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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Advanced Mini-Intensive in Grantmaking

This course includes an in-depth analysis of evaluation models; proposal assessments; funder-grantee relationships and models, especially as they apply to particular funding areas and values-based grantmaking; changes in the philanthropy law and environment; and participant-presented case studies. Course content is updated based upon recommendations of the larger philanthropy field and past participants. The course is coordinated by Richard Marker, an internationally known thought leader in the grantmaking and philanthropy field. He is joined in class by several highly respected and prominent philanthropy experts. CEU: 4

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , In-Person Workshop, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , General Grants 









Advocacy Capacity Tool

This tool helps assess organizational advocacy capacity by taking a snapshot of an organization’s skills, knowledge, and resources, and by providing analysis of the results. Comparisons to other organizations will be available after a database is established.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, General Grants 









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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Assessing Nonprofit Networks Prior to Funding: Tools for Foundations to Determine Life Cycle Phase and Function

Foundations and other funders can use life cycle analysis tools to determine a nonprofit network’s stage of development and functional characteristics as a precursor to funding network activities. Characteristics that determine a network’s readiness for funding include network cohesion (trust and communication), cooperation (mutual purpose and goals), and capacity for externally focused action. Network Mindset Survey analysis can help determine a network’s readiness for funding by measuring members’ understanding of the power and utility of networks; degree of membership engagement; identification of specific, common concerns; and readiness for productive action. Three networks that received foundation support for networking principles, mapping, Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation 









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Financial SCAN (Situation and Comparables Analysis)

Assessing a nonprofit’s financial health is time-consuming and challenging. Which metrics and trends should you focus on and what do they mean? What should you consider when comparing organizations? NFF and GuideStar have partnered to create Financial SCAN, an affordable, web-based way for nonprofits to show a clear, comprehensive picture of their financial condition and history. Financial SCAN brings meaning and insight to financial information, helping organizations make the connection between money and mission in financial reporting, communications and planning. Learn more about how grantmakers use Financial SCAN reports as part of their own due diligence, and view a product Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Foundation Readiness for Community Transformation: Learning in Real Time

This article describes the internal structures and processes adopted by The Skillman Foundation to support the iterative practice of “learning and doing” in the first phase of a rapidly evolving, ambitious community change enterprise in six Detroit neighborhoods. The foundation invested in its own and its partners’ capacity to learn in real time so that together they could adjust and readjust their strategies in response to initial results and, in doing so, deepen their working relationships and build further capacity for effective implementation. Challenges to supporting this learning culture included increased visibility and pressures to produce results and measurable outcomes, Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









Foundation Support for Election-Related Activity

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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, General Grants 









GMNsight: Ideas About Big Data

“This has been the crossover year for Big Data — as a concept, as a term and, yes, as a marketing tool. Big Data has sprung from the confines of technology circles into the mainstream.”  — The New York Times What Big Data is, and what it means for how grants are made, are key questions in philanthropy circles thanks to the explosion of data-minded collaborative projects like The Reporting Commitment. Are grantmakers using Big Data? How does a foundation begin its Big Data adventure? What about privacy concerns? Will focusing on numbers take the humanity out of philanthropy? GMNsight’s Spring 2013 Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Grantmaking Strategies: Corporate Philanthropy

In today’s challenging economic environment, it is imperative that a company’s corporate citizenship program be strategic and tied to business goals while also meeting community needs. A company must maximize the impact of its community investments. Learn how to design and implement a strategic program, including writing a philosophy of giving, determining the giving guidelines, structuring the program, and developing a budget.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Great Power, Great Responsibility: Grantmakers’ Role as Conveners

Funders are finding ways to use the power of convening to benefit their grantees and their communities in countless ways. GEO’s digital publication contains a series of ideas to help grantmakers become better at bringing stakeholders together.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management









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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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









How Do I Measure Results – Both Mine and My Grantees’ – In a Practical Way?

One of the most common concerns donors have is how to measure the results they are getting with their dollars. This “Frequently Asked Question” document helps donors think through how they can measure their own – and grantees’ results thoughtfully.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









I’m Not Rockefeller: Implications for Major Foundations Seeking to Engage Ultra- High-Net-Worth Donors

This article describes how a group of 33 ultrahigh- net-worth philanthropists (UHNWPs) approach their giving. A few key areas dominated their giving priorities: education; health; poverty and social welfare; and children/youth initiatives each were a priority for more than a quarter of participants – with education expressed as an interest of 55 percent. A third of the 24 who responded to the question spent less than 10 percent of their full working time devoted to philanthropy, and 13 dedicated less than 20 percent of their working time. UHNWPs view their peers as their most trusted information resource. After peers, the Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Beyond the Grant 









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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









International Programming, Local Development, and Youth: An Experience in Northeast Brazil

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded a 10-year program of local development work in selected geographic areas in Northeast Brazil from 1997 – 2007. This article reports on program achievements and difficulties, and examines the ways in which the practices of the foundation facilitated and obstructed advances in the local development initiatives. Two main strategies were used: direct funding granted to organizations in the targeted regions and the creation of a comprehensive support system (e.g., youth projects funds, capacity-building in leadership and evaluation, and transfer of expertise from organizations). A team of foundation staff and consultants worked closely to create Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









Interview – Theo Sowa, African Women’s Development Fund

‘We all have power, different types of power. When we don’t acknowledge that power, it’s easier for others to step all over us.’ As both grantmaker and fundraiser, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) has been on both sides of the fence. As a result, Theo Sowa, AWDF CEO and chair of the African Grantmakers Network, has very clear views about the use and abuse of power. Caroline Hartnell asked her what power AWDF has and how it seeks to use it responsibly, and about the importance of African women setting their own agenda.

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Catagories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grants Management









Interview: Fay Twersky

The philanthropy programme at the Hewlett Foundation is changing. Fay Twersky, director of its Effective Philanthropy Group, tells Caroline Hartnell how and why. She talks about Hewlett’s new emphasis on ‘two-way openness’ and collaboration and the need to create incentives to encourage foundations and grantees to be more open. Finally, she offers her views on ‘emergent philanthropy’ and effective altruism.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management









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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Keeping Good Records: Small Foundations’ Guide to Staying Organized

Discover how to organize, archive, and protect your important documents. Includes: The costs of recordkeeping — in money and time; what to keep and for how long; advice on establishing a records management system and records retention policy; how recordkeeping can help you fulfill your mission and program; audits; what records you must share with the public.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, Standards, Codes, and Ethics









Leveraging Grantmaking: Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Social Systems

The nonobvious interrelationships among elements in a complex system often thwart people’s best intentions to sustainably improve system performance. The complex, nonlinear problems that most foundations address can be solved most effectively by thinking systemically instead of linearly about these problems. Systems thinking offers a range of analytic tools to improve our capacity to think systemically, including ways to distinguish problem symptoms from root causes, reinforcing and balancing feedback, system archetypes, mental models, and system purpose and goals. Applying these tools enables us to target high leverage interventions that can lead to sustainable, system-wide improvement. These tools can be applied Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Beyond the Grant 









Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements

GEO has prepared a publication that provides a framework for understanding the array of roles that funders can play in supporting movements and networks. Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements offers an orientation to some of the inherent benefits and barriers to supporting movements and provides insight into ways that grantmakers can explore collaborative efforts for social change.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation 









Mapping the Future: Foundations and the Redistricting Process

This fact sheet provides guidance for public foundations to safely and legally participate in the redistricting process and fund grantees that engage in this work.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, General Grants 









Mini-Intensive for New Philanthropists and Grantmakers

Immerse yourself in a comprehensive learning experience, and fuel your passion for grantmaking and private philanthropy. Faculty members and guest speakers from across the philanthropic community help you to learn how to give wisely. Explore a variety of funding approaches through presentations, discussions, graded assignments, and problem-solving exercises for groups and individuals. If you are an independent philanthropist, a member of a philanthropic family, or a professional grantmaker with just a few years of experience in grantmaking, this intensive is designed for you.

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Catagories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Grants Management, Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , General Grants , Financial Stewardship









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: Grants Management, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Private Foundations May Advocate

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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, General Grants 









Project Streamline: Grant Budgets and Financial Reporting

This guide addresses a single—if not simple—question: How can funders minimize financial reporting requirements for nonprofit organizations, while still carrying out proper financial due diligence?

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management









Project Streamline: Make Streamlining Stick

This framework illustrates the four basic phases that many grantmakers move through as they streamline and suggests activities and questions that can propel your process forward.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation 









Project Streamline: Online Applications and Reporting

A groundswell of funders are putting their application and reporting processes online for the first time or moving to a second generation of online systems, both custom-built and off-the-shelf. This is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be done right. This guide offers a set of recommended practices and principles to improve and streamline the process of online grantmaking.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation 









Project Streamline: Practices That Matter

The cumulative impact of grantmakers’ varied application and reporting requirements undermines nonprofit effectiveness, causing grantseekers to devote too much time to seeking funding (often without payoff) and reporting on grants (often without benefit) to the detriment of their mission-based work. Awareness is translating into streamlining action for many grantmakers. Yet our 2013 assessment reveals that, while nonprofits have noticed changes, all still encounter time-wasting practices. While 77 percent of donors have taken steps to simplify things, fundraisers say they don’t feel much of a change. Based on what matters most to grantseekers, as well as understanding of what keeps grantmakers from implementing streamlining and the context of other pressures Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 









Project Streamline: Right-Sizing Guide

Right-sizing is the concept that one size might not fit all when it comes to application and reporting. When grantmaking is right-sized, the information requirements are proportionate to the size of the grant, are appropriate to the type of grant, and take into consideration prior relationships with grantees.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation 









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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Public Foundations Can Lobby

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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, General Grants 









Reframing Assessment of Grantee Perceptions: Reconsidering Effectiveness With Broader International Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is important in philanthropy because it allows grantmakers and grantees to pool their respective resources more effectively to address their shared target issues. As more and more foundations and other grantmaking entities venture into the expansive world of self-evaluation, it is prudent that these methods be examined in light of international funding relationships. In order to better understand how these tools and methods can be used internationally, we outline the opportunities presented when using frames as one basis for decision-making in complex situations. Using the hypothetical case of a U.S. funder seeking to understand grantee perception in East Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 









Selecting a Donor Management System—Eight Questions to Consider

Idealware asked members of a roundtable 8 questions about donor management systems, which proved useful in helping them refine their objectives and focus their activities.  These eight responses are provided, along with information regarding a supplemental webinar beginning on May 9 with donor management demonstrations running through June 2016.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Webinar, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Staffing Grants Management: Defining the Standards for Philanthropy

This booklet was created as a guide to inform the philanthropic community about the diverse tasks assigned to – and staffing needs necessary for – the grants management function. It defines the numerous roles of grants management and its importance as the department in a foundation in which program, finance, communications, application, approval and administrative functions overlap.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Human Resources Management









Sticking Points: Grantee Roles and Relationships

Yes, there’s a power imbalance between grantmakers and grantees. Yes, everyone acknowledges it. Yes, even very experienced grantmakers wrestle with it. And yes, everyone says they try to break it down. Reality suggests otherwise. Even the most egalitarian and self-aware grantmaker can slip into the “I know best” mode. Think not? Don’t ask other funders. Ask grantees. Better yet, ask grantseekers who didn’t make the cut. Most will say that no matter how hard funders try—and some do—they usually aren’t able to step outside the bubble.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









The Blind Men and the Elephant: Learning a Little at a Time About Civic Engagement

This article, written from the perspective of the evaluator, describes what happened in one community in which four non-collaborating funders were supporting community development programs. The Treeline Collaborative evolved from grassroots origins to become a leading organization in the community, serving as a one-stop shop for many programs and providing a structure for civic engagement of residents. A collaborative evaluation would have enabled a deeper understanding of the Treeline Collaborative, the outcomes it attained and missed, and the multiple roles it plays in the community, perhaps leading to more effective program and funding decisions.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









The Family Difference? Exploring the Congruence in Grant Distribution Patterns Between Family and Independent Foundations

Using a broad group of family and independent foundations from a representative sample of Georgia foundations, the authors examined differences in giving patterns between family and independent foundations. Findings confirm the result of previous work that studied large foundations. There are no substantial differences between family and independent foundations’ preferences even when controlling for a nonprofit’s location and size. These findings are relevant for discussions about the role of non-family members on boards.

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Catagories: Grants Management









The Grantmaker’s Role in Theory of Change

Innovation Network developed these three introductory evaluation documents as part of Building Nonprofit Capacity to Evaluate, Learn, and Grow Impact, a workshop we presented in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Scaling What Works initiative.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 









The Grantmaking School: Evaluation for Grantmakers

Whether formally or informally, evaluation has been an integral part of foundation work since the early twentieth century. Comprehensive programmatic evaluation helps foundations determine whether funding practices produce intended results, disseminates learning for broader impact, and provides measured context for future work. Evaluation itself is a relatively simple process; however, depending on an organization’s culture, philosophies, and capacity, it can escalate in complexity. The Grantmaking School’s Evaluation for Grantmakers does not simply provide a step-by-step guide to the best practices of evaluation; rather, it deeply examines the history, strategy, design, and theory behind the process and responds to the diverse Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









The Grantmaking School: Grant Financial Analysis

This course does not attempt to transform program officers into financial professionals. Instead, our intent is to provide grantmakers with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct a comprehensive and effective analysis of organizational and programmatic financial information to improve funding decisions. Key concepts include: Creating a culture of comprehensive grant analysis, The relationship of financial condition to effective grantmaking, Fundamentals of grant financial review and analysis, Connecting grant budgets to funded program activities, The role of organizational capacity in producing program results, and Financial accountability in the post-grant process.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









The Grantmaking School: Strategy Development in Grantmaking

Strategy Development in Grantmaking is an intensive two-day learning experience designed to help individual grantmakers and their foundations develop or refine a strategic lens to grantmaking and leverage improved program results for deeper impact. By defining strategic philanthropy and reviewing models and tools for strategy development and implementation, resources will be provided to guide and inform your foundation strategy. You and your colleagues will move through a series of individual and group activities and discussions, allowing for both interactive and personal reflection throughout the session. Key concepts include: Understanding what strategy means  within a foundation’s culture and how it applies Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team









The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook

We know that grantmakers who understand and act in the best interest of grantees achieve better results. Practicing smarter grantmaking can make the difference between pretty good performance and achieving the best possible results. But, where should you start? Take smarter steps forward in your grantmaking with The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook. Find the answers you seek to more than 50 common questions captured from your GEO peers. Receive a primer on the grantmaking practices that are most supportive of nonprofit success. Turn knowledge into action with practical tools, frameworks and related resources that you can share with your colleagues to Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Beyond the Grant 









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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Twelve Activities that Require Extra Oversight

Private foundation trustees and staff oversee countless activities. Several activities—some mandatory, others voluntary—call for additional care. In particular, according to your fellow foundation leaders and the advisors who serve them, missteps happen in conjunction with the following activities more often than elsewhere in foundation work. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

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Catagories: Grants Management, Laws and Legal Issues, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Financial Stewardship









Ukraine: foundations, the crisis and the future

Since the explosion of popular protest in Maidan Square, Ukraine has been riven by civil and political strife whose character and shape is often as difficult to discern as its eventual outcome. In this supercharged atmosphere of political protest and martial posturing, what have foundations been doing to help those caught up in events or struggling to reshape their country?

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Catagories: Grants Management, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 









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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









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.

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Catagories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources









Why funding research is not enough

‘Don’t just tell me what to do, come and help me do it!’ said an Indian government official to a researcher bearing results from studies into effective aid programmes. His response is salutary: there is much work now on increasing the use of evidence in public policy, so we need to understand what policymakers actually need and want, and what will help them be more evidence-driven. For foundations there is a clear message: it isn’t enough just to fund research. You have to make sure it reaches the relevant policymakers and in a form that is useful to them. Over Read more

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Catagories: Grants Management, Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 









Working Better Together: Building Nonprofit Collaborative Capacity

Collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but key capacities are needed to enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Grants Management