“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.

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









10 – Minute Impact Assessment

We all want to have impact—or, in simpler terms, make a real difference. How do we get there? This simple tool will give you a framework for discussing impact; help you identify areas of strength and opportunities for increasing your impact; and give you tips and resources to strengthen specific areas in your journey toward greater impact.

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Catagories: Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy 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









Aggregate Regional Association Logic Model

This logic model is an aggregation of key activities that you perform as a regional association (RA). It was developed in conjunction with RAs that attended Innovation Network’s evaluation session at the 2013 Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers Annual Conference, and was further vetted by a group of RA representatives before being finalized. The purpose of this aggregate logic model is to provide RAs with a springboard to build their own logic models and other planning documents. A logic model is a visual representation of the work that you are doing and how it is connected to changes that Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Assessing Impact

Experienced donors know how important it is to have reliable, relevant information about the programs they fund. Assessment, done in tandem with your grantees, can provide this information. Without it, donors risk missing their planned destination by miles. With it, they can orient their giving. This guide reviews various ways to assess philanthropic impact. It looks at what assessment can accomplish and what it has difficulty measuring. It sets out a series of questions donors can ask as they consider how to proceed with their philanthropy. And finally, it details some of the limitations inherent in trying to understand exactly Read more

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Benchmarking Evaluation in Foundations: Do We Know What We Are Doing?

Evaluation in philanthropy – with staff assigned to evaluation-related responsibilities – began in the 1970s and has evolved, along with philanthropy, in the four decades since. What has not changed, however, is a regular questioning of what foundations are doing on evaluation, especially since the world of philanthropy regularly shifts, and changes in evaluation resourcing and positioning tend to soon follow. This article presents new findings about what foundations are doing on evaluation and discusses their implications. It is based on 2012 research that benchmarks the positioning, resourcing, and function of evaluation in foundations, and follows up on a 2009 Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation









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

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









Big Issues, Many Questions

What it takes for a foundation to be effective is difficult to master, yet timeless. At the same time, however, there are current trends that foundation leaders and boards must pay attention to if they want to be as effective as possible. In this essay, Big Issues, Many Questions, CEP President Phil Buchanan explores the five most pressing issues facing U.S. foundations in 2016. From growing dissatisfaction with the so-called establishment to embracing collaboration and aligned action, these are the trends that foundation CEOs and boards cannot overlook or ignore.

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation, The Philanthropic Sector









Breaking Down Creative Placemaking

Across the country, community leaders are talking more and more about the field of creative placemaking. But what exactly does it mean? What kind of impact could it have on your community, and how can you play a role in deciding what happens?

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants , Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation









Building a Strategic Learning and Evaluation System for Your Organization

The call for evaluation has grown louder in the field of philanthropy. There is a need for a deeper understanding of ongoing activities to inform strategic decisions about what to do next. But despite this growing need, current practices are often uncoordinated and unhelpful at an organizational level. How can organizations’ evaluation processes be more systematic, coordinated, and intentional, leading to greater understanding of their impact?

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations

The Certificate in Grantmaking and Foundations is designed for entry- to mid-level grantmakers, both professional and volunteer. The curriculum provides a structured program built upon the core competencies necessary for philanthropic giving by individuals and grantmaking organizations. This program, the only one of its kind in the United States, addresses a long, unmet need—to train grantmakers to give wisely and with more sophistication. Upon completion of the program, students have: Knowledge of the history of philanthropy in the United States and elsewhere in the world Familiarity with the law, the financial structures, and the nature of nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations Read more

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Catagories: Content Partner, Essentials, In-Person Workshop, Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation









CMF/JCP Grantmaking Series

For the second year in a row, the Council of Michigan Foundations is pleased to partner with the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy to offer the Grantmaking Series, a practitioner-led learning series that teaches the techniques of effective grantmaking to both new and seasoned foundation professionals. The sessions are highly practical, academically rigorous, and designed to be as accessible and affordable as possible. Participants who complete the series will receive a Certificate of Completion. This year, we will offer five live and five on-demand webinars (1.5 hours each). To qualify for the Certificate of Completion, participants of the 2015 Grantmaking Series Read more

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Catagories: Content Partner, Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation, Webinar









Co-Creation Resources

“Co-Creation” is a case study about the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a project of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. The case study, written by Patricia Bowie, examines co-creation, an emerging systems change collaboration model which grew out of a funder-and-state partnership. This unique partnership led to the creation by executive order of a new and independent Office of Early Childhood, which was formally approved by the Connecticut State Legislature in 2013. The new case study is significant, as there is much written about funder partnerships and collaboration success stories, but little discussion on different kinds of collaborative ventures and Read more

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Catagories: Strategy and Evaluation









Co-Creation: Viewing Partnerships Through A New Lens

Collaboration remains an on-going discourse throughout the funder community, but little has been written about explorations or innovations into different ways of working collectively, beyond what was established decades ago. For large-scale systems change, co-creation may be a more fitting approach; it acknowledges self-interest, existing alongside shared goals and purpose, as necessary to sustain voluntary efforts. Co-creation is predicated on the notion that traditional topdown planning or decision-making should give way to a more flexible participatory structure, where diverse constituencies are invited in to collectively solve problems. This case study examines the partnership of the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, the Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









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.

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation









DIY Strategy Improvements: 10 Activities for Community Foundations

We’ve put together a set of activities that The Giving Practice has used with all kinds of community and private foundations. Our clients have used these activities to support an ongoing strategy practice, versus a discrete strategic planning process. Some activities we created with our clients. Others we’ve adapted from the field. You can customize each for use during routine meetings or even informal conversations as well as designated learning opportunities like retreats and strategy reviews. Most of what you’ll find here is for everyday use, when there is no consultant and not a lot of time for preparation or Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Doing What it Takes: Organizing Your Foundation For Impact

In this video, Paul Grogan discusses how The Boston Foundation has taken on a significant community leadership role in addition to its stewardship and grantmaking roles. Hear how The Boston Foundation: uses research to help guide its direction gathers citizen input to inform its activities makes the most of communications to promote its work and directly engages in public policy activity to ensure a deep and long-lasting impact.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Governance , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









Enhancing Foundation Capacity: The Role of the Senior Leadership Team

This article examines the issue of foundation organization design and assesses how foundation leaders might think about their organizations as institutions. Noting that any organization structure inhabited by human beings creates silos and territorial issues, foundation leaders are increasingly using two primary mechanisms to minimize these artificial barriers and maximize collaboration: enhanced headquarters functions to help integrate across the organization, and senior leadership teams. This article reviews the structure, roles, responsibilities, and value-add of senior leadership teams at 19 foundations. The senior leadership team plays a crucial role in foundations, functioning as an advisory group to the president and chief Read more

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Human Resources , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Evaluating Community Change: A Framework for Grantmakers

Place-based initiatives involve multiple partners joining together to tackle pressing community-wide issues. In order to better understand and quantify the positive impact of these complex, long-term initiatives, this publication offers a framework of measures and potential indicators that can help grantmakers’ evaluating process and ultimately improve their work.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation









Evaluating Complexity

While evaluation has traditionally focused on assessing programmatic impact according to pre-determined indicators, a new approach is needed for evaluating complex initiatives, as well as initiatives operating in complex environments where progress is not linear, predictable, or controllable. 9 propositions can help evaluators navigate the unique characteristics of complex systems, improve their evaluation practice, and better serve the needs of the social sector.

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation









Evaluation Use in Philanthropy: Using Logic Models

A Logic Model is a widely used tool that presents specific details of program inputs, activities and outcomes, and shows generally how they are related. Theory of Change is a model designed to link outcomes and activities to explain how and why desired change is expected to come about. Essentially, Logic Models clarify what you are doing and Theories of Change clarify why you are doing it. The terms are sometimes used inter-changeably but they are actually different tools. In Using Logic Models we explore what sets them apart.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Governance , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Financial Inclusion – Opportunities and Risks for Donors

People living in poverty often lack access to safe, reliable ways to manage the little money they have. As a result, they face de facto exclusion from the financial system the rest of us rely on. To address this problem, a unique philanthropic project, funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Bankable Frontier Associates, formed partnerships with five large banks in the developing world. People living in poverty often lack access to safe, reliable ways to manage the little money they have. As a result, they face de facto exclusion from the financial system the Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









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

The Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a project of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, brings national expertise to consider a new “Framework.” In 2015, Early Childhood Funder Collaborative (Collaborative) provided funding for the purpose of developing recommendations for an infrastructure connecting state child-serving agencies, especially the Office of Early Childhood, with local communities and communities with each other. The resulting report, Framework for Connecticut’s Statewide System of Early Childhood State and Local Partnerships, concludes with a set of recommendations for Connecticut Leaders to consider in creating a statewide network of local or regional early care and education partnerships. The recommended Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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









Gender Transformative Philanthropy A Key to Improving Program Outcome and Impact in At-Risk Communities

As foundations and other philanthropic institutions assess where they can maximize the social return on their charitable investments, many are looking at issues of gender norms and gender equity. To complicate matters further, in the US, where there’s often a widely held assumption that women and girls already enjoy full equality of rights, grantees may not see the need to have a gender analysis at all. Or if they do have one, it is marginalized. As one experienced program officer put it, “Grantees need to see gender and race together. Gender impacts every issue they work on. But grantees are Read more

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









Goal-Free Evaluation: An Orientation for Foundations’ Evaluations

Goal-free evaluation (GFE), in program evaluation, is a model in which the official or stated program goals and objectives are withheld or screened from the evaluator. Several obstacles must be overcome in persuading foundations and programs to consider GFE as a viable option, because both tend to view goal attainment as intuitively and inextricably linked to evaluation. This article presents the case for GFE as a perspective that belongs in a foundation’s toolbox. In particular, this article demonstrates GFE’s actual use, highlights aspects of its methodology, and details its potential benefits.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is a diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers reshaping the way philanthropy operates to invest in nonprofit success. Mission: Understanding that grantmakers are successful only to the extent that their grantees achieve meaningful results, GEO promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. Nonprofits are successful at achieving more meaningful change in our communities when they have the resources and skills to be effective. By not adequately responding to what nonprofits say they need most to maximize impact, funders can inadvertently do harm to the organizations and causes we intend to support. Changing grantmaker Read more




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









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

Across the country, community foundations are recognizing the power of public
 policy work to advance their missions. Some do so by awarding grants for advocacy activities like public education and research. Others support nonprofits to lobby. And many others engage in advocacy themselves by taking positions on issues they care about. 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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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Legal Issues and Laws, Strategy and Evaluation, The Philanthropic Sector









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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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Influences of Venture Philanthropy on Nonprofits’ Funding: The Current State of Practices, Challenges, and Lessons

This article looks at the current state of venture philanthropy practices in the nonprofit sector, based on data from a survey of 124 nonprofits that engage in venture philanthropy. The survey probes to what degree nonprofit funders are implementing core activities of venture philanthropy – use of market-based funding instruments, providing strategic assistance, board participation, and use of social and financial performance criteria. Seven venture philanthropy organizations were also interviewed for this article. Various tactics they have used to mitigate internal and external tensions are examined, including complying with diverse interests to balance conflicting views if internal tension is moderate Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









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

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation has a well-established continuum of grantmaking and technical-assistance programs designed to improve the quality of life for children and families living in low-income communities in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The foundation’s decade long focus on neighborhood revitalization has helped to shape a resident-driven, collaborative, long-term, and data-informed approach designed to make neighborhoods more attractive for large-scale investment. In 2014, the foundation engaged The Reinvestment Fund and Success Measures at NeighborWorks America to jointly evaluate the impact of its grantmaking and related programs from 2003 to 2013, to determine if practices in its approach Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Investing in New Orleans

This report tells an important story of the positive role philanthropy can play in developing new communities and affordable housing. The effort of reshaping post-Katrina New Orleans was part of what Casey calls “responsible redevelopment,” the activities and support services required to make the rebuilding process successful for low-income families and their kids through economic development and community action. The paper distills insights from the Foundation’s experience that may be useful to philanthropies and their partners in other places.

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Catagories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Strategy and Evaluation, Types of Grants









Laying the Groundwork for Collective Impact: A Working Paper

This paper offers detailed suggestions for leaders of multisector initiatives working to generate collective impact on local community issues. It focuses on the critical early phases of the work and tackling issues such as poverty, education and workforce preparation. Topics such as cultivating leaders, creating a “backbone” organization, using data, engaging the community and promoting equitable opportunity are discussed. This paper will be of interest to funders, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and civic leaders interested in improving their communities.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Strategy and Evaluation









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

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

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









Leveraging Social Sector Leadership

Strong leadership is critical for effective social sector organizations, yet the sector chronically underinvests in its leaders. What do social sector leaders need to help them succeed and, just as importantly, stay in the sector? What can grantmakers do to support these leaders? This publication synthesizes findings from new research conducted by the authors and offers recommendations for grantmakers.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Logic Model Builder

The Logic Model Builder helps you clarify the connection between what your program does and what it is trying to achieve. You’ll be guided through an interactive process of thinking about your program’s goals, rationale, activities, and resources, and how those elements work together to produce your intended outcomes. To access this resource, it is required to set up a free account through Innovation Network by following the link below: http://www.innonet.org/?module=register  

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Governance , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Logic Model Template

Sample Logic Model Worksheet for Racial Equity and Particular Issues

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Catagories: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Making Change Happen

Effective philanthropy is about the thoughtful creation of something new in the world. It harnesses rigor and strategy – as well as commitment and strength of heart – to build a practical path from donors’ ambitions to their desired impact. It starts with a philanthropist’s values and motivations, and moves through the careful, well-researched selection of appropriate goals until it produces its core element – a giving strategy. This strategy is hugely important because it dictates how a philanthropic investment will actually make change happen.  

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Catagories: Essentials, Mission and Values, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid

Civil legal aid for families living in poverty or near poverty has often been an overlooked partner in philanthropic efforts to improve the bedrock economic, social and health conditions for low -income people and communities. It’s the indispensable underpinning for much of the work funders already support, a complementary strategy that can increase the impact of a funder’s efforts. But it doesn’t get a lot of attention. Providing more civil legal aid is not just a matter of addressing problems that low-income people encounter; it’s also a matter of ensuring basic access to justice for them. Some foundations have embraced Read more

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









NNCG’s Knowledge Center

Inform Your Practice. Increase Your Impact. Welcome to NNCG’s Knowledge Center — a searchable, online database of resources for and about grantmaking, produced by highly qualified and experienced philanthropy consultants. NNCG’s Knowledge Center contains a wealth of reports, case studies, infographics, issue briefs, videos and more that offer ideas, research and helpful information about almost every aspect of philanthropy. Each item was authored or published by an NNCG member. NNCG constructed the Knowledge Center in partnership with the Foundation Center’s IssueLab — one of the most respected and trusted sources of information in the philanthropic field.

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Catagories: Developing Your Talent and Leadership, Essentials, Making and Managing Grants, Online Publication, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. Foundation Center is pleased to again partner with Lucy to offer the Blueprint as a GrantCraft guide. 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. Some ways you might consider using this Blueprint include: With colleagues at your organization, this publication can open conversations about the context for your work and any thoughts on expanding your strategic framework. With grantees, this publication can foster conversations outside Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy Lessons: The Many Forms of Evaluation

Evaluating impact can involve diverse data points, from tangible measures such as people served and dollars spent to less concrete aspects including lessons learned and challenges faced. Effective philanthropists embrace evaluation, understanding its dynamic and complex nature.

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy Lessons: Who Knows More?

If we give ourselves a license to learn from our grantees—and the people they serve—we can be more effective. Hear from leading philanthropists about building respect and trusting the people who are working day-in and day-out with the complex issues we care about. 64 percent of Foundations use information received from grantees to inform grantmaking, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy Lessons: Working Collaboratively

Philanthropists are working on complex problems and no one person or group has all the answers. Working collaboratively–with grantees, other funders, and others in their communities–creates synergy and wisdom, power and possibility.

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing

It is not a surprise that we are seeing a growing interest among trustees and foundation leaders in mission-related investing (MRI). With over $600 billion in the endowments of U.S. private foundations, it is logical to consider how these funds can be put to use beyond generating income for grantmaking and begin to be a catalyst for social change via investments in market-driven entities. With this guide, Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing, plus other research that has been collected on MRI, there is now a strong body of work that can provide donors, trustees, staff of foundations, and the Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Financial Stewardship, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation









PowerCheck: Community Organizing Capacity Tool

Community organizing can be a complex process. To be successful, it’s important to prepare for success by understanding an organization’s readiness to engage and empower constituents. PowerCheck can help organizers – from beginners to the most sophisticated –better prepare for catalyzing community organizing efforts. In one hour or less, an organization can answer questions online about skills, expertise, gaps, and the resources available to successfully engage in community organizing work. PowerCheck generates immediate results, letting organizations and coalitions know where and how to focus resources and what types of partnerships to seek out to help build a plan to move Read more

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Catagories: General Grants , Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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









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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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation









Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale

This sponsored supplement, “Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale,” was produced by Stanford Social Innovation Review for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO). It was created to capture the latest thinking about how nonprofit organizations, grantmakers, public funders, and social entrepreneurs can increase the impact of successful solutions to urgent social challenges. In the following pages, leaders from across the social sector offer their perspectives on “scaling what works”—what it means, what it takes to do it right, and what needs to happen to ensure that proven and promising solutions find their way to more communities and Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Making and Managing Grants, Strategy and Evaluation









State of Evaluation: Evaluation Practice and Capacity in the Nonprofit Sector

This publication includes recent findings (from 2016) about how nonprofits engage in evaluation, and the capacities and characteristics of their organizations.  

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Catagories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









Strategic Co-Funding: An Approach for Extended Impact

Co-published by GEO and REDF as an update to REDF’s 2008 article “Out of Philanthropy’s Funding Maze: Roadmap #1, Strategic Co-Funding,” designed to re-introduce the idea of strategic co-funding and highlight effective strategies and current examples.

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Catagories: Grantmaking, Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









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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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity

Capacity building enables nonprofit leaders and organizations to develop the skills and resources they need to improve their work. Since each situation is unique and circumstances are always changing, effective capacity-building support is tailored to best suit the needs of grantees. This publication offers practical guidance and considerations to help grantmakers design an impactful approach.

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Catagories: General Grants , Making and Managing Grants, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









Strengthening the Human Services Sector

The Human Services sector finds itself today in an environment of profound change. The demography of our nation is being reconfigured. Technologies are being reinvented almost daily. The size and structure of governmental supports are in flux, as are governmental regulations. Our organizations face growing for-profit competition, expanded capital requirements, increasing donor expectations and, on the part of many would-be public supporters, an unsettling degree of “compassion fatigue.” Moreover, as one thought leader pointed out, all of these trends are here to stay. To examine these and other concerns, The Kresge Foundation held a symposium with leaders of national networks Read more

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









Taking on New Roles to Address 21st Century Problems

In employing co-creation, the partnership established new structures and adopted processes that enabled a diverse group of individuals and entities to voluntarily contribute their skills, expertise, and resources to create a state level early childhood systems approach in Connecticut. This co-creation process also resulted in important transformations within the entities involved. For CCP, it was an opportunity to explore and test a new role and working structure in direct response to the evolving needs and desires within Connecticut’s philanthropic community. Over the last 47 years, CCP has functioned as a network of various types of philanthropic organizations. CCP connects grantmakers Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation









The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective

At a time of growing concern over issues like inequality and access to education, increasing anxiety about climate change, and rising levels of distrust in institutions, foundation leaders are considering their role in addressing society’s challenges. When they look in the mirror and reflect on the current state of foundation philanthropy and the future ahead, are they pleased with what they see? Based on the perspectives of more than 200 foundation CEOs collected through in-depth interviews and responses to a survey from May to June of 2016, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective captures foundation leaders’ views on Read more

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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation, The Philanthropic Sector









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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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









Through the Looking Glass: Foundation Evaluation and Learning and the Quest for Strategic Learning

This article addresses different models that foundations use to establish staff evaluation and learning functions, what other organizational considerations they should take into account in order to prioritize strategic-learning work, and what tools and approaches can be used to initiate strategic learning. Interviews with officers from more than a dozen foundations revealed that strategic learning does not require wholesale structural and cultural change; an incremental approach, instead, can phase in greater complexity as foundations expand staff capacity. The interviews also uncovered several areas where further exploration of system building and practice at foundations has potential for advancing the field.

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Catagories: Resources, Strategy and Evaluation









Too Good to be True? The Opportunity and Cost of the $1 Building

A study commissioned by The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program finds that arts organizations have experienced a wide range of outcomes when acquiring low-cost or free buildings, also known as “$1 buildings.” In many cases, the actual costs of acquiring such buildings were much higher than organizations anticipated, according to the study, conducted by Boston-based Technical Development Corp.

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics, Strategy and Evaluation









TRANSformational Impact: U.S. Foundation Funding for Trans Communities

In the last decade, U.S. foundation funding for domestic and global trans issues increased more than eight fold – growing at three times the rate of LGBTQ funding overall. However, even at its record high of $8.3 million in 2013, the philanthropic resources provided hardly seem commensurate with the severe challenges global trans communities continue to face. TRANSformational Impact analyzes the scope and character of foundation funding for trans issues.

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Catagories: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Online Publication, Strategy and Evaluation









What Are We Talking About When We Talk About Impact?

Everybody’s talking about it. Individual donors, foundations, impact investors, and nonprofits all say they want it. But what do they all mean? This analysis examines the different ways people are using the term and the implicit assumptions that can prevent progress. It ends with the 3 key questions that enable donors to cut through the noise and stay on the path to making the positive difference in the world they seek. Although helpful to all donors interested in practicing high impact philanthropy, the analysis offers specific examples related to addressing the needs of women and girls, thanks to our collaboration Read more

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Catagories: Essentials, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropic Models & Approaches, Strategy and Evaluation









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

What makes the global spread of community philanthropy organizations so exciting is the variety of forms they take and how they adapt to different local contexts, challenges, resources and leaders. This diversity is one sign of community philanthropy’s flexibility, potential and rising popularity. Because it is a movement relatively young and quickly evolving, with a limited body of applied research, 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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Catagories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Philanthropy's History, Role in Society, Strategy and Evaluation, The Philanthropic Sector









What My Two-Year-Old Taught Me About Grants Management

I am the lucky father of a wonderful two-year-old girl, Rose. She is silly, inquisitive, sweet, curious, playful, cuddly, and a lot of fun. She is also a tough cookie. Anyone who has dealt with a two-year-old knows what irrational balls of anger they can sometimes be. Dealing with Rose has taught me a lot of lessons that apply to the world of grants management. After all, in our role as grants managers, we are often in a compliance position, telling people what they can and cannot do, and trying to get sometimes reluctant people to go along with your Read more

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Catagories: Beyond the Grant , Making and Managing Grants, Program Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation