12 Steps Funders Can Take

Studies show that programmatic efforts that integrate a strong, specific focus on transforming gender norms and improving gender equity are more effective. Philanthropic institutions may struggle with the best concrete steps to take to achieve this. It can help to leverage existing grantmaking effort that engages gender norms, even if it’s not necessary called that. Similarly, it can help to point out to grantees how their current programmatic efforts already address gender norms or gender equity, whether or not they think of it as such. The overall goal is increase the comfort level of staff and grantees to create a Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









2012 Tracking Report: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations

The 2012 Tracking Report (2012) is the most comprehensive study of its kind, capturing data on 4,068 grants awarded by 399 foundations in order to identify gaps, trends, and opportunities in LGBTQ philanthropy. This year’s report finds that domestic foundation funding for LGBTQ issues exceeded $100 million for the first time while overall LGBTQ funding was largely stable in 2012.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









A Road Made by Walking: Participatory Evaluation and Social Change

This article describes how participatory evaluation was used in a Ford Foundation–funded project to promote mixed-income housing in Atlanta. The project resulted in an increase in mixed income housing, but also in social outcomes such as increased knowledge about housing issues. Validity and reliability of the findings are demonstrated through feedback from the community members, rather than through statistical methods.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek

This article tells the story of a placed-based initiative to develop well-being and wealth in the historically underserved Diamond Neighborhood in San Diego, and discusses the place-based philosophy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the foundation’s motivation for place-based work. Its theory of change is presented through examples, along with the entry points the foundation chose for engagement and how it developed community capacity to engage effectively in this change work. The article also discusses plans to transition ownership to the Diamond Neighborhood community when the foundation sunsets in 2030.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









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









An Ecological Understanding of Evaluation Use

This report seeks to be helpful not only to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations, but more broadly to the fields of evaluation, aging, physical activity and public health in understanding what evaluation use looks like in context and how it can be facilitated. This case study illustrates the parameters of use (e.g., for whom? when? how?), as well as what constituted the use of the evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program Active for Life®: Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Best Practices Study: Health Foundations

This report highlights the considered experiences and views of leading health grant makers across the U.S. concerning some of the key insights they have gleaned about what practices advance or impede diversity in areas ranging from governance and management to grant making and contracting. The presentation is complemented at its close by a number of respondent tips on specific, practical aspects of promoting and managing diversity that readers should find especially valuable.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, New Grants Management









Building the Capacity of California’s Safety Net: Lessons From the Strengthening Community Dental Practices Demonstration

Community dental practices provide “safety net” services to populations who would otherwise have limited access to care. The financial crisis of recent years has made it increasingly difficult for safetynet dental practices to serve people most in need while still balancing their books. The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and the California Pipeline Program (CPP) funded a demonstration project to test the effectiveness of practice-management consulting as a strategy for helping California’s community clinics survive and thrive. This model emphasizes customized technical assistance to enhance the business infrastructure behind the delivery of care. The evaluation of this demonstration revealed that most Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Case for Change Capital in the Arts

Explore a series of written and video materials on the need for capital in the arts. This series conveys stories and lessons learned from NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future Initiative, the first national Initiative to deploy a specific kind of investment – change capital – to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances to thrive in a changed and changing economic and cultural landscape. Ten artistically excellent performing arts nonprofits are working with NFF over five years to develop and implement plans for achieving this transformation. Nearly three years into this exciting Initiative, we now have Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

Foundations have begun to recognize that how they go about their work is as important as what they support. To be better armed to address the urgent challenges facing Detroit’s children, the Skillman Foundation has adopted a changemaking role that draws upon and leverages its knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments. Effective changemaking depends on the accrual of trust and respect that is built over time in relationships with community residents and stakeholders, public and private partners, and others with influence and resources. Changemaking required the foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Changing Your Grantmaking Lens: Aging as an Asset

Do you view older adults in your community as a valuable and perhaps untapped asset… or as a population in need of increased philanthropic support? Based on interviews with family funders active in this important, complex and diverse funding area, the answer is a little bit of both, but more of the former than you might think.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Children’s Futures: Lessons From a Second-Generation Community Change Initiative

This article describes Children’s Futures, a 10-year initiative in Trenton, N.J., that seeks to improve the health and well-being of children from 0 to 3 years old and ensure that they are ready for school. During the first five years, the initiative was successful in implementing a number of evidence-based practices to improve children’s health, such as providing home visits to pregnant women, measuring and improving the quality of day care centers, and improving the use of information systems to track childhood immunizations. Efforts to provide services for fathers and improve home-based child care were not successful; these are areas Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









Community Building for Children’s Health: Lessons From Community Partnerships for Healthy Children

This article describes Community Partnerships for Healthy Children (CPHC), a 10-year, $17 million initiative of the Sierra Health Foundation targeted at improving children’s health in northern California by mobilizing communities to use their assets. Implementation grants were modest ($50,000 annually), but technical assistance and communications support were also provided. The initiative rolled out in four phases. Overall, a total of 31 communities participated in the initiative. Twenty-six communities remained through phase three, with 18 engaging in the final fourth phase. Evidence indicates that CPHC improved the health of some children in some communities with regard to some outcomes, but did Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









Community-Based Collaboration: A Philanthropic Model for Positive Social Change

A highly publicized incident served as a catalyst for the Austin, Texas, community, convened by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, to address gaps in the behavioral health system. The foundation worked with the local behavioral health authority, the mayor’s office, police and sheriff’s departments, and the city health department to design the Austin Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force. The task force was succeeded by a monitoring committee that identified six focus areas in which to develop action plans and monitor community progress. This collaborative process aimed to strengthen public commitment to behavioral health services and create a cross-agency planning Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Confronting Systemic Inequity in Education: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy

This report answers the questions: – How can philanthropy be more effective at deploying its limited resources to help reform and improve our school systems? – How can philanthropy help break the cycle of persistent inequality in access and opportunities among underserved students in our communities? Offers concrete strategies based on two recommendations from Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: The deliberate focus on addressing the needs of students from marginalized communities that will, in turn, benefit all students; and the support of efforts to find long-term solutions to the education equity crisis in the U.S through advocacy, organizing and Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Corporate Giving Gets Smarter: ConAgra Foods Foundation Fights Childhood Hunger

This article discusses how a better “map” can develop strategic focus and alignment, increasing the potential for results. Program development and evaluation are best done hand in hand. In complex systems, co-construction has huge yield. It promotes accuracy, comprehensiveness, and utility. Grantmakers can provide more than funding; they can identify and use new tools, processes, and resources with multiple stakeholders for effectiveness. Alignment and integration are powerful principles inside and outside organizations as well as across sectors in pursuit of social change.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Creating and Scaling Innovative School Models Through Strategic Partnerships

The Texas High School Project (THSP) was created in 2003 as a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state. This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the THSP alliance to create early college high schools (ECHS). The model has been scaled at different levels to produce direct, affordable pathways for students to both attend college and attain skilled careers. The ECHS schools have higher test scores, greater credits earned, and reduced dropouts rates compared to traditional schools. Foundations with a track record for supporting successful work can increase the overall commitment to joint projects and Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders

This report argues that more money needs to go towards grassroots organizing and advocacy for the environment and climate change movements to regain momentum and win important legislative and regulatory battles. Environment and climate funders can become effective resources of a strong and successful movement for change by decreasing their reliance on national advocacy groups and increasing funding for grassroots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Designing an Evaluation of a New Initiative: A Practical Approach to Ensure Evaluation Use

This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative. The initiative was launched in 2007 to reduce tobacco use among American Indians, who disproportionately suffer the negative health effects of tobacco use. The work of the initiative and the evaluation had to incorporate an understanding of tribal structure as well as of the traditional use of tobacco in American Indian sacred ceremonies. The theory of change was conceptualized as circular, rather than linear, in keeping with American Indian philosophical traditions. The planning process, utilizing evaluators familiar with community mobilization and policy evaluation Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









Developing Foundation-University-Grantee Collaboratives as a Model for High-Impact Philanthropy

This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans. Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Disaster Giving

When disaster strikes, philanthropy plays a crucial role. Grantmakers give generously to meet immediate emergency needs, and they contribute thoughtfully toward long-range relief efforts. Minnesota philanthropists — organizations and individual donors — have a strong tradition of supporting those in need in the wake of natural and manmade disasters. Here you’ll find: Disaster Responses that MCF Has Monitored Before Disaster Strikes: Readiness Resources for Grantmakers and Individual Donors

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Donor Profile: Dwayne Steele Inspires a Hawaiian Renaissance

Is it possible to help preserve a language and culture that is not your own? Dwayne Steele worked together with local Hawaiians to reverse the decline in native Hawaiian speakers and catalyze a broad cultural preservation movement.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Donor Profile: The Hilton Foundation Sees a Need — and Finds a Partner

According to Steven Rothstein, president of the Perkins School for the Blind, if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a “big village” to raise a child with disabilities. It also takes a donor with a special kind of focus, patience, and willingness to learn.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values









Donor Profile: The Lynch Foundation and Teach For America: How Philanthropy Can Help Ideas Become Reality

Peter and Carolyn Lynch take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy, and Teach For America is just one example of how they’re returning outsized impact for their investment dollars.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: The Sandlers and ProPublica: Muckraker for the 21st Century

What is the best way to tackle corruption? With ProPublica, the Sandler Foundation has revived a time-tested tactic that is proving as effective as ever.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values









Donor Profile: Brian Olson Lays New Groundwork for Charter Schools

Too often, it’s not the academics that bring down a charter school; it’s the building. Together with Civic Builders, hedge fund manager Brian Olson is offering leases to charter schools—under one condition.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Carrie Avery and the Durfee Foundation – Honoring Family Values, while Forging New Paths

With an innovative sabbatical program for nonprofit leaders, Carrie Avery is translating her grandfather’s values into the third generation of family involvement with Durfee.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Donor Profile: Connie Duckworth Weaves a Way for Afghan Women

What are your plans for retirement? In Afghanistan, Connie Duckworth is putting her Wall Street ambition and savvy to the test.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Jeff Walker and NPower: Building on Existing Success

Philanthropist Jeff Walker began with a desire to help nonprofits struggling with technology, discovered that a nonprofit with a similar mission already existed, and built it into a thriving national network.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving

Pam Omidyar’s philanthropic work—including founding or co-founding with her husband, Pierre, the Omidyar Network, Hope Lab, and Humanity United—demonstrates how she has translated her passions into social change. Includes: International philanthropy, Microfinance, Medical philanthropy.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Program Learning and Evaluation









Donor Profile: The Buffetts Find “The Sound”

What would you do with one billion dollars? Jennifer and Peter Buffett were faced with this extraordinary challenge and opportunity.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Donor Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from Greater Philadelphia

Across the United States, donors are working on multiple aspects of the fight to prevent childhood obesity. While this guide features approaches implemented nationwide, we have focused on examples of their implementation in Philadelphia, as a city that may serve as a national model due to its decreases in childhood obesity amongst some of the most affected populations (African-American, Hispanic, and low-income youth). The guide identifies three strategies for donors who seek change: start early; increase access to healthy foods and physical activity; and enable healthy choices.    

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Resources









Enrolling the Eligible: Lessons for Funders

Many social programs have a gap between the number of individuals eligible for services and the number enrolled. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implemented Covering Kids & Families to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Grantees sought to increase enrollment by raising awareness among low-income families, simplifying the application process, and coordinating among programs. Funders are encouraged to consider the lifecycle of programs and organizations, the skills in coalition-building and working with public officials that are needed, and the need to fit political strategies with the local culture.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluating a Voter Outreach Initiative

This article describes an initiative designed to increase voting rates among low-income and ethnic groups in southern and central California communities. A rigorous evaluation demonstrated that participation rates could be increased by up to 10% among these groups. Using local, well-trained canvassers and making contact during the four weeks preceding the election were some of the more effective practices.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









Evaluating the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund’s Social Determinants of Health Portfolio

Research over the past two decades repeatedly demonstrates the relationship between poor health outcomes and socioeconomic factors such as poor housing, poverty, racism, and structural inequity. In 2005, the Northwest Health Foundation, supported by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, began an initiative to address these social determinants of health (SDOH). A variety of projects – short- and long-term, large and small – were supported over the five-year period for a total of $12.4 million. The mean project-implementation grant was $175,350 and 2½ years in length; capacity-building grants averaged $50,000 for 1½ years. In all, 323 social-determinant accomplishments were identified. The Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Organization Learning and Evaluation 









Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation

This six-session discussion guide is designed help all kinds of people take part in meaningful dialogue to examine gaps among ethnic groups and create positive community change.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Finding the Fix: Embracing Philanthropy’s Role in Transforming an Urban Education Landscape

Education funders have historically used a “demonstration project” approach to funding, designed to lever change by demonstrating a new program and providing technical assistance to foster broader adoption. Despite demonstrating success with many of its grants, the Skillman Foundation’s education reform initiatives were derailed and undone by the instability of the district leadership, political landscape shifts, and disintegrating neighborhoods. A complete turnaround model must address the many issues facing a failing school, including culture, curriculum, school leadership, professional development, and classroom instruction. The stability of the central administration must also be considered. The new look at urban reform at scale Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Forty Years of LGBTQ Philanthropy

At 40 years and counting, LGBTQ grantmaking has played a significant role in the fight for LGBTQ rights and equity. Forty Years of LGBTQ Philanthropy: 1970 – 2010 documents the amount and character of the first four decades of U.S. institutional support to LGBTQ communities through community, public, family and private foundations.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Foundation Strategies for Investing in Food Security

This white paper was created to map the spectrum of activities that, taken together, endeavor to create well nourished, food secure communities. It will discuss the continuum of both publicly and privately funded activities that address food security in the U.S., to provide foundation staff and trustees with a framework for considering food security investments. For each general strategy or activity area, a brief overview will be provided, as well as some examples of investments that foundations and others make to support the work. The paper will serve as a guide to the growing interconnections between different activities, suggesting new Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









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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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Print Publication









Funding Cultural Adaptations to Promote Effective and Efficient Mental Health Service Provision

Given the changing demographics of the U.S. and documented racial and ethnic health disparities, behavioral health service providers must look at adapting their services to better meet the needs of their diverse client populations. Grantees implemented three types of cultural adaptations: sociocultural/organizational, structural/ service delivery, and clinical. Most adaptations were not directly related to the specific evidence-based practice and would be relevant in many service-provision settings.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics









Funding the Extraordinary: An Evaluation of the Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture Program’s Institutional Capitalization Grantmaking

This report showcases NFF’s evaluation of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. To see two executive summaries that distill findings from this report, see “Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization” and “Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers.”

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

This report outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Gender Transformative Giving The Next Phase in Feminist Philanthropy?

A new report from Women’s Funding Network, Public interest Projects and TrueChild calls to reinvigorate feminist and social justice philanthropy by grounding it in “gender transformative” approaches. Gender transformative approaches highlight, challenge, and ultimately try to change rigid gender norms and inequities. “Gender” remains a contested term in American philanthropy; donors who say they have a “gender lens” usually mean they prioritize increased funding and opportunities for women and girls. Yet such approaches often leave out men and boys, LGBTQ people, as well as issues of race and class. The report calls for a new philanthropic approach that addresses not Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Gill Foundation: Strategically Funding the LGBT Civil Rights Movement

Former Gill Foundation Executive Director Rodger MacFarlane describes Gill’s strategic approach to funding the LGBT civil rights movement. He shares details of the Foundation’s strategic planning process and subsequent restructuring to better serve its grantees and advance its mission.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Program Learning and Evaluation









Grantmaking to Communities of Color in Oregon

Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington is addressing a knowledge gap by presenting research that can help inform the grantmaking decisions of our members. While diversity can be defined in multiple ways, the project team chose to focus on a single question: How much giving by Oregon foundations is reaching Oregon’s communities of color?

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Haiti: How Can I Help? Models for Donors Seeking Long-Term Impact

A full length donor report for those seeking long term impact in Haiti, with a focus on health, livelihood, and education.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Helping Government Agencies Become More Effective and Efficient: Discovering ‘Catalytic Combinations’ in Public Child Welfare Reform

This article describes work of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Casey Strategic Consulting Group (CSCG), a 10-year, multistate initiative that embeds outside experts – both public-system and traditional management consulting – in child and family services systems to improve system performance and outcomes. The article describes five types of levers that were influenced in different combinations to promote change in different state systems. We call these “catalytic combinations.” In numerous states, including Maine, Louisiana, Virginia, and Indiana, the CSCG initiative produced measurable improvements in key performance areas, including shortening stays in foster care, improving rates of permanent placements for children Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









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. 

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









High Impact Philanthropy in the Downturn: Focus on Housing, Health, and Hunger (A Guide for Donors)

Given the breadth and severity of the current economic downturn, where can individual donors make a significant difference in addressing the suffering caused by the economic crisis? This guide was written for individuals seeking to turn their philanthropic capital into a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants









High Impact Philanthropy to Improve Teaching Quality: Focus on High-Need Secondary Students

For donors seeking to improve student outcomes, the critical question is: How can my funds improve teaching quality? This report outlines high impact philanthropic models based on our analysis of available evidence from academic research, expert advice, and practitioner information.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Improving Child Survival Rates: Guidance for Donors

Every year almost seven million children die before they reach their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes such as pneumonia and diarrhea.1 The good news is that we have many proven effective tools to prevent and to treat disease and community-level approaches that are relatively low-cost within easy reach of a donor to support. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of child deaths can be prevented with the interventions available and feasible today.2       Footnotes 1 Unicef. Levels and Trends in Child Mortality report 2012. http://www.unicef.org/videoaudio/PDFs/UNICEF_2012_child_mortality_for_web_0904.pdf 2 Jones G et al. “How many child deaths can we prevent this Read more

Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Resources









Inheriting a Grant Portfolio: A case on grant making in water management

Put yourself in the shoes of a grant maker who takes over a longstanding program, only to learn that it needs to be slimmed down and made more effective. This case surveys the landscape, then lets you decide what to do. Highlights: Reviewing what has gone before; Identifying a new focus and direction; Making your first decisions.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









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: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, New Grants Management









Invest in a Strong Start for Children: A Toolkit for Donors

In the past thirty seconds, three more children were born in the United States. All three of these infants may be equally capable, but as they grow older, there is a strong chance that only two will graduate from high school. And it’s not just about high school graduation. The lack of strong support in early childhood means that millions of children in the U.S. face lives of lost potential. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Donors can help all children get an equal chance at a strong start.  

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Resources









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. At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children state by state. The Foundation also funds a national network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, county-by-county picture of the condition of children. By providing foundations, policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation









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: Beyond the Grant , Financial Stewardship, General Grants , Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, New Grants Management, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Program Learning and Evaluation









Out in the South, Part One: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Issues in the U.S. South

This report is the first in a series of reports entitled Out in the South. This first report, Part One: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Issues in the U.S. South, explores the underfunding of LGBTQ communities in the U.S. South in comparison to the rest of the country. It identifies who is funding in the South, and examines the issues and strategies currently being funded.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Out in the South, Part Two: LGBTQ Community Assets in the U.S. South

This report is the second in a series of reports entitled Out in the South. This second report, Part Two: LGBTQ Community Assets in the U.S. South, identifies more than 750 LGBTQ community assets in the U.S. South and spotlights several funding strategies with potential for high impact. The report assesses the state of the LGBTQ movement in the U.S. South based on a comprehensive scan of the region’s LGBTQ community assets, a survey of more than 200 organizers and service providers working in the South, and in-depth interviews with 30 LGBTQ leaders.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Participatory Grant Making: A Success Story From Southern Africa

The Other Foundation (tOF) is an African trust dedicated to advancing human rights in southern Africa, with a particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. This report outlines the work that was involved in the development and implementation of the pilot grant making initiative, as well as reporting on the first grants that were allocated by the foundation. tOF received 114 applications for funding, from seven different countries, through an open call to support work that ‘advances the rights and wellbeing of LGBTI people in Southern Africa’. 12 peer reviewers from six different countries in southern Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Pathways Forward: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Immigration Issues

This report provides detailed data on the current scope and character of foundation funding at the intersection of LGBTQ and immigrant rights. It also includes an overview of the ecology of advocacy and service organizations working to address the needs of LGBTQ immigrants, and offers recommendations for funders.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Pathways to Student Success: A Guide to Translating Good Intentions into Meaningful Impact

Pathways to Student Success: A Guide to Translating Good Intentions into Meaningful Impact was written for individuals who seek to go beyond charity by actively searching for opportunities to produce as much good as possible with the dollars available. In the guide, the Center addresses the critical questions that must be answered to achieve the biggest bang for every philanthropic buck, including what is a meaningful change to target, what activities lead to that change for at-risk students, and how much does it cost to make that change.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue-Specific Grants









Philanthropy in the Faith Community: Mobilizing Faith-Based Organizations for Substance Use Prevention

· The Assistance for Substance Abuse Prevention Center, established by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, has worked with community partners in the faith community to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. · Reviving the Human Spirit (RTHS) was a collaborative project that provided resources to help congregations provide substance use prevention and recovery support in their communities, including the adoption of evidence-based practices. · Slightly more than two thirds of the congregations that participated in follow up interviews reported that their programs were still operating. · Faith-based programs have many things in common with programs operated by other Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









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

Imagine starting a new grantmaking program from scratch — no prior grantees, no established procedures, no set objectives. One grant maker’s experience in starting a rural program illustrates some of the questions you’d need to answer. 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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants









Ready to Learn: Family Philanthropy Supports Early Learning and Literacy

Highlights some of the latest research on early childhood development and education, and profiles several family foundations and communities working for change in this area. It discusses quality child care and learning, and offers tips for getting involved in funding and resources to learn more.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers

With the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, NFF released two summaries sharing lessons learned on capitalization in the arts sector. The summaries distill findings from NFF’s study of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. This summary, Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers, is written for arts funders who are looking to make smart and impactful investments. It includes tips for planning a grantmaking strategy, making the grant match the need, and ensuring that the grant is implemented successfully.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations. The premise underlying Local Funding Partnerships has remained constant over its 25 years—by collaborating with local funders instead of acting alone, RWJF could improve the health and health care of Americans, while getting a larger return on its investment.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants









School Turnaround Field Guide

This report offers a field assessment of actors, issues, key gaps and early lessons learned in turning around our failing schools. The full report and an executive summary are available, as well as a brief developed for the School Improvement conference held in January 2010.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

As consumers and producers, people of color have been affected disproportionately by systemic problems in the food system. This article describes the Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy initiative, a joint effort of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to build the capacity of organizations led by people of color to engage in policy and advocacy work. Grantees successfully built their capacity to engage in policy work (e.g., increased capacity to identify policy targets), increased their organizational capacity (e.g., diversified boards), improved their communities’ capacity (e.g., created opportunities for dialogue and improved access to fresh Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Small Investments, Big Changes: A 10 Year Review of the Casey Fellows Mini-Grants Program

In 1998, The Annie E. Casey Foundation launched a small grants program for alumni of the Children and Family Fellowship program. These mini-grants were designed to support fellowship alumni in their ongoing leadership efforts. This review highlights some of the mini-grant funded efforts and details some of the returns on the Foundation’s investments.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation









Strategies for Impacting Change in Communities of Color

Historically, organized philanthropy has given scant attention to giving among communities of color; however, as the population changes it is becoming more important to learn about and promote giving in these communities. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported the Cultures of Giving (COG) initiative over a five-year period to understand, develop, and support philanthropic giving within and among communities of color. COG began with two major principles of action – advancing strategies, approaches, and tactics of community philanthropy and connecting leaders of color in a community of practice such that they might learn, share, and collaborate with each other. Based Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









Strong Starts for Children

This five-session discussion guide helps people talk about and take on ideas for improving the lives of our communities’ youngest children. The guide walks people through discussions of how we are connected to the lives of children in our community; the “invisible” effects of racism and poverty; and, ultimately, plans for taking action in our communities.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









The Challenges of Place, Capacity, and Systems Change: The Story of Yes we can!

Yes we can!, a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, was designed to improve educational and economic outcomes within the foundation’s hometown of Battle Creek, Mich. Since 2002, Yes we can! has supported five core strategies designed to trigger the systems changes needed to reduce educational and economic inequities in Battle Creek. Yes we can! has achieved some important wins to date; for example, more residents are involved, more neighborhoods have stronger neighborhood associations, and more organizations are engaging residents in their decision-making processes. However, the scale of wins remains small, and the targeted systemic Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Colorado Trust’s Healthy Communities Initiative: Results and Lessons for Comprehensive Community Initiatives

This article summarizes how 29 diverse communities throughout Colorado implemented the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI), which was conceived and funded by The Colorado Trust to engage community residents in the development of locally relevant strategies to improve community health. In line with the World Health Organization’s Healthy Cities model, CHCI emphasized (a) inclusive, representative planning; (b) a broad definition of “health”; (c) consensus decision making; and (d) capacity building among local stakeholder groups. Communities implemented an array of projects (on average, six per community) that extended well beyond traditional health promotion and disease prevention. The most common action projects Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Physics of LGBTQ Funding: Momentum, Resistance, & Impact

Every year for nearly a decade, Funders for LGBTQ Issues has released an annual report seeking to quantify and examine the amount and character of foundation grantmaking for LGBTQ communities. This brief paper seeks to build on those annual tracking reports by taking a longer and wider view. The title references physics as the study of things that are in motion, of how things interact and relate to each other. This paper looks at the movement of LGBTQ funding over time and how LGBTQ grantmaking has interacted with other trends in the philanthropic world and beyond. This paper also offers Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









The Potential of Partnerships for Health Advocacy and Policy Change: The Legacy of the Partnership for the Public’s Health Initiative

This article reports on a study of 11 partnerships between public health departments and community organizations that were funded by The California Endowment to support advocacy and organizing to improve health outcomes in the communities. The evaluation examined the sustainability of the partnerships as well as the policy and advocacy work of the organizations. Almost 90 percent of the activities in policy change and community capacity building was sustained, whereas partnership and health department capacity building activities were the least likely to be sustained. The policy change legacies at the community level were strong and included empowerment of community members, Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Legal Issues, Foundations, and Nonprofits, New Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









The Pros and Cons of Comprehensive Community Initiatives at the City Level: The Case of the Urban Health Initiative

This article describes the trade-offs between the city-level and neighborhood-based approaches in examining the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF’s) Urban Health Initiative (UHI), an $80 million, 10-year effort to improve the health and safety of young people. Eight cities engaged in a two-year planning process; five received funding for an eight-year implementation phase. Plans that engaged in bottom-up activities, but left power and control in the hands of civic, business, social service, and political leaders, were favored. Those who had focused exclusively on neighborhood-based approaches were not funded for implementation. RWJF chose a city-level focus because they believed neighborhood-level initiatives Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Issue-Specific Grants









The Quest for Deeper Learning and Engagement in Advanced High School Courses

GLEF and a research team from the University of Washington worked with Washington’s Bellevue School District to develop and assess the impact of project-based learning on upper-level courses in high school. Research suggests that Advanced Placement (AP) courses may focus too much on accelerated content at the expense of deeper conceptual learning. The number of students taking AP courses has grown, but along with this the number failing has increased. GLEF and the research team tested project-based learning (PBL) to counteract this trend. Results after two years are promising. Students in the PBL-AP courses are performing as well or better Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation









The Role of the Congregation in Community Service: A Philanthropic Case Study

The Family Leadership Initiative (FLI), part of the larger Gatherings of Hope Initiative, was a collaboratively designed program to strengthen families and improve children’s education in Grand Rapids, Mich. FLI was launched in 2011 with two cohorts of 20 congregations who took part in a six-step design process. Programs were implemented in fall 2011. The program entailed holding monthly meetings for parents and children that included bonding time, parent education and homework support for students, and time for ministry. The initial evaluation shows high levels of satisfaction, with students reporting some academic improvements. For the congregations, FLI provided a rare Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011

According to The State of Social Justice Philanthropy 2011 giving around policy and community engagement to address pressing social problems dipped to 12 percent, compared to the 15 percent average in 2008-2010.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









The Women Effect

Try this exercise. When you think ‘women’ and ‘investing’ what do you think about? This piece is going to ask you to think about the ‘women effect’ as a factor across multiple dimensions where ‘women and girls’ and ‘impact investing’ come together. Across all asset classes, and a variety of stakeholders.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Philanthropic Models & Approaches









Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy: Grantmaking for Racial Equity and LGBTQ Justice

Towards a More Responsive Philanthropy: Grantmaking for Racial Equity and LGBTQ Justice continues our efforts to advance work at the intersection of racial equity and LGBTQ justice. In it you will find the stories of 5 foundations who are working on these critical issues.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants









Towards Transformative Change in Health Care

Analysis shows that only 31 percent of 880 foundations and institutional grantmakers that give billions towards domestic health-related causes gave half of their grants to meet the needs of the poor, disabled, the elderly and other underserved populations. Langston and NCRP recommend two strategies for health funders to improve significantly the impact of their philanthropy: allocating at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit underserved communities and 25 towards advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement that promotes long-term systemic reform.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Program Learning and Evaluation









Transitions: an opportunity like no other

Following the January 2011 revolt in Tunisia against the regime of President Ben Ali, the country’s transition leaders adopted an open-door approach to foreign aid. An avalanche of mostly uncoordinated aid followed. Donors – private and bilateral – arrived asking questions like, ‘Who is your Mandela?’ They produced an event overload, sponsoring dozens of conferences and hotel-room trainings on identical topics. Funding opportunities and partnerships were concentrated in the capital, Tunis, and in few other parts of the country. Grant applications were often English-only. Talent was drained from local organizations to produce repetitive mappings of civil society for external donors Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Communications , Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









Two Decades in Investment in Substance-Use Prevention and Treatment

The Retrospective assesses RWJF’s investment, what was achieved through its efforts, and the strengths and challenges of the Foundation’s approach. RWJF contributed toward progress on the substance-use problem through meaningful impact in five major areas: Increased knowledge about the substance-use problem; Influenced alcohol and drug policies; Informed and spreading promising prevention programs; Improved systems of care for substance-use disorders; and Built field infrastructure to strengthen substance-use research, policy, and practice. RWJF had an unprecedented investment in the field, contributing to change over time. Observations of how RWJF developed its overarching and program-specific strategies, conducted ongoing evaluation and learning, and exited Read more

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









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: Beyond the Grant , Issue-Specific Grants, New Grants Management









Understanding Social Justice Philanthropy

This report examines the meaning of social justice philanthropy based on literature reviews and conversations with grantmakers, academics and nonprofit practitioners. What are the main elements of social justice philanthropy? What are the contradictions? This paper sets the stage for a report published by NCRP in the fall of 2004 that assesses the size and scope of the philanthropic social justice field and offer recommendations for funders.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









Vital Funding: Investing in LGBTQ Health and Wellbeing

LGBTQ communities face stark health disparities ranging from high rates of HIV/AIDS and cancer to disproportionate levels of substance use and mental health challenges. This report assesses the scale and character of foundation funding addressing the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities. Between 2011 and 2013, domestic foundation funding for LGBTQ health totaled $50.4 million. In a rapidly changing landscape for both health policy and LGBTQ issues, funders now have several unique opportunities to achieve lasting impact on the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ communities.

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Catagories: Essentials, Issue-Specific Grants, Making and Managing Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion









What can philanthropy do for Syria?

The war in Syria is now in its fourth year. It has cost over 200,000 lives, put 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance inside the country (USAID) and displaced 10 million, more than 3 million of whom have fled abroad as refugees. All of this has earned Syria a number of unappealing superlatives: ‘the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era’ (UNHCR); the creator of the ‘worst refugee crisis since the second world war’ (The Economist); and the world’s ‘worst crisis for children’ (UN). With a few notable exceptions, however, western philanthropists have not engaged in Syria.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Issue-Specific Grants, Mission and Values, Philanthropy's History, Role in Society









Youth Civic Engagement for Dialogue and Diversity at the Metropolitan Level

Youth civic engagement can take various forms, of which intergroup dialogue is one. Some forms – such as electoral participation – are inappropriate for young people. This article describes Youth Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity in Metropolitan Detroit, the nation’s most segregated metropolitan area. High-school-age students participated in intra and intergroup dialogues, metropolitan tours, residential retreats, and community action projects. Youth participants increased their knowledge of their own racial and ethnic identities and those of others, increased their awareness and understanding of racism and racial privilege, and developed leadership skills and took actions to challenge racism in their communities.

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Catagories: Issue-Specific Grants, New Diversity, Equity and Inclusion