“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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









7 Advocacy Tips for 2017

Advocacy is an important tool for your nonprofit to achieve its mission! It can take many forms—public education, litigation, and even lobbying—and there is no “one size fits all” approach. These tips can help your organization start the new year right.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









ACT NOW! In It for the Long Haul: How Funders Can Help Grantees Sustain Long-Term Advocacy

Bolder Advocacy expands on the final capacity areas from the Advocacy Capacity Tool and present skills, knowledge, and practices that can help funders identify organizations’ capacity for sustainability and long-term advocacy: Organizational Commitment to supporting advocacy work, including leadership commitment for, and staff time dedicated to, this work; Organizational fundraising practices that incorporate an understanding of how foundations can support advocacy and that help funders understand how the group can use advocacy to accomplish its mission; Decision-making structure and process that allows the organization to make timely and well informed decisions related to public policy advocacy; and Fiscal management practices Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Legal Issues and Laws, The Philanthropic Sector









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, New Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









Family Foundation Sample Documents

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

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









How Do I Build Strong Relationships with Grantees?

As a donor, your grantees’ results are your results—they are creating change for the people and causes you care most passionately about. So collaborating effectively with your grantees is a critical step on your journey from aspirations to real results.  This publication from the Bridgespan Group and GiveSmart outline the keys to building strong relationships with grantees – relationships grounded in shared goals and buoyed by a productive working relationship.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Financial Management, Foundation Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources, Types of Grants









Interview with Carol Civita, Brazilian philanthropist

A disposition to give is not the same as a culture of philanthropy, argues Brazilian philanthropist Carol Civita. Brazil has always had the one but still lacks the other, she tells Caroline Hartnell. Part of the problem is that Brazilians see social problems as the government’s business, but in her view the country needs partnerships between the public sector and private philanthropy if social development is to catch up with economic development. But foundations are beginning to talk to each other, she says, a big step forward.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Strategy and Evaluation









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









Promoting Collaboration Among Grantees

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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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?

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, New Grants Management, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, New Grants Management, Resources









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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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, New Grants Management, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Grantmaking Skills, Resources