FMA partnered with The Wallace Foundation to conduct a study of the administrative management capacity of organizations providing out-of-school time (OST) services. Based on a sample of 16 high-performing programs in New York City and Chicago, the report concludes that many OST providers need additional investment in administrative management capacity in order to most effectively support, develop and expand their programs. While the study focuses specifically on organizations providing OST programs and services, the report’s lessons and observations should be relevant and useful to the broader nonprofit sector as well. (FMA is pleased to share this report with the permission Read more
This course, developed by the legal staff at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, covers the basic legal rules and shows staff at private foundations how to remain within the law when the grants funded, or the activities engaged in as staff members, involve advocacy or lobbying. It takes less than an hour to complete and features “Maya,” a new program officer that leads participants through the course. Three modules provide an overview of how lobbying laws apply to the work of private foundations, Read more
Assessing the capacity of the organizations you fund to deliver on those efforts can be difficult. ACT is a powerful tool for foundations that want to understand and evaluate the skills and readiness of their grantees, identify the specific gaps and opportunities in their own advocacy portfolios, and focus resources where they matter most.
Organizational advocacy capacity is an increasingly important area of inquiry, raising questions about the opportunities (and limits) for achieving and sustaining policy change. The California Endowment implemented the Clinic Consortia Policy and Advocacy Program to expand grantee advocacy capacity to support the policy and operational needs of California’s community clinics. In-person meetings with decision-makers and developing working relationships were among the key advocacy activities undertaken by 19 grantees. Grantees secured several policy wins through a variety of strategies, including mobilizing member clinics to be potent advocates. The “return on investment analysis” indicates that grantees secured policymaker support for clinic programs Read more
“Stories From the Field, ” published by The Wallace Foundation, describes their effort to provide financial trainings to executives of high-performing organizations. FMA’s work in Chicago with After School Programs is also recognized. (FMA is pleased to share this report with the permission of The Wallace Foundation.)
This article reports on the accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned in creating a new Department of Research and Evaluation at the California HealthCare Foundation. Different tools were developed to address each of three key areas: performance assessment, organizational learning, and program evaluation. These new processes and tools have been well received by both staff and the board, and have become increasingly important as resources become more scarce, making understanding and maximizing the impact of investments even more critical. Fostering a culture of evaluative inquiry in a fast-paced, payout-oriented environment is a significant challenge – program staff often feels pressured to Read more
Supporting election-related activities is an effective way for foundations to strengthen democracy by broadening the civic dialogue and giving a voice to underrepresented communities. Find out how your foundation can support election related activities in this fact sheet.
As grantmakers strive to help nonproﬁts succeed in today’s difficult environment, one practice stands out as part of the solution: general operating support. In this publication, based in part on a GEO listserv discussion, GEO explores the nature of general operating support, how to make the case for it within your organization, and how to make it work.
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
This directory contains every advocacy and community organizing impact that was achieved by 110 organizations in 13 states over a five-year period. The directory is a compilation of data reported in each of seven “Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” reports, and includes monetized and non-monetized impacts.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
FMA’s Founder and Managing Director, Hilda H. Polanco discusses the value of maintaining healthy reserves: “Whether to be used as a ‘rainy-day fund,’ to help smooth out transitions during turbulent times, or to leverage an opportunity in a strategic push, few will question the value of a strong balance sheet defined by ample, liquid unrestricted net assets.” (FMA is pleased to share this resource with the permission of Philanthropy Journal.)
This reference book is an indispensable guide for foundations in explaining the various roles they can play in the advocacy process. Investing in Change can serve as an in-depth guide to navigating the tax code surrounding support of public charities, or a quick reference guide to answer a specific question.
The latest (Spring 2012) publication from Alliance for Justice is Keeping Track: A Guide to Recordkeeping for Advocacy Charities designed to help public charities comply with federal tax law by tracking their lobbying activities. Funders are encouraged to share this publication with their grantees that engage in lobbying. Lobbying is an essential tool for many 501(c)(3) public charities. In addition to activities such as public education, research, and policy advocacy, lobbying can be an effective tool for advancing an organization’s mission. Of course, the primary goal of recordkeeping is to meet the requirements of the IRS. “Keeping Track” explains that Read more
This article describes a creative relationship between the Ball Foundation and the Rowland Unified School District. The approach was adopted by the Ball Foundation when they observed that grantees who had a closer relationship with them were more successful than those who had a more traditional relationship with them. Based on the concept of “adaptive leadership,” the relationship allows for flexibility and a more collaborative approach between the foundation and grantee. This approach requires both the funder and the grantee to be committed to learning and adapting strategies as needed to respond to both results and changing contexts. The funder Read more
Leveraging Limited Dollars provides solid evidence of the impacts of foundation-funded policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement based on findings from the seven research sites. The report explains why these strategies are successful and how they create stronger communities.
Author: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
The increasing emphasis by funders on strategic grantmaking and measurable outcomes may be a disincentive to support policy and advocacy work, because of the perception that outcomes can be difficult to assess. A tool for measuring impact can reduce the barriers to funding advocacy and policy work. The tool draws upon the literature on evaluating advocacy and organizing, social capital building efforts, and return on investment approaches to evaluation. The tool was applied in two sites, where funders found it useful to understand advocacy impacts and learn how advocacy can enhance their grantmaking goals.
Many foundations have substituted process accountability for accountability for contributing to social change. While process accountability is important, it sets a floor, not an aspirational ceiling. There are tools—such as risk analysis, systems approaches, and game theory—that can help philanthropy engage in work on complex social problems that cannot be deconstructed into a series of small, linear projects. Seeking to extend basic human rights to more individuals around the world, seeking to reduce racism in a given city, or seeking to change public health norms in small town—all of these aspirations require first a willingness to take on challenges that Read more
This article describes six key roles for philanthropic organizations’ engagement in communities. It draws on Living Cities, a consortium of financial organizations, private foundations, and public sector organizations that has been working since 1991 to improve distressed neighborhoods in 23 cities. The six civic roles described are (a) convening and leveraging diverse networks of relationships, (b) developing local data and plans for community change, (c) leveraging new resources on behalf of communities, (d) mobilizing political will, (e) framing new messages about community development and communicating more strategically, and (f) generating and testing new ideas and building and sharing knowledge. Typically Read more
While private foundations incur a prohibitive tax when they engage in or fund advocacy, they may still engage in a variety of advocacy activities. This fact sheet explains how private foundations can engage in a variety of advocacy activities.
Faced with increased competition for donors and calls for measurable impact, many community foundations (CFs) are adopting a more proactive, strategic approach to philanthropy – one that has come to be known as “community leadership.” Community leadership has proven challenging for many CFs. In theory, community assessment is a useful tool allowing CFs to identify strategic issues where leadership activities are warranted. This article examines the effect of a large, coordinated assessment project, the 2000 Social Capital Benchmark Survey (SCBS), conducted by Robert Putnam and the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. Of the 34 CFs that participated in SCBS, 12 Read more
501(c)(3) public charities, including grantmaking public charities like community foundations and women’s foundations, can lobby within the generous limits allowed by federal law. This fact sheet explains the lobbying rules for public foundations.
When undertaking a new organizational or program approach to evaluation, begin with questions of readiness. What is the existing EVALUATION PRACTICE of my organization or program? What is the existing EVALUATION CAPACITY of my organization or program?
This article examines success factors that relate specifically to the ability of a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) to achieve the scope and scale required to generate community-level outcomes and to sustain those positive impacts over time. The CCIs selected for study represent a wide range of goals, strategies, and organizational structures. Six factors were found to cut across scope, scale, and sustainability. These factors include having a single broker or entity that holds the vision of the change effort; clearly defined roles; alignment among interventions, resources, and geography; meaningful community engagement; competent leadership and staff; and strategic, cross-level relationships. Additional Read more
Yes we can!, a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to improve educational and economic outcomes within the foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. Since 2002, Yes we can! has supported five core strategies designed to trigger the systems changes needed to reduce educational and economic inequities in Battle Creek. Yes we can! has achieved some important wins to date; for example, more residents are involved, more neighborhoods have stronger neighborhood associations, and more organizations are engaging residents in their decision-making processes. However, the scale of wins remains small, and the targeted systemic Read more
This article summarizes how 29 diverse communities throughout Colorado implemented the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), which was conceived and funded by The Colorado Trust to engage community residents in the development of locally relevant strategies to improve community health. In line with the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities model, CHCI emphasized (a) inclusive, representative planning; (b) a broad definition of “health”; (c) consensus decision making; and (d) capacity building among local stakeholder groups. Communities implemented an array of projects (on average, six per community) that extended well beyond traditional health promotion and disease prevention. The most common action projects Read more
This article describes the trade-offs between the city-level and neighborhood-based approaches in examining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Urban Health Initiative (UHI), an $80 million, 10-year effort to improve the health and safety of young people. Eight cities engaged in a two-year planning process; five received funding for an eight-year implementation phase. Plans that engaged in bottom-up activities, but left power and control in the hands of civic, business, social service, and political leaders, were favored. Those who had focused exclusively on neighborhood-based approaches were not funded for implementation. RWJF chose a city-level focus because they believed neighborhood-level initiatives Read more
Supporting organizations provide a broad array of services, including grants and other financial benefits, to the organizations they support. This 2005 study found that nearly 92 percent of the large supporting organizations with no apparent grants in our sample did, in fact, provide significant financial services and benefits to their supported organizations. Complex business and legal reasons similar to those found in the for-profit world appear to lie behind the activities of most of these organizations.