“Family Foundations”

This issue on “Family Foundations” in More than Money, offers many tales from the family foundation frontlines. Lots of cartoons supporting stories of challenging family dynamics en route to matching funding decisions to personal values. First person descriptions of decision-making styles both affirming and autocratic; conflict between generations; upsetting the family order. Also, stories of family foundations structured to welcome input from all who wish to participate, foundations reorganized and given to community leaders, and creative cooperation in finding areas to fund.

Categories: Grantmaking

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“How Much to Give?”

This issue, “How Much to Give,” in More than Money, discusses the challenges to define how much is enough to give. Enough is subjective, arbitrary. Trying to apply a formula is ultimately unsatisfying, as the circumstances surrounding wealth are different for everyone. This issue details specific creative approaches for individuals arriving at their own definition of how much is enough to give.

Categories: Grantmaking

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“What Makes Giving Satisfying?”

This issue of More than Money, “What Makes Giving Satisfying?” offers an academic perspective classifying types of giving styles, opportunities for ‘team giving,’ democratizing funding choices by involving others in funding decisions, using foundations to identify individual activists, and tips for creating donor-advised funds.

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“I’m not Rockefeller”: 33 High Net Worth Philanthropists Discuss Their Approach to Giving

This report describes findings from a study conducted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy to determine how high net worth philanthropists are making their gift choices and the limitations they confront.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Administrative Management Capacity Report

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

Categories: Grantmaking, General Grants 

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Advanced Intensive Grantmaking

This course is targeted to philanthropists, foundation staff and trustees, and individual funders with at least five years of experience. It includes an in-depth analysis of the cutting edge issues in the grantmaking field, such as outcome models, impact philanthropy, advocacy, alternative and inter-sector approaches, and more. The curriculum is modified each time based on emerging developments in the field.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Resources

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Advocacy Capacity Tool

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.

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

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Bolder Giving Workbook

How do you figure out how much to give? Whether you wrestle with this question yourself or are helping other givers, the Bolder Giving Workbook offers unique perspectives and step-by-step guidance. Enjoy articles, exercises, and stories from amazing givers.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking

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Building Stronger Nonprofits Through Better Financial Management

Weak financial management hinders nonprofits, including after-school organizations. This research publication examines early results of a Wallace Foundation capacity building program FMA is providing Chicago area after school programs. The report gives insight into the participant organization financial management conditions and identifies that they are making “encouraging progress” to: understand their full program costs; improve monitoring of program expenses and meet monthly expenses in prompt fashion. (FMA is pleased to share this report with the permission of The Wallace Foundation.)

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Building teams for innovation: a response to ‘Talent for Philanthropy’

By: Simon Willis I enjoyed reading the special feature on ‘Talent for philanthropy’. How we staff philanthropic organizations is an important topic for discussion, and it’s incredibly valuable to have carefully grounded contributions calling for increased effectiveness and professionalism for the sector. Click Go To Resource to read more…

Categories: Grantmaking, Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Case Study: Central Minnesota Community Foundation: Creating a Community Leadership Compass

Creating a Community Leadership Compass is a case study that describes the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s transformative path into community leadership work. It looks at how the board and staff worked together to create a vision and framework for community leadership and at early community leadership efforts. It also includes criteria developed by the foundation for embarking on community leadership projects.

Categories: Grantmaking, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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CMF/JCP Grantmaking Series

the CMF-JCP Grantmaking Series is a practitioner-led learning series that teaches the techniques of effective grantmaking to both new and seasoned foundation professionals. The sessions are highly practical, academically rigorous, and designed to be as accessible and affordable as possible. Participants who complete the series will receive a Certificate of Completion.

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Coaching and Philanthropy: An Action Guide for Grantmakers

This guide was created as a resource for grantmakers as they explore these and other questions about coaching. The guide has three parts: Master the Basics, Make the Case and Make It Work. The guide also includes examples of grantmakers that have embraced coaching as an important form of support for grantees, as well as recommendations for the field of philanthropy as it seeks to broaden the use and effectiveness of coaching.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Community Leadership Framework Toolbox

A tool for community foundations for using the Framework for Community Leadership by a Community Foundation. It can help your community foundation: Understand community leadership Assess your community leadership strengths and challenges Plan new community leadership work Analyze past and current community leadership efforts.

Categories: Grantmaking, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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Critical Issues in General Operating Support Volume 2: Assessing the Impact

Many grantmakers agree that general operating support can boost effectiveness and impact for nonprofits. At the same time, however, the field continues to struggle to answer a question that has become a significant barrier to the wider use of general operating support: How are we going to measure its impact? GEO’s review of grantmaker practices suggests some answers.

Categories: Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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Donor Education Seminar

This donor education seminar is an invitation-only, purely educational effort to inform participants about the latest research, biggest ideas and best efforts underway in four key areas: 1) Access to food; 2) Housing; 3) Health; 4) Economic success for vulnerable families. On Sunday, November 7th and Monday, November 8th, 2010, we brought together experts in these four areas to highlight proven, high impact strategies that individuals can implement to achieve greater impact through their giving. We believe this seminar represents a new approach to donor education that provides information that people cannot get easily or anywhere else in a safe Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Due Diligence Done Well

The challenge for you as a grantmaker is to learn as much as you can about potential grantees without asking for more information than you really need and, as a result, placing an added burden on the nonprofit organizations you work with. Learn about effective due diligence and how to create a grantee-friendly approach to information gathering that enhances communication, trust and confidence.

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Expert Q & A: How can grantmakers best read and analyze nonprofit financial statements?

By: Chad Gorski, Grants & Finance Coordinator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Understand the goal of the statement analysis and consider the risk assessment needs of your organization: What part of the required due diligence process does it fulfill? How much risk is acceptable? What red flags will impact decision-making? Is a ground-up analysis necessary or can third party info be used? See Project Streamline’s guide on Grant Budgets and Financial Reports, which helps grantmakers think through what information is really needed to make a grant. The Due Diligence Done Well guide from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is also very useful. Understand the Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Financial Stewardship, Ask an Expert

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Family Foundation Sample Documents

Compiled are a collection of downloadable sample documents for Family Foundations.

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Four Essentials for Evaluation

GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. Four Essentials for Evaluation builds on our previous publication, Evaluation in Philanthropy, to offer grantmakers a practical perspective on how to build or strengthen the capacity of their organizations to tap the transformative power of evaluation for learning. This guide provides grantmakers with ideas, insights and examples from their peers to help them develop and strengthen the following four essential elements that are part of any successful evaluation approach: lead, plan, organize and share.

Categories: Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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Giving Circle Facilitation Guide

This guide will equip you to be a rockstar giving circle leader by taking you step-by-step through your philanthropic journey, from rallying a group to celebrating your grant.

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Giving Toolkit: Give More

This worksheet will enable you to reflect on how much giving you could do personally, as well as influence in your lifetime. This includes the amount you might fundraise, plus the amount of giving others might do because of your influence.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking

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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.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management

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Healthy Reserves Are No Accident

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.)

Categories: Grantmaking, General Grants 

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High Impact Holiday Giving

Around the world, the end of the year marks a time of reflection, celebration, and giving. In the United States alone, roughly 25% of philanthropic giving will happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Whether a donor has $10 or $10,000 to contribute, high-impact giving means using that money to do the most good. Our year-end giving guidance highlights seven high-impact opportunities for giving, based on evidence of results and cost-effectiveness. We’ve also provided resources that donors can use to ensure that they are achieving their greatest impact year-round. 

Categories: Grantmaking, Issue Specific Grantmaking

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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.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management

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Investing In Leadership Volume 1: A Grantmaker’s Framework for Understanding Nonprofit Leadership Development

Ask any grantmaker about the distinguishing characteristics of strong and effective nonprofit organizations, and the conversation inevitably will turn to leadership. But what kind of leadership do nonprofits need, and what role can grantmakers play in strengthening leadership development in the sector? Given the vast literature on leadership development and the challenges of translating research and theory into practice, this publication explores a sampling of the leadership development literature.

Categories: Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Investing in Nonprofit Leaders

Strong leaders play an essential role in the success of nonprofit organizations, and as funders, your accomplishments hinge on theirs. By taking steps to support nonprofit leaders, you can bolster the organizations you trust, support the issues you care most about, and further your mission in a meaningful way. Includes: Why focus on leadership? Obstacles to strong, successful leaders Seeing your grantees clearly: tools and tips Grantmaking to support leadership

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Key to Long Term Financial Health: Liquid Unrestricted Net Assets

This article suggests strategies and solutions for long-term fiscal health. As FMA’s Managing Director Hilda H. Polanco, notes, “…Everyone knows that these have been difficult times for nonprofits. Our own research at Fiscal Management Associates and countless other surveys by intermediaries and industry associations find that nonprofits have been struggling with cutbacks in government funding, reduced corporate and foundation grantmaking, and weakened individual giving. “These fiscal pressures have led, in many cases, to annual operating deficits and emergency use of endowment funds or other financial reserves – if nonprofits had any to begin with. While there is widespread agreement about Read more

Categories: Grantmaking

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Learn and Let Learn

This publication explores how learning communities can be powerful tools in creating and shaping peer connections that help expand knowledge, deepen skills and enhance practice. Learn and Let Learn offers key insights for grantmakers drawn from six in-depth case studies of learning communities gathered for GEO’s Scaling What Works initiative by the Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Categories: Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 

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Listen, Learn, Lead: Grantmaker Practices That Support Nonprofit Results

GEO’s Change Agent Project seeks to inspire change in grantmakers so they can help their grantees achieve meaningful results. This report on Phase 1 of GEO’s Change Agent Project delves deeper into what is neccessary to instill change in grantmaking practices. This publication was reprinted in 2010.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant , Individual Professional Development 

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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.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Next-Generation Philanthropy: Examining a Next-Generation Jewish Philanthropic Network

As a result of mobility, philanthropy among a Millennial group of Jewish donors is becoming divorced from the communities in which their parents live. This group’s members generally perceive themselves as thinking and acting more strategically than past generations. They expect philanthropic organizations to operate with increased transparency, and those entities will need to adapt to these expectations in order to thrive. The characteristics that define the Millennial generation – open-mindedness, a desire for meaningful employment and philanthropic activity, technological adeptness, innovation – are changing philanthropy. Despite those changes, philanthropic priorities among families remain substantially constant and transcend generations.

Categories: Grantmaking

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Nonprofit Due Diligence: Donor Decision Tool

Deciding the level of nonprofit research your grant warrants will help you focus on the most important questions and be efficient with your time (and the potential grantee’s). On this webpage are a list of documents that focus on varying degrees of research. Choose the “Light-Touch Approach” for grants that are smaller or less critical, then move to a more intensive approach as your grant warrants.  

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On The Money: A Review of Key Financial Challenges Facing Nonprofits Today — and How Grantmakers Can Help

Despite a wave of interest in recent years in what it takes to build stronger, more effective nonprofits, the sector as a whole still suffers from a chronic case of financial stress that inhibits effectiveness. Philanthropy can be a part of the problem, but also a part of the solution.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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Philanthropy Curriculum

Our online Philanthropy Curriculum guides you through Why Give, Finding Your Passion and Evaluating an Organization.

Categories: Grantmaking

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Programming on a Blank Slate: A Case on grantmaking in rural poverty

This case study tells the story of one grant maker’s experience in starting a new grantmaking program from scratch — no prior grantees, no established procedures, and no set objectives. Highlights: Taking up a new job in a new field; Identifying key issues to address; Narrowing the field & making your first decisions.

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Reflection on Practice Video: Starting as a New Grantmaker

This video looks at a variety of issues commonly faced by new program officers as they take up their role — from finding promising ideas to support, to understanding the dynamics of good grantee/grantor relations, to helping grantees collaborate effectively with others.

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Reframing the Conversation: A GEO Briefing Paper Series on Growing Social Impact

Conversations on scale and innovation continue to dominate philanthropic discourse as the social sector forges new ways to achieve greater impact with limited resources. Motivated by the desire to explore and expand upon current approaches to growing social impact, invite wider participation in the scaling conversation, and showcase practical examples and peer-to-peer advice, we developed this briefing paper series as part of the Scaling What Works initiative. The collection pulls together the best thinking, research and actionable approaches to scaling impact, and provides additional resources for grantmakers that want to dive deeper into paper concepts and questions.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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Setting the record straight: debunking philanthropic myths

Although much has been written about ‘what donors believe’ and ‘how modern foundations work’, hard data about how private foundation donors view themselves, their roles, and the non-profits they support is relatively scarce. With almost 1,200 US-based private foundation clients, Foundation Source is well positioned to put some of the common assumptions about this sector to the test. Last November, we carried out a survey of our clients that debunked some of philanthropy’s most established axioms – especially those relating to foundation attitudes to non-profits.

Categories: History, Role in Society, Grantmaking, Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Smarter Grantmaking in Challenging Economic Times: Insights for Foundation Leaders

We have produced this briefing, based on conversations we’ve had with hundreds of grantmakers, to provide foundation leaders with a framework and considerations to help guide decisions about how best to support grantees.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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Social Impact Bonds: Analysis of a Mechanism for Financing Social Program Expansions

A research team at McKinsey & Co. studied the potential of social impact bonds in the United States, in particular for financing the expansion of proven programs in homelessness and crime prevention. The team also created tools for stakeholders—investors, nonprofits, government agencies, and others—to help them determine whether SIBs are instruments they should consider.

Categories: Grantmaking

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TEDx: Amplify the Money You Give

The word “philanthropist” evokes the names of billionaire donors – Rockefeller, Gates, Pew – but in reality, most charitable giving comes from regular people giving smaller amounts. How can you, the non-billionaire, do the most good with what you give? Kat Rosqueta shows how to become a high-impact philanthropist, with a few tips for getting more engaged with your donations – one dollar, one cause, at a time. She believes the word is not just for Rockefellers; rather, a philanthropist is anyone who gives money, time, or skill with the goal of helping make the world better, at any scale.

Categories: Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant , Resources

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The Complete Guide to Grantmaking Basics: A Field Guide for Funders

The Complete Guide to Grantmaking Basics brings together and updates the information, guidance, and tips found in Grantmaking Basics I and II with more essential tools for grantmakers. This book is a practical guide to honing your grantmaking effectiveness and adapting to the changing nonprofit world. It tells you how to evaluate your results and how to educate new board members. You will also have a step-by-step guide to setting a path to success by aligning mission, vision, goals, and strategy.

Categories: Grantmaking

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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

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Beyond the Grant 

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The State of Multi-Year Funding 2011

Looking at the 2011 data, The State of Multi-Year Funding found that nearly 90 percent of the top U.S. foundations in the sample did not report any multi-year grantmaking in 2011, which is consistent with results from previous years’ analyses.

Categories: Grantmaking

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Top 5 Starting Places for Family Foundations and Donors

By: Michael Moody, Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy These five resources in the LearnPhilanthropy Knowledge Library are ideal starting places for grantmakers involved in family giving in some way – as a trustee or staff of a family foundation or a donor-advised fund, as an individual donor, as a consultant or family advisor, etc. This list also points to some of the primary infrastructure organizations serving family grantmakers, and each source has multiple other resources for family donors who want to dig further. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Your Philanthropy Roadmap – The “Philanthropy Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Top 5 Lists

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Voices From the Field III: Lessons and Challenges for Foundations Based on Two Decades of Community-Change Efforts

Voices From the Field III discusses the implications of comprehensive community initiatives (CCI) – both the positive and the negative – for the philanthropic community. This article builds on and expands that discussion, lifting up five themes that are especially important for foundations. The reader is encouraged to refer to the complete book for specific examples of foundation initiatives, bibliographic references, and deeper discussion of a range of issues that can only be touched upon in this article.

Categories: Grantmaking

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What Is My Giving Style?

If you were to ask a donor, “What type of donor are you,” he or she might pause and respond with another question: “What kinds of donors are there?” A number of observers of philanthropy have written about different types of philanthropists. While categorizing donors into types may be useful, most philanthropists’ gifts will fall along a spectrum of giving styles. Donors may find themselves pulled to supporting direct services and write a check to an organization whose sole purpose is to feed the hungry. Later, they may be moved to make a gift that addresses the root causes of Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Models & Approaches

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Why do dictators lock up the poets first?

Why should philanthropists fund the arts? Some have argued that as art is of lesser importance than basics like food, shelter, health and so forth, there is no justification for funding art until world hunger is solved. How then can one justify spending on so-called high arts? Can the arts be seen as effective tools to bring about personal and social change? Is art transformative? Our subject for this Alliance special feature is philanthropy’s attitudes to and role in funding ‘arts and social change’.

Categories: Grantmaking

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WIDESPREAD EMPATHY: 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVING GREATER IMPACT IN PHILANTHROPY

Through examples from the field, the publication provides concrete steps grantmakers can take to build a gut-level connection with their stakeholders. Having widespread empathy allows funders to base their decisions and actions on an authentic, firsthand understanding of the perspectives of grantees, community members and other partners. In turn, we become more effective as our work is grounded in more thorough, ground-level knowledge of organizational and community priorities and needs.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Individual Professional Development 

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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.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management

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