Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Sticking Points: Grantee Roles and Relationships

This blog post asks grantees, grantseekers, and grantmakers how grantmakers can be aware and stay out of the “I know best” mode.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Stop managing grants. Start managing your network.

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.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Strategic Co-Funding: An Approach for Extended Impact

Co-published by GEO and REDF as an update to REDF’s 2008 article “Out of Philanthropy’s Funding Maze: Roadmap #1, Strategic Co-Funding,” designed to re-introduce the idea of strategic co-funding and highlight effective strategies and current examples.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Strategic Communications for Influence: Lessons From the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Its KIDS COUNT Initiative

This article describes how the Annie E. Casey Foundation is using the KIDS COUNT Network in a new way: as a strategic communications tool in its focused efforts toward policy change, broad social change, and improved conditions for vulnerable children and families. An outcome map illustrates links between this strategy and the intended outcomes. Case illustrations of KIDS COUNT grantee activities surrounding the release of the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book describe the efforts of grantees in six states where the quantity and quality of media coverage surrounding the national data book reflected the kind of coverage that Casey believes Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity

Capacity building enables nonprofit leaders and organizations to develop the skills and resources they need to improve their work. Since each situation is unique and circumstances are always changing, effective capacity-building support is tailored to best suit the needs of grantees. This publication offers practical guidance and considerations to help grantmakers design an impactful approach.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Successful Structures: Rethinking the Role of Grants Management

Effective grantmaking organizations deliberately connect the “how” of grantmaking to strategy and impact. In these organizations, the practices, processes, and systems that get money out the door to support important work in communities are informed, assessed, and strengthened using timely data about grantmaking effectiveness. In these organizations, thoughtful conversations about how to make grants most effectively are everyone’s business: programs, operations, finance, and executive staff work together to analyze and improve grantmaking practice.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together

In Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together, we look at how funders approach building capacity with grantees. Through examples from foundations ranging in size, mission, and geography, we explore various strategies for capacity building and the types of awareness that funders can choose to incorporate in decision making to facilitate informed, thoughtful judgments about strengthening organizations.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Supporting Social Entrepreneurship

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

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Talking to Ourselves? A Critical Look at Annual Reports in Foundation Communications

Communications matters more than ever before for foundations, and to be strategic means making the best use of all your resources and in ways that advance programs, goals, and missions. Annual reports deserve credit from earlier times for helping foundations be more transparent. But over the years they seem to have been saddled with an unrealistic expectation that they can also serve larger strategic communication goals. It’s likely that the work annual reports are expected to do might be better accomplished in other more effective, and perhaps less costly and time-consuming ways. This report was co-produced by the Philanthropy Awareness Read more

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The Challenges Grantmakers Face in Supporting Technology

This article covers why and how technology often gets short changed, the planning knowledge and skill nonprofits need in order to thrive with technology, and what is needed for grantmakers to support nonprofits with technology. 

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Consumers Guide to Content Management Systems for Nonprofits

A web presence is critical for almost every nonprofit, but creating websites can be daunting. It can take a lot of time, money and technical expertise, all of which are often in short supply. And even if you have a website up and running, that doesn’t mean your work is done—you still need to keep up with maintenance, updates, and desirable new features. This is where a Content Management System (CMS) can help.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change: Book Review

The Dragonfly Effect identifies a four-step process symbolized by the wings of the dragonfly. The metaphor does a good job of describing how these four major areas must work in tandem to give the lift needed to reach one’s goals: Focus—Identify a concrete goal. What is it that you want to achieve? Grab Attention—Develop a message that attracts an audience and makes them pay attention. Engage—Go beyond advertising and develop a personal connection. Make your audience care enough to incite them to take action. Take Action—Give your audience the tools and resources they need to take action. Be willing to Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Physics of LGBTQ Funding: Momentum, Resistance, & Impact

Every year for nearly a decade, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has released an annual report seeking to quantify and examine the amount and character of foundation grantmaking for LGBTQ communities. This brief paper seeks to build on those annual tracking reports by taking a longer and wider view. The title references physics as the study of things that are in motion, of how things interact and relate to each other. This paper looks at the movement of LGBTQ funding over time and how LGBTQ grantmaking has interacted with other trends in the philanthropic world and beyond. This paper also offers Read more

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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The Truth About Site Visits

Site visits are a single but critical step in most agencies’ attempts to secure funding and implement programming. As with every step in that process “” from grantwriting to hiring employees “” preparation and planning are key to improving an agency’s chances for success in obtaining a grant. Most funders say there’s nothing in particular a nonprofit can do to guarantee that a site visit results in funding “” the people doing the site visit often only make recommendations about particular programs, while others decide who ultimately receives funding. But grantmaking employees interviewed for this article offered several rules of Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Three Ways Funders Delude Themselves About Equity

This blogpost points out ways that funders get in their own way when it comes to equity and how they can avoid doing so. They include: Not clearly defining what equity means Assuming aggregate data indicates an equitable outcome Expecting grantees to address equity without doing so themselves

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Tips for Effective Grantee Relations

What are the characteristics of a win-win relationship for grantmaker and nonprofit alike? This checklist may help. Be willing to apologize. Return phone calls. Admit when you don’t know. Ask. Be truthful, compassionate, considerate. Ask advice. Admit error. Listen. Listen. Make people comfortable. Don’t withhold information that is appropriate and important to give. Walk a mile in a grantseeker’s shoes. They pinch.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Toolkit for Racial, Ethnic and Tribal Funds and Foundations

Diverse communities are molding and stretching models of giving to fashion something new. Funds and foundations are a promising and growing tool used to organize racial, ethnic and tribal giving. Sometimes called “ethnic funds,” these are typically public foundations that mobilize the giving resources of a community for that community’s benefit. This involves organizing groups of donors to invest in the foundation, pooling resources, developing giving priorities and a process, and making grants. Usually, donors contribute to a pooled fund, and make grants from that fund through a collective decision making process. By pooling resources, donors come together to have Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Towards Transformative Change in Health Care

Analysis shows that only 31 percent of 880 foundations and institutional grantmakers that give billions towards domestic health-related causes gave half of their grants to meet the needs of the poor, disabled, the elderly and other underserved populations. Langston and NCRP recommend two strategies for health funders to improve significantly the impact of their philanthropy: allocating at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit underserved communities and 25 towards advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement that promotes long-term systemic reform.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Translations of GrantCraft Guides

While GrantCraft materials are developed in English, several guides and other resources are available in different languages. These materials have been translated by partnering organizations and adapted for use by native speakers. German, French, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Values-Based Grantmaking: Why It Matters

PEAK Grantmaking continually advocates for the adoption of effective practices in the philanthropic sector. According to a survey of our members and others in philanthropy, we found that, while many believe that grantmaking process and structure very much (65%) or moderately (25%) affect the ultimate success of grants, many grantmakers (41%) believe that assessing and changing how grants are made isn’t a priority. One way PEAK Grantmaking is seeking to encourage members to analyze their practices is by engaging them in conversations on whether their practices reflect the values that are explicit or implicit to their organizations.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Vital Funding Part Two: Grantmaking Strategies for Improving LGBTQ Health

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Vital Funding: Investing in LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Webinar Recap – Grantmaking for Equity

This webinar explores strategy and tensions in grantmaking for equity.

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Webinar Recap: Getting Out of Our Own Way for Greater Impact

In these demanding times, effective grantmaking is more important than ever. Join Kris Putnam-Walkerly, experienced philanthropy advisor and author of Confident Giving, to surface and break through the bad habits and well-intended follies that stand between our work and greater impact, including: Moving away from scarcity-based approaches to foundation management Cutting out unnecessary complexity and bureaucratic waste, and Reforming processes that unintentionally disrespect our grantees

Categories: Webinar, Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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What does effective due diligence look like?

Due diligence is a process that helps grantmakers get to know grantseekers. Typically, it’s seen strictly as a means to ensure an organization’s financial and legal compliance. However, when done well, due diligence has the potential to provide insight into such critical attributes as the role of the organization’s board, the position the nonprofit holds in its field and community, and the level of alignment between our own mission and the goals of the grantseeker. The difficult part of due diligence is in asking the right questions and in a way that makes the most of the nonprofit’s time and Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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What My Two-Year-Old Taught Me About Grants Management

I am the lucky father of a wonderful two-year-old girl, Rose. She is silly, inquisitive, sweet, curious, playful, cuddly, and a lot of fun. She is also a tough cookie. Anyone who has dealt with a two-year-old knows what irrational balls of anger they can sometimes be. Dealing with Rose has taught me a lot of lessons that apply to the world of grants management. After all, in our role as grants managers, we are often in a compliance position, telling people what they can and cannot do, and trying to get sometimes reluctant people to go along with your Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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When is transparency a really bad idea?

Fashions in philanthropy can be every bit as startling as the catwalk: evaluation methods and grantmaking approaches change as fast as hemlines. But onefashion that is probably here to stay (a bit like men’s suits) is transparency, which makes it worth taking a longer look at. Transparency for funders is a helpful idea, but it’s not a panacea. If private foundations and grantmakers think it is, then their attempts to bring a measure of sunlight to a sector shrouded in mist are likely to fail or, much worse, do damage. We need to recognize that glass-pocket principles need to be Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Whose Job is it to Speak up for Philanthropy?

In this conversation, Phil Buchanan and Susan Herr explore attacks on philanthropy, what is motivating these charges, and why it is important for more of us to challenge broad stereotypes that aren’t based on evidence.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Why Every Funder Should Consider Participatory Grantmaking

This type of grantmaking demonstrates a paradigm shift in how funders work with grantees as agents of change in their communities rather than simply as beneficiaries of aid. It goes beyond grantmaking into the importance of advancing public and democratic participation in decision making. In essence, the process itself is part of the impact.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Women and Giving

Because philanthropy can help organizations take calculated risks, not all philanthropy achieves its goals. However, when successful, philanthropic and personal investments can pay dividends in the form of meaningful connection and even joy. Why does women’s philanthropy matter? Here are three reasons: Women control more of the financial pie than ever before The percentage of women wielding wealth is only going to rise Research supports the idea that gender differences in giving between women and men are real  

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Youth Civic Engagement for Dialogue and Diversity at the Metropolitan Level

Youth civic engagement can take various forms, of which intergroup dialogue is one. Some forms – such as electoral participation – are inappropriate for young people. This article describes Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity in Metropolitan Detroit, the nation’s most segregated metropolitan area. High-school-age students participated in intra and intergroup dialogues, metropolitan tours, residential retreats, and community action projects. Youth participants increased their knowledge of their own racial and ethnic identities and those of others, increased their awareness and understanding of racism and racial privilege, and developed leadership skills and took actions to challenge racism in their communities.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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