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

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

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

This article reports initial lessons about the Skillman Foundation’s changemaking practice. The foundation built new strategic competencies that draws upon and leverages knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement grantmaking investments. Ten lessons for foundations that want to assume a changemaking role are offered.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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Communicating Effectively With Applicants and Grantees

The main purpose for exchanging information with applicants and grantees is to make sure your organization gets the best possible results with the grants it makes. The most effective communication is distinguished by a handful of characteristics we’ll call the Seven C’s.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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Map of the Craft

This tool identifies seven challenges in grantmaking, as well as the practices and skills that can help you meet them: Planning My Work, Organizing for Impact, Working with Grantees, Finding Allies, Making the Grant, Understanding My Role, Leading on the Inside.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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: General Grantmaking Skills

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Relationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success

Relationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success sheds light on what constitutes a strong funder–grantee relationship, what nonprofits say it takes for funders to foster such relationships, and the crucial role that program officers play in the equation. The report finds that in the eyes of nonprofits, the most powerful ways that funders can strengthen their relationships with grantees are to: 1) focus on understanding grantee organizations and the context in which they work; and 2) be transparent with grantees. Less powerful, but still important to forming strong relationships, are the experiences grantees have during the selection process Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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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: General Grantmaking Skills

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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

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The power of money

Stephen Pittam discusses the power of money: Six months after I had started working for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) a close friend said to me, ‘you have changed – you expect people to listen to you.’ It was a good reminder of the best piece of advice I received on getting the job. Eric Adams of the Barrow Cadbury Trust told me, ‘keep your feet on the ground and you will be alright’.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills

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Top Learning Frameworks for Grantmakers

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

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Top 5 Lists

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