“I have the report- now what?” 7 Questions to Ask When Reading Program Evaluations

Program evaluations provide answers to a key question: “Did this program work in a particular population and setting?” For funders who haven’t been trained in reading evaluations, wading through such reports can be confusing and time-consuming. So, to get the most out of program evaluations, here are 7 questions to ask when reading them.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation

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#ShiftThePower: the rise of community philanthropy

In this special feature on community philanthropy, alliance proposes a new paradigm called ‘durable development’. This involves shifting power closer to the ground, giving agency to local people and their organizations on the principle that they should have greater control of their own destinies. The growing field of community philanthropy has much to contribute towards such a paradigm shift because it marks a distinct break with many of the conventions – and resulting distortions – of mainstream development. The ‘three-legged stool’ of community philanthropy combines asset development, capacity building and the strengthening of trust between multiple local and external stakeholders. Durable Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Foundations and Donors

This blog post lists five key Do’s and five key Don’ts for foundations and donors to have the greatest impact in the communities they serve.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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10 Ways Foundations Can Work With the Public Sector

This resource shows how foundations can be potential partners in making public policy.

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11 Philanthropic Trends for 2017

The Johnson Center’s applied approach to research, thought leadership, tools, training, data, and analysis reaches across nonprofits, foundations, and the volunteers and staff who lead and support these institutions.  Our leadership is committed to providing trusted guidance for doing good and requires that we remain aware of our contexts and understand how that will influence our sector. To help explore and understand the trends and challenges that inform our work, we are providing brief descriptions of trends we see as both forming and challenging the work of philanthropy.

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1st Annual Report on America’s Giving Style

A collaborative study from Bolder Giving and WiserGiving, America’s Giving Style analyzes the strategies and approaches that donors use to solve complex problems through their charitable giving. Most donors are focused on fixing immediate problems but typically will use a combination of strategies to effect long term, sustainable change. Furthermore, most sophisticated donors try to align their giving with their beliefs, though for many their current giving habits do not match their ideals and ambitions.  

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A Call to Action: Trustee Advocacy to Advance Opportunity for Black Communities in Philanthropy

This Call to Action encourages foundation Trustees to increase the representation of Black leadership among foundations’ staff, vendors, consultants and grantees. It emerges from the Association of Black Foundation’s (ABFE) initiative, “Leverage the Trust”, which promotes the role of Black Trustees in making philanthropy more responsive to Black communities.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector

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A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

This report illustrates the ways in which limited life foundations approach spending down in nine key areas, including investing, grantmaking and strategy, and communications. The results show that most leaders of limited life foundations choose to spend down because of the belief that it will lead to greater impact. And though these foundations’ leaders wrestle with a similar set of issues in their work, the interviews revealed that there is no one way to spend down.

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A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It

This article argues that philanthropic endeavors should be undergirded by a theory of philanthropy. Articulating a theory of philanthropy is a way for a foundation to make explicit what is often only implicit, thereby enabling internal and external actors to pose and resolve significant questions, understand and play important roles more fully and effectively, and improve performance by enhancing alignment across complex systems. A theory of philanthropy articulates how and why a foundation will use its resources to achieve its mission and vision. The theory-of-philanthropy approach is designed to help foundations align their strategies, governance, operating and accountability procedures, and Read more

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A Handbook for Giving Circle Hosts: Tools and Resources for Developing and Sustaining Giving Circles

The Forum’s handbook of tools and resources for giving circle host organizations, including tools for deciding whether to host a giving circle, key questions to ask and a checklist of giving circle and host duties.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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About Mission Investing

This resource discusses market-rate and below-market mission investments made by foundations and other mission-based organizations to further their philanthropic goals.  

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Accountability Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Unstaffed Foundations

This self-assessment tool is designed to be a comprehensive resource to help you determine if your unstaffed private foundation (family, independent or corporate) is complying with key federal laws and regulations and is engaging in generally recommended good practices for being accountable to the public. Addressing issues of accountability is an ongoing process for an organization, and this tool is designed to help organizations with that process.

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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ACT NOW! Cover the Bases: 5 Policy Advocacy Approaches Foundations can Support

There’s more than one way to influence policy. Larger public policy battles like health care reform, immigration, and civil rights often take place in multiple venues including legislatures, courts, executive agencies, candidate forums, and public forums on ballot measures. But even small policy campaigns present opportunities at federal, state, and local levels to influence the outcome via the following targeted advocacy avenues which are discussed later in this article: Administrative Advocacy Legislative Advocacy Ballot measures or referenda Nonpartisan election-related activities Litigation

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Advocacy Toolkit

This toolkit is designed to be a central resource for people engaged in the philanthropic space to learn about why it is important for philanthropy to have a voice in policy, how to effectively use advocacy and lobbying to advance your mission, what the most critical or priority “asks” are for the sector at any given time, and to better understand the key policy issues that are top-of-mind for our sector.  

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Alliance Magazine – #ShiftThePower: the rise of community philanthropy

Guest editors of the December 2016 issue of Alliance magazine Jenny Hodgson and Barry Knight explore the issues of community philanthropy, durable development, and the collective sharing of resources.   In this special feature on community philanthropy, we propose a new paradigm called ‘durable development’. This involves shifting power closer to the ground, giving agency to local people and their organizations on the principle that they should have greater control of their own destinies. The growing field of community philanthropy has much to contribute towards such a paradigm shift because it marks a distinct break with many of the conventions Read more

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Analyzing and Understanding Nonprofit Financial Statements

With corporate accounting practices under increasing scrutiny, it is important for nonprofit managers and board members to familiarize themselves with financial reports and to understand how they reflect the viability of an organization. Learn about financial statements, understand how to use them, and explore the nuances and implications of financial reporting. Coursework addresses both legal and accounting implications for nonprofit organizations, including government entities, universities, schools and colleges, healthcare providers, and other social service programs. CEU: 2

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Answers to the 10 Most Asked Questions about PRIs

A program-related investment (PRI) is a type of mission or social investment that foundations make in order to achieve their philanthropic goals. This article answers frequently asked questions about PRIs.

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Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices

For foundations, there are lots of questions to reflect on when thinking about which evaluation practices best align with their strategy, culture, and mission. How much should a foundation invest in evaluation? What can they do to ensure that the information they receive from evaluation is useful to them? With whom should they share what they have learned? Considering these numerous questions in light of benchmarking data about what other foundations are doing can be informative and important. Developed in partnership with the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI), Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practicesis the most comprehensive data collection effort to date Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation

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Better Together: Realizing the Promise of Collaboration in Family Philanthropy

Unique challenges arise, and unique opportunities open up, when family donors get involved in collaborative work in philanthropy. This report explores those special challenges and opportunities, and offers a set of recommendations for how to realize the promise of working better together. The insights here are based primarily on in-depth dialogues about family philanthropy collaboration that occurred during the third National Summit on Family Philanthropy, held in New York City in June, 2015, and hosted by the Dorothy A. Johnson Center on Philanthropy.

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Blueprint for a Healthier America

This report, produced by the Trust for America’s Health with support from several foundations including Kresge, calls for a new approach to health which prioritizes improving health and addressing major epidemics in the United States. The report highlights pressing crises and how investments could yield positive returns on investment by adopting proven health strategies, such as substance use prevention, programs to promote physical activity and connecting health and social services.

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Building Collaboration From the Inside Out

This publication is focused on building an organization’s collaboration muscles. It offers guidance on steps grantmakers and nonprofits can take to adopt a “collaborative mindset” and align values and practice so they can be better partners in collaboration. It is based on research and interviews with grantmakers, nonprofit leaders, technical assistance providers and thought leaders from 2013 through 2015.

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

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

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Career Pathways A Philanthropic Leadership Pipeline Expansion Program

The Council is now accepting nominations and applications for the Career Pathways program. The program’s goal is to increase the number of candidates from diverse backgrounds in the leadership pipeline who are considered, appointed, and retained in senior and executive leadership positions in philanthropic organizations.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Resources

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Celebrating 100 Years of Community Foundations: Stories and Lessons from 35 Years of Supporting the Community Foundation Field

The goal of this microsite is to share what the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has learned in more than 35 years of supporting the field, offer key insights, and highlight our legacy of partnering with community foundations in a way that advances the vital work they do to strengthen their communities.  

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Changing the Odds for Kids (Part One): What capacity do the supports and opportunities in the six Good Neighborhoods provide for young people and what characteristics of a system are in place?

This first assessment of the systems of supports and opportunities (SOSO) informs the Foundation and its partners about availability and quality of youth development opportunities and basic services supports in the six Good Neighborhoods.

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Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing

Mission Investors Exchange and the Council on Foundations are thrilled to welcome you to the Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing: Reflections from the Field and Resources for Moving Forward. You will discover all the resources and connections that it has to offer community foundations interested in learning about, designing, and activating an impact investing program.

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Community Foundations and Advocacy

This fact sheet shows how community Foundations can play an active role in the public sector and can support lobbying, advocate, lobby, and support other election-related activities. All of these actions however, have their limits.

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Community Investment: Focusing on the System

Community investment in the U.S. is one of the most robust impact-investing sectors in the world. With support from public policy and subsidies from public and philanthropic sources, private capital flows to community investment from foundations, banks and insurance companies, individuals and others in the form of loans, bonds, tax-credit equity and structured investment vehicles. Often, CI involves specialized intermediaries skilled at working with marginalized communities and blending multiple sources of funding. But practitioners frequently describe CI as working against, or around, the conventional finance system. It targets underserved people and places – where conventional markets are seen as absent, Read more

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Community Voice in Impact Investing – Webinar

When it comes to making change through impact investing, the community engagement process is crucial to the financial as well as social performance of your investments. Lisa Richter will moderate another lively conversation in this series to share how impact investing organizations serving rural communities are engaging residents and organizations as partners, including through: leadership development community surveys partnerships with grassroots organizations and government member-owned institutions, and technology-driven communications In this webinar, panelists discussed specific investment examples how these tools have enhanced traditional technical assistance and why the approaches must vary from one community to another, where diverse populations, unique Read more

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Compliance Assessment for Private Foundations

Foundation Source developed a 15-question assessment to help you identify activities that could increase your foundation’s exposure to risk. There are no right or wrong answers. Once you have submitted your responses, we will email you a customized report that outlines the specific rules governing your foundation’s activities. The report will also identify the extent of the risk and penalties when these rules are not followed. The goal is to help you better understand potential compliance issues for your foundation.

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Conflicts of Interest at Foundations: Avoiding the Bad and Maintaining the Good

Multiple loyalties can create conflicts of interest. In private foundations, conflicts of interest occur when the financial or personal interests of board members or foundation managers are, or may appear to be, inconsistent with the interests of the foundation. This resource guides board members and foundation managers in defining conflicts of interest, identifying which transactions are absolutely prohibited and which are permissible if properly handled, and developing a conflict-of- interest policy that protects foundations, board members, and foundation managers by taking self interest out of the decision-making process. Additionally, we provide a sample conflict-of-interest policy and disclosure questionnaire.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Resources

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Conflicts of Interest at Foundations: Avoiding the Bad and Managing the Good

This publication will guide board members and foundation managers in defining conflicts of interest, identifying which transactions are absolutely prohibited and which are permissible if properly handled, and developing a conflict-of-interest policy that protects foundations, board members, and foundation managers by taking self interest out of the decision-making process. By answering the following five questions and by following the processes recommended in this paper, foundations can minimize legal risks; protect themselves and their board members and foundation managers against bad publicity; and most of all, ensure the integrity of their decision-making process.

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Creative Giving

A comprehensive look at giving. Who gives, how much, where to, and why. Sprinkled with statistics and analysis, powerful individual stories describe giving outside the lines. Writers talk about giving money unconventionally, seeking ways to give, and seeking gift recipients by their own rules, not according to established giving norms. Some giving alleviates the loneliness often endemic to inheritors. Others seek to share the joy in giving. Models for giving beyond that which supports culture, arts, education and policy institutions that serve the donors lifestyle. Compare your giving habits: amounts, causes, mechanisms, and goals.

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Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

What differentiates an exemplary foundation from the rest of its peers? What can foundations do to improve its relevance to nonprofits, the economically and socially underserved Americans and society as a whole? Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact is the first ever set of measurable guidelines that will help foundations and other institutional grantmakers operate ethically and maximize the impact of their dollars.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Resources

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Data at a Foundation’s Fingertips: Creating and Building Dashboards

Idealware is proud to announce the release of our latest report, Data at a Foundation’s Fingertips: Creating and Building Dashboards. Technology Affinity Group (TAG) commissioned us for this report on how foundations use dashboards, which combines insights from conversations with 10 different foundations–including previous research on methods for thinking about data-based decision making–to offer a step-by-step process to design and create your own dashboard. To help you learn from the experiences of those foundations that have gone before you, we also included eight detailed case studies of foundations that have created their own dashboards and what into the design and Read more

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

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

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Disaster Philanthropy

Disaster philanthropy is the term used when a foundation responds to a natural disaster, man-made emergency or complex humanitarian crisis with grantmaking or fund raising. Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leaders in the philanthropic community have become more aware of the importance of this approach to giving. What follows are the stories of three Minnesota organizations that have made the foray into disaster philanthropy. What have they learned from their experiences? And how can this approach help every foundation do a better job of delivering on its core mission?

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Diversity and Inclusion: Lessons from the Field

Features the stories, successes and experiences of CEOs and trustees of some of our nation’s leading foundations and corporate grantmaking programs, both large and small. Each has shared their unique perspectives—their struggles and strategies to overcome challenges. They have provided insight into how and to what effect diversity and inclusive practices have been embedded within their organizations. With leaders reaching out to leaders, we hope you will be inspired by their successes, and see yourself in this important work.

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Diversity Framework

In developing the Diversity Framework, the Minnesota Council on Foundations found it helpful to frame the discussion around four roles that private grantmaking organizations play in a civil society as funders, employers, economic entities, and citizens of the community. Two values guided the development of this work: The quality of grantmaking is enhanced when grantmaking organizations reflect the cultural diversity of the communities they serve through their grants. Every private grantmaking organization has the responsibility and the capacity to understand issues of diversity and inclusiveness and should take action in each role where opportunities exist. The four roles and the values that support these Read more

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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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Effective and Emerging Approaches to Mission-Related Investing

This white paper defines mission investing strategies, including: socially responsible investing (SRI); environmental, social, and governance (ESG); mission-related investing (MRI); and impact investing. Readers will also learn more about a nine-point impact investing roadmap with questions to help develop your foundation’s investment strategy.

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Embedded Philanthropy and the Pursuit of Civic Engagement

This article examines a range of civic engagement strategies pursued by embedded funders conducting community-change work in chronically disadvantaged communities. Embedded funders are place-based foundations that (1) commit to working in a particular community or communities over an extended period of time; (2) pursue direct and ongoing relationships with a range of community actors; (3) make community relationships and partnerships a primary vehicle of their philanthropic operation; and (4) provide extensive supports and resources beyond conventional grantmaking. Working as an embedded funder tends either to correlate with a prior commitment to civic engagement or to promote the development of such Read more

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Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations

This actionable guide to impact investing will help those new to the field get started. It includes definitions, key questions to consider, resources, and case examples from small foundations across asset classes and issue areas. This guide was produced in partnership with Mission Investors Exchange and Arabella Advisors.

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Evaluating the Charitable Deduction and Proposed Reforms

Many recent proposals for budget and tax reform would change the value of the charitable contribution deduction. This report provides context for policymakers who may be considering one or more of these reforms, as well as for other interested observers. We first offer a basic overview of charitable giving and the legal rules for claiming the deduction. Next we discuss the various rationales that have been offered in its support and highlight critiques of the deduction. We then examine various proposed reforms, including caps, floors, credits, and grants, in light of those critiques.

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Everything You Need to Know About Impact Investing (In 1 Hour!)

It seems like everyone is talking about impact investing these days… but is it right for you and your organization? In this webinar experts will elaborate upon what it is, how to decide if it’s right for your organization and explore some of the the biggest hurdles holding individuals and organizations back from directing funds to impact investing. Industry experts Jean Case, Melanie Audette, and Dan Brillman, who will now be joined by Stacy Donohue and Kate Ahern lead the discussion and share how organizations can unite purpose with profit.

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Everything You Need to Know About Impact Investing (In 1 Hour!)

In this webinar experts elaborate on what impact investing is, help you decide if it’s right for your organization, and explore some of the the biggest hurdles holding individuals and organizations back from directing funds to impact investing.  

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Family Foundation Events

The Council of Michigan Foundations sets aside a section of its website to provide descriptions and videos from a variety of Family Foundation Events. There are examples of networking opportunites and educational programs for family foundations. Event highlights and links for more information are offered for further exploration.

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Final State of the Work 2015

D5’s Final State of the Work highlights voices of leaders in the field who share their stories of change and progress.  Some are longtime advocates; some are newer enthusiasts. Each of them shares a perspective on what has worked and what challenges remain as they lead their institutions through changes to meet the demands of a new America. This final report catalogs the stories that tell of human impact and human struggle to create a more equitable philanthropy. Some of these stories are: Rethinking Grantmaking: Using Data to Inform Investments The Meyer Memorial Trust uses data to achieve more equitable grantmaking Engaging Read more

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Finding the Win in Wicked Problems: Lessons From Evaluating Public Policy Advocacy

Many of the social issues private foundations and other philanthropies attempt to address — poverty, homelessness, global climate change — are wicked problems. That is, they defy easy definition, lack permanent solutions, and have multiple stakeholders. The wicked problems framework helps make explicit the challenging nature of the issue to be addressed, requires an inclusive style of leadership that seeks stakeholder involvement, and demands candid exchange among stakeholders about the nature of the problem and effectiveness of efforts to address it. A wicked problems framework provides a set of criteria and questions for evaluators of advocacy efforts to ask all Read more

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Five Proven Ways to Use Donor Advised Funds

Through this webinar we explore and discuss the basics of Donor Advised Funds (DAF) with a wide range of topics covering: What is a Donor Advised Fund How does a Donor Advised Fund work How does a Donor Advised Fund differ from a Private Family Foundation Starting a Charitable conversation with your clients and Trends  

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Five Ways To Position Your New Foundation For Success

This blog post is for foundations that are new or transitioning. It asks five important questions that can be used to help decide which course of action your foundation will take. These include: Is a foundation the best charitable-giving vehicle for us? What do we want to accomplish? How will we continue to learn? Who do we need in our network? How will we invest in our own success?

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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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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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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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Foundations for Civic Impact: Advocacy and Civic Engagement Toolkit for Community Foundations

This toolkit is a collaborative project of Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI), CFLeads, Council on Foundations and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. It provides provide practical advice and essential knowledge to help community foundations integrate public policy practices into their everyday leadership work to achieve greater community impact.

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Foundations of Philanthropy for Funders

In the United States, virtually everyone is asked to be charitable, but not everyone knows how to be philanthropic. Whether you work for a grantmaking foundation or you are personally committed to charitable giving, this course explores American philanthropy, the role of the funder, current best practices and ethical standards, the public’s relationship to nonprofit organizations, and the nature of grantmaking. Utilizing both theoretical and case-study methods, this interactive class provides the basis for subsequent coursework toward the Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations. CEU: 1.5

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Frameworks for Private Foundations: A New Model for Impact

This GrantCraft leadership series paper produced in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors explores the core frameworks that shape private foundations, and offers a roadmap for funders interested in reflecting on these frameworks to better align purpose, public benefit, and action.

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Freedom Funders: Philanthropy and the Civil Rights Movement

This resource includes three approaches that today’s foundations can learn from the Freedom Funders in our ongoing fight to protect civil rights: Grantmakers should intentionally prioritize underserved communities in developing and implementing strategy. They should involve those most affected by injustice, such as by funding organizations committed to grassroots organizing and advocacy. They should utilize tools such as equity analysis to examine structural barriers that keep certain communities from equal life opportunities. Anything less and foundations risk reinforcing the very inequities they claim to address.

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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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Gender Transformative Philanthropy A Case for More Effective Giving

Feminist donors and social justice funders who apply a gender lens undoubtedly share as many differences as similarities. What they do have in common is a passion for gender equality and a commitment to seeking systemic solutions that produce sustainable progress.  

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Global Philanthropy and Civil Society

Once thought to be uniquely American, philanthropy and civil society are now seen as global phenomena. This course highlights the obligations of philanthropy to support civil society as its primary vehicle for accomplishing its programmatic objectives. Examine individual giving, organized philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, and corporate philanthropy as contributors to the common good throughout the world. Analyze the impact of technology on giving and the role of evaluation in assessing the ability of global philanthropy to sustain civil society. The course is taught through lectures, discussions, and readings.

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GrantSafe

IRS regulations require that private foundations verify the exempt status of any 501(c)(3) public charity before making a grant, to ensure it is currently in good standing with the IRS. The most accurate and comprehensive source for this information is the IRS Business Master File (BMF). While the BMF is publicly available, it is neither simple nor easy for an individual to decipher. GrantSafe’s proprietary technology eliminates that hassle and complication. Finding an organization is now as easy as typing in the organization’s name or tax ID number. A green check mark or red “X” instantly tells you the status. Read more

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Growing Through Giving

The WHH Foundation, a California based ASF member, has taken a particularly thoughtful approach to engaging its third generation family members, ages 8 to 27. The foundation is managed by a volunteer board led by its founder, and is staffed by part-time executive director and family member, Bernadette Glenn. Recently, ASF spoke with Bernadette and Molly Purnell, age 25, who chairs the foundation’s next generation group. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

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Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers

Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers is a concise resource listing eight guiding principles for Connecticut grantmaker accountability and suggested effective practices. The Connecticut Council’s Board of Directors offers these Guiding Principles and Effective Practices to its members and other Connecticut funders to articulate a shared commitment to excellence and to serve as a guide for Connecticut funders as we pursue our missions. CCP recognizes that there are different ways to implement each of the Guiding Principles and offers suggestions for effective practices that can be adopted or adapted to best suit your organization.  More information on implementing these Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Resources

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Healthy Communities of Opportunity: An Equity Blueprint to Address America’s Housing Challenges

It has long been obvious that a lead-laden home or a house located by a toxic dump impacts health. The implications of a house far from fresh food or a safe place to exercise can also seem apparent. Less understood are other factors. For example, paying more than half of one’s salary for a home, living in crowded conditions to save on rent, the tension and worry of being in and out of homelessness or in high-crime environments all take a toll. So, too, does living in a community isolated from jobs, job-connecting networks, and reliable public transportation. As this Read more

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High Impact Philanthropy Blog: Rethinking the E-Word

The following post was originally published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog as part of a series exploring the meaning and value of strategic philanthropy. Evidence-based philanthropy. To some, that phrase offers the promise of long-overdue rigor. If the first principle of philanthropy and social impact is to do good, then evidence-based philanthropy ensures that we honor its corollary: Do no harm. To others, that phrase represents all that is going wrong with philanthropy and social innovation—the rise of the ivory-tower theorists and technocrats whose logic models and fixation with metrics blind them to real-world knowledge and common sense. It’s time Read more

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How Can Foundations Engage in Advocacy & Lobbying?

A review of the legal basics of how grantmakers can be involved in advocacy and lobbying work, with specific information for private foundations, community foundations and corporate grantmakers.

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How Does Your Community Foundation’s Public Policy Work Stack Up?

This blog asks How many actions to support advocacy has your foundation taken? Tally up your score and scroll to the end for explanations.

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How Much is Enough?

How much is enough? Guidance for forming a realistic assessment of your assets. Because there is no objective definition of enough, and because there will always be others who have more. Millionaires and those with far less net worth can share similar anxieties about having enough.

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How to Find (or Develop) Impact Investing Deals (webinar)

This impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. Walk away with a list of resources to explore with your team and grow your knowledge base on the tools available to further your mission.

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I Am a Philanthropist

A powerful chorus of diverse donors is profiled in “I Am a Philanthropist,” a video produced by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and the D5 Coalition. An inspiring testament to the spread of philanthropy in communities across the nation, the video was a centerpiece of a gathering of diverse donors we held in Los Angeles in November 2011. We celebrated diverse donors, gave them opportunities to network and learn, and aimed to inspire more giving. Check out this resource to learn more.

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Impact Investing: An Introduction

For many years philanthropy and investing have been thought of as separate disciplines—one championing social change, the other financial gain. The idea that the two approaches could be integrated in the same deals—in essence, delivering a financial return while doing good—struck most philanthropists and most investors as far-fetched.   Not anymore.

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Infographic: The State of LGBTQ Philanthropy in the Northwest

This resource highlights demographics and foundation funding for LGBTQ communities.  

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Insights on Arab American Giving

This report is the first initiative of the Center for Arab American Philanthropy, formerly known as the Collaborative, a program to promote strategic philanthropy in the Arab American community nationwide. While there are many challenges and barriers to Arab American giving, the research shows a strong demand for support to donors and broad recognition of the potential for philanthropy to strengthen and showcase Arab American civic participation.

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Inspiring Arab American Giving

Inspiring Arab American Giving tells the story of five Arab American philanthropists, whose stories represent the broader Arab American community. Arab Americans make significant contributions to communities, arts, education and human service needs, and more. All Arab Americans can be philanthropists by giving strategically of resources and/or time to impact the community.

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Integrated Transactions: An Emerging Focus For Community Development

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

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Invest Northwest: Ten-Year Final Performance Review

The experience of developing, launching, managing, and evaluating Invest Northwest has provided important lessons for the Northwest Area Foundation’s and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s mission investing programs. These lessons are also relevant to impact investors and place-based investors. With the fund coming to a close, this report documents these lessons and reflections, as well as the history of Invest Northwest, the fund’s financial performance, and its strong social performance.

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Investing in Change: The Importance of Supporting Advocacy

This fact sheet shows how supporting advocacy is, quite simply, one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating change.

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Involve Children and Teens in Your Foundation

Ingrid Fox, advisor to the junior board of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, compiled these ideas for involving teens in philanthropy. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

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Keeping Good Records: Small Foundations’ Guide to Staying Organized

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

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Key Organizational Boundaries from a Systems Perspective

In last month’s post we looked at the relevance of boundaries in an increasingly boundary-less world. In this post we describe three especially important organizational boundaries from a systems perspective.  The second blog in a series of three.  Blog three is entitled: Shifting Organizational Boundaries.  

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Laying the Groundwork for a National Impact Investing Marketplace

Impact investing is an umbrella concept encompassing several investment tools, including mission related investments (MRIs), program related investments (PRIs), and screening mechanisms for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities. The practice of impact investing is rapidly gaining momentum, but the level of activity among individual and institutional investors, including philanthropists and foundations, has barely penetrated projections of market potential. Foundations are among the most reluctant investors and represent the smallest share of current activity. The academic, nonprofit, Denver-based Impact Finance Center1 (IFC) has established a proof point for creating impact investing “marketplaces” at a statewide scale across all sectors, asset classes, Read more

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Leadership Insights: What Foundation Executives and Trustees are Saying About Diversity and Inclusion

A video series featuring leaders sharing their insights about their organizational journey to become more diverse and inclusive and lessons learned along the way. All videos are close captioned.

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Leverage the Trust

Leverage the Trust is an effort to identify and engage Black foundation trustees in ABFE’s mission through peer networking and learning opportunities. The work of Leverage the Trust is led by a committee of dedicated trustees of philanthropic institutions that are representative of the diversity of geography, type, and size of grantmaking entities in the sector.

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Lobbying Defined for Private Foundations

This fact sheet explains what activities count as lobbying under federal tax law for private foundations.

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Logic Model Template

Sample Logic Model Worksheet for Racial Equity and Particular Issues

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Making Big Bets for Social Change

Donors feel this “aspiration gap” in their philanthropy. For the last 16 years, The Bridgespan Group has counseled more than 50 of the world’s most generous and ambitious philanthropists. Many have said some version of “I can’t find enough opportunities to put large amounts of my money to work on the issues I really want to change.” They’ve spent years searching for such defining opportunities; they’re deeply frustrated; and they’re worried that they’re not making nearly the difference they could. Is their frustration warranted? Would more big bets really make a big difference? If the answer is “Yes” to both Read more

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Making Change by Spending Down

In September 2013, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) and GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, partnered to tell the story of how the ACBP began spending down. There are few stories of foundation spending down—that is, spending all of a foundation’s endowment deliberately with the intent of closing—that have been publicly told, and none to our knowledge using a primary medium of a blog series. ACBP’s goal was to build on GrantCraft’s strength of sharing funder wisdom by highlighting more than 20 voices connected with the spend down over the 28-month period until it closed its doors. Both organizations value transparency, and so periodic blogs felt Read more

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

The “Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing,” report researched and drafted by The Giving Practice’s Senior Partner Jan Jaffe, charts the journey from the time the Surdna Foundation board of directors and staff began exploring impact investing in 2014 to the decision-making process and experience of implementing impact investing policies. “The Surdna Foundation’s founder, John E. Andrus was committed to inclusion, social justice and sustainability,” said Peter Benedict II, Surdna Foundation’s board chair. “By sharing our experience and some of the lessons we learned in this report this centennial year, we will contribute to collective learning in the fields of Read more

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

Existing resources in the field can provide the technical blueprints for making impact investments; by openly sharing its experiences, the Surdna Foundation hopes this report will serve as a case study for others in the philanthropic community who choose to explore impact investing tailored to their mission and goals, and that it will contribute to collective learning in the fields of mission-related investing and family philanthropy.    

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March 2017 issue | Philanthropy scholarship and practice – bridging the divide

Be sure to keep an eye out for the March issue of Alliance magazine as it looks at the ways in which we can bridge the gap between philanthropy scholarship and practice. As philanthropic studies gain speed and popularity in universities and academic programs around the world, we attempt to explain why studying philanthropy is important and how much priority should be given to informing policy and practice. Guest edited by Marta Rey-Garcia of Spain’s Coruna University, the issue answers some of the key questions that arise when philanthropy scholarship moves into practice and provides a detailed account of philanthropy’s growing Read more

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Moving Beyond Job Creation: Defining and Measuring the Creation of Quality Jobs

Since the end of the Great Recession, almost 12 million jobs have been created — but most have been in low-wage occupations and at places like strip malls and fast-food restaurants. Average wages for working Americans have dropped 23 percent. It’s become clear that job creation does not equate to lasting economic change. In order to reverse the troubling trends we’re seeing, we no longer find it defensible to focus on job creation alone. We must shift our focus to the creation of higher quality jobs that are good for workers and their families, good for businesses, and good for communities. Through a better understanding of Read more

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Moving Philanthropy from the Margins to the Center

This article is adapted from the book Philanthropy in Democratic Societies.[1] Moving philanthropy from the margins to the center of scholarly inquiry permits a task at the heart of any inquiry about democracy: understanding the complex division between what is public and what is private, tracing the evolution of that division over time, identifying the public dimensions of private wealth and power, and recognizing when private action supports or, alternatively, threatens the public interest. Philanthropy in Democratic Societies provides an integrated, multidisciplinary exploration of philanthropy’s role and legitimacy in a democratic society, revealing how such a focus can open up Read more

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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New Perspectives on Michigan Community Foundations

How can we understand the activity of Michigan community foundations in the context of their local populations? How have Michigan community foundations changed over time? This report begins to explore answers to these two questions, building on a decade of work by the Council of Michigan Foundations and their annual Community Foundation Data Book to offer new insight into community philanthropy across the state. Combining both longitudinal and contextual population data, this report offers new ways to think about community foundation growth and alternative benchmarks for individual community foundation trustees and executive leaders to use in planning and evaluation.

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Nonprofit Almanac 2012

The Nonprofit Almanac 2012 is a detailed analysis of nonprofits’ place in the national economy and trends in wages, employment, private giving, volunteering, and finances. The Almanac features the most recent data on the philanthropic sector, presented in more than 50 charts and 100 tables. Topics include: The nonprofit sector and its place in the national economy Wage and employment trends Trends in private giving and volunteering Financial trends in revenue and outlays The size, scope, and finances of public charities Classification scheme for charitable organizations based on the National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities Glossary of nonprofit scholarship terms  

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Participate: The Power of Involving Business in Social Impact Networks

If you are involved in a collective effort to address a large-scale social challenge and are wondering how companies could play a meaningful role, this handbook is for you. It is a companion to ENGAGE: How Funders Can Support and Leverage Networks for Social Impact, a resource for philanthropic funders considering whether a social impact network might be the right investment; and if so, what kind of network to engage with, and what role to play. Building on that guidance, this handbook focuses on the particular models for building social impact networks that engage the private sector. Why would a Read more

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Permissible Activity During an Election Cycle

Grantmakers can and should play an active role during elections, particularly by educating and activating voters. Learn about permissible activities during an election cycle from the Donors Forum of Chicago.

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Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. Each year, the Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year.  This publication includes the following: Insight: Big Ideas That Matter for 2017: What is political? What is philanthropic? Worksheets: Data, Governance, and Your Organization Foresight: Predictions for 2017 Hindsight: Renovations to Previous Forecasts Buzzword Watch Glimpses of the Future: Black Lives Matter and Closing Civic Space

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Philanthropy FAQ: Which Legal Structure or Structures Should I Use To Give My Money Away?

The right mix of philanthropic legal structures is different for everyone, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions philanthropists have when ramping up their giving is “what structure or combination of structures should I use?” This guide is not intended to replace more specific tax, estate, or legal counsel, but instead offers a walk through a few of the options and some considerations when making this decision.

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Philanthropy in a Changing Society: Achieving Effectiveness through Diversity

This publication offers helpful information on how the field’s approach to diversity has evolved over time and the major strategies that have been piloted. First in a series of three publications.

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Philanthropy Lessons: Being Transparent

In this video, seven funders discuss how successful philanthropy is built on transparency between the funder and the grantee, and within the funding community.  

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Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

Philanthropy scholarship has the potential to inform practice and policy so that societal wellbeing is enhanced and positive change achieved. How can we make this happen? This special feature suggests two possibilities and also documents some successful experiences of knowledge transfer that may serve as prototypes for bridging the divide.

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Place-Based Philanthropy: Investing in Community Change

Families engaged in philanthropy may view their giving through a variety of lenses. Some pay particular attention to the family’s legacy of giving, some focus on a particular issue or cause, and many choose to limit their grantmaking to a specific city, state or region. A growing number of family foundations have taken this commitment to geographic location to another level, and made the strategic decision to engage in place-based philanthropy, dedicating the majority of their giving and personal involvement in a specific community.

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Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations

The Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations have been prepared by the Minnesota Council on Foundations as an illustration of the varying levels of practices that philanthropic organizations might adopt to implement the Principles for Grantmakers. The Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations make the Principles for Grantmakers more specific – creating guiding practices against which a philanthropic organization can hold itself accountable to the public and the communities it serves. Practice options include: Governance Accountability and Communications Program (Grantmaking, Public Policy Engagement and Other Programs) Finance and Administration Human Resources Fund Development (and Other Issues Unique to Community and Public Foundations)

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Practicing Transparency for Discovery and Learning

Transparency is as much about discovery as disclosure. That’s because the discovery process is how we determine: (1) what we know, (2) what we don’t know, (3) where we stand, and (4) what boundaries, if any, exist for a specific topic. Discovery can be a humbling and inspiring experience. Learning is the payoff for investing.

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Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations

This free (and fun) video defines and helps the user understand the basic legal rules for program-related investments. The video guides the user through the PRI process, and discusses how these investments can support the organization’s programmatic work and/or expand the organization’s charitable work. The training features “Maya,” a program officer that helps participants through the course in a way that reflects actual experiences.

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Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide

Advancing race equity and inclusion can sometimes seem daunting and often leaves many wondering how and where to start. One way to achieve social change in an organization is to incorporate race equity and inclusion at every stage of work. The seven steps in this guide provide a clear framework for undertaking this important work. This tool adds to the resources already created by partners who have been working in the field. It works by demonstrating how a race equity lens can be adopted by foundations or other organizations that work directly with systems, technical assistance providers and communities.

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Ramping Up Your Foundation: Key Considerations for Planning and Managing a Significant Increase in Giving

This guide is designed to help foundations thoughtfully and responsibly plan for a significant ramp up in giving and/or adjust to a sudden infusion of assets. Drawing on the experiences of a number of foundations that have undergone this transition, the primer addresses key considerations for foundation leadership in the areas of governance, staffing and operations, grantmaking and evaluation, investments, and tax and legal arenas.

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Responsible Exiting Principles

This list of eight tips and lessons on exiting strategy is based on the Beldon Fund’s experience with spending out.

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Rural Fund Development 101:Starting and Growing Rural Community Endowments

Across rural America, people are joining together to do something new and different. They are launching and growing community endowments. Community endowments resemble savings accounts that grow over time. Local residents are using the interest earned on these community endowments—and the local energy and leadership that come from building them—to improve the quality of life for people, organizations and the places they call home. This guide, Rural Fund Development 101, will help you understand the basics of community endowments and how to create one.

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Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue From Within

Studies the disparity in giving between urban and rural nonprofits, and how geographical isolation and capacity-building needs greatly reduce the ability for rural nonprofits to secure funding. Also offers substantive recommendations on ways to make philanthropy more responsive to rural America. (Note: Printed copies are available for purchase)

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Self-Dealing: A Concise Guide For Foundation Board and Staff

An overview on the self-dealing law, including definitions, common problem areas, exceptions, penalties, and resources.

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Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency

The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) examined the perspectives of foundation CEOs and learned that there is much agreement on the audiences for their transparency efforts. Foundation CEOs also agree about what they believe is the most important information to share with those audiences. Foundation CEOs’ views on transparency, which largely match those of grantees, focus on the substance of their work, as opposed to financial disclosures or governance practices. However, foundation practice lags behind CEOs’ beliefs, especially in the area of sharing information about what works. Those who view transparency as unequivocally positive argue that transparency allows foundations to gain Read more

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Shifting Organizational Boundaries

The final post in this three-part series explains how organizations can consciously shift boundaries as their environment changes. Click on these links if you are interested in the first two posts on the importance of boundaries in an increasingly complex world and three key boundaries an organization must define from a systems perspective.

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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City

This GEO blog post shows how the development of the Healthy Communities Leadership Academy has allowed the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City to see more authentic and effective collaboration as well as stronger connections and relationships.

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Social Justice Philanthropy: The Latest Trend or a Lasting Lens for Grantmaking?

Report defines and discusses the concept of social justice philanthropy and provides an assessment of its future in philanthropy. Social Justice Philanthropy: The Latest Trend or a Lasting Lens for Grantmaking? explores how grantmakers define and apply the concept of social justice to their work. The report’s findings indicate that social justice philanthropy is fraught with many definitional variations, as well as disagreements on how to apply social justice concepts to grantmaking. While many agree that social justice philanthropy is somehow concerned with a more equitable redistribution of economic, political, and social power, there is little consensus on what a Read more

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Source Materials

For those of you interested in the original laws, statutes, court decisions, agency rulings, and other original sources themselves, Bolder Advocacy has compiled a list of those most relevant to advocacy.

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Strategic or emergent: why are we stuck in the swimming pool?

Responses to John Kania, Mark Kramer and Patty Russell’s ‘Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World’, published in the summer issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, have come largely from the US and from people who write regularly about philanthropy. Many of them have focused on the way consultants behave and how they interact with foundations and non-profits – in other words, the philanthropy system. We would like to broaden that debate and in doing so to leave the swimming pool and venture out into the sea.

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Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World

The world is complex and current methods of philanthropy effect lasting change in so few corners. How do we truly begin to make a difference? Including responses from 10 industry leaders, “Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World” explores what it takes to make change in an unpredictable environment.

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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles County

This report looks at how 20 nonprofits and their allies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of vulnerable residents in the democratic process through advocacy and community organizing efforts. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $150 return for every dollar invested in their policy engagement efforts.

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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Minnesota

In this report, NCRP documents how 15 local nonprofits and their allies leveraged foundation grants to secure nearly $138 of benefit for every dollar spent for Minnesota’s citizens.

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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in North Carolina

In this report, NCRP document how 13 local nonprofits and their allies leveraged foundation grants to secure nearly $2 billion in benefits for North Carolinians.

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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region

This report looks at how 20 nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of underserved residents in the democratic process through policy engagement. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $114 return for every dollar spent.

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Taking the Bull by the Horns: Creating a Culture of Community Leadership

In this video from the Community Leadership Video Catalogue, a staff and board team share their perspectives on Spartanburg County Foundation’s transformation from charity to philanthropy.

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The Alliance magazine June issue – Solidarity – more in common?

Solidarity – more in common? ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’ These were the words of Jo Cox in her maiden speech to the UK Parliament on 3 June 2015. On 16 June 2016, just over one year later, Cox was murdered on her way to a meeting in her constituency. The Alliance special feature, guest edited by King Baudouin Foundation’s Stefan Schäfers, explores the complex and sensitive relationship between philanthropy and solidarity. Jo Cox’s murder was not just an affront to our common humanity but a Read more

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The Future of Family Philanthropy – Predicting and Preparing

Based on the candid peer conversations and insights from thought leaders that were offered during two “National Summits” on family philanthropy, this brief envisions the changes in the field, and suggests ways to adapt family giving for a better future– a future of new families, new generations, new kinds of relationships, and new methods for creating change.

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The Future of Jewish Giving

Jewish funders have, over many generations, built a Jewish nonprofit infrastructure that is considered a model across the United States and beyond. Will this infrastructure be sustained in the coming decades? Research has shown that Jews in the next generation are becoming less interested in formal religious practice and are distancing themselves from Israel. What does this mean for Jewish philanthropy? Will the next generation, which is more interested in informal experiences of Jewishness, continue to fund Jewish life? How does coming of age in an American society largely free of barriers to inclusion influence interests and involvements? We know Read more

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The International Charitable Nonprofit Subsector

Though international nonprofits are just 2 percent of the U.S. charitable nonprofit sector, they have continued to grow in size and scope to meet pressing demands around the world. This policy brief provides a snapshot of the international subsector through an analysis of trends in their size, resources, and scope from FY 2001 to FY 2003 in three major areas of operation: international development and relief assistance, international understanding (e.g., educational exchanges), and international affairs. It gives an overview of the geographic concentrations and the depth of U.S. international nonprofit activities and enumerates the importance of small organizations in international Read more

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The Nonprofit Policy Sampler

For nonprofit organizations, policies are tools for setting priorities, making decisions, and defining and delegating responsibilities. Too often, policies are created to ensure a bad decision made during a crisis is never repeated. But policy-making need not be reactive. Boards that practice proactive policy-making can save themselves a great deal of anguish in a crisis situation that demands an immediate response. The Nonprofit Policy Sampler is designed to help. This exhaustive resource provides key elements and practical tips for 70 policy topic areas, along with more than 300 sample policies, job descriptions, committee charters, codes of ethics, board member agreements, mission and Read more

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The Quest for Quality: Lessons From a Certification Pilot Project for College Access Providers

Certification programs can provide a way for nonprofits to ensure adherence to generally accepted standards. The KH2GO Certification Pilot Project, supported by the Lumina Foundations, developed a set of standards for high-quality college access services, including standards for programming, operations, and organizational effectiveness. The project was implemented in two states with an evaluation designed to assess the quality of the assessment tools and the ease and rigor of implementation. The more clarity that applicants had about the goals of the process, potential benefits, and details about procedures, the more benefits they perceived. Many applicants felt that the self-assessment improved their Read more

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The Road to Achieving Equity 12 Findings from a Field Scan of Foundations That Are Embracing Equity

Over the past few years, equity has emerged as a key issue in American society, described as the “defining issue of our time” by authors and speakers in various fields. In the first half of 2016, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation asked Putnam Consulting Group to conduct a field scan to learn how other foundations are working to incorporate equity — both in their internal operations and in their grantmaking. We conducted 30 conversations with staff leaders at 15 foundations considered by their peers to be on the forefront in embracing equity.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Resources

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The Source Codes of Foundation Culture

This publication begins an exploration into the set of influences shaped by grantmakers’ founders and leaders that affect organizations’ internal cultures. Funders can use this document to support conversations among board and staff to articulate and understand the origins of organizational assumptions, examine beliefs and behaviors, and identify aspects of culture that drive or impede effective work.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Resources

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The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011

Numbers from The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011 show that there was a slight increase in giving to benefit marginalized groups, broadly defined, such as the economically disadvantaged, racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ citizens and others, at 42 percent in 2011 compared to 40 percent average in 2008-2010.

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The Theory of the Foundation: Core Framework

This infographic is part of GrantCraft’s Leadership Series paper Frameworks for Private Foundations: A New Model for Impact, produced in partnership with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, which explores the core frameworks that shape private foundations, and offers a roadmap for funders interested in reflecting on these frameworks to better align purpose, public benefit, and action.This infographic is composed of three core elements—charter, social compact, and operating capabilities—that together inform a foundation’s structure and approach.​

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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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Theory of Philanthropy Inquiry Tool

Some 30 elements that can feed into a comprehensive theory of philanthropy represent a customizable tool for exploring the issues foundations face. A foundation can use the tool to gather data and perspectives about specific aspects of its heritage and approach; what is learned in addressing the elements can then be synthesized into a succinct and coherent theory of philanthropy. Produced as part of A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It

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Tools and Tips for Collecting and Analyzing Racial and Ethnic Data

This webinar looks at how researchers, legislators and advocates can address racial discrimination and inequities when access to racial and ethnic data provided by public institutions is either limited or too broad in scope.

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Transformational Leadership Services

As a pilot for advancing culturally-relevant leadership training and effective practice in Black philanthropy, ABFE’s Transformational Leadership Services support a broad range of its members and allied partners within the philanthropic sector. We offer capacity building activities that strengthen management and leadership skills to address the complex issues that face Black communities, and coaching & training models that address the effects of long-term institutional racism and discriminatory policy implementation.

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Twelve Activities that Require Extra Oversight

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

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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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Valuing Social Return on Investment

This report seeks to identify and describe state-of-the-art approaches to valuing social returns on social investments (SROI), to review the organizational challenges to implementing an SROI measurement process, and to examine in detail organizations in the Netherlands and the United States that have attempted to use SROI measurements. The focus of each piece of the project was SROI methods and valuation in the health care field, specifically. In the conclusion, the report distills some best practices and practical tips for conducting SROI measurements.

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Watch it Now: An Introduction to Integrated Data Systems

This quick video shows how this powerful tool works by linking and leveraging secure information already gathered by public agencies. Participating organizations decide what data to share, where to store this information and how it can be used. This new picture has fewer statistical blind spots, which can help lawmakers and leaders develop smarter policies, programs and strategies for supporting system and community solutions.

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Webinar Archive: Common Ways to Engage in Impact Investing

This is the second in a series of three webinars based on Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations, produced in conjunction with our partners at Arabella Advisors and Exponent Philanthropy. This new impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. In Common Ways to Engage in Impact Investing you will hear about some of the diverse impact investing strategies that small-staffed foundations are putting to use. Foundations employ a variety of tactics, from below-market to market-rate investments, and across asset classes and Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Webinar Archive: Why Foundations of All Sizes Engage in Impact Investing

This is the first in a series of three webinars based on Essentials of Impact Investing: A Guide for Small-Staffed Foundations, produced in conjunction with our partners at Arabella Advisors and Exponent Philanthropy. This new impact investing how-to guide is a must for foundations with few or no staff who want to align their investments with their mission. In Why Foundations of All Sizes Engage in Impact Investing, you will hear from small-staffed foundations as they discuss the motivations behind their impact investing programs, the benefits their foundations receive as a result, and the case they had to make to Read more

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Webinar Recap – Community Voices Heard: Engaging Constituents for Social, Economic and Racial Justice

Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led multi-racial organization, principally women of color and low-income families in New York State that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all.  They accomplish this through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy. Learn how CVH builds leadership development and collective power towards broader goals of government transparency and social justice. We explored case studies around three impact issues: welfare policy reform, public housing reform, and participatory budgeting. We also learned what it looks like to fund this work. Attendees learned how funding community Read more

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What are the issues with donor-advised funds?

If the media reports are any indication, interest in donor-advised funds (DAFs) is on the rise. DAFs enable donors to claim a tax deduction by placing their donation in a fund run by a charity, which will later be distributed, under the advice of “donor advisers,” to other Internal Revenue Service–registered charities. Recent headlines imply that DAFs reduced money distributed for charitable purposes, but that is misleading, if not wrong. In fact, because of additional investment gains that must be distributed and low overhead costs relative to other forms of endowed giving, DAFs tend to increase what charities receive over Read more

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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.

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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What Does Community Philanthropy Look Like? Case Studies on Community Philanthropy — Volume 1

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation commissioned Barry Knight of CENTRIS to develop these case studies featuring profiles of eight community philanthropy initiatives from around the world.

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What Every Grantmaker Should Know & Frequently Asked Legal Questions

As part of our continuing efforts to help foundations maintain and improve the effectiveness of their work, the Minnesota Council on Foundations has prepared this comprehensive resource to help private, corporate and community/public foundations understand their legal requirements and obligations. This publication and its companion piece, Principles for Grantmakers & Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations, are key publications in MCF’s Philanthropy & Public Trust series.

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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What Role Should Philanthropy Play in Local Communities?

This blog post asks, “What obligations — if any — do foundations and new donors have to local communities in which they are based? And what role should they play in addressing rising income inequality?” The authors believe that foundations have some obligation to the places where their donors have lived and built their companies, and that they should also help the least well off. They set out to research these questions in Silicon Valley — a bellwether for trends in the rest of the nation — and published findings in a report, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Read more

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What’s Next for Community Philanthropy?

Place by place, community philanthropy organizations will need to figure out what to hold onto, what to let go of, and what to create a new to better meet the evolving needs of their communities. We launched the What’s Next for Community Philanthropy initiative in January 2013 to engage community foundations and other community philanthropy organizations in a large-scale innovation and design process to help them open up to new models and new possibilities that will help them better serve their communities in the years ahead.  

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What’s Next for Philanthropy?

Monitor Institute is pleased to announce the publication of What’s Next for Philanthropy: Acting Bigger and Adapting Better in a Networked World. The piece updates our 2005 report, Looking Out for the Future, and represents more than a decade of work by the Institute in exploring the evolving “future of philanthropy.” It highlights the changing context in which funders now operate, and identifies ten emerging next practices that can help funders of all sorts increase their impact over the coming decade. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, What’s Next for Philanthropy argues that while Read more

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Why Advocacy? Talking Points for Nonprofits and Foundations

Recently, Bolder Advocacy Legal Director Abby Levine conducted a series of webinars in conjunction with the Stand for Your Mission (SFYM) campaign. The first webinar focuses on the importance of advocacy and makes the case for why and how organizations can benefit by standing up for their mission.

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Why Boundaries Are Important in a Boundary-less World

As the world becomes more complex and interdependent, is the concept of boundaries still important? If it is then how do you manage them? This post explores the relevance of boundaries in an increasingly complex world. Over the next two months we will examine what are some key organizational boundaries that managers need to establish, and how they can consciously evolve these boundaries as the external environment changes. This blog is followed by two additional posts:  Key Organizational Boundaries from a Systems Perspective and Shifting Organizational Boundaries.

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