A Foundation-to-Foundation Partnership: Lessons from a Unique Pairing of Funders

This paper reveals findings from a process evaluation of the partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) vis-à-vis its Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) grantmaking program (initiated in 2005). A candid look at this partnership reveals successes and challenges, as well as what worked and what took time to work. Moreover, this paper reveals the hard work required to make this partnership evolve to create a program that has had a significant, positive impact on the field of nursing.

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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

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

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As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil

Selma the wealthiest city in Alabama. Now, it is among the poorest with one of the highest crime rates in the the country for a city its size. The Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation is going to change that. Its leaders are heirs of the legacy Civil Rights Movement leaders left in Selma. The center trains community organizers, develops young leaders and hosts community conversations about Selma’s path toward what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community.”  

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Beldon Fund Programs and Strategies

BELDON’S GRANT MAKING PROGRAMS Beldon made long-term grants in two program areas: Key States and Human Health and the Environment. A third program, the Discretionary Fund, allowed the foundation to take quick advantage of policy opportunities or respond to new environmental threats. It also provided a way to fund cross-program advocacy tools and activities. GRANT MAKING STRATEGIES With only ten years to help environmental advocates shift from playing defense to positioning themselves to win policy victories, Beldon developed three main strategies: Build Capacity and Clout Support Civic Engagement Broaden the Base of Support GRANT MAKING PRINCIPLES Beldon’s program work was guided Read more

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Beyond the Grant: How the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Went Beyond Grantmaking to Contribute to a Major Early Childhood Initiative

Key Points The seven-year SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) initiative, created by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), aimed at systemically linking the pre-K and kindergarten worlds as a way to position vulnerable children for greater success in the early grades. At the foundation, the initiative served as a departure point for WKKF to move from its traditional grantmaking role to a changemaker role. To create change, a foundation must articulate – and commit to – a point of view about how change can occur. A theory of change can be a powerful tool to guide ongoing planning Read more

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Bridging Silos, Improving Systems

Systems that provide services to children tend to operate in silos; foundations can play a role in helping bridge these silos by supporting “systems building” efforts. Using examples from two foundations and two communities, this article explores the challenges and lessons learned in systems building work. Educating grantees and other community members about systems and systems building is a critical first step in the process. Supporting systems building requires an iterative process and foundations should continuously reinforce the importance of systems building activities.

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Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization

Arts organizations interested in building the strength of their balance sheets will find advice here for making a capitalization plan, fundraising for different kinds of capital, and implementing new capitalization practices.

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Building Financial Strength & Program Quality: A case on grant making to strengthen organizations in a field

In this case study, the reader will learn about a grantmaker who created a new program to strengthen community foundations – building both their financial wealth and the effectiveness of their programs. What choices would you have made? Highlights: Choosing a strategy; Shaping a new program initiative; Using an RFP to advace your goals.

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Capital and Collaboration – An In-Depth Look at the Community Investment System in Massachusetts Working Cities

This publication presents the work of the Capital & Collaboration Initiative, a cross-sector effort designed to increase the scale, efficiency and impact of investments in Massachusetts cities of more than 35,000 people (excluding Boston.) The initiative has identified several cross-cutting priority areas for action that are important to achieving their broader goal of transformative change.

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Capital and Collaboration – Strengthening Community Investment in Smaller, Postindustrial Cities

To better understand the system of community investment, and with the hope of developing interventions that would permit it to achieve greater scale, efficiency, and impact, the authors developed a framework they called “capital absorption.” This work offers potential routes forward for understanding and addressing need in low- and moderate-income communities in postindustrial cities throughout New England.

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

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

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Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

This article examines The Skillman Foundation’s efforts to add value to its work through “changemaking,” which encompasses roles and practices beyond grantmaking through which a foundation advances its goals – and offers 10 lessons for grantmakers that want to assume a changemaking role.  

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Collective Impact Forum

This is the place for those practicing collective impact to find the tools, resources, and advice they need. It’s a network of individuals coming together to share experience and knowledge to accelerate the effectiveness and adoption of collective impact.

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Community Leadership Publications

Leading works that are contributing to the practice of community leadership by community foundations.

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Community Leadership Video Catalogue

Browse the CFLeads Video Catalogue on Community Leadership Hear stories that demonstrate community leadership in action by leaders in the community foundation field. We hope these videos inspire, motivate and challenge you in your own practice of community leadership.

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Community Voice in Impact Investing – Webinar

Lisa Richter moderates a lively conversation in this series to share how impact investing organizations serving rural communities are engaging residents and organizations as partners, including through: leadership development community surveys partnerships with grassroots organizations and government member-owned institutions, and technology-driven communications  

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Constructing Collaborative Success for Network Learning: The Story of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool

From a foundation perspective, developing a community self-assessment tool reinforced the idea that collaborative functioning is crucial and deserves attention. This article shares a story of the development and initial use of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool as a process of social construction critical to collective action and a possible indicator of network learning.  

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Creating Shared Value

Creating shared value involves value creation for business that simultaneously yields more profit and greater social impact, resulting in powerful transformations and opportunities for growth and innovation in both business and society. The concept of creating shared value focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress, and has the potential to unleash the next wave of global growth and competitive advantage.

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Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

This report offers five actionable recommendations for grantmakers to boost investment in current and future leaders of social justice movements.

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Designing Technical-Assistance Programs: Considerations for Funders and Lessons Learned

Funders use technical assistance (TA) to expand organizations’ capacity, identify solutions to problems, and develop strategies for long-term change. In this article, the authors document considerations for funders in developing strong TA programs, based on their evaluations of two state-based TA programs.

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Dimensions of Change: A Model for Community Change Efforts

The Dimension of Change Model (DOCM), developed by the authors, is offered as a potentially useful tool for foundations, government, bodies, consultants, coalitions, and even individual organizations that are initiating or engaged in substantive efforts to bring about community change.

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Do More Than Give

To create lasting social change, it’s not enough to award funding to great grantees. Donors must become active participants in the change effort. The book, Do More Than Give, outlines six practices that are found across high-impact foundations, corporations, and individuals of all sizes and budgets. Download a free copy of the first chapter here.

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ENGAGE How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact

This guide was designed to aid any foundation grantmaker who is considering whether to engage with a social impact network and what that engagement might involve. It is organized to step the reader through a range of key questions to consider as in the course of exploring how engaging with a network might play a role in his or her work.

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Factors Influencing Donor Partnership Effectiveness

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) produced six case studies on jointly funded programs related to the environment, global health, and information technologies in developing regions around the world. A two-dimensional tool probing eight factors that influence donor (funder) partnership performance and interinstitutional communication was developed and used in conjunction with a Partnering Process Model to guide the preparation of the case studies. The case studies demonstrated that communication is important externally, that is, among donor partners, and internally, that is, within the various divisions of IDRC. With the use of this tool, it was possible to observe how communication Read more

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Families Funding Change

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

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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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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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Foundations and the SDGs: the ‘conspicuous absentees’ speak out

The philanthropic community has been ‘conspicuously absent from the SDG debate’, according to Kevin Watkins of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, writing in the March 2015 issue of Alliance. However, as he suggests, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will take final shape later this year, are likely to have a significant influence on the environment in which foundations operate. We asked a number of people from different regions why foundations should take the SDGs seriously, and how their influence is likely to make itself felt on their work both domestically and internationally. Their response suggests that, even if they Read more

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Framework for Connecticut’s Statewide System of Early Childhood State and Local Partnerships

The report, Framework for Connecticut’s Statewide System of Early Childhood State and Local Partnerships, concludes with a set of recommendations for Connecticut Leaders to consider in creating a statewide network of local or regional early care and education partnerships.

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From Tower to Ground: Systems and Policy Change in the Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative

This chapter assesses the Foundation’s progress in systems and policy change across four elements: Influence, Champions, Leverage and Scale.

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Funding Community Organizing: Social Change Through Civic Participation

In this guide, funders and organizers discuss what makes community organizing unique and uniquely effective, how to manage grantee relationships over time, understanding the value of process, and the grantmaker’s special role in fostering change.

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Getting Out of Our Own Way for Greater Impact

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

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Integrated Transactions: An Emerging Focus For Community Development

This paper examines development models that intentionally integrate elements from two or more sectors, the capital challenges inherent in such projects, and the unique role that CDFIs and philanthropy play in overcoming those challenges. This paper focuses on neighborhood-level efforts that go beyond single sector investments that are emerging through partnerships and collaboratives working to deliver community driven solutions. Includes case studies.  

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

In 2014, the Wells Fargo Regional 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 could be transferred to other regions, and to assess its influence in the field. The evaluation examined lessons from 140 grants, totaling $41.69 million, that enabled hundreds of projects in the region and leveraged $231.5 million in direct and indirect neighborhood investment.

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Keys to Collaboration

The report presents best practices for cross-sector collaboration as well as notes for funders interested in cultivating this type of work.

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KIDS COUNT Data Center

KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state project of the Casey Foundation to track the status of children in the United States. By providing foundations, policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks to enrich local, state, and national discussions of ways to secure better futures for all children.

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Learning From an Adaptive-Consultative Approach: One Foundation’s Experience in Creating Systems Change in Education

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

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Lending, Learning, Leading

This report tells the story of the CDFI Leadership Learning Network, a Casey Foundation initiative to equip leaders of community development finance institutions with the tools of results-based leadership (RBL).

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Lessons in Financial Management

The following article discusses how FMA and The Wallace Foundation are strengthening and improving the quality of afterschool groups in the Chicago area. Provides a snapshot of capacity-building efforts in one community. (FMA is pleased to share this article with the permission of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.)

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship

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

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

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

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

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Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid

Investing to help low-income people solve their legal problems is smart, results-oriented philanthropy. Yet, 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. Funders have an opportunity to help tackle barriers to equal justice and enhance their grantmaking programs. This report discusses what funders can do.

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Peer Networking and Community Change: Improving Foundation Practice

Key points: This article brings together the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 15 years of experience with peer networking— examining through two research studies the process of peer networking and its impact, both with community-based and funder groups. Peer networking helps people with common interests to exchange information, disseminate good practices, and build a leadership structure for work they do together, such as a community change initiative. Casey’s research identified 10 good practices for effective peer networking, as well as 10 challenges that can affect its success; a four-level model was created to provide context for these findings. The research indicates Read more

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Pennies for Progress

This report follows the success of foundations during the great recession in 2008. The study found that in the decade that ended in 2013, foundation support for America’s marginalized communities grew just 5 percent as a share of all grantmaking. All this raises the question: Where did the increase in foundation grantmaking – over $6 billion – go if not to benefit the poor, communities of color, immigrants, women and girls, and other underserved communities? Where did that $6 billion go if not to strategies that affect long-term change?

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Philanthropy Lessons: Value Beyond Dollars

This video is about how in order to create the most impact, philanthropy must bring value beyond grant dollars. Funders have the opportunity to play important roles as mentors and conveners, supporters and motivators.  

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Philanthropy Lessons: Who Knows More?

Hear from leading philanthropists in this video about building respect and trusting the people who are working day-in and day-out with the complex issues we care about.  

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Philanthropy Lessons: Working Collaboratively

This video is about how 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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Philanthropy’s Civic Role in Community Change

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

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PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard

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

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Reflection on Practice Video: Building a Network

This video follows the efforts of a grant maker as he works with state-based organizations to build on a successful national model. It looks at how he encouraged them to form a network, work collaboratively, and bring in other funders.

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

This blog is about nonprofit leaders raising their voices on the issue of operating support and the great need for unrestricted funding.  

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Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems

This report, produced by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in collaboration with the Skoll, Porticus, Ford and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundations, examines how funders can work in more collaborative ways to place longer-term, adaptive and responsive resources to accelerate scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.

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Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change

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

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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GHR Foundation

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

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Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

As foundations seek to catalyze broad-based social change, there is a need for greater understanding of what social movements are, how they evolve, and how foundations can support them. Movement building presents unique challenges to foundations. Because movements, by definition, must be driven by the people who are most affected, foundations cannot determine the goals and timetables of a movement. The authors identify five core elements to movement building: organizing an authentic base; leadership; vision and ideas; alliances; and advocacy infrastructure. A framework for evaluating movement building is proposed, which can help foundations identify measureable outcomes and track progress throughout Read more

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Sticking Points: Grantee Roles and Relationships

This blog post offers tips and reflections for advocacy collaborative grantmakers to deepen their relationships with non-grantmakers.

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Sustainability Is Made, Not Born: Enhancing Program Sustainability Through Reflective Grantmaking

This article explores how reflective grantmaking can lead to enduring changes in the communities that foundations serve. The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati’s approach to evaluating and improving the sustainability of grant-funded projects is reviewed as an example. Their grantmaking framework includes policy and advocacy work, evaluation support, communications support, and technical assistance in addition to traditional funding of projects. This framework promotes sustainability of the funded work.

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The Art of Community Double Dutch: Knowing When to Jump In

This article uses the childhood experience of learning how to play Double Dutch jump rope as an allegory to navigating complicated community leadership through civic engagement.

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The Challenges Grantmakers Face in Supporting Technology

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

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The Donor-Grantee Trap: How Ineffective Collaboration Undermines Philanthropic Results for Society, and What Can Be Done About It

A guide for nonprofit leaders, their boards, and their donors.What’s needed is more effective donor-grantee collaboration, so that philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support can get the absolute most from every scarce dollar they invest. Reduced to the essentials, there are three imperatives of true collaboration—for which both donors and grantees must share responsibility.

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The Truth About Site Visits

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

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Who Manages the Money?: How Foundations Can Democratize Capital

A case study examines how the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has begun to utilize diverse investment managers in partnership with Progress Investment Management Company.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship

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