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

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

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

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11 Philanthropic Trends for 2017

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.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Advanced Intensive Grantmaking

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

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

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Alliance Breakfast Club – How much influence does philanthropy have?

Foundation professionals, academics, and NGOs discuss the nature of philanthropic influence and what limits, if any, should be imposed. Discussions are presented in three videos.

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

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Alliance Breakfast Club- Markets for good: removing the barriers

In this video, the participants are discussing why so few market-based solutions to poverty are getting to scale, what can be done so they can deliver meaningful benefits to the poor, and more.

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

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An Assessment of Capacity Building in Washington State

This study looks at capacity building from a strategic, statewide perspective and provides a framework for thinking systematically about capacity-building investments at a state or community level; an assessment of the capacity building landscape; and opportunities for investment.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Attitudes and Practices Concerning Effective Philanthropy

In 2003, the Urban Institute conducted a survey of 1,192 grantmaking foundations in order to construct a wide-ranging and rigorous portrait of attitudes and practices concerning effective philanthropy in the foundation field. The survey results tell us a great deal about how foundations see themselves, how they function, and whether they are fully functioning in the ways that they feel they should be.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Beldon Fund Final Impact Assessment

This final impact assessment provides an inventory of Beldon’s legacy, five years after its grantmaking ended. It tells the story of a foundation that brought innovative ideas to its grantees, built capacity and infrastructure, and planted seeds that continue to bear fruit. As a spend-out foundation, it struggled with challenges that other spend outs share, and the lessons learned from this assessment are intended to help others embarking on similar paths.

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

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Beldon Fund Lessons and Tips for Spending Out

The Beldon Fund’s ten-year experience with spending out while seeking to accomplish an ambitious mission yielded a range of useful lessons that we believe are applicable more broadly. They cover the practical nuts and bolts of putting a foundation on a spend-out course as well as specific tips on effective program strategies to achieve impact. In addition, this page will take you to brief downloadable stories that illustrate Beldon’s program strategies.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Resources

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Better Together: Realizing the Promise of Collaboration in Family Philanthropy

This report explores unique 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.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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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.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Breaking Down Creative Placemaking

What exactly is creative placemaking? The simple answer is any artistic or creative effort to make a particular community stronger. There are literally hundreds of communities carrying out creative placemaking projects across the U.S. – and countless more around the world. Here are two particularly strong examples.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Funding relationships begin, and they end. Yet little is known about the effects of foundation exits on the work, the grantees, and the related fields. This article draws on interviews with funders and grantees involved in more than a dozen exits to fill the gaps in what is known about how to exit well. The article discusses four areas where foundation exits present particular challenges and where there are significant opportunities to improve practice — deciding on and planning to exit, funder leadership, clear communication, and final grants — and includes summaries of advice from funder and grantee perspectives.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Building and Supporting Sustainable Fields: Views from Philanthropy

This paper defines a field, provides examples of how funders build fields, lists the elements of a strong field, and discusses effective donor practices to promote sustainable fields.  The paper concludes with questions that can help to assess field strengths and needs, and a discussion of the best time to exit a field.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Can Feedback Fuel Change at Foundations?: An Analysis of the Grantee Perception Report

This brief report presents key findings about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s  Grantee Perception Reports over the years, and includes candid comments by RWJF’s leadership—CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Vice President of Research and Evaluation, David Colby—as to how they’ve responded to some of those findings.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Case for Change Capital in the Arts

“The Case for Change Capital” outlines core principles and practices that can improve capitalization in the sector but that will require changes in behavior by both nonprofits and funders alike. The piece tells how each of the participating organizations is applying change capital to undertake meaningful artistic, organizational and financial change.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Center for Community Foundation Excellence Series

These courses help community foundation staff, board members and volunteers master the unique aspects of the community foundation field in short order. You’ll learn about effective practices, get helpful tools and information and have the opportunity to network with others in the field. Comprehensive and engaging, these courses are an efficient and affordable way to increase your knowledge of the field, to help you work more effectively.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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CFLeads White Paper: Community Foundations and Community Leadership

This white paper explores the imperatives – both market and moral – for a community foundation to embrace community leadership.

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

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Changing in Place: The Skillman Foundation, Detroit, and the Good Neighborhoods Initiative — How did a hometown grantmaker conduct and conclude its largest-ever initiative?

The initiative concluded in 2016, ultimately spanning 11 years and involving $122 million in grants, which represented 67 percent of the Foundation’s total grant spending in this time frame. Along the way, the foundation reset its strategy and sharpened its goal — in response to seismic shifts in the local context and informed by indicators of progress. To capture information on the unique challenges facing an embedded funder as it changes program direction, Bob Tobin, senior consultant at Williams Group, interviewed Marie Colombo, Skillman Foundation director for strategic evaluation and learning.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Climate Adaptation – The State of Practice in U.S. Communities

This executive summary of the report that examined efforts to develop and implement climate-adaptation projects in 17 cities across the U.S. includes findings to key questions, conclusions, and tactical recommendations.    

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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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

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

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Come On In, The Water’s Fine: An Exploration of Web 2.0 Technology and Its Emerging Impact on Foundation Communications

Foundations that have adopted new and still emerging forms of digital communications—interactive Web sites, blogs, wikis, and social networking applications—are finding that they offer “opportunities for focused convenings and conversations, lend themselves to interactions with and among grantees, and are an effective story-telling medium.” Acknowledging that adoption of new media tools will require some cultural and operational shifts in foundations, the report urges foundations to: Build up the individual “human capital” of their staffs and provide them the competencies they need to operate in the new digital world. Make internal institutional reforms to reward creativity and innovation in using these Read more

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

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Community Leadership Network Evaluation — Key Findings from a Survey of Participants

This report summarizes findings from an evaluation of the Community Leadership Network, a signature CFleads learning opportunity. It makes the case for why peer learning matters: practitioners learn best when they are able to hone and practice their leadership skill in environments that encourage peer learning and exchange.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Community Leadership Networks Summary

As part of a multi-tiered effort to advance knowledge and understanding of community leadership, the Council on Foundations’ Community Foundations Leadership Team, in partnership with CFLeads, launched action-oriented Community Leadership Networks. Learn more about these networks here.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Community Philanthropy: How the Delta Region Revives, Embraces, and Promotes the Spirit of Giving

Community philanthropy is the giving of time, talent, and treasure that when invested locally is characteristic of positive change and lasting development. This article reports on a survey of 31 small Arkansas communities of 5,000 to 15,000 in population using open-ended descriptive questions. Responses were compared across communities to assess variation in giving/fundraising, civic engagement, and leadership. Data confirm that giving/fundraising was substantial, particularly in communities with populations of 8,000 or less. Findings show that people are giving not only their money, but also their services, time, and skills – especially in times of emergency response. Giving was not restricted Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Developing a Master Data Sharing Agreement: Seeking Student-Level Evidence to Support a Collaborative Community Effort in Education

A private foundation, a public school system, and a state university joined forces to address a difficult, long-standing challenge: closing the academic achievement gap between urban and suburban students. All parties agreed that sharing of longitudinal, student-level data was required to drive and evaluate multiple efforts to close the gap, but significant technical, regulatory, and political obstacles stood in the way. The parties worked through multiple challenges and forged a Master Data Sharing Agreement (MDSA) that will facilitate both daily intelligence for program staff and powerful post-hoc research capacity. This MDSA text has been released online for your use under Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Do Nothing About Me Without Me

A growing number of grantmakers believe they can be more effective to the extent that they meaningfully engage their grantees and other key stakeholders. Grantmakers doing this work have arrived at an understanding that much of the knowledge and experience they need to solve the problems they want to solve, and to help them do a better job as grantmakers, resides in the communities they serve. The values guiding this work are captured by the phrase that has been made visible by the disability rights movement in recent years: “Nothing about me without me.”

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

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Donor Education Seminar

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

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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End-Game Evaluation: Building a Legacy of Learning In a Limited-Life Foundation

Few, if any, of the problems philanthropy seeks to address can be solved within a brief, defined time frame. Limited-life foundations can only strive to move the ball down the field before they sunset, and then enlist others to carry the work forward. This article shares the emerging hypotheses of two foundations, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation — each four years from sunset — about the opportunities and challenges for evaluation in the limited-life context. The article argues that systematically capturing and sharing knowledge — about programs, as well as social-change methods and grantmaking practices Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives from the Field

This publication offers a brief overview of how grantmakers are looking at evaluation as a means of improvement. It is based on a review of the current literature on evaluation and learning, outreach to grantmakers that have made these activities a priority, and the work of GEO and the Council on Foundations to raise this issue more prominently among their members.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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Exiting From Large-Scale Initiatives: Lessons and Insights From a National Scan of Philanthropy

This article shares insights and lessons from a research project commissioned by The California Endowment in early 2016 to inform the planning for its transition out of Building Healthy Communities. A guiding framework for exit and sustainability planning is presented as a set of recommendations that relate to issues such as managing relationships between funder and grantee partners during the exit, using the initiative’s theory of change as a tool for decision-making, finding a balance between demonstrable success and equity, and managing the internal processes of the funding organization.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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From Insight to Action: New Directions in Foundation Evaluation

After a year of research and nearly 100 interviews with foundation leaders and evaluation experts, FSG has released a report that identifies a fundamental transition in the way foundations use evaluation. The study was funded by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and conducted in collaboration with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

GEO’s publications are driven by the issues we care about. We dive into specific topics and connect themes across the sector in short and longer works. Our publications elevate real examples from your peers, providing innovative ideas to your own organization. We also craft practical tools and friendly guides to help transform your knowledge into action. Our most popular resources: Shaping Culture Through Key Moments Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity The Source Codes of Foundation Culture To see learn more about our publications, explore our resource library. Members greatly value our publications because they lift up the experience, wisdom and insights of Read more




Grey Matter(s): Embracing the Publisher Within

This article reflects on the role that foundations play as publishers of grey literature and on the great potential for improved learning if foundations were to adopt more intentional and shared approaches to this dimension of their work.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Guidance on Evaluation Reports to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: A Checklist for Evaluators

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is a long-time proponent of evaluation as a means to inquire systematically into the effects and impacts of its grantmaking programs. Evaluation reports to RWJF should generally include the elements listed in this checklist to be considered satisfactory. The checklist was adapted from several references listed at the bottom of the document.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Guide to Impact Investing

This Grantmakers in Health update to their 2011 GIH Guide to Impact Investing shows the growth of the impact investment field, case studies of recent innovative investment techniques and projects, and an appendix on terminology, investment portfolio approaches, and strategies for financing impact investments.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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High Impact Philanthropy Blog: Five Myths And A Question About Impact

Everyone seems to be talking about it. Most say they want it. But who really gets to define impact and for whom? This blog series grew out of a collaborative effort between our team at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy and Women Moving Millions.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Individual Professional Development , Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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

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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking

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Ideas 42 Report: Nudging for Student Success

Breaking Barriers to Postsecondary Education:  Ideas 42 issued a report in June 2016, sponsored in part by The Kresge Foundation, that presented 16 case studies based on behavioral science that shows how subtle, sometimes hidden barriers can, over time, result in a student not completing a postsecondary degree.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Improving the Practice of Philanthropy

As part of the Hewlett Foundation’s evaluation of the $24 million it has invested to-date in knowledge creation and dissemination about philanthropic practice, the evaluation team used LearnPhilanthropy’s taxonomy to categorize the types of knowledge produced by its grantees.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Integrating Evaluative Capacity into Organizational Practice

This manual offers concrete ways to integrate evaluation skills and evaluative thinking, beyond the program level, into everyday organizational practice, helping to ensure stronger programs and to support more effective organizations that are better able to deliver on their missions. The new guide also includes a review of Evaluation Essentials and Appendices for how to use an evaluative thinking assessment tool and how to commission evaluation.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Interview with Carol Civita, Brazilian philanthropist

A disposition to give is not the same as a culture of philanthropy, argues Brazilian philanthropist Carol Civita. Brazil has always had the one but still lacks the other, she tells Caroline Hartnell. Part of the problem is that Brazilians see social problems as the government’s business, but in her view the country needs partnerships between the public sector and private philanthropy if social development is to catch up with economic development. But foundations are beginning to talk to each other, she says, a big step forward.

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

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KIDS COUNT Data Center

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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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LearnPhilanthropy’s Real Simple Taxonomy

By: Dara Major, Philanthropy Consultant Good content needs a good search – but sometimes a simple keyword search is not enough to produce the result a user seeks. That’s where a taxonomy comes in: a taxonomy is a classification or categorization system that groups similar items into broad topics or buckets. A taxonomy can help to organize knowledge “at a glance,” describe concepts not found directly in the content, and includes terms, categories and keywords. LearnPhilanthropy has developed a Real Simple Taxonomy, created with extensive testing and feedback at each stage (and ongoing) by dozens of grantmakers and others across Read more

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

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

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

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

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Next Gen Donors Report

This project is a partnership of The Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy program at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and 21/64, a nonprofit consulting practice specializing in next gen and multigenerational strategic philanthropy. These two organizations, although different in form and scope, share a focus on understanding and improving family philanthropy.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Offshore philanthropy

Organized philanthropy exists because a few individuals are able to accumulate a vast surplus of resources. Given how much good is done with philanthropic donations, it seems ungrateful to look too closely at the source of that money. Yet recent financial data leaks, including the Panama Papers and the earlier HSBC Swiss Files, act like glasses for the myopic—they bring into focus one of the wealth management practices that enables private individuals to hold on to resources. Moreover, a number of named individuals are well-known philanthropic donors. With these revelations, the sector should look hard at the uncomfortable ways in Read more

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

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

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

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

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Partnering for Impact: Combining National Knowledge with Regional Leverage for Local Impact

This report documents the experiences, successes and lessons learned during the Learning and Action Agenda Project, an effort to provide local grantmakers with information and strategies around issues of importance to the Casey Foundation —particularly around the Foundation’s Family Economic Success framework — and to motivate them to take action on those issues within their own communities and networks.

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

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Partnering for Impact: Combining National Knowledge with Regional Leverage for Local Impact

Regional associations of grantmakers can be natural and effective partners for national funders that wish to derive greater impact from their work in local areas. Regional associations have the ties that create strong local networks, the trust that creates local buy-in, and the knowledge about local issues, interests and culture. All of these things are absolutely vital for a national funder to incorporate if their work in local communities is to be successful. But what should national funders and regional associations keep in mind when working together? How do different perspectives come into play, and how do they affect understanding, Read more

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

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Partnership Among National Foundations: Between Rhetoric and Reality

Collaboration among philanthropies is not so natural, and occurs less frequently than might be expected. This chapter examines partnerships involving national foundations generally and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation specifically. It explores the theoretical and practical reasons that collaboration among foundations should make sense, why it does not happen frequently, and what elements should be in place for partnerships among national foundations to succeed.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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

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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking

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Philanthropy and Mistakes: An Untapped Resource

Key points: Sharing and leveraging lessons learned from mistakes is an important but underutilized resource to improve philanthropic investments and nonprofit performance. Philanthropic mistakes extend beyond the results of program evaluations to include questions of mission, role, investment strategies, and implementation. Distinguishing between “constructive” and “nonconstructive” mistakes focuses attention on those factors that shape the outcomes for even the most well-designed investments. Sharing and reflecting upon mistakes has the potential to improve philanthropic capacities for anticipation, learning, and adaptation. Philanthropy must recognize the sometimes blurry lines between success and failure, constructive and nonconstructive mistakes, and philanthropic and nonprofit sector accountability.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016

This publication is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. 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.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Philanthropy: Are We a Profession? Should We Be?

Key points: When philanthropy is assessed against seven standards for what constitutes a profession, it meets only 3 of them. Questions remain about the core concepts of the field, and how the field builds and disseminates knowledge. There is much discussion about “scientific philanthropy,” but the inability to answer these questions limits the field’s ability to function scientifically. Wisdom, rigor, and learning may be better approaches to philanthropy that a scientific approach.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Professional Societies and Climate Change

This report gives an analysis of how urban-focused professional societies are integrating climate change into their member engagement activities.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising

The George H. Heyman, Jr. Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising at NYU’s School of Professional Studies offers courses and intensive study options for fundraisers and grantmakers, professional development, and conferences and events designed to provide information on the latest industry trends and developments.

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

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Promoting Community Leadership Among Community Foundations: The Role of the Social Capital Benchmark Survey

Faced with increased competition for donors and calls for measurable impact, many community foundations (CFs) are adopting a more proactive, strategic approach to philanthropy – one that has come to be known as “community leadership.” Community leadership has proven challenging for many CFs. In theory, community assessment is a useful tool allowing CFs to identify strategic issues where leadership activities are warranted. This article examines the effect of a large, coordinated assessment project, the 2000 Social Capital Benchmark Survey (SCBS), conducted by Robert Putnam and the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. Of the 34 CFs that participated in SCBS, 12 Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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

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

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

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Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities a Framework and Agenda for Change

ABFE brings a new framework on RPBC to realize its mission of promoting effective and Responsive Philanthropy in Black communities. This new template builds upon grantmaking with a racial equity lens but is tailored specifically to grantmaking in and for Black communities. As a result, we have designed a set of defining characteristics of philanthropy that we believe is more likely to reduce gaps in racial disparities facing Blacks in the United States and are looking to partner with grantmakers around the country to apply this framework to their investments.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Human Resources Management

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Scanning the Landscape of Youth Philanthropy

This report shares reflections on an in-depth examination of the story and needs of youth grantmaking (young people making monetary contributions to organizations through established institutions or governing bodies). The report finds that while more than 200 foundations worldwide offer youth grantmaking programs and more than 100 related resources exist, that information is not broadly available. This scan was conducted in partnership with Youth Philanthropy Connect, a program of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Shaping Inclusive Markets — How Funders and Intermediaries can Help Markets Move toward Greater Economic Inclusion

Truly inclusive markets lead to expanded opportunity for more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, authors from FSG analyzed historical cases where such inclusive transformations actually occurred in order to understand the ways in which they were achieved. Using these insights, in this report they offer practical recommendations for funders and intermediaries seeking to enable more of these shifts in the future.

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Shifting Winds: Foundations Respond to a New Political Context

CEP surveyed foundation leaders about their reactions to the shift in presidential administrations, and the degree to which they were making changes as a result. The report reveals that the reactions and responses of U.S. foundations to the shift in national political context vary widely, but most foundations are changing their practices or shifting their emphases.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Should we be afraid?

At the end of last October, David Callahan, editor of the Inside Philanthropy blog, posted his five ‘scariest’ trends in philanthropy. Callahan’s ‘trends’ all relate to philanthropy in the US. Are these specifically US trends, we wondered, or are they happening more widely? In either event, how scary are they? We asked a number of observers from around the world – from India, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa and the UK – for their reactions. In spite of Callahan’s injunction to ‘be afraid’, few of them seem inclined to quake in their boots, even where they see similar tendencies Read more

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

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Smarter Grantmaking in Challenging Economic Times: Insights for Foundation Leaders

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

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

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State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

Nonprofit Finance Fund’s annual survey asks nonprofits in the US about their programs, financial health, and management strategies. Our hope is that this data will be used to spark dialogue in service of change.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Strengthening the Human Services Sector

The Kresge Foundation held a symposium with leaders of national networks and umbrella human services nonprofits on April 4, 2014, at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. The goals of the symposium were to: 1. Identify the major challenges and issues in the current environment that affect the capacity of human services organizations and networks to effectively deliver services. 2. Provide an opportunity for human services leaders to share knowledge and expertise with peers while forming new relationships and partnerships. 3. Develop actionable recommendations to assist in the transformation of the human services sector. This document distills the themes of Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Taking on New Roles to Address 21st Century Problems

This is the second article in a series exploring the public-private partnership undertaken by the Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and the State of Connecticut. This article, Taking on New Roles to Address 21st Century Problems, explored the role of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (CCP), an association of funders within this endeavor. For CCP, this was an opportunity to explore and test a new working structure in response to the desire within Connecticut’s philanthropic community to achieve meaningful and large-scale systems change.

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

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Teen Philanthropy Cafe

This series introduces young people to strategic, thoughtful philanthropy, and inspires them toward giving with impact. Families and adults who work with youth can use these guides to facilitate peer discussions and fun activities around giving.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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The Center for High Impact Philanthropy Blog: How Can I Help?

In the wake of natural disasters, health crises, and violence donors often ask, “How Can I Help?” To shed some light on this question, we developed a blog series on a variety of different disaster relief and recovery topics.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Resources









The Colorado’s Trust’s Advocacy Funding Strategy: Lessons Learned for Funders of Advocacy Efforts

In an effort to help advance the field of advocacy and public policy funding, The Colorado Trust published this evaluation report as a joint effort between funder and evaluator, describing where they saw success, where they saw failure, and lessons learned along the way.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective

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 challenges and concerns about the changing landscape in which they work, practices they believe to hold the most promise for helping foundations reach their potential, and the most pressing issues that will influence foundation philanthropy in the coming years.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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The Legacy of a Philanthropic Exit: Lessons From the Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Nuclear Security Initiative

Although time-bound philanthropic initiatives are a well-established practice, there is still much to learn about effective ways to implement, evaluate, and wind down these types of investments. This open-access article describes the NSI evaluation, how the findings informed Hewlett’s philanthropic approach, and provides a case example of a philanthropic-initiative exit. Key considerations for monitoring and evaluation practices particular to the context of a planned exit are discussed.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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The Value of Community Philanthropy: Results of a Consultation

This report explores ways to stimulate and develop community philanthropy as a means of contributing to the sustainability of civil society and supporting the effectiveness of development aid.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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

This report reflects on 17 arts organizations’ experiences with $1 buildings. It shares their lessons about how best to assess, prepare for, and structure these opportunities in order to achieve positive outcomes for arts and cultural organizations, funders, and communities.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Top Blogs for Grantmakers

LearnPhilanthropy staff collected a few resources to help grantmakers develop their skills. Below are links to blogs about philanthropy that can enhance your learning and jump start your own collection of blogs. White Courtesy Telephone’s posts include perspectives on learning, education and training in the field of philanthropy. Philantopic is a blog of Opinion and Commentary from The Philanthropy News Digest Lucy Bernholz’s blog Philanthropy 2173: The Business of Giving shares her opinions about the long-term vision of philanthropy. The Center for Effective Philanthropy Blog offers better data, better decisions, better philanthropy. Philanthropy411 Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a philanthropy expert and consultant. Inside Philanthropy Blog is Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Top 5 Lists









Use of Layering for Effective Partnership Building: Leveraging Positive Impact in Education Philanthropy

Federal initiatives provide opportunities to link national, state, and local partnerships. New opportunities create a challenge of how to maximize mission-related goals while also seeking out new partnerships. “Layering” allows core foundation goals to be addressed while further examining how building new partnerships can expand with national and federal opportunities. Each “layer” represents multiple sector partnerships at the local, state, federal, and national levels. Layering differs from collective impact in its focus on strategic alignment with existing work to new partners versus the focus on the partnerships and organizational behavior of those relationships. Building new partnerships with philanthropic, private, and Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Webinar Recap – The Future of Philanthropy: A Closer Look at Youth Grantmaking

For this webinar, we learned what is happening in the field of youth philanthropy to prepare for this massive shift. The Foundation Center and Youth Philanthropy Connect partnered to conduct the first landscape scan of this scale on youth grantmaking, and they joined us for this discussion. We learned about the impact it has made on the lives of youth. Participants also learned how you to take part in their inspiring movement.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Strategy and Evaluation, 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.  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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WIDESPREAD EMPATHY: 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVING GREATER IMPACT IN PHILANTHROPY

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

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

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Women and Giving

Why does women’s philanthropy matter? Here are three reasons: Women control more of the financial pie than ever before The percentage of women wielding wealth is only going to rise Research supports the idea that gender differences in giving between women and men are real  

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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