“Effective Giving”

In this issue on “Effective Giving” in More than Money, people with surplus income talk about what they’ve learned about giving–what’s satisfying, what’s hard, what makes giving most effective. You’ll hear from “ordinary people,” as well as well known philanthropists. From Steve Kirsch, large-scale venture capitalist with his own multi-million dollar foundation, to Wayne Muller, who advocates giving small and simply on a local scale, this issue invites you to explore the range of available options –and find out what giving effectively means you.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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“Getting the Word Out”: A Foundation Memoir and Personal Journey

This chapter is a personal reflection by Frank Karel on his years as vice president for communications of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He looks back on the early days, when the Foundation was groping to find an appropriate role for communications, and traces its evolution to the present. Karel is uniquely qualified to provide this retrospective. He has had the singular experience of heading communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation twice. During his first tenure, between 1974 and 1987, he originated many of the communications strategies that the Foundation follows today. After leaving to head communications at the Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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“How Much is Enough?”

This issue of More than Money, “How Much is Enough?” offers guidance for forming a realistic assessment of your assets. Because there is no objective definition of enough, and because there will always be others who have more. Millionaires and those with far less net worth can share similar anxieties about having enough.

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

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“Partners in Social Change”

This issue, “Partners in Social Change,” of More than Money offers stereotype-busting profiles of rich people who share power and resources and work passionately for the common good. One writer describes becoming a successful businessman specifically so that he would have more money to give away. Others describe the process of donating money and resisting the temptation to become controlling or patronizing of those who receive the resources. Alternative formats for foundations and finding grantors are detailed. Writers describe including spouses as partners, learning activism (or teaching activism) to their partners. A family confronts its political polarity, finding acceptable middle ground on Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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#ShiftThePower: the rise of community philanthropy

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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10 Essential Roles of Foundation Board Members

As a board member, how can you make sure you bring your best to the table and bring out the best in your foundation? If you understand and embrace these 10 essential roles, you will help ensure that you are fulfilling your duties with wisdom and clarity — and doing your part to advance your foundation’s mission.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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10 Rules Every Foundation Should Know About Compliance

Running a private charitable foundation can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences—a chance not only to make a real difference in the community—but also to carry out your philanthropy with the personal signature and control that only a private foundation can offer. This booklet summarizes 10 common issues and pitfalls with compliance we encounter in the daily administration of hundreds of private foundations, ranging in size from $250,000 to over $500 million. This information is provided to make donors, directors, staff and advisors more aware of some of the factors that govern private foundations. It is not intended as Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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10 Ways Foundations Can Work With the Public Sector

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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10 Ways to Make your Materials More Inclusive

Follow these ten steps to help your organization become more inclusive internally and externally. Develop discussion materials that will make your dialogues more inclusive of varying learning styles and literacy levels.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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11 Essential Practices for Effective Grantmaking

The options for effective grantmaking are more varied today than ever. What used to involve simply making financial gifts to qualified nonprofits now has grown to include public-private partnerships, social impact investing, program-related investing, crowdfunding, and many more avenues for achieving a foundation’s mission. Whether your foundation is just getting off the ground or has a venerated history that’s about to enter a new phase, you’ll have many choices to consider as you plan your way forward.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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11 Philanthropic Trends for 2017

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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2014 Grantmakers Information Technology Survey Report

Together the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and Grants Managers Network (GMN) conducted an information technology survey of grantmaking organizations. The resulting report is designed to empower grantmaking organizations with information on new trends and insights into what peer organizations are doing so that they can make better decisions about the technology they use to support their missions. You can access the 2012 IT Survey Report here.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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2015 CONNECT Conference

Take a leap forward in your philanthropic journey. Whether you’re looking to challenge your assumptions or hungry for practical knowledge, CONNECT offers something meaningful for everyone. Find inspiration in sessions that explore innovative strategies for advancing philanthropic impact or immerse yourself in sessions on philanthropy’s fundamentals. Strengthen your effectiveness, get inspired, and build community. In an intimate setting, CONNECT offers a safe, empowering space to build critical skills and knowledge while forming real, lasting relationships with peers and other experts. We bring together our welcoming staff, field thought leaders and expert partners to facilitate connections and weave networks through a Read more

Categories: Resources

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2016 Salary and Jobs Survey Report

Results from GMN’s 2015 salary and jobs survey are now available in the 2016 Salary and Jobs Survey Report. More than 300 grants managers contributed to the salary and jobs survey. You’ll find data on– activities, staffing, and structures of grantmaking organizations; qualifications and experience of grants management professionals; compensation and benefits, including salary increases; job responsibilities for executive, supervisory/management, professional, and business support level positions, including specific components of grants management; and career activities and plans of survey respondents. The contents of the report can be used to– prepare for a performance and salary review; benchmark for strategic planning Read more

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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21 Terms Every Private Foundation Should Know

Like many specialized spheres of interest, the world of private foundations has its own language, with unique terms and specific definitions you are unlikely to encounter elsewhere. Fortunately, the majority of these terms are relatively easy to comprehend and with a brief introduction, you’ll soon become quite facile with philanthropic jargon. This booklet will help you understand 21 common and not-so common terms pertaining to private foundations. Some of these terms are related to specific rules and regulations governing private foundations and will help you stay in compliance with IRS regulations; others will help you communicate with professionals in the Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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5 Tips for Community Building through Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion builds capacity of neighborhood leaders who acquire new digital literacy skills, devices, or internet access, strengthens relationships between neighborhoods, and engages the community through online organizing. Every local context will require a unique approach. However, here are some tips based on experiences at the Housing Partnership that can help get you started.

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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5 Ways to Mind the Philanthropy Shop Mindfully

Mindfulness is simply knowing what you are doing while you are doing it. CJ Callen lists five ways foundations can get off of the “mindless” treadmill and be fully present.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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6 Steps to Evaluating your Program

This tool will help you to create an accurate process for documenting and evaluating the entire effort.

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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A Community Information Toolkit

This toolkit offers a process and easy-to-use set of tools that will help you take stock of your community’s news and information flow and take action to improve it.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems 2016

Along with our partners, the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and Idealware, GMN is excited to share our 2016 update of the popular A Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems. This in-depth report has been expanded for 2016 to look at the features and processes used by more than 30 grants management system. The Consumers Guide to Grants Management Systems compares the strengths and weaknesses of these different grants management packages to see how they stack up against industry standards.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

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

Categories: Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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A Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association: Ten Principles and Practices

The Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association represents a synthesis of recommendations made by more than 60 practitioners and thought leaders in the field. It describes ten principles and corresponding practices that contribute to a grantmaking organization’s effectiveness and that can be used to strengthen philanthropy education across the sector.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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A Guide for Training Public Dialogue Facilitators

This is a step-by-step guide for training youth and adults as small-group dialogue facilitators in a dialogue and community change effort.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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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: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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A new era for African philanthropy

There has never been a greater time for African philanthropy and philanthropy in general than today. The momentum and interest around philanthropy have grown – at times surprisingly so, given that not so long ago philanthropy was accorded no role in formal and intergovernmental processes. Not many governments considered philanthropy in their policy processes; if they did, they would do so in disparaging or suspecting ways. African governments viewed philanthropy (particularly international foundations) as part of a western agenda to influence regime change. This view, which many still hold, has in part been fuelled by the fact that many foundations Read more

Categories: Resources

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A Plan of One’s Own: A Woman’s Guide to Philanthropy

This guide examines women’s roles in philanthropy and features “how to” sections on creating and using a variety of forms of charitable giving, as well as working with professional advisers.

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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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A Self-reflection Tool for Black Trustees on Foundation Boards

ABFE brings a point of view: Black trustees who sit at tables of power and influence have a unique opportunity to significantly influence outcomes for Black communities by “leveraging the trust” that they hold as trustees. A companion to ABFE’s Responsive Philanthropy in Black Communities: A Framework and Agenda for Change, this tool discusses the unique role of Black trustees and opportunities for reflection as they fulfill their roles.  ABFE encourages the use of this tool as a way to make a difference for Black communities.

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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A Snapshot: Compensation in Corporate Responsibility

This info graphic provides a snapshot of salaries and compensation for corporate responsibility professionals. The full report is available with membership to ACCP.

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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About Mission Investing

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Accountability Self-Assessment Questionnaire for Unstaffed Foundations

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

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

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Advanced Intensive Grantmaking

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

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

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Alliance Breakfast Club – How much influence does philanthropy have?

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

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

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Alliance Breakfast Club- Markets for good: removing the barriers

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

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

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Alliance Magazine – #ShiftThePower: the rise of community philanthropy

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

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

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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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Annual Board To-Dos

What’s on the agenda for your board this year? Are you covering the bases of good governance? Below, we offer a checklist of annual board to-dos—prepared for foundations that are up and running (not start-ups). *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only  

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Answers to the 10 Most Asked Questions about PRIs

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide

Do you know if your communications are working? Have you ever asked? If the answer to both questions is “no,” you’re not alone. Few foundation communicators claim they regularly – if at all – formally evaluate their work. To help, the Communications Network has published Are We There Yet? A Communications Evaluation Guide. This guide walks users through a nine-step process for creating plans for monitoring and measuring their communications. In addition to step-by-step planning advice, the guide includes several case studies from the Lumina Foundation for Education, The Wallace Foundation and others where the data from evaluation efforts helps Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Are We There Yet? How to Know Whether Your Communications Are Effective

This article describes the results of a study on current knowledge and practices in evaluating foundation communications. The study consisted of three parts: an online survey of practitioners, a series of in-depth key informant interviews, and an extensive literature review. The study found that while most practitioners agree that evaluating communications is necessary to make decisions about their communication strategy, more than half did not regularly do so. Lack of experience or skills was the second top barrier cited, after lack of human/financial resources. Those who have more experience with evaluation were more likely to feel that it was not Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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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Assessing and Advancing Foundation Transparency: Corporate Foundations as a Case Study

This article explores the mix of forces explaining variability in good-governance standards and practices by charitable foundations. A six-drivers framework for explaining improved foundation accountability and transparency is proposed and discussed in the context of a country study. Those drivers are: regulatory pressures, self-regulation, demands for information from donors and other relevant stakeholders, societal pressure derived from scandals, emulation, and third-party assessment. A simple tool for assessing foundation transparency internationally is proposed and then applied to corporate, endowed, and fundraising foundations in the U.S. and Spain. Foundations’ financial structure compounds with institutional factors to influence the stage of development of Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Assessing Impact

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

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Assessing Nonprofits’ Communications Capacity: An Online Self-Assessment Tool

Foundations increasingly recognize the importance of strategic and effective communications to advance their social-change goals. This article provides a framework that helps foundations to better understand the communications capacity of their grantee partners. Based on a detailed analysis of a survey of 529 foundations, universities and nonprofits, the authors created a six-point index that identifies the characteristics and practices of organizations that are ranked as highly effective at using communications to advance their goals. The six indicators are: Involvement of organization leadership in communications, communications planning and organization-wide planning, staffing and the use of outside expertise, donor understanding and support Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Assessing the How of Grantmaking

As grantmakers, most of us pay attention to what we fund—grantmaking strategy and impact—and who we fund—the grantees we support. But what about how we fund? Practices matter. Your grantmaking practices are one of the most public—and sometimes one of the only—expressions of your organizational values that grantseekers experience. How do you want the world to see you?

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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B Corps/Benefit Corporation

Two new hybrid forms of incorporation, available in a growing number of states, in which a for-profit corporation formally commits to meeting standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Similar in concept tothe  new “L3C” form of incorporation but a legally distinct form .Often categorized as a “social businesses” or “social enterprise.”

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Beldon Fund Final Impact Assessment

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

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

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Beldon Fund Lessons and Tips for Spending Out

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

Categories: Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation , Resources

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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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Benchmarking Foundation Governance

On a typical foundation board, what are its members’ most common areas of expertise? How common is it for an original donor — or a family member — to sit on a board? To what extent are board members involved in grantmaking? There are lots of questions out there about foundation governance. Yet there has been little data about foundation boards’ structures and practice. In surveying foundation CEOs as part of a larger benchmarking study, CEP worked closely with BoardSource to design and include questions related to governance to collect and bring to light new data on foundation boards. Benchmarking Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Bequest

A method of planned giving in which money, property, or other assets are donated to a charitable organization after a person passes away. Bequests are usually included in a donor’s will or other estate plan documentation.

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Better Together: Realizing the Promise of Collaboration in Family Philanthropy

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources

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Beyond Compliance: Measuring to Learn, Improve, and Create Positive Change

At their best, systems for monitoring and measuring nonprofit performance illuminate what an organization is accomplishing, where its resources are going, and how that organization might address weaknesses and build on successes. At their worst, such systems become an expensive compliance exercise, diverting resources from program delivery without returning a greater understanding of how to achieve an organization’s goals. With that context in mind, the Center and the Wharton Social Impact Initiative developed this report to tackle questions central to effective philanthropy: How do non-profits and donors measure and manage results? What tools exist, whom do they serve, which questions Read more

Categories: Organization Learning and Evaluation , Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Resources

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Beyond the NPR Crowd: How Evaluation Influenced Grantmaking at the California Council for the Humanities

This article describes an initiative designed to engage a broad cross section of Californians in the humanities. Initial findings from book reading groups were that participants were predominantly white, middle-aged women. Changing the type of programming to include poetry slams, photography, digital media, and writing programs broadened participation of various ages and ethnic groups. The location of the program also made a difference, with schools and community-based organizations drawing more diverse audiences than libraries.

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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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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Black Out: Understanding LGBTQ Advocacy and Black Communities

This webinar, part of ABFE Third Thursday Webinar Series and co-sponsored by Funders for LGBTQ Issues and The Third Wave Fund, examines how leaders and organizations connect racial and LGBTQ identity to secure social justice for LGBTQ people.

Categories: Webinar, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Resources

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Blueprint for a Healthier America

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Board Self-Assessment for Community Foundations

A community foundation board has a particular responsibility to identify emerging issues in its community, set funding goals or priorities accordingly, and determine when or if the foundation should act as a leader and convenor. BoardSource’s board self-assessment tool for community foundations is designed to meet the unique needs of a community foundation board by assisting in strengthening the board’s governance practices as well as its ability to respond appropriately as opportunities and challenges arise within its community. It is based on BoardSource’s standard BSA and includes questions on grantmaking and community leadership, funding and public image, and stewardship and Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Board Succession: From Planless to Inspired

Does your grantmaking organization have a succession plan in place? If you’re struggling with succession—or haven’t dealt with this tricky topic on your board—you’re not alone. In our most recent member survey, we learned that 27% of members have completed their plans, 29% are working on one now, and 39% plan to complete theirs in the future. I probably don’t need to tell you that a sound succession plan approved by your board is very important. Things happen, and simply having a plan in place can make everyone’s life much easier if something were to happen to you or another Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, 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 , Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Bridging Silos, Improving Systems

Systems that provide services to children tend to operate in silos; foundations can play a role in helping bridge these silos by supporting “systems building” efforts. Using examples from two foundations and two communities, this article explores the challenges and lessons learned in systems building work. Educating grantees and other community members about systems and systems building is a critical first step in the process. Supporting systems building requires an iterative process and foundations should continuously reinforce the importance of systems building activities.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Bringing grantmaking in from the cold

Increasingly, the practice of grantmaking as a tool for bringing about social change has fallen out of favour, replaced by newer, snappier-sounding forms of philanthropy. In laying out their wares, venture philanthropy, strategic philanthropy, philanthrocapitalism and, most recently, ‘catalytic philanthropy’ have all made claims for greater effectiveness.  

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Building and Restoring Civic Capacity: The Obama Administration’s Federal-Local Partnership with Detroit

This report focuses on what the partnership contributed to Detroit’s revitalization efforts and how it helped build local capacity. Initiatives and projects detailed in the report in which The Kresge Foundation was involved include the Blight Task Force, the Detroit Home Mortgage program, creation of the city’s global engagement strategy and attracting support for sustainable recreation at Historic Fort Wayne.

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Building and Supporting Sustainable Fields: Views from Philanthropy

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

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

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Building Civic Capacity and Communities

A collection of peer-to-peer resources focusing on work being done to strengthen communities. Includes community foundation models, and civic and community capacity resources.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Building Collaboration From the Inside Out

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Building Evaluation Capacity

Evaluation is a process that applies systematic inquiry to program management, improvement, and decision making. Evaluation is also used to assess the status or progress of a strategy (i.e., a group of meaningfully connected programs, not just the simple aggregation of multiple programs) or an initiative (a grouping of strategies). Evaluation Capacity is the ability of staff and their organizations to do evaluation. Because evaluation is systematic, it involves proficiency in a particular set of skills.

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

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Building the Bridge for Diversity and Inclusion: Testing a Regional Strategy

Transforming Michigan Philanthropy Through Diversity & Inclusion (TMP) is a six-year research and development effort of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). A unique experiment, TMP is the only statewide, comprehensive effort to promote diversity and inclusiveness among foundations in the country. Organizational excellence through diversity and inclusion requires an organization to find a goal that resonates with its stakeholders and then create collaborative communities that focus on achieving that goal. This strategy positions an organization to use the full diversity of those stakeholders for tasks such as problem-solving, innovation, quality initiatives, and the acquisition of resources. Diversity and inclusion Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Building the Capacity of Networks to Achieve Systems Change

Networks have historically played an essential role in promoting progress in areas such as social justice, political reform, environmental protection, and public health. Foundations are increasingly recognizing the power of networks and looking for strategies to help networks achieve their potential. The most common strategies are: a) convene a new network around a mission in line with the foundation’s interests, or b) make grants to an existing network whose interests align with the foundation’s. Each strategy has practical limitations. This paper analyzes an alternative strategy developed by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (MRBF). In addition to providing networks with grants, Read more

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Can Foundations Train Their Grantees to Be Effective Communicators?

How can foundations assess the effectiveness of training programs designed to help grantees develop effective communications skills? The Hewlett Foundation commissioned a study to explore just this question, and shares lessons learned including: – Make sure participants, and the organizations they’re from, are ready for training and can “put adequate human and financial resources into place to support communications.” – Invite teams, not individuals, to take part in training. – Robust follow-up is key. What people learn in class won’t stick if the lessons aren’t reinforced. and: – Support efforts to integrate communications with program strategy. If foundations really want Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Case Study: Greater Milwaukee Foundation: Built for Leadership

Embedded in this case study are three Cool Tools that community foundations can access via the click of a mouse: Milwaukee’s “Good to Great” strategic plan Criteria for selecting leadership projects Metrics used to assess the Foundation’s leadership efforts Read the case study to learn more about: Building a board for leadership Operating from a values base Aligning staff Engaging donors and other co-investors Funding community leadership Increasing impact

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Catalytic Philanthropy

The idea behind catalytic philanthropy can be traced to one of FSG’s very first articles, “Philanthropy’s New Agenda: Creating Value” (Harvard Business Review, 1999). In that piece, they noted that funders have a variety of options—beyond their grant dollars—to create social change. To determine the best interventions and roles for them to play, foundations need to develop clear strategies based on data and well-defined goals.

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: A Funder’s Guide

GEO and Monitor Institute partnered to release this guide, to explore what it takes for grantmakers to cultivate a network mindset, offer recommendations for how funders can effectively build the capacity of networks and identify five network approaches that are helping grantmakers and social change makers to harness the power of networks.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Cause-Related Marketing/Embedded Philanthropy

When a charitable contribution or philanthropic act is built into (or “embedded” in) a commercial transaction, such as when a percentage of proceeds from sale of a product are then donated to a charitable cause or organization by the company selling the product. The company often uses the charitable aspect of the transaction to market the product or service.

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CEO Transitions in Family Foundations

Among the most important tasks that any board confronts is the choice of head staff person. If anything, this decision has even greater significance in family foundations. Whether the position is vacant because of the retirement of a beloved CEO or the departure of a problematic one, CEO transitions in family foundations typically have three major stages: clarifying the foundation direction, identifying a suitable successor, and realigning the foundation’s strategies and/or programs as necessary.

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP) Course

FMA’s Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP) program is the only nationally recognized certification program for existing and aspiring nonprofit accounting and fiscal management professionals. The course, offered in person or online, covers practical skills that can be immediately applied to your day-to-day operations, including: Financial Reporting Internal Controls Budget Development Governance As the only licensed provider of CNAP in New York, Chicago and online FMA holds regular courses taught by instructors with extensive nonprofit financial backgrounds. Learn Philanthropy members are entitled to a special discount of $100 off the cost of both the in-person and online CNAP programs using the code LP2020. Please Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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CFLeads Executive Leadership Institute

The Executive Leadership Institute (ELI) is a one-year intensive learning opportunity tailored specifically for community foundation CEOs to strengthen their ability to step into complex leadership roles in their communities. Through three, small group, face-to-face meetings supplemented by one-on-one coaching, it is designed to strengthen CEO leadership skills and relationships. With a focus on challenging CEOs in positive ways in a supportive peer environment, the Institute is designed to stimulate creativity and inspire “out of the box” thinking. The initial ELI cohort will consist of 15 community foundation leaders drawn from a pool of CEOs from community foundations in older Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , 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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Challenges and Strategies for Family Foundations With Geographically Dispersed Board Members

This article, based on interviews with leaders of 10 family foundations, investigates the impact of geographic dispersion on governance, administration, decision making, and grantmaking activities. The greatest challenges for family foundations with dispersed boards involve assembling an appropriate staff, ensuring strong communication between staff and board members, and focusing the organization’s mission. Maintaining family board member interest in the foundation’s geographic area and bridging and strengthening ties between generations were also concerns. In order to maintain family legacies, all case-study foundations found unique ways to overcome challenges and were deliberate in ensuring that board members stayed actively engaged in the Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

One of the goals of this program is for the participants to share their experiences with the broader field. See what grantmakers have learned while developing strategies, particularly as it relates to the principles, practices and benefits of grantmaker-grantee partnerships.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

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

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

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

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

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Changing Your Grantmaking Lens: Aging as an Asset

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Charitable Gift Annuity

A planned giving instrument in which a donor transfers money, property, or other assets to a charitable organization and receives a partial tax deduction, and then the charity pays the donor a fixed sum at regular intervals during his or her lifetime. Upon the donor’s death, the charity keeps the remaining assets as a gift.

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Charitable Lead Trust

A planned giving instrument in which a donor transfers money, property, or other assets to a trust at the time of their death, and the trust then pays out a fixed amount to a charitable organization for a set number of years. After this time, the remaining assets in the trust are transfered to the donor’s heirs or other beneficiaries.

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Charitable Remainder Trust

A planned giving instrument in which a donor transfers money, property, or other assets to a charitable organization and receives a partial tax deduction, and then the charity pays the donor a fixed sum at regular intervals during his or her lifetime. Upon the donor’s death, the charity keeps the remaining assets as a gift.

Categories: Resources









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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Coaching and Philanthropy: An Action Guide for Grantmakers

This guide was created as a resource for grantmakers as they explore these and other questions about coaching. The guide has three parts: Master the Basics, Make the Case and Make It Work. The guide also includes examples of grantmakers that have embraced coaching as an important form of support for grantees, as well as recommendations for the field of philanthropy as it seeks to broaden the use and effectiveness of coaching.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Collaborative Funding for Greater Impact: A Case Study of the Cincinnati Experience

What does it take to bring a diverse group of local and regional grantmakers together to apply for a Social Innovation Fund grant and, on receiving the grant, to design and implement a consensus plan for moving forward on issues of shared concern? Last year, a group of 15 grantmakers launched the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Social Innovation Fund to deliver coordinated funding and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations working to improve outcomes — from cradle to career — for young people in the region. But how does this partnership really work? This guide explains Greater Cincinnati’s story and offers takeaways that Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

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

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Communicating for Impact: Strategies for Grantmakers

Foundation communications goes far beyond an annual report or the occasional press release about grantees. And it’s no longer the exclusive domain of big foundations, communications staff, or consultants. Integrating communications is critical to advancing programmatic goals. See how grantmakers use a “communications lens” to develop strategy, evaluate impact, take advantage of new media technologies, and more.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Communication That Counts: Lessons From South African Social Investors

Communication That Counts offers practical lessons in communicating for impact based on the experiences of funders and others involved in social investment in South Africa. The insights in Communication That Counts are pertinent both to South Africans and others beyond its borders, as it explores universal themes related to how to communicate with partners, social investors, and grantees; how to identify and achieve communication goals; and how different media can help enhance different messages. The guide was developed in partnership with Tshikululu Social Investments.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Community Foundation

A grantmaking institution with a broad charitable mission, almost always tied to a specific geographic area. Legally categorized as a public charity rather than a private foundation, a community foundation meets the public support test by raising donations from individuals or institutions. It then make grants or other philanthropic investments in the community, under the guidance of a board that is representative of the community. Community foundations offer different methods of giving to donors, including donor-advised funds, gifts to the foundation’s permanent endowment, various planned giving options, or other earmarked gifts or special funds.

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Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investing

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Community Foundations and Advocacy

This fact sheet shows how community foundations can play an active role in the public sector and can support lobbying, advocate, lobby, and support other election-related activities.

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

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Community Investment: Focusing on the System

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Community Leadership Stories

Leadership in Action Stories provide insight into how community foundations are approaching their community leadership work and putting the community leadership building blocks into practice. These stories illustrate the pathways and elements contained in the Framework for Community Leadership by a Community Foundation.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Community Leadership Tools – CooL Tools

What makes these tools so cool? They were developed and are being used by your community foundation colleagues! And they can help build your community leadership potential. Check out the variety of tools shared by your colleagues to advance community leadership work. Includes: Strategic Plans and Frameworks; Choosing and Timing Community Leadership Opportunities; Diversity and Inclusion; Donor Engagement; and Metrics

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Community Voice in Impact Investing – Webinar

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Compliance Assessment for Private Foundations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Considering Culture

This case study examines how organizations are applying evidence-based practices in culturally relevant ways and how local programs are adopting nontraditional approaches to successfully serve communities of color. Considering Culture is the fourth installment in a five-part Race for Results case study series.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Consumers Guide to Integrated Software for Community Foundations

GMN is pleased to share the Consumers Guide to Integrated Software for Community Foundations with you. The report was developed by Idealware with support from GMN and the Technology Affinity Group. The Guide looks at the features and processes used by five different integrated software solutions to help community foundations and donor-advised funds manage funds, track grants throughout their life cycles, solicit donations, provide online support for donor advised funds, and tracking accounting data. We hope you find this helpful in your work and will share it with your colleagues. It compares the strengths and weaknesses of the packages, showing Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Corporate Foundation

A philanthropic entity funded by contributions from a corporate entity, but established as a legally distinct entity. Almost always organized legally as a private foundation focused primarily on grantmaking, but can be a public charity or operating foundation. Contributions from the corporate entity are often made at regular intervals and so corporate foundations usually have smaller permanent endowments than other foundations. While legally distinct from the corporation’s internal giving or social responsibility program, the corporate foundation very often maintains close ties to the corporation beyond simply financial ones. The foundation often gives in geographic areas in which the corporation operates, Read more

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Corporate Giving/Corporate Social Responsibility

Philanthropic contributions made by corporations, using the same methods as individuals (e.g. giving money/grants, time/talent, in-kind products or services, and more). Corporations can give as a corporate entity and/or through a corporate foundation set up as a separate legal entity. “CSR” refers to the general commitment of a corporation to social benefit, including its corporate giving.

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CRACKING THE NETWORK CODE: FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR GRANTMAKERS

GEO’s newest publication sets out to crack the code behind the network mystique. In fact, there is a method to working more efficiently and effectively through networks, and a critical first step for grantmakers is adopting a network mindset, which may require dramatic shifts in attitude and behavior for some. Cracking the Network Code outlines four principles that comprise the network mindset, illustrates the principles with a range of examples of networks that have achieved real results, and offers practical questions and recommendations to help grantmakers achieve the benefits and avoid common pitfalls of working through networks.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

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

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

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Crowdfunding

A method of raising money for an initiative or organization – often one in the initial or “start-up” phase – from two or more people contributing to the fundraising goal, usually through an online platform.

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Crowdfunding

A method of raising money for an initiative or organization – often one in the initial or “start-up” phase – from two or more people contributing to the fundraising goal, usually through an online platform.

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Cultivating Change: A Statistical Review of Grantmaking That Impacts the Lives of Black Men and Boy

Based on a survey of 24 foundations distributing 120 grants for black men and boys, the report analyzes foundation and grant characteristics, provides implications for philanthropy, and lists the grants used in the dataset.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

From 2003-2012, the country’s top foundations dedicated only 0.8 percent of total grants to nonprofit leadership development. And yet, as shown by recent historic progress around immigration, criminal justice and other social justice movements, we need leaders who are strong, skilled and connected to successfully realize positive, social change.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Data Playbook

A Measured Approach. For purpose-driven organizations, data means more than just numbers and graphs — it is about understanding what more you can do to change lives and strengthen communities. The Data Playbook is designed to help you make sense of the data you already have and to build upon it. In it, you will learn about what data you need; how best to collect it; how to analyze it to meet your needs; how to present it; and how to use it to inform your work and tell your story. Whether you are looking for guidance on how to Read more

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Defining, Building, and Measuring Capacity: Findings From an Advocacy Evaluation

This article reports on results from Mathematica Policy Research’s evaluation of Consumer Voices for Coverage, a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the role of consumer health advocacy coalitions in 12 states. The foundation based the program on a study that identified six core advocacy capacities, and designed it to strengthen these capacities. The evaluation found that the level of funding, substantial and targeted technical assistance, and the three-year time frame of the program contributed to the observed increases in five capacities. Fundraising remained the lowest-rated capacity for most of the coalitions and may require different Read more

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Dimensions of Change: A Model for Community Change Efforts

The Dimension of Change Model (DOCM), developed by the authors, is offered as a potentially useful tool for foundations, government, bodies, consultants, coalitions, and even individual organizations that are initiating or engaged in substantive efforts to bring about community change. The dimensions contained in the model – structure, parameters, intention, approach, and people – offer a frame for addressing key aspects that emerge from the literature as fundamental to all change efforts. The model is offered as a way to design, implement, adapt, and evaluate change initiatives. The work of First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission in Marin County Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Disaster Philanthropy

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Diversity & Inclusion Action Kit

The Action Kit, designed around the Diversity Framework, is intended to help you identify what steps you and your organization can take to advance diversity and inclusion.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Diversity and Inclusion: Lessons from the Field

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

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

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Diversity Framework

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

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

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Diversity in Action: Strategies with Impact

This monograph features foundation CEO and trustee reflections on the impact of a broad array of diversity and inclusiveness efforts. They address many of the issues foundation leaders face every day including how to ensure that your grant resources have the most impact possible. The authors have identified diversity and inclusion as important tools in advancing their organizational missions and program goals. Their strategies range from institutional issues such as board development and staffing to community outreach and redefining grantmaking success.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Diversity, Inclusion, and Effective Philanthropy

Philanthropists are turning to diversity and inclusion as tools for effective giving. Adding these concepts to basic due diligence can create a philanthropy that is both responsive and efficient.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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

This resource 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: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

When funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Doing What it Takes: Organizing Your Foundation For Impact

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

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

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Donor Strategies to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Lessons from Greater Philadelphia

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

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources

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Donor-Advised Fund

A fund established – with an initial gift and perhaps subsequent gifts from one or more donors – at a nonprofit public charity which then (for a fee) invests the money and manages the process of making grants from the fund as advised by the donor(s). The most common sponsors of DAFs are community foundations, charitable arms of for-profit financial institutions, and certain national host organizations. DAFs are not subject to the same legal rules at private foundations and are considered gifts to the public charity managing the fund even if the money is then re-granted as “advised” by the Read more

Categories: Resources









Donor-Advised Fund

A fund established – with an initial gift and perhaps subsequent gifts from one or more donors – at a nonprofit public charity which then (for a fee) invests the money and manages the process of making grants from the fund as advised by the donor(s). The most common sponsors of DAFs are community foundations, charitable arms of for-profit financial institutions, and certain national host organizations. DAFs are not subject to the same legal rules at private foundations and are considered gifts to the public charity managing the fund even if the money is then re-granted as “advised” by the Read more

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Due Diligence

Due diligence—the process by which a funder assesses an organization before deciding to invest—can cause anxiety for grantmakers and grantseekers alike. In part, this is because it’s poorly understood. In this guide, we dispel five myths, distinguish between legal compliance and the rest of the due diligence process, and clarify legal requirements.  A publication of Project Streamline – an effort of funders and nonprofits to improve grant application, monitoring and reporting practices. It is a collaborative initiative of the Grants Managers Network, in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Association of Small Foundations, the Council on Foundations, the Forum Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Effective Foundation Boards: The Importance of Roles

Foundations are unique among organizations in the enormous latitude they have in determining their work and the manner in which it is done. This flexibility manifests itself particularly in the variety of roles that foundation board members can take. Most of the literature in the field focuses on best practices in board structure and processes. These are necessary in the spirit of responsiveness and legal accountability, but are not sufficient for effectiveness. Achieving role clarity, influence in decision-making and responsibility for impact are three keys to more effective foundation governance. These three attributes can be better understood and achieved by Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Eliminating Discrimination and Inequalities in Access to Water and Sanitation

This policy brief aims to provide guidance on non-discrimination and equality in the context of access to drinking water and sanitation, with a particular focus on women and girls. It also informs readers on the duty of States and responsibilities of non-State actors.

Categories: Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Embedded Philanthropy and the Pursuit of Civic Engagement

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

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

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Employee Empowerment: The Key to Foundation Staff Satisfaction

Employee Empowerment combines quantitative analysis of surveys and in-depth interviews with key staff from two foundations who received high marks from their staff.

Categories: Human Resources Management, Foundation Management, Resources

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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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Engaging Diverse Communities

The guide shares and explains the experiences of several institutions that broadened their donor bases, services, and programs by reaching out to diverse communities. The publication focuses on the African American, Asian American, Latino, and Native American communities. This guide explores how the philanthropic field has identified, attracted, and invited participation by individuals from culturally defined communities. This is not a handbook with explicit instructions on how to succeed with your outreach efforts: strategies and programs are still evolving; learnings are iterative.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Entering the Lion’s Den: Developing the Skills to Create Long-Lasting Community Improvements

In this video from the Community Leadership Video Catalogue, seasoned leaders share how they affect policy and provide lessons on how to manage the risk.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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EPIcenter: Evaluate Practice Improvements

EPIcenter is a benchmarking library that enables users to evaluate practice improvements by learning how others handle specific issues and comparing their own methods against those of other grantmakers. The EPIcenter will enable GMN to document how funders are making grants now, see how practices are changing over time, and determine whether and how grantmakers are adopting effective practices. Six mini-surveys cover the following topics: grant applications, grant decisions, grant reporting, grant monitoring, compliance, and paperless grantmaking.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Equity: is Your Foundation Ready to Invest in Building Opportunity for All?

Research shows that one of the greatest impediments to a prosperous future for all of Michigan’s people is unequal access to resources. To help foundation leaders and their boards begin essential conversations about marginalized populations and determine the extent to which their organization’s culture and grantmaking practices are aligned with a commitment to expanding opportunity in the communities they serve, CMF developed this discussion guide and self-assessment.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Evaluating Community Change: A Framework for Grantmakers

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

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Evaluating Complexity

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

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

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Evaluating the Impact of Social Media at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

RWJF developed a logic model, that outlines how we believe our social media activities will produce programmatic improvement and greater impact. The model was designed and developed with the help of Victoria Dougherty, of Victoria Dougherty Consulting, who based the model on information collected through document review and interviews with RWJF communications staff, research and evaluation program officers, and other program staff at RWJF who were early adopters of social media in the workplace.

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

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

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, 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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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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Expert Q & A: How can African-American philanthropy professionals network more effectively?

By: Karen McNeil-Miller, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Find/Create a network of other African-Americans as one of the many professional/social/personal networks you seek to form. Join and become an active member of ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) Intentionally seek out and request one-on-one conversations with: Several experienced African-American executives to provide perspective; Executive Director of ABFE; Prominent African-American philanthropists in your town. Don’t allow yourself to be viewed as solely responsible to represent and be sensitive to the minority perspective in your foundation.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Expert Q & A: How do learning needs and styles differ across generations, and how can family foundations teach philanthropy to the next generation?

By: Sharna Goldseker, Executive Director at 21/64 From your work across multiple generations in philanthropic organizations, what are you seeing as key learning needs? Much of the work we’ve been doing at 21/64 for the past twelve years coincides with research that shows each generation brings a unique set of values, skills, and experiences to the philanthropic table. The first key learning need is around values clarification, which we believe leads not only to better working relationships among funders but also to more effective philanthropy. Beginning to uncover one’s own values and learn what values motivate others is critical to bridging the generational divide. Often, Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Expert Q & A: Strategic, Emergent, or (fill in the blank) Philanthropy: What’s the Right Approach?

By Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting Over the last century or so of philanthropic practice, multiple pathways for achieving results have emerged. Two of the most widely adopted  (and most recently debated) are “strategic” and “emergent” philanthropy. Both have deep roots in the field, as well as a range of adherents and even skeptics.  Other approaches in various stages of experimentation, adoption, or rejection include “philanthrocapitalism,” and “venture,” “catalytic,” and “high engagement” philanthropy. What’s a grantmaker to do? Which approach, hybrid, or combination of approaches is right for you/ your program or initiative / your organization?   How can Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Facing Racism in a Diverse Nation

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

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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Families Funding Change

Social justice grantmaking is an important part of many family foundations’ strategies. These foundations use their reputation and financial capital for systemic reform by funding work such as nonprofit advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement. Yet, many family foundations also encounter hurdles when they consider a shift to strategic social justice giving.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Families Step Up to Meet Economic Crisis

Based on what family foundations are telling us they are doing, NCFP offers the following 10 steps you can consider during a tough economic climate.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Family Foundation

While there is no legal nor widely accepted definition of what qualifies as a “family” foundation, the term is usually applied to a class of independent, non-operating private foundations in which: the mission and giving continues to be strongly influenced by the intent of the founding donor(s), the founding donor(s) or familial descendants play some governance role in the foundation (e.g., as trustees or even staff), and the assets come from a founding family or individual. However, some public foundations, operating foundations, and other types have these qualities as well so can be considered family foundations. Many independent foundations began Read more

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Financial Inclusion – Opportunities and Risks for Donors

People living in poverty often lack access to safe, reliable ways to manage the little money they have. As a result, they face de facto exclusion from the financial system the rest of us rely on. To address this problem, a unique philanthropic project, funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and Bankable Frontier Associates, formed partnerships with five large banks in the developing world. The approach was straightforward: research and implement new approaches to providing poor people with the financial tools they deserve. This philanthropic-public-private collaboration focused on sustainable financial inclusion—developing savings accounts that could Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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

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Five Proven Ways to Use Donor Advised Funds

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Five Ways To Position Your New Foundation For Success

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Forty Years of LGBTQ Philanthropy

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

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

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Foundation Board Basics

A grantmaking foundation is a charitable tax-exempt organization whose primary function is to distribute funds for charitable purposes. Private foundations are typically formed by individuals, families, or corporations. Regardless of whose generosity is benefiting worthy causes, a foundation needs a governing board (or a board of trustees as foundation board members often are called) because it is structured as a tax-exempt organization. In principle, the role of the foundation board does not differ from that of other nonprofit boards, but foundation boards have specific challenges.

Categories: Governance, Resources

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Foundation Payouts

In the first Alliance Audio series, editor Charles Keidan hosts a roundtable discussion with Angela Kail (Head of the Funder Team, New Philanthropy Capital), Cathy Pharoah (Co-Director of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School, City University London), and Jake Hayman (CEO of Ten Years’ Time) on the topic of philanthropy sector payouts. Following on from their pieces in Alliance over the last few months, these philanthropy experts and practitioners discuss the controversial topic of payouts; why they should be imposed, why they should not be imposed, and what they might mean for the sector as it stands at the Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Foundation Strategies for Investing in Food Security

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

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

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Foundations and the SDGs: the ‘conspicuous absentees’ speak out

The philanthropic community has been ‘conspicuously absent from the SDG debate’, according to Kevin Watkins of the UK’s Overseas Development Institute, writing in the March 2015 issue of Alliance. However, as he suggests, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will take final shape later this year, are likely to have a significant influence on the environment in which foundations operate. We asked a number of people from different regions why foundations should take the SDGs seriously, and how their influence is likely to make itself felt on their work both domestically and internationally. Their response suggests that, even if they Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Foundations as Network Strategists, Weavers, and Managers: Learning From One Foundation’s Journey and Results

This article shares insights from a five-year evaluation of the Oral Health 2020 network, an effort by the DentaQuest Foundation to align and strengthen efforts in service of a national movement to improve oral health. The evaluation helped to place the foundation’s journey in the context of a broader field seeking new approaches to achieve deep and sustainable social change.

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

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Foundations Don’t Know What They’re Risking

Critical gaps exist in philanthropy’s definitions of and approach to risk management. This article describes the scope of the problem and a framework for philanthropists to adopt risk-management practices that better equip the sector to address the challenges of our time.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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

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Frameworks for Private Foundations: A New Model for Impact

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Freedom Funders: Philanthropy and the Civil Rights Movement

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

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

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From Generation to Generation

Family foundations are often led by family members, generation after generation. But no one is born with the knowledge to run a foundation. In order to ensure smooth transitions, or at least minimize challenges, some critical points must be addressed in the very structure and practice of the family foundation. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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From the Desk of the Junior Board

Perspectives from young board members. *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support

Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support, looks at how funders collaborate with and bring support to indigenous communities around the world. Through examples from a diverse range of foundations, this guide explores how grantmakers work with indigenous peoples, the approaches they take, and the practices they find effective. This guide was developed in collaboration with International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP).

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Funding Locally

Imagine sustainable change at the grassroots. Imagine giving to address specific issues in specific places while building local communities and infrastructure. Now don’t limit yourself to your hometown or a place where you have roots or relationships. Instead, imagine you can do it anywhere in the world.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Fundraising Foundations

Creating a separate but affiliated fundraising organization — a foundation for the purpose of raising funds — is not for every nonprofit. If your board is considering the option, it is important to identify the various challenges and benefits such a foundation might bring with it.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

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

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

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Gender Transformative Giving The Next Phase in Feminist Philanthropy?

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Gender Transformative Philanthropy A Case for More Effective Giving

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

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

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

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

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

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Generating Change: Investing in an Era of Nonprofit Talent and Leadership

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy developed this paper to provide a fresh, solutions focused framework to help funders address the pressing issue of nonprofit leadership development in ways that are flexible and appropriate across the diversity of the foundation field. Because EPIP is the funder network that develops new leaders for foundations, we know firsthand how imperative it is for the funding community to invest in the next generation— and all generations—of people who power their work. We all know that foundations are only as effective as the nonprofits they support, and grantees are only as effective as their leadership and Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Gill Foundation: Strategically Funding the LGBT Civil Rights Movement

Former Gill Foundation Executive Director Rodger MacFarlane describes Gill’s strategic approach to funding the LGBT civil rights movement. He shares details of the Foundation’s strategic planning process and subsequent restructuring to better serve its grantees and advance its mission. This video was produced by CEP to complement the Gill Foundation case study in CEP’s 2007 report on foundation strategy, “Beyond the Rhetoric: Foundation Strategy.”

Categories: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Giving Circle/Pooled Fund

A method of giving in which a group of people combine their contributions into a single joint gift or on-going pooled fund. While there are many specific variations in form and process, most giving circles or pooled funds involve some sort of group decision-making about the target and recipients of the joint gift(s).

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Giving in Challenging Times

The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors released a guide called “Giving in Challenging Times,” in 2008. They followed up ten years later with this blog post and recommended that donors take their time to carefully “review, recalibrate, and recommit” – an approach that also makes sense now.

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Giving in Minnesota

Giving in Minnesota is the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s definitive report on charitable giving in Minnesota with the latest figures on grantmaking by individual donors, foundations and corporate grantmakers.

Categories: History, Role in Society, The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Giving Money – Offline, Online, Mobile

Giving money to a charitable organization or cause using offline or online means, or mobile technology. Offline means include checkwriting and direct cash donations as well as formal grantmaking by institutions. Online means include giving through a charity’s direct website, social media, a giving portal or other online giving platform, or a crowdfunding site. Mobile giving uses technology such as text messaging and mobile “apps.” The different methods have different advantages and disadvantages – e.g., the level of convenience, information, fees and restrictions, etc. – and so appeal to different donors or those in particular circumstances. Whether a donor can Read more

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Giving While Living: The Beldon Fund Spend-Out Story

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. Though it draws on historical materials – reports, strategy papers, financial models, written policies and external evaluations – the context and insights come from interviews with key staff members, grantees, John Hunting, and board members.  

Categories: Models & Approaches, Resources

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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




Grantmakers’ Role in Advancing Good Governance

Grantmakers are in a unique position to strengthen the governance of their grantees and nonprofits in their communities. For grantmakers already engaging around issues of good governance, this report provides new ideas to consider and suggestions for enhancing current activities. For grantmakers that are just beginning to engage nonprofits on governance issues, this report presents the case for investing in governance and shares a variety of ways to advance those efforts.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Grantmaking

A formalized process of giving money, usually through a private foundation or grantmaking public charity. Grants are usually distinguished from other gifts of money by the formal application and reporting requirements, the specific purposes for which grant funds may be used, a bounded time period for grant funds to be used, and the more explicit strategy used to guide grantmaking decisions.

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Grantmaking in the South: An Opportunity to Support Equity and Resilience

NCRP’s Ryan Schlegel interviewed Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation’s executive director Justin Maxson and network officer Lavastian Glenn about philanthropy in the South. Among the topics they discussed: foundations’ support for social change in the South, how to strengthen partnerships between Southern and national funders, and what has changed in the South since Lavastian authored an article in the summer 2013 edition of Responsive Philanthropy.

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Grantmaking Should Be Grounded in Real Costs

There is growing recognition that supporting nonprofit organizations with limited, restricted funding does not work. So what can we all do to make sure this recognition leads to systemic change that sets up nonprofit organizations for success and honors funders with the results their generosity deserves? This article explores what needs to be done in order to ensure that effective grantmaking is grounded in understanding the real costs of operating individual nonprofit organizations.  This article was originally published as Pay-What-It-Takes-Philanthropy, published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review in June of 2016.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Grantmaking to Communities of Color in Oregon

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

Grants Managers Network (now PEAK Grantmaking) looked across the field to better understand attitudes and perceptions about grants management and grantmaking practices. They took deep dives to learn more about foundations that are intentionally moving toward “successful structures” that integrate operations and program for greater impact.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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GrantSafe

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

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

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Greater Influence, More Impact

Influence can be one of the most important tools for impact. Here are five steps for organizations — foundations or otherwise — to build their own strategy.

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Greater Openness About Finances

This article explores how Big Brother Big Sisters Metropolitan Chicago, a participant in The Wallace Foundation’s nonprofit financial management program and client of FMA, has utilized greater transparency about their financials, which has led them to make more informed business decisions. (FMA is pleased to share this resource with the permission of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.)

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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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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Growing Through Giving

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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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Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers

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

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

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Handling Conflict During Board Meetings

Since nonprofit board meetings depend on interaction among people with different values, perspectives, and communication styles, conflict is likely to occur. The impact of this conflict, however, largely depends on how it is handled. Use these key tips to manage conflict in your board meetings and ensure that all board members can have candid and productive discussions.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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Health Conversion/Health Legacy Foundation

A type of private foundation created when a nonprofit hospital or health/insurance organization is sold and converted to a for-profit enterprise. Federal law requires that the proceeds from such a sale must go to a charitable purpose, so often these proceeds are used to create a new endowed grantmaking foundation. Health conversion or health legacy foundations usually have health as their primary grantmaking focus, and often give to health causes in the geographic region formerly served by the nonprofit that was sold. Note, however, that these foundations are not legally a separate type or regulatory category.

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

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

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

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

This research paper by PolicyLink, with Kresge support, examines how housing and development policies affect economic opportunity and community health, reviews recent trends that have increased housing insecurity, surveys practices that link health and housing opportunity, and suggests a reform agenda for policy changes.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, 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 Blog: Rethinking the E-Word

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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How Can Foundations Engage in Advocacy & Lobbying?

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

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

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How Can We Prepare for Collaboration?

Because collaboration is hard and messy, many grantmakers and nonprofits are uncertain about the best way to move forward. The first step is to look inward and ensure that the right elements are in place. This piece discusses several steps that grantmakers can take to prepare for any type of collaboration.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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

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How Inclusion and Equity Are Transforming a Foundation and a Community

Racial inequities in health care, education, incarceration rates and economic stability have persisted, in spite of federal policies to promote equity. The Denver Foundation launched what is now known as the Inclusiveness Project in 2002 to help nonprofits, including funders, become more inclusive of people of color. The Project defines diversity as one component of inclusiveness; inclusive organizations are defined as learning-centered organizations that value the perspectives and contributions of all people. The Project operates on three levels: individual, organizational and sector. An extensive evaluation has shown that there are impacts at all levels, including increasing the number of people Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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How to Develop and Support Leadership that Contributes to Racial Justice

This publication offers recommendations and methods to help leadership programs promote racial justice through their work.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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How to Make Your Writing Clear and Concrete

Effective writing, whatever your field, shares some basic characteristics. It is Clear and Concrete, Courteous and Collegial, Current and Consistent, and Concise. We call these the seven C’s of effective writing. This article will address the first two C’s, Clear and Concrete, and share tips on how to state your case so others can understand it and respond.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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How to Spruce Up Your Online Publications

Not long ago, foundations routinely produced print documents meant to be held and read. Now, with more and more organizations shifting to online publishing, the resulting “publications” are beheld and experienced in different ways than their former print counterparts. As we recently explored in a Communications Network webinar, online publishing is also moving far beyond simply uploading a pdf version of a print document. Instead, the ability to add video, link to other information sources and even invite users to read and post comments, provide opportunities to create online publications that contain content that is both informative and engaging. This Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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How-To: Content Strategy

This 8-minute read outlines five essential steps to the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Hype or Promise: Pairing philanthropy and profit takes work—and smart regulation

Realizing the full potential of impact investing requires moving beyond the aggregation of a few inspiring anecdotes to build the new systems that can support impact-investing aspirations more broadly. Explore ways to: measure value; cultivate transformational leadership; unlock philanthropic capital; move money; and take next steps in your impact investing.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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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Impact Investing

A general term for a number of methods for making socially responsible financial investments. Impact investments seek to generate multiple forms of value, to create positive social and/or environmental returns or impacts in addition to financial returns. Also called “social investing” and encompassing “mission-related investing” (MRI), “program-related investing” (PRI), and other emerging methods. Investments can be made by individuals, organizations, or collectives using a variety of investment vehicles. Impact investment seeks to encourage socially responsible business practices, disinvest in businesses that contribute to social or environmental harm, and provide seed or low-interest loan capital to socially-responsible business ventures. Can also Read more

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Impact investing in a democracy: A response to ‘Markets for Good: removing the barriers’

In the recent Alliance special feature, ‘Markets for good: removing the barriers’, we had not just one article but several from around the globe about social impact investing. It’s a joy to think that the field is now at a point that such an esteemed and diverse group of contributors can come together and debate the issues raised by Monitor Inclusive Markets’ report Beyond the Pioneer: Getting inclusive industries to scale. For me one big issue the report raises is the role of government vis-à-vis impact investing in addressing social problems.

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Impact Investing: An Introduction

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Improving Child Survival Rates: Guidance for Donors

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

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources









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-Kind Giving

Donations of goods or services of any kind – e.g., clothing, “toys for tots,” free advertising space – except money or appreciated property like real estate. Sometimes meant to include gifts of time, talent, and expertise.

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Independent, Non-Operating Foundation

A type of private foundation – with assets usually derived from a single source – that has grantmaking or other philanthropic investment as its primary focus, rather than operating programs, but that cannot be classified under other types of private foundations such as corporate, family, or health conversion. Many independent foundations were once family foundations but transitioned away from direct family influence or involvement at some point.

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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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Infographic: The State of LGBTQ Philanthropy in the Northwest

This resource highlights demographics and foundation funding for LGBTQ communities.  

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

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Innovations in Open Grantmaking

Innovations in Open Grantmaking seeks to provide inspiration and early proof of concept regarding innovative practices at every stage of the grantmaking process. The examples and lessons included can act as suggested guidelines for future research and experimentation around more openly and effectively providing access to public money.  This guide includes: Introduction to Open and Effective Grantmaking: What it is, why it matters Innovations Pre-Granting: Ideation challenges, improving the quality of applications through matchmaking, and prioritizing bottom-up participation Innovations in Granting: Open peer review and participatory judging, evidence-based grantmaking, expert networking, and open alternatives to grants Innovations Post-Granting: Opening data about grants, grantors, and Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Innovative Philanthropic Financing for Community Change

This report provides a concise summary of the East Baltimore Revitalization Initiative, with a focus on how the Annie E. Casey Foundation used innovative financing techniques to support the project. The report provides background on the initiative, which is working to transform an 88-acre area near the Johns Hopkins medical campus that has been hard hit by disinvestment and social problems. The report details transactions that helped finance the initiative and highlights the critical role innovative financing can play in complex redevelopment efforts. The report also offers lessons from these transactions for the philanthropic community, local officials, developers and lenders Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Integrated Transactions: an Emerging Focus for Community Development

This paper examines development models that intentionally integrate elements from two or more sectors, the capital challenges inherent in such projects, and the unique role that community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and philanthropy play in overcoming those challenges. These innovative, emerging models are combining people and place-based strategies to deliver deeper impact to low-income communities, and often require more flexibility and technical support to move forward than the typical capital project. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and philanthropy are well positioned to provide the critical capital and technical assistance that make these projects possible. Unlike fully integrated, outcomes-driven models that Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Integrated Transactions: An Emerging Focus For Community Development

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Internal Communications: Strategies for an Overlooked—But Critical—Communications Channel

This recap of a presentation given at The Communications Network’s 2016 annual conference explains why internal communications are as important and necessary as external communications for the long-term impact and sustainability of your foundation. A framework and suggested activities are offered along with a handout and powerpoint presentation.

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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

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

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Resources

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Invest Northwest: Ten-Year Final Performance Review

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits

Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits explores the experience of Social Innovation Fund subgrantees to understand the capacities that enabled these nonprofits to scale up their programs rapidly and the types of support from their intermediary grantmakers that proved most helpful. While the SIF model may differ from other grantmaking, the experiences of subgrantees and intermediaries have much to offer the broader philanthropic community in reinforcing what it takes to grow nonprofit impact.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Investing in Change: The Importance of Supporting Advocacy

When a foundation gives money directly to a program that provides community services, the impact is seen immediately: low-income children receive a new educational program or a charity hospital can provide health care to individuals in need. Supporting advocacy is a little different. The impact may be harder to see and measure at first, but changes in public policy are often a precursor to the meaningful, long-term success vital to tackling larger community challenges. This fact sheet shows how supporting advocacy is, quite simply, one of the most powerful tools available to foundations for creating change.

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

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

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Investing in Leadership

Leadership is one of a number of factors that determine the effectiveness of a nonprofit organization’s work. Visionary leaders possess the ability to assess the way things are and then inspire us to help create new solutions. In this sense, leadership does more than set policies and define goals; it creates a paradigm for a better world. This brief guide, part of the Philanthropy Roadmap series, is designed for both emerging and established philanthropists. It sets out five key questions that donors can ask to evaluate leadership.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Investment Manager Diversity: The Hardest Taboo to Break

This case study examines how one community foundation — Silicon Valley Community Foundation with assets under management of $4.7 billion — approached the issue of increasing investment manager diversity with its investment advisor — Colonial Consulting which advises $30 billion of capital. These first-person accounts from the community foundation’s CEO and the investment advisor provide candid assessments of how they addressed the issue of increasing investment manager diversity. The hope is that by sharing these observations other foundations and their investment advisors will find the courage to discuss and address the issue of investment manager diversity, the hardest taboo to Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Involve Children and Teens in Your Foundation

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

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

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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

Grantmakers recognize the value of supporting effective, well-led organizations — strong organizations create meaningful changes in the world. To help us understand whether we are making progress in supporting nonprofits in ways that allow them to be successful, GEO conducts field research to track trends in grantmaker practice. In short, we want to know: is grantmaking getting smarter? GEO’s 2014 study highlights some important shifts in how grantmakers support nonprofit results, but also reveals where we’re falling short. To help inform this study, we convened a nonprofit task force and feature the perspective of nonprofit leaders throughout the report to Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? A National Study of Philanthropic Practice

A comprehensive study of the attitudes and practices of staffed grantmaking foundations in the U.S., which examines the connection between listening to and learning with grantees and improving practices to achieve better results. In light of the global economic downturn, this survey also highlights some of the key shifts in grantmaking since 2008 and what they mean for supporting nonprofit resilience.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Is the Policy Win All? A Framework for Effective Social-Justice Advocacy

This article offers a theory-of-change framework to help those engaged in social-justice advocacy to reflect on whether social-justice values are being retained in the process. A reproductive rights effort in South Africa provides an example of how social justice values can be lost in the advocacy process. The failure to sustain work on the ground pointed to the need to maintain a base of support even after a policy victory. Strategies must be revisited as social and political contexts change. One of the critical social-justice values that supports the establishment and maintenance of alliances is collaboration, which must continue to Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Jargon Finder

To help you keep your writing and speaking free of jargon, we are pleased to present Jargon Finder – an online collection of foundation and nonprofit jargon, defined and discussed. Examples include “capacity,” “impact,” and “leverage.” Most of the examples are excerpted from Tony Proscio’s three book-length essays on jargon originally published by The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation: In Other Words; Bad Words for Good; and When Words Fail. The Communications Network thanks the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation for its permission to feature these words on our site.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Keeping Good Records: Small Foundations’ Guide to Staying Organized

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

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

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L3C

Short for “Low-profit, Limited Liability Company.” A new hybrid form of incorporation, available in a growing number of states, in which a for-profit venture has a stated goal of maximizing social benefits instead of profits. Designed specifically to allow and attract multiple sources of capital for the socially-oriented business, including program-related investments from foundations. Similar in concept to the new B Corps/Benefit Corporations form of incorporation but a legally distinct form. Often categorized as a “social businesses” or “social enterprise.” A set of methods for providing financial capital, credit, and banking services to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and low-income individuals who Read more

Categories: Resources









Laying the Groundwork for a National Impact Investing Marketplace

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Laying the Groundwork for Collective Impact: A Working Paper

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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LearnPhilanthropy’s Real Simple Taxonomy

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

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

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Lending, Learning, Leading

This report tells the story of the CDFI Leadership Learning Network, a Casey Foundation initiative to equip leaders of community development finance institutions with the tools of results-based leadership (RBL). The Foundation shares lessons learned from the network, core RBL concepts and profiles of CDFI leaders as they apply RBL skills and tools to the work of their organizations.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Lessons for Philanthropy: A Journey into Indian Country

This report chronicles five years of work to build and strengthen relationships between organized philanthropy and Native Americans and First Alaskans in our region. With pictures, poetry and stories, the report explores how Philanthropy Northwest members are seeking to better understand Native history and culture, and to expand opportunities for deeper, strategic philanthropic partnerships between Natives and non-Natives. We hope that this report will spark new and deeper conversations, ultimately increasing the ties between Native communities and philanthropy. Download the full report, and the report’s addendum, “Trends in Giving to Northwest Indian Country.”

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Leverage the Trust

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

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

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Leveraging Grant-Making—Part 2: Aligning Programmatic Approaches With Complex System Dynamics

The purpose of this two-part article is to enable foundations to increase the leverage of their grantmaking resources by working effectively with the dynamics of complex social systems. This article examines how foundations can align planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts with the behavior of the social systems they seek to improve. Asking powerful questions of staff, board, grantees, and other stakeholders helps to transform how they think about their goals and strategies. In addition to using the power of questioning, foundations function more systemically by suspending their assumptions about their effectiveness and what is possible, creating the cultural shifts needed, Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Leveraging Social Networks in Direct Services: Are Foundations Doing All They Can?

Social networks are critical to physical and mental health, and they shape how people see themselves and their possible futures. Social networks represent an under-leveraged resource in social services’ efforts to alleviate poverty and other social challenges. Foundations may be unintentionally creating barriers to practice that leverages social networks by incentivizing individually-focused, highly specific services delivered in standardized, replicable ways. “Network-oriented” practice can help craft a new way forward that threads the needle between everything-is-different-for-everyone and everything- is-the-same-for-everyone. By focusing funding on efforts that build and support social networks, foundations can deepen and sustain the impact of their funding.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Leveraging Social Sector Leadership

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

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Lobbying Defined for Private Foundations

This fact sheet explains what activities count as lobbying under federal tax law for private foundations. Under federal tax law, private foundations incur a prohibitive tax on any lobbying expenditures, so it is important for private foundations to know exactly what activities meet the definition of lobbying.

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

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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: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Logic Model Builder

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

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

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Logic Model Template

Sample Logic Model Worksheet for Racial Equity and Particular Issues

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

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Looking-Glass World of Nonprofit Money: Managing in For-Profits’ Shadow Universe

This article by Clara Miller looks at the rules of money and finance that govern the nonprofit sector in comparison to those in the for-profit sector. Test your knowledge of nonprofit finance – and the contortions that tie nonprofits up in knots.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Making Change by Spending Down

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Making Change Happen

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

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

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Making Data and Evaluation Work for Foundations and Nonprofits

This blogpost compares evaluation capacity within funding and nonprofit organizations. It suggests three things foundations (and nonprofits) can do to improve their ability to get more from evaluation: Ask grantees about their evaluation capacity; Consider data quality; and Support data and evaluation.  

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

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Map of the Craft

Identifies seven challenges in grantmaking, as well as the practices and skills that can help you meet them: Planning My Work, Organizing for Impact, Working with Grantees, Finding Allies, Making the Grant, Understanding My Role, Leading on the Inside.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Mapping the Journey to Impact Investing

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources









Marguerite Casey Foundation: Reflecting on 15 Years of Philanthropic Leadership Through a Summative Evaluation

This article presents the findings of a summative evaluation of the Marguerite Casey Foundation that was conducted on the occasion of its 15th anniversary. The evaluation was designed to gauge stakeholders’ perceptions of the foundation’s operations to facilitate organizational learning. In sharing these results, the authors seek to elucidate the role of evaluation as a learning practice within the field of philanthropy.

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

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Master Juggler Executive Institute

This leadership program offers: A unique opportunity for executive directors/CEOs and the foundations they serve, combining world-class training and executive coaching. Wisdom from seasoned experts in leadership, organizational development, and philanthropy, plus the collective experience of fellow foundation executives. A small cohort that supports deep connections, real accountability, and a personalized learning experience for each participant.    

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Measuring a Leader

EPIP encourages its members to develop a particular set of skills and values necessary to be effective leaders in building a just, equitable, and sustainable society. We promote diverse perspectives and value innovation for meeting societal challenges. Together with human resource professionals, EPIP created the following list of skills vital to EPIP member leadership development. Learn more about: Strategic and Analytical Skills Leadership and Management Skills Communication Skills Decision-Making Skills Innovation and Problem Solving Skills Social Justice and Racial Analysis Skills Influencing and Fundraising Skills And be sure to follow the conversation on Twitter at #EPIPLeaders.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Microfinance

A set of methods for providing financial capital, credit, and banking services to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and low-income individuals who otherwise lack adequate access to such capital and services. Can include loans, savings, “microcredit,” or other banking services and typically involves relatively small amounts of money. The transactions are often processed through online and/or local intermediaries, including specialized microfinance institutions.

Categories: Resources









Mission-Related Investing

A type of – or sometimes alternate general term for – impact investing. MRI is most commonly used to refer to socially responsible financial investment practices used by foundations or other endowed entities, in which endowment funds are invested in ways that support the mission and values of the organization.

Categories: Resources









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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Moving Diversity Up the Agenda: Lessons and Next Steps From the Diversity in Philanthropy Project

The Diversity in Philanthropy Project (DPP) was a three-year, voluntary effort of foundation trustees, senior staff, and executives of philanthropy support organizations committed to increasing diversity and inclusive practice across organized philanthropy’s boards, staff, grantmaking, contracting, and investing. DPP had significant achievements, including mobilizing greater commitment among foundation leaders to voluntary action on diversity and enhancing both the knowledge base and data methodologies available for understanding diversity, inclusion, and equity in foundation work. The initiative also faced its share of challenges, including difficulty assessing the impact on the diversity performance of foundations, slow adoption of recommended principles and practices, and Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Moving Philanthropy from the Margins to the Center

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

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

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Natural Allies: Philanthropy and Civil Legal Aid

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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New Perspectives on Michigan Community Foundations

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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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Next Gen Philanthropy: Finding the Path Between Tradition and Innovation

Enjoyment and meaning in giving begin with individual motivations and values. People with wealth share the challenge all human beings face—how to find your own individual way, your own path toward meaning, while also maintaining a connection to family, community and history. You must stand on your own even as you stand in the great and ever-evolving succession of ancestors and descendants. Philanthropy starts with an inward journey—an exploratory mission into the heart and mind.

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Foundation Management, Resources

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

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.  

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

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NNCG’s Knowledge Center

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Nobody’s (Philanthropically) Perfect

Scott Brazda is executive director of The Stuller Family Foundation. For 16 years, he served as a news and sports anchor at KATC-TV in Lafayette, LA, during which time he won seven Associated Press awards. Scott is a committee member for the United Way of Acadiana and Community Foundation of Acadiana, board member of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations, and faculty member of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette communications department. Through this blog post he shares his experiences and lessons in seeking perfection in philanthropy.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Nondiscrimination Policy

Philanthropy can be more effective when foundations reflect the full diversity of the communities we hope to serve and impact. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people are a crucial part of the tapestry of our communities, and a growing number of foundations are seeking to assure that their institutions are welcoming and inclusive of LGBTQ people. An important step toward inclusiveness is explicitly prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. This brief guide is intended to help your institution implement a nondiscrimination and equal opportunity employment policy that is inclusive of sexual Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Nonprofit Capital: How to Think Differently about Its Use in Your Organization

This webinar helps participants better understand and work to optimize their organization’s capital structure, identify key sources and uses of capital, and understand how to budget for and monitor capital grants and expenditures over time.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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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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Not All Grants Are Created Equal: Why Nonprofits Need General Operating Support from Foundations

Not All Grants Are Created Equal explores the debate on foundations providing project support versus operating support. The report investigates the types of organizations that receive the most general operating support and lays out the case of why nonprofits need general operating support and why foundations are often reluctant to provide it.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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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Online and in the Office: The State of Technology-Based Learning in the Nonprofit Sector

A survey conducted by NTEN and the Cornerstone OnDemand Foundation revealed technology-based learning is a critical way in which nonprofits engage their stakeholders, but many are struggling to realize the cost savings of online learning and many lack the expertise to deliver training more advanced than webinars and videos.  

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Operating Foundation

A type of private foundation – with assets usually derived from a single source – that uses the majority of its assets to operate charitable programs or provide services, rather than to make grants or other philanthropic investments. Operating private foundations must follow the general IRS regulations for private foundations, but are treated and classified as a distinct legal category, separate from non-operating foundations. Most operating foundations have an endowment, and some make a limited number of grants alongside operating their programs.

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

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Paper Diet Report

A new way to (not) think about paper In 2010, the amount of paper recovered for recycling averaged 334 pounds for each person living in the U.S., according to the American Forest & Paper Association. And that’s just the paper that was recovered. In 2010, GMN released “Beyond the Recycling Bin: Greening Practices of Grantmakers,” (PDF) which reported on paper use, energy efficiency, and green travel practices of member organizations. GMN’s survey showed that grants managers are overwhelmingly interested in greening practices, and their actions can impact the overall greening of their organizations. The Paper Diet began in 2011 where “Beyond the Recycling Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Participate: The Power of Involving Business in Social Impact Networks

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Participatory Grant Making: A Success Story From Southern Africa

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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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Pathways Forward: Foundation Funding for LGBTQ Immigration Issues

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

This publication shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. it offers a framework for understanding different approaches to scaling impact, stories from nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations’ impact, and practical recommendations for grantmakers seeking more effective ways to achieve better results.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Peer Networking and Community Change: Improving Foundation Practice

This article brings together the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 15 years of experience with peer networking— examining through two research studies the process of peer networking and its impact, both with community-based and funder groups. Peer networking helps people with common interests to exchange information, disseminate good practices, and build a leadership structure for work they do together, such as a community change initiative. Casey’s research identified 10 good practices for effective peer networking, as well as 10 challenges that can affect its success; a four-level model was created to provide context for these findings. The research indicates that peer Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Pennies for Progress

In 2008, on the eve of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, America’s foundations were doing better than ever. During the economic calamity that followed – as the housing, labor and stock markets collapsed – foundations weathered the storm better than most. Meanwhile, the public these foundations serve was suffering. One might expect foundations, whose charitable dollars escape taxation by virtue of serving the public good, to have increased their support for underserved communities during and after the Great Recession. We found that in the decade that ended in 2013, foundation support for America’s marginalized communities grew just 5 percent as a Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Permissible Activity During an Election Cycle

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

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

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Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook

Philanthropy Advocacy Playbook: Leveraging Your Dollars is designed to provide foundations with the information they need to both fund and conduct advocacy. The Playbook provides examples of how foundation investments have generated meaningful policy change, as well as links to other publications and fact sheets that will allow foundation leaders to quickly answer their questions and access additional information. Many nonprofit leaders view advocacy as a tool that advances their mission, empowers their supporters and members, triggers public debate and discussion, and leads to solutions for pressing problems. Active, successful nonprofits with policy goals understand that employing advocacy strategies is perfectly legal including, within limits, tactics Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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 and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017

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

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

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Philanthropy in a Changing Society: Achieving Effectiveness through Diversity

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

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

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Philanthropy Lessons: Being Transparent

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

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

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Philanthropy Lessons: The Power Dynamic

Funders must be aware of the power dynamic that exists between those who give away money and those who rely on philanthropic gifts, be empathetic to it, and be supportive. When we acknowledge this dynamic, bring grantees into the conversation, and build authentic, trusting relationships, we increase the opportunity to create meaningful impact together. In the newest video in our Philanthropy Lessons series and campaign, learn how to work well with grantees and hear how relationship building can help funders manage the power dynamic.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Value Beyond Dollars

To create the most impact, philanthropy must bring value beyond grant dollars. Funders have the opportunity to play important roles as mentors and conveners, supporters and motivators. 38 percent of foundations provide technical assistance and 37 percent convene grantees or organizations in their funding areas, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report.

Categories: Video, Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Who Knows More?

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Lessons: Working Collaboratively

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Philanthropy’s New Passing Gear: Mission-Related Investing

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

Categories: Mission, Vision and Values, Foundation Management, Resources

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PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard

NCRP’s recent webinar, “PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard” connects the Kresge Foundation, the subject of a recent Philamplify report, to the practice of place-based grantmaking, and discusses how foundation investment in communities is a prime strategy for long-term success. For additional resources about place-based grantmaking, check out the recording of NCRP’s PIMBY webinar

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Place-Based Philanthropy: Investing in Community Change

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Planned Giving

General term for a variety of methods of giving used in financial or estate planning, in which part or all of the donation is deferred to a later date, usually the death of the donor. Often allows donors to make larger gift commitments than they could otherwise.

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PowerCheck: Community Organizing Capacity Tool

Supporting community organizing is key to developing movements where change is needed at local, national, and all levels. PowerCheck can help you understand the skills and readiness of your grantee, identify gaps and opportunities in your funding portfolio, focus resources where most needed, and assess grantee programs in their organizations.

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

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Practice Options for Philanthropic Organizations

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

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

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Practicing Transparency for Discovery and Learning

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Pretty Good Tool: Collaboration Readiness

Do you have a collaborative mindset? This tool will help you take collaboration seriously – and playfully – and figure out your strengths and opportunities to improve your skills.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Private Foundation

A tax-exempt entity legally defined under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, distinguished from “public charity” entities covered in that same section. Private foundations usually get their funds from a single primary source such as an individual, family, or corporation. The category is further divided by the IRS into “operating” and “non-operating” foundations, with the majority of foundations being the latter (including corporate, family, health conversion, and independent foundations) and pursuing their charitable missions primarily through grantmaking or other philanthropic investments. Many private foundations keep funds in an endowment, though some are “pass through” entities, and they can be Read more

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Private Foundation vs. Donor-Advised Fund Comparison Chart

A private foundation is a legal entity controlled by the founder. By contrast, a donor-advised fund is a giving account legally controlled by the sponsoring charitable organization. With a private foundation, the donor controls who sits on the governing board and how funds are spent. A donor-advised fund is governed by a board selected by the sponsoring organization. The donor may only “advise” how the donated funds are granted and invested. With a private foundation, the donor retains total control over where assets are custodied and how they’re managed. With a donor-advised fund, assets are typically limited to the investment Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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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Program and Communications – Making Good Things Happen Together

Michael Smith, SVP Social Innovation, the Case Foundation, admits he’s a convert to the benefits communications can bring to program work. As he says in this video, in his early days at the foundation, he thought his job was to create program strategy and then hand off his work to the communications team to think about what they can do with it. Not so anymore. Smith says his conversion came after seeing “the real benefits the communications team was bringing to the work we were doing.” While Smith acknowledges his views may not be shared widely by foundation program staff, Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Program for Philanthropy and Fundraising

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

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

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Program-Related Investing

A type of impact investing in which a grantmaking institution provides capital in the form of low-interest loans, loan guarantees, or related financing methods that involve some form of repayment. PRI financing is provided to charitable organizations as well as other types such as L3Cs and socially responsible businesses. PRIs are meant to further the mission of the grantmaking institution using means beyond traditional grants, andthey count toward the annual payout requirement (5% of endowed assets) for private foundations.

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Program-Related Investment Rules for Private Foundations

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

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

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Program-Related Investments

Most often associated with the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, which pioneered their use, Program Related Investments (PRIs) have become more common as the assets of foundations have increased.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Program-Related Investments

Why is it that private foundations spend so little of their endowment on mission investing? Is there an opportunity to make it bigger? In this paper you will find an explanation of the barriers to mission investing, also known as Program Related Investment and Mission Related Investment, and a concluding hypothesis about what it will take to help remove the barriers. Educating foundation leadership, building foundation staff expertise, improving data quality and lowering the cost of making a mission investment are all issues to understand and address. If our hypothesis is correct, the time is now to build the necessary data, education Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Project Streamline Champions Toolkit

These tools and resources can be used to understand your current practice, make the case for streamlining, benchmark against colleague organizations, and identify opportunities to make meaningful change.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Public Charity

A tax-exempt entity legally defined under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code, distinguished from “private foundaton” entities covered in that same section. Public charities derive their funding primarily from the general public, through fees for service or products, contracts, and gifts and grants. Some public charities make grants or other philanthropic contributions such as scholarships (e.g., community foundations, public foundations), but most are focused on advancing their philanthropic missions through a variety of charitable services and activities.The IRS further subclassifies a number of types of public charities, including supporting organizations.

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Public Foundation/Grantmaking Public Charity

A type of public charity that has grantmaking (e.g., for medical research or scholarships) as its primary activity. While these institutions make grants like private foundations, they are classified as public charities and meet the public support test by raising the money they use for grantmaking from multiple public sources, including individuals, corporations, private foundations, contracts and fees, etc. Even though they raise new money from the public on a regular basis, public foundations can also have some endowment.

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Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide

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

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

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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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Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers

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

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Resilience, Resolve, Results: A Compilation of Readiness Phase Studies of The Skillman Foundation’s Good Neighborhoods and Good Schools Initiative, 2008-2010

This report is a compilation of the executive summaries of the Readiness Phase evaluation reports and provides an overview of the Good Neighborhoods/Good Schools initiative.

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Rethinking the funding equation: Can general operating support become the new normal?

Nonprofit leaders are raising their voices on the issue of operating support. While I stood silent as a professional working at Treehouse, today’s leaders are starting to speak up about the great need for unrestricted funding. Vu Le, a Seattle nonprofit leader, has received national recognition for his humorous, spot-on blog that contains several posts about this issue. Yet with all of this momentum, why does general operating support still account for only a relative fraction of all grantmaking?

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Rural Fund Development 101:Starting and Growing Rural Community Endowments

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Resources, Financial Stewardship

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Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue From Within

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

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

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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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School, Work, Family, and Foundation Too

As young adults pursue degrees, settle into careers, and start families of their own, participation in a foundation can be far from the top of a to-do list. But this stage of life can be a wonderful time to be involved in the work of a foundation—a rewarding change of pace and a chance for new perspectives, ideas, and enthusiasm at the foundation table. Whether you’re a young adult excited about becoming involved in your family’s foundation or a family member hoping to engage the next generation, where do you start? *This content is available for Exponent Philanthropy members only

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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

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

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

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Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Shake Up Your Grantmaking with Youth Philanthropy

Involving youth in philanthropic activities is not a new idea. It’s something that parents, teachers, mentors, churches, and so on have been doing for a long time. Teaching kids about donating their time, resources, and talents to charitable causes has its obvious purpose… to pass on responsibility of our society, our legacies, to the next generation. But there is a more recent movement that takes that idea and desire to mold the next generation of philanthropists to a different level. Youth participating at the board level of grantmaking might seem like a scary prospect, but it has its proven merits. Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Sharpen Your Focus – 5 Questions That Will Improve Your Grantmaking

Giving money away is a complicated business, but Putnam Consulting Group has found a few simple questions that can bring a lot of clarity to the process. The questions are straightforward, but they lead to deep issues that can have a profound impact on the way you direct your grantmaking. As you consider your next initiative, take some time to ask these questions.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, 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 I Stay or Should I Go? Exit Strategies for Foundations

This editorial blog introduces a special issue of The Foundation Review on Exit Strategies. Foundations of various sizes and geographic foci share what they have learned about exiting with grace and impact.  

Categories: Strategic Philanthropy, 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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Sink or Swim? Jumping into the pool of foundation communications

This webinar is designed to give communications practitioners in foundations insight into important things to know about their jobs, including: How important is brand? How do you make things run smoothly? (No staff posting drunken pics from grantee site visit on foundation Facebook page) Do we need a communication plan? What’s my role with other staff and our grantees? How do I know if I am doing a good job? Whether you are brand new to this work or an old hand curious about questions people new to this work bring to their jobs, watch the webinar, listen and learn.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Site visits: A useful tool for effective and engaged grantmakers

For some families, the site visit is the penultimate act before a grantmaking decision is made. They narrow down the number of grantees to a few that have made the greatest impression, or seem like the best fit for their mission, and use the site visit as a final criterion. Site visits can also help families to evaluate how well a grant already awarded is working in accomplishing the philanthropy’s goals. Visiting grantees, in an open and un-intimidating manner, can help you gauge the impact your grant is having on a given issue or organization, and to maintain ties to Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GHR Foundation

Co-designing with grantees and partners from Day 1 can lead to stronger collaborations, flexible solutions and more meaningful impact. GHR Foundation is using its design-build approach to engage at three levels of partnership: direct service, systems change, and global platform.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale

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

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Social Enterprise/Social Business

A commercial entity that uses business practices and provides products or services that generate revenue in the marketplace, but does so in order to advance a social or charitable mission. Related to the idea of “corporate social responsibility,” but in social enterprises and social businesses the social mission is top priority and all aspects of the business – the nature of its products and services, hiring and personnel policies, environmental practices, etc. – align with that philanthropic mission. B Corps/Benefit Corporations, and L3Cs, are usually considered social businesses.

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Social Impact Bond

A new, performance-based investment mechanism bringing together government, service providers, and investors in a contractual relationship to provide the captial needed to achieve some desired social outcome. Also known as “pay-for-success” bonds. Investors provide funding, often through a coordinating intermediary, to a service provider such as a nonprofit organization. If the provider achieves certain outcomes goals and measurable results, then the government pays financial returns to the investors based on the cost-savings the government realizes because of this success.

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

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

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

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Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

As foundations seek to catalyze broad-based social change, there is a need for greater understanding of what social movements are, how they evolve, and how foundations can support them. Movement building presents unique challenges to foundations. Because movements, by definition, must be driven by the people who are most affected, foundations cannot determine the goals and timetables of a movement. The authors identify five core elements to movement building: organizing an authentic base; leadership; vision and ideas; alliances; and advocacy infrastructure. A framework for evaluating movement building is proposed, which can help foundations identify measureable outcomes and track progress throughout Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Solutions for Impact Investors: From Strategy to Implementation

In this publication, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors highlight some of the areas in which behavioral economics and innovative organizational and legal structures can be applied to the discipline of impact investing. By describing best practices in transparency, disclosure and rigorous decision making, they also hope to bridge the divide between traditional and social purpose investing.  

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Speak Your Peace: A Communications Strategy for Changing Community Culture

Strategic communications can play a crucial role in advancing tangible community-wide impacts. “Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project” (SYP) was developed by The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Millennium Group to improve the civility of public discourse, under the premise that this would strengthen community decision making, expand civic engagement, and increase residents’ interest in elected office. The SYP campaign promotes nine principles (or “tools”) adapted from Forni’s book Choosing Civility (e.g., pay attention, take responsibility, apologize, give constructive criticism). City councils, county commissions, and school boards in the region adopted the nine tools as ground rules for Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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

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State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

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

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State of the Practice 2011: Survey Finds Use of Digital Communications on Rise In Foundations

Communications professionals at America’s grantmaking foundations are responding to the digital age, according to a new survey from the Communications Network. This survey of 155 foundation communicators shows U.S. foundations are making use of all forms digital communications, especially social media, a top priority. The survey results suggest the growth of social media and other emerging digital technologies is changing the way foundations communicate with target audiences.

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Staying the Course: How a Long-Term Strategic Donor Initiative to Conserve the Amazon Has Yielded Outcomes of Global Significance

This article examines how the design principles of a major philanthropic initiative have influenced its performance, and provides a practical example of strategic philanthropy that can contribute to the current debate over the merits and flaws of this approach.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Stepping Up and Stepping Out: Profiles of Philanthropy Responding to an American Crisis

Stepping Up and Stepping Out profiles three philanthropic organizations that are making investments with a specific intent to create opportunities for black males: A Legacy of Tradition, Chicago Community Trust, and Schott Foundation for Public Education.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Stewarding wealth for the common good: how an Asian family office incorporated climate change mitigation into its portfolio

‘From an Asian perspective, climate change is not a distant threat – it is happening today. I want to make sure that the way my capital is invested is part of the solution and not the problem.’ So says Annie Chen, founder of RS Group, a Hong Kong-based family office. Air pollution in Beijing, bushfires in Australia and typhoons in the Philippines underline her remarks. Consequently, RS Group incorporates climate change considerations in all its activities and across asset classes, with the dual goal of contributing to climate change mitigation and ensuring its investment portfolio is fit for the future.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Sticking Points: Grantee Roles and Relationships

This blog post offers tips and reflections for advocacy collaborative grantmakers to deepen their relationships with non-grantmakers.

Categories: Grantmaking, Resources

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Stop managing grants. Start managing your network.

Scaling solutions, building resilience, catalysing innovation: these are the philanthropy sector’s buzzwords du jour. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these goals – except that the current programme officer position isn’t set up to deliver them. If you want to have social impact, stop thinking of this role as managing a set of grants and instead consider what it means to be a network manager.

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Strategic Co-Funding: An Approach for Extended Impact

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

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Strategic Communications for Influence: Lessons From the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Its KIDS COUNT Initiative

This article describes how the Annie E. Casey Foundation is using the KIDS COUNT Network in a new way: as a strategic communications tool in its focused efforts toward policy change, broad social change, and improved conditions for vulnerable children and families. An outcome map illustrates links between this strategy and the intended outcomes. Case illustrations of KIDS COUNT grantee activities surrounding the release of the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book describe the efforts of grantees in six states where the quantity and quality of media coverage surrounding the national data book reflected the kind of coverage that Casey believes Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World

To solve today’s complex social problems, foundations need to shift from the prevailing model of strategic philanthropy that attempts to predict outcomes to an emergent model that better fits the realities of creating social change in a complex world.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Strategies for Impacting Change in Communities of Color

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

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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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: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity

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

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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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Strong Starts for Children

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

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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Successful Structures: Rethinking the Role of Grants Management

Effective grantmaking organizations deliberately connect the “how” of grantmaking to strategy and impact. In these organizations, the practices, processes, and systems that get money out the door to support important work in communities are informed, assessed, and strengthened using timely data about grantmaking effectiveness. In these organizations, thoughtful conversations about how to make grants most effectively are everyone’s business: programs, operations, finance, and executive staff work together to analyze and improve grantmaking practice.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Supporting Asian-American Civic Engagement: Theory and Practice

This paper is a review of relevant research related to the civic engagement of Asian-American youth. Little work has been done to understand the civic engagement activities of Asian-American youth. However, unique promoters and barriers to Asian- American youth civic engagement exist, given this group’s distinct historical, cultural, and sociopolitical experiences. Asian-American youth may have two different ethnic and racial identities, and these identities may be related to different kinds of civic engagement. Asian-American students who have a stronger pan-Asian identity are more aware that their fate is linked with other Asian-Americans and therefore are more likely to engage in Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Resources

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Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together

In Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together, we look at how funders approach building capacity with grantees. Through examples from foundations ranging in size, mission, and geography, we explore various strategies for capacity building and the types of awareness that funders can choose to incorporate in decision making to facilitate informed, thoughtful judgments about strengthening organizations.

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Supporting Organization/Supporting Foundation

A subcategory of public charity defined in the Internal Revenue Code and subject to certain special requirements and restrictions. A supporting organizaton exists to benefit, or to perform functions for or of, one or more other public charities. A supporting organization has a very close relationship with another public charity in operations and control. While there are many variations under this IRS category, and while supporting organizations are technically public charities, they often have “foundation” in their name, such as university foundations or hospital foundations that exist to raise money and provide assistance to those institutions and are influenced by Read more

Categories: Resources









Supporting Social Entrepreneurship

For philanthropists accustomed to more traditional grantees, yet interested in backing these groundbreaking leaders, funding social entrepreneurs can feel like entering uncharted territory. Donors might find themselves intrigued by the potential for change, and yet, at the same time, unsure of what to expect in a field where the unexpected is the norm.   That’s why we wrote this brief guide. Think of it as an introduction to social entrepreneurship. Part of our Philanthropy Roadmap series, the guide is designed to help philanthropists evaluate whether they want to include support for social entrepreneurs in their giving or investment programs, and Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Tactics in Philanthropy: The Case of the Moving Spotlight

In recent years, strategy has been a much discussed topic in philanthropy, while tactics have received little attention. The experience of the MacArthur Foundation’s environmental program and its Moving Spotlight approach provide examples of the importance of tactical decisions. Tactical decisions such as the timing of grants, foundation staffing levels, and the timing of evaluations all contribute to grantees’ ability to achieve outcomes. Structure and flexibility can be complementary approaches to grantmaking if the tactics are well thought out.

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Talking to Ourselves? A Critical Look at Annual Reports in Foundation Communications

Communications matters more than ever before for foundations, and to be strategic means making the best use of all your resources and in ways that advance programs, goals, and missions. Annual reports deserve credit from earlier times for helping foundations be more transparent. But over the years they seem to have been saddled with an unrealistic expectation that they can also serve larger strategic communication goals. It’s likely that the work annual reports are expected to do might be better accomplished in other more effective, and perhaps less costly and time-consuming ways. This report was co-produced by the Philanthropy Awareness Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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TEDx and TED Talks About Learning

By: Megan Murphy, former LearnPhilanthropy project manager  Here at LearnPhilanthropy, we are interested in how you learn as much as providing resources to help you learn. We believe it is important to think about our own learning styles. Having information on different styles and techniques can help us overcome frustration and be more intentional about focusing effort toward learning. Below are some of our favorite TEDx and TED Talks about learning how to learn. Learning How to Learn: Barbara Oakley talks about learning how to use focused energy to learn something new with the Pomodoro Technique. The First 20 Hours: Read more

Categories: Individual Professional Development , Resources, Top 5 Lists

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TEDx: Amplify the Money You Give

The word “philanthropist” evokes the names of billionaire donors – Rockefeller, Gates, Pew – but in reality, most charitable giving comes from regular people giving smaller amounts. How can you, the non-billionaire, do the most good with what you give? Kat Rosqueta shows how to become a high-impact philanthropist, with a few tips for getting more engaged with your donations – one dollar, one cause, at a time. She believes the word is not just for Rockefellers; rather, a philanthropist is anyone who gives money, time, or skill with the goal of helping make the world better, at any scale.

Categories: Grantmaking, Beyond the Grant , Resources

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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 Alliance magazine June issue – Solidarity – more in common?

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

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

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The Art and Science of Storytelling (VIDEO)

As communications professionals, storytelling is what we do. We do it because it is one of the best ways to evoke an emotional connection to an abstract issue – to put a human face on the messages we convey. However, it’s how the story is framed that matters. Studies in neuroscience and psychology show that while stories can evoke a quick emotional response, carefully framed narratives that appeal to reason are also needed to inspire action. To help people understand this new research and learn more about how to use it in their communications practice we recently held a webinar, Read more

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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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 Challenges Grantmakers Face in Supporting Technology

This article covers why and how technology often gets short changed, the planning knowledge and skill nonprofits need in order to thrive with technology, and what is needed for grantmakers to support nonprofits with technology. 

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change: Book Review

The Dragonfly Effect identifies a four-step process symbolized by the wings of the dragonfly. The metaphor does a good job of describing how these four major areas must work in tandem to give the lift needed to reach one’s goals: Focus—Identify a concrete goal. What is it that you want to achieve? Grab Attention—Develop a message that attracts an audience and makes them pay attention. Engage—Go beyond advertising and develop a personal connection. Make your audience care enough to incite them to take action. Take Action—Give your audience the tools and resources they need to take action. Be willing to Read more

Categories: General Grantmaking Skills, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Education Collaboration Fund: Possibilities and Limitations of Pooled Funds

Raising money for a pooled fund is time consuming and requires expertise with the funding topic and the target audience. Yet the process of shopping around a pooled fund or collaborative concept can be valuable in its own right, even if most do not participate. Shared interest around a topic or community is a necessary but insufficient reason for participating in a pooled fund. A pooled fund provides an opportunity for individuals and family foundations to learn and grow as donors. Someone with passion, organizational skills, and persistence needs to drive the process forward or it will likely fall by Read more

Categories: Types of Grants, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Exit Interview: Perceptions of Why Black Professionals Leave Grantmaking Institutions

In most major foundations today, it is now commonplace not just to track but to require diversity of staff and leadership both within their own organizations and externally among their grantees. Yet, emerging data suggest that the experiences of many Black professionals in grantmaking institutions may challenge the current thinking on the field’s increasing commitment to diversity. This study is patterned after a traditional “exit interview”—a brief conversation conducted with an outgoing employee for the purpose of helping an organization assess its own performance and understand why the employee is seeking opportunities elsewhere. By sharing these candid reflections, this report aims Read more

Categories: Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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The Future of Family Philanthropy – Predicting and Preparing

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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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 Future of Jewish Giving

Based on new analysis of data collected for the Next Gen Donors: Respecting Legacy, Revolutionizing Philanthropy report, this report examines the ways in which these high-capacity, Jewish next gen donors think about and experience philanthropy.

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The International Charitable Nonprofit Subsector

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

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

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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 Makings of Phenomenal Foundation Executive Directors

An executive director of a small-staffed foundation juggles many roles: strategic grantmaker, convener, collaborator, and, at times, board wrangler, media spokesperson, technical assistance provider, mediator, and the list goes on. The characteristics described here are both impressive and daunting. They’re a tall order, and, indeed, part of a continual learning journey for even the very best executives. At Exponent Philanthropy, we believe that these skills can be developed, practiced, and honed.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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The Philanthropy As One Big Impact Investment: A Framework For Evaluating A Foundation’s Blended Performance

This article proposes a framework for evaluating a foundation’s blended performance that enables both grantmaking and endowment investing to be evaluated jointly, and thus also allows a complete evaluation of how impact investments could improve — or fail to improve — overall performance.

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

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

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The Resiliency Guide

The Organizational Effectiveness team at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation has developed a Resiliency Guide – a framework for assessing organizational resiliency, and a resource for understanding its characteristics. The tool and accompanying resources are designed to be useful to grantees and grantmakers – hopefully facilitating their dialogue about the challenges of operating in a dynamic context. The Guide and related materials draw on the experience of the Foundation’s program staff and external experts, and incorporate feedback and perspectives from a range of grantees and colleagues.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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

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

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

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The Setting Matters: How to Create the Container for Achieving Results

The Casey video, Leading for Results: Creating the Container, shows how the foundation’s results-based leadership faculty create an environment so meeting participants can effectively focus on achieving measurable results.  

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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The Social and Economic Impacts of Healthy Food Financing

Launched in July 2011 by a broad coalition of public and private partners led by the California Endowment, the $273 million California FreshWorks program provides loans and grants to grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other food retailers that offer nutritious, affordable food options in communities where such options are scarce. In order to better understand the California FreshWorks program’s food access, social, and economic impact to date, the California Endowment commissioned the first-ever third-party evaluation of the program. The evaluation also sought to document key challenges and lessons from the development and implementation of FreshWorks.  

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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The Social Impact Incubator: The Segal Family Foundation Invests in Burundian Civil Society

The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) supports over 180 organizations across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When SFF decided to invest in Burundi, it struggled to find the types of grantees the foundation wanted to fund— young, African-led, grassroots non-governmental organizations with localized knowledge about their communities, and innovative and creative solutions  to address needs. SFF realized that the funding  model created by international actors was further marginalizing an already frail civil society. SFF decided that the only way to advance their grantmaking was to build the capacity of local organizations to be leaders and change-makers, as well as inform and Read more

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Source Codes of Foundation Culture

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

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

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The State of General Operating Support 2011

This report shows how much money is used for general operating support from grants.

Categories: Issue Specific Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011

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

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

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The Theory of the Foundation: Core Framework

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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The Trustee Handbook

Find detailed guidance on small foundation governance, grantmaking, tax and legal issues, and financial oversight and investments. Our most comprehensive resource for every trustee and board member. Includes: Updates on recent laws affecting small foundations; Sample documents to save you time and money; The requisite information for an effective trustee — all in one place.

Categories: Foundation Management, Governance, Resources

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The Truth About Site Visits

Site visits are a single but critical step in most agencies’ attempts to secure funding and implement programming. As with every step in that process “” from grantwriting to hiring employees “” preparation and planning are key to improving an agency’s chances for success in obtaining a grant. Most funders say there’s nothing in particular a nonprofit can do to guarantee that a site visit results in funding “” the people doing the site visit often only make recommendations about particular programs, while others decide who ultimately receives funding. But grantmaking employees interviewed for this article offered several rules of Read more

Categories: Beyond the Grant , Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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The Women Effect

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

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

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Theory of Philanthropy Inquiry Tool

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

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Three Ways Funders Delude Themselves About Equity

This blogpost points out ways that funders get in their own way when it comes to equity and how they can avoid doing so. They include: Not clearly defining what equity means Assuming aggregate data indicates an equitable outcome Expecting grantees to address equity without doing so themselves

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Time to Evaluate! Getting to Assessment and High Performance

Nonprofit organizations — and foundations — talk a lot about accountability. And one of the best ways to be accountable is to demonstrate impact. While we would be hard pressed to think of a nonprofit organization that does not want to demonstrate impact, the all too true situation is that the vast majority of nonprofits struggle to do just that. At the heart of the problem are five practices that stymie nonprofit (and philanthropic) attempts to collect and use data to make important decisions, to improve outcomes, and ultimately to demonstrate impact.

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

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Tips for Evaluating Advocacy A Checklist for Grantmaking Organizations

This checklist will keep you on track for effective evaluation of advocacy.

Categories: Program Level 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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Toolkit for Racial, Ethnic and Tribal Funds and Foundations

Diverse communities are molding and stretching models of giving to fashion something new. Funds and foundations are a promising and growing tool used to organize racial, ethnic and tribal giving. Sometimes called “ethnic funds,” these are typically public foundations that mobilize the giving resources of a community for that community’s benefit. This involves organizing groups of donors to invest in the foundation, pooling resources, developing giving priorities and a process, and making grants. Usually, donors contribute to a pooled fund, and make grants from that fund through a collective decision making process. By pooling resources, donors come together to have Read more

Categories: Grants Management, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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Top 10 Lessons Learned in Grantmaking

Presented by: Caroline Altman Smith and Helen Davis Johnson of the Kresge Foundation Philanthropy can be a complex field. Whether you’re starting your career, transitioning into a new role, or simply want a refresher, let us be your guide. This free, 30-minute webinar will introduce you to essential topics every philanthropic professional should know and give you three strategies for getting more informed about and connected to the field. Click “Go To Resource” to listen to the webinar*, or download the file to view the slides.   *Please note that the webinar recording starts a few minutes into the presentation.

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources









Top 5 Starting Places for Family Foundations and Donors

By: Michael Moody, Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy These five resources in the LearnPhilanthropy Knowledge Library are ideal starting places for grantmakers involved in family giving in some way – as a trustee or staff of a family foundation or a donor-advised fund, as an individual donor, as a consultant or family advisor, etc. This list also points to some of the primary infrastructure organizations serving family grantmakers, and each source has multiple other resources for family donors who want to dig further. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors: Your Philanthropy Roadmap – The “Philanthropy Read more

Categories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources, Top 5 Lists

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Top Learning Frameworks for Grantmakers

By: Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting The specific learning needs of grantmakers can vary widely – depending on mission, goals, structure and context and, ultimately, individual roles and competencies. We’ve scanned the sector for existing, high-quality learning frameworks that illustrate a range of perspectives on roles and competencies in a variety of operating contexts, with the understanding that most grantmakers work within multiple frameworks. The examples below include a mix of knowledge (what grantmakers should know) and competencies (what grantmakers should be expected to do) – and are useful whether you are an individual program officer new to your Read more

Categories: The Philanthropic Sector, Models & Approaches, Resources

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Top Philanthropy Job Boards

Nonprofit and Philanthropy Job Boards Associated Grantmakers Bridgespan Charity Channel Chronicle of Philanthropy The Communications Network Common Good Careers Council on Foundations Emerging Practitioners In Philanthropy (EPIP) Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers Idealist National Council of Nonprofits Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group The Nonprofit Times Opportunity Knocks Philanthropy Journal Philanthropy News Digest Professionals for Nonprofits Regional Job Boards Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers  Colorado Association of Funders Connecticut Council for Philanthropy Council of Michigan Foundations Northern California Grantmakers Philanthropy New York Philanthropy Northwest Philanthropy Ohio

Categories: Resources, Top 5 Lists

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Top Readings and Resources on Learning From Failure

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 Failure – Stanford Social Innovation Review Embracing Failure at Read more

Categories: Foundation Management, Individual Professional Development , Resources

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Top Resources for Philanthropists with Few or No Staff

By: Exponent Philanthropy  Across the country, tens of thousands of foundations, giving circle members, donor advised fund holders, and individual donors are intentionally keeping their operations lean and their ears to the ground. These “lean” funders seek to nimbly maneuver their dollars, skills, and influence to achieve the most good.   At Exponent Philanthropy, we’re dedicated to serving funders who choose to give big with few or no staff. We’re pleased to share the following top resources from our shop and trusted colleague organizations.   Get up to speed If new to philanthropy or in need of a refresher, turn Read more

Categories: Individual Professional Development , Resources, Top 5 Lists

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Towards Transformative Change in Health Care

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

Categories: Inclusive Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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

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

Categories: Strategy and Evaluation, Equitable Evaluation, Resources

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Transitions: an opportunity like no other

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

Categories: Strategic Communications , Foundation Management, Resources

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Translations of GrantCraft Guides

While GrantCraft materials are developed in English, several guides and other resources are available in different languages. These materials have been translated by partnering organizations and adapted for use by native speakers. German, French, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic.

Categories: Grantmaking, Grantmaking and Changemaking, Resources

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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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Trustee Evaluation Toolkit

Traditional approaches to foundation evaluation do not help trustees make informed strategic decisions. This toolkit offers new ways for trustees and foundations to better plan work, improve implementation and track progress toward goals.

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

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Twelve Activities that Require Extra Oversight

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

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

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Understanding Social Justice Philanthropy

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

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

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Understanding Software for Program Evaluation

In our increasingly data-driven world, nonprofits need more than ever to be able to measure and monitor the effectiveness of their programs. It’s difficult to improve program services or reach without first measuring current effectiveness. How many meals served at a soup kitchen, the number of students in a mentoring program who graduate high school, the percent of the target population without access to affordable housing—such numbers help organizations identify the areas where they can improve their programs. Like many big-data issues, the sector looks to technology to help with program evaluation. We have donor management databases, case management systems, Read more

Categories: Program Level Learning and Evaluation, Strategy and Evaluation, Resources

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Value Exchange Tool: For Building Business-Nonprofit Partnerships that Last

This simple method considers what a partner could potentially contribute, stacks up what a potential partner brings, and represents the value exchange at the heart of the partnership — in a single visual.

Categories: Foundation Management, Resources, Organizational Development - Strengthening/Building Your Team

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Values-Based Grantmaking: Why It Matters

PEAK Grantmaking continually advocates for the adoption of effective practices in the philanthropic sector. According to a survey of our members and others in philanthropy, we found that, while many believe that grantmaking process and structure very much (65%) or moderately (25%) affect the ultimate success of grants, many grantmaker