“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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A Call to Action: Organizing to Increase the Effectiveness and Impact of Foundation Grantmaking

Many nonprofit organizations are constantly struggling to find enough resources to make their organizations more effective and sustainable. A Call to Action illustrates how the lack of core operating support is at the center of this struggle. It tells of the needs and aspirations of nonprofits by enabling them, in their own words, to share their stories. Printed copies are available for purchase.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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A Guide to Evaluation Primers

Produced by the Association for the Study and Development of Community (ASDC) for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this document offers an orientation to handbooks and basic primers on evaluation. These resources are designed to meet the needs of the non-expert.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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A Guide to Strengthening and Managing Research Grants

One out of every four grant dollars provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funds research and evaluation.The goal of this report is to enhance the capacity of potential and current grantees to strengthen and manage research grants. After a short section of background information, the report features information on preparing the proposal, managing the research project, after the grant, and the conclusion.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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A Hedgehog Moment: The Roles and Pitfalls of Strategic Philanthropy for Family Foundations and Donors

The growing quantity of giving has not been matched by improved quality. The growth in the quantity of new philanthropy and the search for more effective philanthropy has now produced a “significant moment in the marketization of philanthropy.” A recent outpouring of books by foundation officials, consultants and academics has broadly emphasized the idea that “strategic philanthropy” in some form promises significant improvements. With these books, then, do donors, family foundations, and philanthropy generally have new usable knowledge to meet the challenge of quality grantmaking?

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Financial Stewardship

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A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions

RWJF commissioned FSG Social Impact Advisors to develop a guide for program officers, grant recipients, evaluators, researchers, and others interested in evaluation on how to engage stakeholders in developing evaluation questions. Since stakeholders are potential users of evaluation findings, their input into the scope of the evaluation is critical to ensuring the integrity and value of evaluation results. This guide provides the reader with a five-step process for involving stakeholders in developing evaluation questions, and includes a set of four worksheets to facilitate this process.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Advanced Mini-Intensive in Grantmaking

This course includes an in-depth analysis of evaluation models; proposal assessments; funder-grantee relationships and models, especially as they apply to particular funding areas and values-based grantmaking; changes in the philanthropy law and environment; and participant-presented case studies. Course content is updated based upon recommendations of the larger philanthropy field and past participants. The course is coordinated by Richard Marker, an internationally known thought leader in the grantmaking and philanthropy field. He is joined in class by several highly respected and prominent philanthropy experts. CEU: 4

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

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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

Why are so few market-based solutions to poverty getting to scale? What can be done so that they can deliver meaningful benefits to the poor? These are the questions raised by the recently released Monitor Inclusive Markets report Beyond the Pioneer. Its findings are in turn examined by the June 2014 Alliance special feature.

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

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An Assessment of Capacity Building in Washington State

An assessment of capacity building in Washington State and one of the first frameworks for understanding community capacity. 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 in: Capacity-building at the individual nonprofit level – grants directly to nonprofits, or through local intermediaries with particular emphasis on small- and mid-sized organizations. Strengthening the nonprofit ecosystems of specific local communities – through grants to local capacity-building institutions, or by convening local partners to identify/prioritize weak or missing elements Read more

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

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As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil

From her desk at the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation, Executive Director Ainka Jackson can see the Edmund Pettus Bridge stretched across the Alabama River. The bridge carries Highway 80 from Selma upstream to Montgomery across farms so fertile that King Cotton and stolen labor once made Selma the wealthiest city in Alabama. Now, it is among the poorest. In 1965, the bridge was the site of widely broadcasted and morally electrifying moments in the Civil Rights Movement, making it a lasting symbol of the power of nonviolent resistance to oppression. Now Selma suffers from one of the Read more

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

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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. The specific attitudes and practices covered in the survey fall under the following general topics: Ideas about foundation effectiveness; Approaches to grantmaking; Grant application and review processes; Monitoring and evaluation; Investments (program-related investing and social investing); Collaboration Read more

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

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Axis of Ideology: Conservative Foundations and Public Policy

NCRP’s Axis of Ideology details the effective philanthropic strategies that 79 conservative foundations have used to support the activities of 350 public policy-oriented right-wing think tanks at the federal, state, and local levels.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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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

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

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Beyond the Veneer of Strategic Philanthropy

“Strategic philanthropy” has become a dominant theme among foundations in the past few decades. While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically. Four challenges to strategic philanthropy are identified, including strategies developed in isolation from grantees that execute them and misaligned foundation structures, processes, and cultures that do not support strategic endeavors. In order to get beyond the veneer of strategic philanthropy, foundation leaders need to be clearer about their own role in creating change, develop the strategic capacities to do so, and then apply those capacities, learn from them, Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact

Many social enterprises focus on measuring the success of individual grants and nonprofit initiatives. This traditional approach to measuring results neglects the reality that no single organization alone can solve the scale of today’s social challenges. This research highlights 20 social enterprises that developed innovative and coordinated web-based approaches to evaluate their impact across multiple grants and stakeholders.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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Build Capacity and Clout

In this article you will see how the Beldon Fund’s strategy of using capacity building grants and promoting collaboration built a strong advocacy structure. This strategy achieved positive results across both program areas, including: stronger organizations, better alliances, more sophisticated advocacy skills, greater clout, and tangible public policy outcomes likely to have a lasting impact.

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

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California Adopts Innovative Tools to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes

This article discusses two technology-related nonprofits, both started with seed money from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, that are gaining traction and recently began work in California. Case Commons and Kids Insight have been tapped to help improve the state’s capacity for using data to improve outcomes for children and families in the child welfare system.

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

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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

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

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

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Charitable Lead Trust Handbook

An in-depth guide to the workings and variations of Charitable Lead Trusts.

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

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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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Collective Impact

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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Collective Impact Forum

The Collective Impact Forum exists to support the efforts of those who are practicing collective impact in the field. While the rewards of collective impact can be great, the work is often demanding. Those who practice it must keep themselves and their teams motivated and moving forward. The Collective Impact Forum is the place to find the tools and training that can help achieve success. It’s an expanding network of like-minded individuals coming together from across sectors to share useful experience and knowledge and thereby accelerating the effectiveness, and further adoption, of the collective impact approach as a whole.

Categories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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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: History, Role in Society, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Conversations with Remarkable Givers

“Conversations with Remarkable Givers” is a groundbreaking, free video series of frank and candid conversations with more than 60 remarkable, results-oriented philanthropists, providing unprecedented access to their strategic thinking, insights, and wisdom.

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

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Creating Shared Value

Creating shared value involves value creation for business that simultaneously yields more profit and greater social impact, resulting in powerful transformations and opportunities for growth and innovation in both business and society. The concept of creating shared value focuses on the connections between societal and economic progress, and has the potential to unleash the next wave of global growth and competitive advantage.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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 , Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World

Traditional philanthropy is no antidote to the complex problems that challenge our world today. Donors must go beyond check-writing to proactively catalyze change using a variety of tools and practices. Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World, features the stories of foundations and individuals who transcend traditional philanthropy, and illuminates the six catalytic practices that all donors can employ to achieve greater impact.This book provides a blueprint for foundation leaders, trustees, and individual donors who want to catalyze change in the world.

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

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

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

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant 

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Donor Profile: Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving

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

Categories: History, Role in Society, Mission, Vision and Values, Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Issue Specific Grantmaking, Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Effective and Emerging Approaches to Mission-Related Investing

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

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

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Embedded Foundations: Advancing Community Change and Empowerment

Embedded funders are foundations that have made long-term commitments to the communities in which they are located or work. Foundations have a long history in funding community development, often with few concrete results. Political conditions, the increasing divide between rich and poor, inaccessibility of education, lack of housing, and continued segregation and racial discrimination are issues that need be addressed concurrently and resources need to be drawn from a variety of sources, particularly the neighborhoods themselves. This complexity has created an impetus for embedded philanthropy. Embedded funders work participatively with the community and frame evaluations in less theoretical, more actionable Read more

Categories: History, Role in Society, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Evaluation at Sunset: Considerations When Evaluating a Program as It Concludes

This article uses the evaluation of the Orfalea Foundation’s initiative to provide a case example of a rigorous and useful sunset evaluation, and discusses other possible extensions of these kinds of methods.

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

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Final Impact Assessment

During its time-limited lifespan, the Beldon Fund sought to maximize its impact with focused investments in environmental advocacy and health. The Fund pursued three unique but interrelated strategies to advance positive change on the issues it cared about: 1) Build capacity and clout, 2) Support civic engagement, 3) Broaden the base of support. A fourth strategy, Giving more than grants, supplemented the three main strategies. To pursue these strategies, the Beldon Fund developed two program areas through which it made long-term grants: 1) the Key States Program, which invested in building long-term sustainable infrastructure, capacity, and tools in a limited Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Online Publication

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Five Questions With Casey: Samantha Mellerson Talks Capacity Building

Mellerson discusses capacity building at Casey and tells how this support can help elevate the work of organizations in the community.

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

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Forum: Future of the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy

The Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy convened this event to focus on the future—the challenges and opportunities for the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in the face of evolving economic and political realities and changing sector dynamics. Watch as a distinguished panel wrestles with big questions: What are the major forces that will affect the sector going forward? What kinds of impacts can we foresee? How can the nonprofit sector help to shape those forces? Can we envision some optimum outcomes? Can we begin to articulate strategies that could mobilize efforts to achieve desired outcomes?

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Foundation Effectiveness: Definitions and Challenges

All too often, foundations have failed to institutionalize a process to establish standards of effectiveness and regularly assess themselves in relation to these standards. We draw this conclusion from a series of interviews with 61 foundation leaders (CEOs and board heads) of 42 staffed, grantmaking foundations. These interviews probed foundation leaders’ understanding of effectiveness, the methods they use to judge it, and how they say their foundations have changed or need to change in order to be more effective. As the following discussion shows, what is clearly needed in so many cases is for foundations to articulate specific understandings of effectiveness Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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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Funder Collaboratives: Why and How Funders Work Together

When it comes to funder collaboratives, is the whole truly greater than the sum of its parts? Can foundations make a bigger impact with grant dollars by working together than by going it alone? Yes, grantmakers say, as long as members define their goals, set clear operational guidelines, and work from the start to make the collaborative function well for grantees. In this guide, contributors share strategies for structuring a collaborative to fit its purpose, building strong relationships and resolving conflicts, and figuring out if the collaborative you’re in is working. MORE Contributors also offer ample proof that collaboratives are Read more

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

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Galvanizing Philanthropy

In our experience, developing a philanthropic strategy is an iterative process, regardless of the economic climate. It requires the internal discipline to ask—and rigorously answer—three fundamental questions: How do we define success? What will it take to make change happen? How can we improve our results over time? We think of this process as getting clear, getting real, and getting better. In the following pages we’ll explore how leaders at the James Irvine Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation have wrestled with Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Getting Results in Nonprofits and Philanthropy: Key Lessons in Strategy, Funding, and Leadership

An effective nonprofit sector can be a powerful force for change as well as a source of human inspiration. Three key levers can influence a nonprofit’s effectiveness and, ultimately, its ability to have impact: solid strategy; access to the necessary funding, and talent that begins with leaders and senior managers. This book shares The Bridgespan Group’s best thinking from the past 10 years on these key levers. The articles examine such essential topics as identifying nonprofit funding models, building stronger management teams, and creating plans to accomplish nonprofit goals.

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

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Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results

In Give Smart, Thomas J. Tierney pools his hands-on knowledge with philanthropy expert Joel L. Fleishman to create a much-needed primer for philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support. Drawing from personal experiences, testimonials, and Bridgespan’s case studies, including those of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Give Smart picks up where Jim Collins’ Good to Great and the Social Sectors left off and presents the first in-depth, expert guide for engaged donors and nonprofit leaders.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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Giving More Than Grants

As a foundation with an ambitious policy agenda and limited time frame, Beldon needed to be more than a grantmaker. Beldon founder John Hunting strongly believed that marshaling the foundation’s non-financial resources – its expertise and experience, convening power, influence with other funders, and the capacity to broker relationships among grantees – was key to creating lasting change.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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Grantmakers and Policy Engagement: An Illinois Profile

In July 2010 Donors Forum and NCRP jointly distributed a survey to Donors Forum members in order to learn more about their approach to policy engagement. The two organizations wanted this information to inform their mutual goal of fostering greater philanthropic understanding of the value of both engaging in advocacy and also funding nonprofits that use advocacy, organizing and civic engagement as tools to improve their communities. This report describes the survey findings.

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

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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




Grantmaking for Community Impact Project Impacts Directory

This directory contains every advocacy and community organizing impact that was achieved by 110 organizations in 13 states over a five-year period. The directory is a compilation of data reported in each of seven “Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” reports, and includes monetized and non-monetized impacts.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants 

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Grow the Craft/Results from a GrantCraft Survey Quick Question: What’s the right relationship between philanthropy and government?

It’s practically a given these days that philanthropy and government ought to work together. But what should the relationship look like? How can grantmakers collaborate formally or informally with partners in government to advance the common good? And does everyone think this is such a good idea? To explore those questions, we invited eight foundation leaders to reflect on the current state of foundation-government collaboration and asked GrantCraft readers to say which statements resonated for them.

Categories: History, Role in Society, 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. RWJF recognizes that not all of these elements pertain to all types of evaluation—for example, response rate may not be an issue for certain qualitative studies and attrition may not matter for cross-sectional studies. The report, however, ought to address most elements under most circumstances.

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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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

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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, 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 , Issue Specific Grantmaking, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Improving the Practice of Philanthropy: An Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Knowledge Creation and Dissemination Strategy

LearnPhilanthropy is excited to share this resource, written by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Harder + Company Community Research. 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 , Online Publication, Resources

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In Search of Impact: Practices and Perceptions in Foundations’ Provision of Program and Operating Grants to Nonprofit

Informs the debate on operating support with new data about current foundation practices, attitudes underlying those practices, and the impact on grantees of foundation choices. The report explores what motivates foundation CEOs in their decision-making, examining the tension between CEOs’ sense of what is best for their foundations and what they believe will make the most positive impact on grantee organizations. In Search of Impact also probes the grantee perspective through an analysis of thousands of survey responses and a set of interviews with nonprofit leaders, revealing the importance of other grant attributes that have been overshadowed in the debate Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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

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

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Influencing Public Policy in the Digital Age

This publication was created to address the many questions nonprofit organizations have about advocacy in the new environment of dynamic digital communication; to ensure that nonprofit advocates stay within the law; and to demonstrate that robust participation in our nation’s democratic process is not just possible, but actually enhanced by new technologies.

Categories: Laws and Legal Issues, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants 

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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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Joel Fleishman on the Role of Foundations

Joel Fleishman, author of The Foundation: A Great American Secret, discusses the crucial role foundations play in fostering social innovation, breaks down the recent trends and misfortunes that shape the nonprofit sector today, and urges foundations to find greater success through greater openness.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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 , Models & Approaches, Resources

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Lessons (Not Yet) Learned

Despite a significant influx of charitable dollars over the last 10 to 20 years, solutions to complex social problems remain elusive, while philanthropy has been facing growing pressure to account for its tax-free dollars; to demonstrate, replicate, and scale success; and to be transparent about failed social investments. When foundations and their nonprofit partners ignore a failure and move on, whether it is to protect their own reputation or the reputations of valued partners or simply because of the pressure to keep going, it is too easy to toss out the baby with the bathwater – to toss aside a Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Organization Learning and Evaluation , Standards, Codes, and Ethics

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Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Results by Funding Policy and Community Engagement

Leveraging Limited Dollars provides solid evidence of the impacts of foundation-funded policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement based on findings from the seven research sites. The report explains why these strategies are successful and how they create stronger communities.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants 

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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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Local Donor Collaboration: Lessons from Baltimore and Beyond

This study takes a close look at four Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) funder cooperative groups that range in style from the relatively simple to the complex. The unique lens of the research is local donor collaboration as seen by the participants and staff themselves. In particular, the research explores three key issues: how local cooperatives begin, what makes them effective and sustainable over time, and the unique role that a regional association can play in furthering funder collaboration.

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

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Next Gen Donors Report

The Next Gen Donors research project is a collaboration of 21/64 and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy. Conducted in 2012, this report is based on first-of-its kind data, listening to members of the next generations of major donors, ages 21 to 40, in their own voices. A national online survey (310 total responses) and in-depth interviews (30 total) have revealed four key findings, outlined in the key findings area of this website.  

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

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NFF Capital Partners Portfolio Performance Report 2011: Philanthropic Equity in Action

Since 2006, Nonprofit Finance Fund Capital Partners has supported 18 campaigns for philanthropic equity, totaling $326 million in financial investments. This report analyzes the role of philanthropic equity in the nonprofit sector, results generated to-date by philanthropic equity investments, and key challenges to developing a robust capital marketplace for philanthropic equity. The Role of Philanthropic Equity in the Nonprofit Sector: Many nonprofits with strong programs and great results fail to thrive. One reason is the way the sector is currently financed. Nonprofits are rewarded for keeping margins tight, and few have access to the type of capital needed to explore Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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Nonprofit Collaborations: Why Teaming Up Can Make Sense

Even if your nonprofit isn’t in financial trouble, your board and management should be alert to opportunities that will improve efficiency and sustainability. It’s best to do this before your nonprofit reaches crisis mode. For-profit companies have long recognized the value of collaborations. More nonprofits are now looking for the same benefits.

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

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Nonprofit Sector in Brief: Public Charities, Giving and Volunteering, 2011

This brief highlights trends from the eighth edition of The Nonprofit Almanac 2011, prepared by the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. We highlight the growth in the number and finances of 501(c)(3) public charities, as well as key findings on private charitable contributions and volunteering.

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

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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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Online Guide: Everything a Qualitative Health Researcher Needs to Know

Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) created an online guide for researchers employing qualitative methods in health care research. The site, Using Qualitative Methods in Healthcare Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Designing, Writing, Reviewing and Reporting Qualitative Research, is designed to describe common qualitative research paradigms, methods and analytical approaches; criteria to evaluate the quality of qualitative research; common pitfalls in qualitative research; and guidelines for writing and reviewing qualitative studies.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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Paradigm Shift: A Foundation/Grantee Partnership Using Data to Drive Neighborhood Revitalization and Assess Impact

The Wachovia Regional Foundation spearheaded the formation of a partnership to create a participatory outcome evaluation framework for its neighborhood revitalization work. The framework integrates the use of primary and secondary data and has been modified and improved to strengthen a variety of the foundation’s comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts. Forty-one community-based organizations have utilized the framework as a key tool to craft and implement neighborhood plans in a 62-county region. The framework has enabled grantees and residents to better understand and capitalize on market dynamics, enhance their participation in revitalization activities and begin to demonstrate the impact of sustained, strategic Read more

Categories: History, Role in Society, 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 , Beyond the Grant 

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Partnership With Government: An Exit Strategy for Philanthropies?

Atlantic Philanthropies’ exit strategy involved a formal partnership arrangement with the Northern Ireland Assembly. This article draws on qualitative data gathered through interviews with key stakeholders — the funder, government officials, and NGOs — and considers the consequences of this approach for sustaining and mainstreaming policies and practices. It also offers both specific and general lessons on partnering with government as an exit strategy.

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

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Pathfinder Funder Edition: A Practical Guide to Advocacy Evaluation

Pathfinder is a practical guide to the advocacy evaluation process. This edition guides funders through the advocacy evaluation process from start to finish. Editions for advocates and evaluators are also available. Drawn from Innovation Network’s research and consulting experience, Pathfinder encourages the adoption of a “learning-focused evaluation” approach, which prioritizes using knowledge for improvement.

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

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Pathways to Grow Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in the Journey

Since 2010, through the Scaling What Works initiative, GEO has fostered a conversation about scale that considers a variety of ways nonprofits are creating more value for communities and how funders are supporting their work. Pathways to Grow Impact shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. The publication is the result of a collaborative project with Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group that sought to answer the question: How can grantmakers best support high-performing nonprofits in their efforts to grow their impact? Pathways to Grow Impact is for any grantmaker who wants his or her Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, General Grants 

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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

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 , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Beyond the Grant 

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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

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

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Philanthropy: Are We a Profession? Should We Be?

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: Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Human Resources Management, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Project Streamline: Online Applications and Reporting

A groundswell of funders are putting their application and reporting processes online for the first time or moving to a second generation of online systems, both custom-built and off-the-shelf. This is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be done right. This guide offers a set of recommended practices and principles to improve and streamline the process of online grantmaking.

Categories: Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Project Streamline: Practices That Matter

The cumulative impact of grantmakers’ varied application and reporting requirements undermines nonprofit effectiveness, causing grantseekers to devote too much time to seeking funding (often without payoff) and reporting on grants (often without benefit) to the detriment of their mission-based work. Awareness is translating into streamlining action for many grantmakers. Yet our 2013 assessment reveals that, while nonprofits have noticed changes, all still encounter time-wasting practices. While 77 percent of donors have taken steps to simplify things, fundraisers say they don’t feel much of a change. Based on what matters most to grantseekers, as well as understanding of what keeps grantmakers from implementing streamlining and the context of other pressures Read more

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

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Project Streamline: Right-Sizing Guide

Right-sizing is the concept that one size might not fit all when it comes to application and reporting. When grantmaking is right-sized, the information requirements are proportionate to the size of the grant, are appropriate to the type of grant, and take into consideration prior relationships with grantees.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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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 , General Grants 

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Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy is Social Justice Philanthropy

The crises affecting our nation and the world have prompted philanthropists to become more organized, focused and, perhaps above all, “strategic” in their efforts. The movement toward “strategic philanthropy” has already contributed to greater philanthropic effectiveness. Yet, despite important contributions to education, health, the arts and the environment, it is clear that philanthropy’s ultimate impact is still limited. Great disparities along the lines of race, gender, class and other identity markers persist and, in some cases, are even exacerbated. This suggests that something is missing from our sector’s understanding of what makes for truly strategic and effective philanthropy: A clear understanding Read more

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

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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

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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RWJF Celebrates 40 Years of Research and Evaluation

RWJF’s work in the field of research and evaluation has been integral to its success and has informed the field of philanthropy as a whole. On Wednesday, September 19, RWJF hosted a webinar which looked back on the past 40 years (1972-2012) of research and evaluation at RWJF, highlighted programs that had a major impact on the field during that time, and shared lessons learned. Listen to current and former leaders of research and evaluation who were, and continue to be, involved in shaping RWJF’s research and evaluation work.

Categories: History, Role in Society, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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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Spend-Out Lessons and Tips

Includes lessons and tips on: Developing a spend out budget Managing staff in the final months Building a field of practice Achieving impact in a limited timeframe Responsible exiting principles

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

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Staffing Grants Management: Defining the Standards for Philanthropy

This booklet was created as a guide to inform the philanthropic community about the diverse tasks assigned to – and staffing needs necessary for – the grants management function. It defines the numerous roles of grants management and its importance as the department in a foundation in which program, finance, communications, application, approval and administrative functions overlap.

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

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Strategy & Society: The Link Between Competitive Advantage and Corporate Social Responsibility

Moving past generic CSR principles: learn how societal influence is becoming the new frontier of competitive advantage.

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

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

In this report, NCRP documents how local and state organizations leveraged foundation resources to secure billions of dollars in benefits for New Mexicans.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , General Grants 

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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

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

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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

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. On the menu Grantmaking Collaboration in Philanthropy The Path to Impact Leadership for a Changing World The Nonprofit Universe Thoughtful Site Visits Using Your Voice This project is a partnership of Exponent Philanthropy and Youth Philanthropy Connect, with funding by the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.

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

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The 2014 Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits

For more than eight years, Idealware has researched the software that can help nonprofits more easily meet their missions. We’ve interviewed countless nonprofit staff members on hundreds of different topics to gather the impartial information that organizations need to make better decisions, and spent thousands of hours analyzing it to create easy-to-understand overviews. The Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits is the culmination of our work, summarizing all that information into a handy, easy-to-use publication–and we’ve just updated it for 2014. Through straightforward overviews, it helps nonprofits pinpoint the types of software that might be useful for their needs and Read more

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

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The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story

Beldon’s decision to establish a clear end date set the course for the foundation’s strategy and operations. Decisions about investment, staffing, programs, and preparing grantees for Beldon’s exit all flowed from the simple fact that an immutable closing date existed on the horizon. This monograph, “Giving While Living: The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story” PDF, examines how Beldon handled the practical implications of putting the foundation on a ten-year spend-out course while seeking to accomplish an ambitious mission. Some of the questions we sought to answer were: How does having a sunset date affect program strategy? What is the appropriate way Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Financial Stewardship

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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 , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation

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The Donor-Grantee Trap: How Ineffective Collaboration Undermines Philanthropic Results for Society, and What Can Be Done About It

A guide for nonprofit leaders, their boards, and their donors.Scarce resources (both money and time) are routinely wasted in the critical linkage between donor and grantee. As a consequence, our communities—the causes and constituents we are trying to serve—are being unnecessarily shortchanged.What’s needed is more effective donor-grantee collaboration, so that philanthropists and the nonprofit organizations they support can get the absolute most from every scarce dollar they invest. Reduced to the essentials, there are three imperatives of true collaboration—for which both donors and grantees must share responsibility.The Donor-Grantee Trap details each imperative in turn. It is written for nonprofit executives, Read more

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

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The DOs and DON’Ts of Working with Local Funders

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers presents practical guidance for national funders to further relationships and deepen the impact of philanthropic investments made in collaboration with local funders.

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

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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

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

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The Grantmaker’s Role in Theory of Change

Innovation Network developed these three introductory evaluation documents as part of Building Nonprofit Capacity to Evaluate, Learn, and Grow Impact, a workshop we presented in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Scaling What Works initiative.

Categories: Grants Management, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Beyond the Grant 

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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The State of General Operating Support 2011

The State of General Operating Support 2011 found some hopeful signs: we saw a notable bump in share of grant dollars reported as core support, from 16 percent average in 2008-2010 to 24 percent in 2011.

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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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.

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

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Top Blogs That Enhance Learning in Philanthropy

At LearnPhilanthropy we’ve started collecting things…especially resources to help grantmakers develop their skills. The collection below is a list of fifteen blogs in philanthropy that can enhance your philanthropic learning. Learning of various sorts is a frequent topic discussed in these blogs and we thought a list like this might help LearnPhilanthropy users start your own collection of blogs to track. 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 Read more

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









Top Readings and Resources on Learning From Failure

By: Barbara Demarest, strategy consultant, Barbara Demarest Consulting Over the past several years, there has been discussion in the world of philanthropy about failure. Here is a collection of ideas about failure – whether you learn more from it than success, how you learn from it, how organizations look at it, and the importance of failure in achieving eventual success. These different viewpoints on failure and learning come from both the field of philanthropy and from other sectors. Following Up on Failure – from The Chronicle of Philanthropy regarding learning from failure Failing Forward – posted on both Lucy Bernholz’s Philanthropy 2173 and Alliance Magazine’s blog Exploring Read more

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches, Individual Professional Development , Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team, Top 5 Lists

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Top Ten Finance Essentials for Funders

What we do and how we serve is inspired by our commitment to create a financially strong nonprofit sector that’s better able to serve the community. Throughout our 30 years, we’ve developed some core concepts and philosophies on nonprofit finance that inform all our practices. Our Top Tens, crafted for both nonprofits and funders, give a concise summary of these concepts. Concepts include: benefits of unrestricted funding, business model and business planning, and knowing your role (as either a buyer or builder) as a funder.

Categories: Grantmaking, Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Financial Stewardship

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Tough Times, Creative Measures: What Will it Take to Help the Social Sector Embrace an Outcomes Culture?

Sparked by the publication of Leap of Reason by Mario Morino, this symposium convened a select group of twenty leaders from government, nonprofits, philanthropy, and business to discuss a challenge that has limited the collective impact of the social sector: the lack of encouragement and support in the nonprofit community for disciplined, data-driven management. The symposium explored barriers to and opportunities for making performance management more common in the social sector. Participants discussed possible solutions that would advance performance management, including the Outcome and Effective Practices Portal (now called PerformWell), an online resource for nonprofits seeking assistance with identifying indicators Read more

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Models & Approaches

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Trends in Family Philanthropy

Family foundations are changing. Many of us have been noticing the changes anecdotally for years. We’ve seen an influx of new organizations, new ideas and new approaches that are ushering the practice of family philanthropy into a new era. National Center for Family Philanthropy’s 2015 Trends Study provides data to support these observations.

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

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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 , Organization Learning and Evaluation 

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Using Community-Based Participatory Evaluation (CBPE) Methods as a Tool to Sustain a Community Health Coalition

Participatory evaluation has set the standard for cooperation between program evaluators and stakeholders. Coalition evaluation, however, calls for more extensive collaboration with the community at large. Integrating principles of community based participatory research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Strategic Prevention Framework, which guides much coalition work, into coalition evaluation has proved useful to foster community affiliations and support reciprocal relationship building. The resulting evaluation method, named community based participatory evaluation (CBPE), takes time, money, and skilled personnel but can lead to more accurate results and coalition sustainability. The CBPE method has proved essential in sustaining two Read more

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

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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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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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