This report describes findings from a study conducted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy to determine how high net worth philanthropists are making their gift choices and the limitations they confront.
This report describes findings from a study conducted by the Center for High Impact Philanthropy to determine how high net worth philanthropists are making their gift choices and the limitations they confront.
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.
Many nonprofit organizations are constantly struggling to find enough resources to make their organizations more effective and sustainable. A Call to Action illustrates how the lack of core operating support is at the center of this struggle. It tells of the needs and aspirations of nonprofits by enabling them, in their own words, to share their stories. Printed copies are available for purchase.
Produced by the Association for the Study and Development of Community (ASDC) for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this document offers an orientation to handbooks and basic primers on evaluation. These resources are designed to meet the needs of the non-expert.
One out of every four grant dollars provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funds research and evaluation.The goal of this report is to enhance the capacity of potential and current grantees to strengthen and manage research grants. After a short section of background information, the report features information on preparing the proposal, managing the research project, after the grant, and the conclusion.
RWJF commissioned FSG Social Impact Advisors to develop a guide for program officers, grant recipients, evaluators, researchers, and others interested in evaluation on how to engage stakeholders in developing evaluation questions. Since stakeholders are potential users of evaluation findings, their input into the scope of the evaluation is critical to ensuring the integrity and value of evaluation results. This guide provides the reader with a five-step process for involving stakeholders in developing evaluation questions, and includes a set of four worksheets to facilitate this process.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
In 2003, the Urban Institute conducted a survey of 1,192 grantmaking foundations in order to construct a wide-ranging and rigorous portrait of attitudes and practices concerning effective philanthropy in the foundation field. The survey results tell us a great deal about how foundations see themselves, how they function, and whether they are fully functioning in the ways that they feel they should be.
NCRP’s Axis of Ideology details the effective philanthropic strategies that 79 conservative foundations have used to support the activities of 350 public policy-oriented right-wing think tanks at the federal, state, and local levels.
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.
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.
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
This report explores unique challenges and opportunities, and offers a set of recommendations for how to realize the promise of working better together. The insights here are based primarily on in-depth dialogues about family philanthropy collaboration that occurred during the third National Summit on Family Philanthropy, held in New York City in June, 2015, and hosted by the Dorothy A. Johnson Center on Philanthropy.
“Strategic philanthropy” has become a dominant theme among foundations in the past few decades. While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically. Four challenges to strategic philanthropy are identified, including strategies developed in isolation from grantees that execute them and misaligned foundation structures, processes, and cultures that do not support strategic endeavors. In order to get beyond the veneer of strategic philanthropy, foundation leaders need to be clearer about their own role in creating change, develop the strategic capacities to do so, and then apply those capacities, learn from them, Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This brief report presents key findings about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Grantee Perception Reports over the years, and includes candid comments by RWJF’s leadership—CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Vice President of Research and Evaluation, David Colby—as to how they’ve responded to some of those findings.
Explore a series of written and video materials on the need for capital in the arts. This series conveys stories and lessons learned from NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future Initiative, the first national Initiative to deploy a specific kind of investment – change capital – to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances to thrive in a changed and changing economic and cultural landscape. Ten artistically excellent performing arts nonprofits are working with NFF over five years to develop and implement plans for achieving this transformation. Nearly three years into this exciting Initiative, we now have Read more
These courses help community foundation staff, board members and volunteers master the unique aspects of the community foundation field in short order. You’ll learn about effective practices, get helpful tools and information and have the opportunity to network with others in the field. Comprehensive and engaging, these courses are an efficient and affordable way to increase your knowledge of the field, to help you work more effectively.
This white paper explores the imperatives – both market and moral – for a community foundation to embrace community leadership.
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.
An in-depth guide to the workings and variations of Charitable Lead Trusts.
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.
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
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
This report summarizes findings from an evaluation of the Community Leadership Network, a signature CFleads learning opportunity. It makes the case for why peer learning matters: practitioners learn best when they are able to hone and practice their leadership skill in environments that encourage peer learning and exchange.
As part of a multi-tiered effort to advance knowledge and understanding of community leadership, the Council on Foundations’ Community Foundations Leadership Team, in partnership with CFLeads, launched action-oriented Community Leadership Networks. Learn more about these networks here.
Community philanthropy is the giving of time, talent, and treasure that when invested locally is characteristic of positive change and lasting development. This article reports on a survey of 31 small Arkansas communities of 5,000 to 15,000 in population using open-ended descriptive questions. Responses were compared across communities to assess variation in giving/fundraising, civic engagement, and leadership. Data confirm that giving/fundraising was substantial, particularly in communities with populations of 8,000 or less. Findings show that people are giving not only their money, but also their services, time, and skills – especially in times of emergency response. Giving was not restricted Read more
A private foundation, a public school system, and a state university joined forces to address a difficult, long-standing challenge: closing the academic achievement gap between urban and suburban students. All parties agreed that sharing of longitudinal, student-level data was required to drive and evaluate multiple efforts to close the gap, but significant technical, regulatory, and political obstacles stood in the way. The parties worked through multiple challenges and forged a Master Data Sharing Agreement (MDSA) that will facilitate both daily intelligence for program staff and powerful post-hoc research capacity. This MDSA text has been released online for your use under Read more
A growing number of grantmakers believe they can be more effective to the extent that they meaningfully engage their grantees and other key stakeholders. Grantmakers doing this work have arrived at an understanding that much of the knowledge and experience they need to solve the problems they want to solve, and to help them do a better job as grantmakers, resides in the communities they serve. The values guiding this work are captured by the phrase that has been made visible by the disability rights movement in recent years: “Nothing about me without me.”
This donor education seminar is an invitation-only, purely educational effort to inform participants about the latest research, biggest ideas and best efforts underway in four key areas: 1) Access to food; 2) Housing; 3) Health; 4) Economic success for vulnerable families. On Sunday, November 7th and Monday, November 8th, 2010, we brought together experts in these four areas to highlight proven, high impact strategies that individuals can implement to achieve greater impact through their giving. We believe this seminar represents a new approach to donor education that provides information that people cannot get easily or anywhere else in a safe Read more
Embedded funders are foundations that have made long-term commitments to the communities in which they are located or work. Foundations have a long history in funding community development, often with few concrete results. Political conditions, the increasing divide between rich and poor, inaccessibility of education, lack of housing, and continued segregation and racial discrimination are issues that need be addressed concurrently and resources need to be drawn from a variety of sources, particularly the neighborhoods themselves. This complexity has created an impetus for embedded philanthropy. Embedded funders work participatively with the community and frame evaluations in less theoretical, more actionable Read more
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
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.
This publication offers a brief overview of how grantmakers are looking at evaluation as a means of improvement. It is based on a review of the current literature on evaluation and learning, outreach to grantmakers that have made these activities a priority, and the work of GEO and the Council on Foundations to raise this issue more prominently among their members.
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.
Drawing on interviews with 61 foundation leaders, Ostrower discusses foundation leaders’ understanding of effectiveness, their methods for judging it, and their views on how their foundations have changed (or need to change) to become more effective. The 2004 study points to the need for foundations to articulate specific understandings of effectiveness, remain attentive to these, and develop a regular process for assessing themselves in relation to their approach to effectiveness.
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.
After a year of research and nearly 100 interviews with foundation leaders and evaluation experts, FSG has released a report that identifies a fundamental transition in the way foundations use evaluation. The study was funded by the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and conducted in collaboration with the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.
In July 2010 Donors Forum and NCRP jointly distributed a survey to Donors Forum members in order to learn more about their approach to policy engagement. The two organizations wanted this information to inform their mutual goal of fostering greater philanthropic understanding of the value of both engaging in advocacy and also funding nonprofits that use advocacy, organizing and civic engagement as tools to improve their communities. This report describes the survey findings.
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
This directory contains every advocacy and community organizing impact that was achieved by 110 organizations in 13 states over a five-year period. The directory is a compilation of data reported in each of seven “Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” reports, and includes monetized and non-monetized impacts.
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.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is a long-time proponent of evaluation as a means to inquire systematically into the effects and impacts of its grantmaking programs. Evaluation reports to RWJF should generally include the elements listed in this checklist to be considered satisfactory. The checklist was adapted from several references listed at the bottom of the document. RWJF recognizes that not all of these elements pertain to all types of evaluation—for example, response rate may not be an issue for certain qualitative studies and attrition may not matter for cross-sectional studies. The report, however, ought to address most elements under most circumstances.
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.
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.
Given the breadth and severity of the current economic downturn, where can individual donors make a significant difference in addressing the suffering caused by the economic crisis? This guide was written for individuals seeking to turn their philanthropic capital into a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
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.
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.
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
This manual offers concrete ways to integrate evaluation skills and evaluative thinking, beyond the program level, into everyday organizational practice, helping to ensure stronger programs and to support more effective organizations that are better able to deliver on their missions. The new guide also includes a review of Evaluation Essentials and Appendices for how to use an evaluative thinking assessment tool and how to commission evaluation.
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.
KIDS COUNT is a national and state-by-state project of the Casey Foundation to track the status of children in the United States. At the national level, the principal activity of the initiative is the publication of the annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, which uses the best available data to measure the educational, social, economic, and physical well-being of children state by state. The Foundation also funds a national network of state-level KIDS COUNT projects that provide a more detailed, county-by-county picture of the condition of children. By providing foundations, policymakers and citizens with benchmarks of child well-being, KIDS COUNT seeks Read more
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
Despite a significant influx of charitable dollars over the last 10 to 20 years, solutions to complex social problems remain elusive, while philanthropy has been facing growing pressure to account for its tax-free dollars; to demonstrate, replicate, and scale success; and to be transparent about failed social investments. When foundations and their nonprofit partners ignore a failure and move on, whether it is to protect their own reputation or the reputations of valued partners or simply because of the pressure to keep going, it is too easy to toss out the baby with the bathwater – to toss aside a Read more
Leveraging Limited Dollars provides solid evidence of the impacts of foundation-funded policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement based on findings from the seven research sites. The report explains why these strategies are successful and how they create stronger communities.
GEO’s Change Agent Project seeks to inspire change in grantmakers so they can help their grantees achieve meaningful results. This report on Phase 1 of GEO’s Change Agent Project delves deeper into what is neccessary to instill change in grantmaking practices. This publication was reprinted in 2010.
This project is a partnership of The Frey Chair for Family Philanthropy program at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and 21/64, a nonprofit consulting practice specializing in next gen and multigenerational strategic philanthropy. These two organizations, although different in form and scope, share a focus on understanding and improving family philanthropy.
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.
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
Despite a wave of interest in recent years in what it takes to build stronger, more effective nonprofits, the sector as a whole still suffers from a chronic case of financial stress that inhibits effectiveness. Philanthropy can be a part of the problem, but also a part of the solution.
Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) created an online guide for researchers employing qualitative methods in health care research. The site, Using Qualitative Methods in Healthcare Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Designing, Writing, Reviewing and Reporting Qualitative Research, is designed to describe common qualitative research paradigms, methods and analytical approaches; criteria to evaluate the quality of qualitative research; common pitfalls in qualitative research; and guidelines for writing and reviewing qualitative studies.
The Wachovia Regional Foundation spearheaded the formation of a partnership to create a participatory outcome evaluation framework for its neighborhood revitalization work. The framework integrates the use of primary and secondary data and has been modified and improved to strengthen a variety of the foundation’s comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts. Forty-one community-based organizations have utilized the framework as a key tool to craft and implement neighborhood plans in a 62-county region. The framework has enabled grantees and residents to better understand and capitalize on market dynamics, enhance their participation in revitalization activities and begin to demonstrate the impact of sustained, strategic Read more
This report documents the experiences, successes and lessons learned during the Learning and Action Agenda Project, an effort to provide local grantmakers with information and strategies around issues of importance to the Casey Foundation —particularly around the Foundation’s Family Economic Success framework — and to motivate them to take action on those issues within their own communities and networks.
Regional associations of grantmakers can be natural and effective partners for national funders that wish to derive greater impact from their work in local areas. Regional associations have the ties that create strong local networks, the trust that creates local buy-in, and the knowledge about local issues, interests and culture. All of these things are absolutely vital for a national funder to incorporate if their work in local communities is to be successful. But what should national funders and regional associations keep in mind when working together? How do different perspectives come into play, and how do they affect understanding, Read more
Collaboration among philanthropies is not so natural, and occurs less frequently than might be expected. This chapter examines partnerships involving national foundations generally and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation specifically. It explores the theoretical and practical reasons that collaboration among foundations should make sense, why it does not happen frequently, and what elements should be in place for partnerships among national foundations to succeed.
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.
Pathfinder is a practical guide to the advocacy evaluation process. This edition guides funders through the advocacy evaluation process from start to finish. Editions for advocates and evaluators are also available. Drawn from Innovation Network’s research and consulting experience, Pathfinder encourages the adoption of a “learning-focused evaluation” approach, which prioritizes using knowledge for improvement.
Pathways to Student Success: A Guide to Translating Good Intentions into Meaningful Impact was written for individuals who seek to go beyond charity by actively searching for opportunities to produce as much good as possible with the dollars available. In the guide, the Center addresses the critical questions that must be answered to achieve the biggest bang for every philanthropic buck, including what is a meaningful change to target, what activities lead to that change for at-risk students, and how much does it cost to make that change.
Sharing and leveraging lessons learned from mistakes is an important but underutilized resource to improve philanthropic investments and nonprofit performance. Philanthropic mistakes extend beyond the results of program evaluations to include questions of mission, role, investment strategies, and implementation. Distinguishing between “constructive” and “nonconstructive” mistakes focuses attention on those factors that shape the outcomes for even the most well-designed investments. Sharing and reflecting upon mistakes has the potential to improve philanthropic capacities for anticipation, learning, and adaptation. Philanthropy must recognize the sometimes blurry lines between success and failure, constructive and nonconstructive mistakes, and philanthropic and nonprofit sector accountability.
This publication is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. The Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year.
When philanthropy is assessed against seven standards for what constitutes a profession, it meets only 3 of them. Questions remain about the core concepts of the field, and how the field builds and disseminates knowledge. There is much discussion about “scientific philanthropy,” but the inability to answer these questions limits the field’s ability to function scientifically. Wisdom, rigor, and learning may be better approaches to philanthropy that a scientific approach.
This report gives an analysis of how urban-focused professional societies are integrating climate change into their member engagement activities.
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.
A groundswell of funders are putting their application and reporting processes online for the first time or moving to a second generation of online systems, both custom-built and off-the-shelf. This is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be done right. This guide offers a set of recommended practices and principles to improve and streamline the process of online grantmaking.
Right-sizing is the concept that one size might not fit all when it comes to application and reporting. When grantmaking is right-sized, the information requirements are proportionate to the size of the grant, are appropriate to the type of grant, and take into consideration prior relationships with grantees.
Faced with increased competition for donors and calls for measurable impact, many community foundations (CFs) are adopting a more proactive, strategic approach to philanthropy – one that has come to be known as “community leadership.” Community leadership has proven challenging for many CFs. In theory, community assessment is a useful tool allowing CFs to identify strategic issues where leadership activities are warranted. This article examines the effect of a large, coordinated assessment project, the 2000 Social Capital Benchmark Survey (SCBS), conducted by Robert Putnam and the Saguaro Seminar at Harvard University. Of the 34 CFs that participated in SCBS, 12 Read more
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
Conversations on scale and innovation continue to dominate philanthropic discourse as the social sector forges new ways to achieve greater impact with limited resources. Motivated by the desire to explore and expand upon current approaches to growing social impact, invite wider participation in the scaling conversation, and showcase practical examples and peer-to-peer advice, we developed this briefing paper series as part of the Scaling What Works initiative. The collection pulls together the best thinking, research and actionable approaches to scaling impact, and provides additional resources for grantmakers that want to dive deeper into paper concepts and questions.
ABFE brings a new framework on RPBC to realize its mission of promoting effective and Responsive Philanthropy in Black communities. This new template builds upon grantmaking with a racial equity lens but is tailored specifically to grantmaking in and for Black communities. As a result, we have designed a set of defining characteristics of philanthropy that we believe is more likely to reduce gaps in racial disparities facing Blacks in the United States and are looking to partner with grantmakers around the country to apply this framework to their investments.
RWJF’s work in the field of research and evaluation has been integral to its success and has informed the field of philanthropy as a whole. On Wednesday, September 19, RWJF hosted a webinar which looked back on the past 40 years (1972-2012) of research and evaluation at RWJF, highlighted programs that had a major impact on the field during that time, and shared lessons learned. Listen to current and former leaders of research and evaluation who were, and continue to be, involved in shaping RWJF’s research and evaluation work.
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.
Truly inclusive markets lead to expanded opportunity for more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, authors from FSG analyzed historical cases where such inclusive transformations actually occurred in order to understand the ways in which they were achieved. Using these insights, in this report they offer practical recommendations for funders and intermediaries seeking to enable more of these shifts in the future.
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.
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
We have produced this briefing, based on conversations we’ve had with hundreds of grantmakers, to provide foundation leaders with a framework and considerations to help guide decisions about how best to support grantees.
This booklet was created as a guide to inform the philanthropic community about the diverse tasks assigned to – and staffing needs necessary for – the grants management function. It defines the numerous roles of grants management and its importance as the department in a foundation in which program, finance, communications, application, approval and administrative functions overlap.
In this report, NCRP documents how local and state organizations leveraged foundation resources to secure billions of dollars in benefits for New Mexicans.
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
In employing co-creation, the partnership established new structures and adopted processes that enabled a diverse group of individuals and entities to voluntarily contribute their skills, expertise, and resources to create a state level early childhood systems approach in Connecticut. This co-creation process also resulted in important transformations within the entities involved. For CCP, it was an opportunity to explore and test a new role and working structure in direct response to the evolving needs and desires within Connecticut’s philanthropic community. Over the last 47 years, CCP has functioned as a network of various types of philanthropic organizations. CCP connects grantmakers Read more
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.
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.
In an effort to help advance the field of advocacy and public policy funding, The Colorado Trust published this evaluation report as a joint effort between funder and evaluator, describing where they saw success, where they saw failure, and lessons learned along the way.
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
Innovation Network developed these three introductory evaluation documents as part of Building Nonprofit Capacity to Evaluate, Learn, and Grow Impact, a workshop we presented in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ Scaling What Works initiative.
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.
This report explores ways to stimulate and develop community philanthropy as a means of contributing to the sustainability of civil society and supporting the effectiveness of development aid.
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.
At LearnPhilanthropy we’ve started collecting things…especially resources to help grantmakers develop their skills. The collection below is a list of fifteen blogs in philanthropy that can enhance your philanthropic learning. Learning of various sorts is a frequent topic discussed in these blogs and we thought a list like this might help LearnPhilanthropy users start your own collection of blogs to track. White Courtesy Telephone’s posts include perspectives on learning, education and training in the field of philanthropy. Philantopic is a blog of Opinion and Commentary from The Philanthropy News Digest Lucy Bernholz’s blog Philanthropy 2173: The Business of Giving shares her opinions Read more
What we do and how we serve is inspired by our commitment to create a financially strong nonprofit sector that’s better able to serve the community. Throughout our 30 years, we’ve developed some core concepts and philosophies on nonprofit finance that inform all our practices. Our Top Tens, crafted for both nonprofits and funders, give a concise summary of these concepts. Concepts include: benefits of unrestricted funding, business model and business planning, and knowing your role (as either a buyer or builder) as a funder.
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.
Federal initiatives provide opportunities to link national, state, and local partnerships. New opportunities create a challenge of how to maximize mission-related goals while also seeking out new partnerships. “Layering” allows core foundation goals to be addressed while further examining how building new partnerships can expand with national and federal opportunities. Each “layer” represents multiple sector partnerships at the local, state, federal, and national levels. Layering differs from collective impact in its focus on strategic alignment with existing work to new partners versus the focus on the partnerships and organizational behavior of those relationships. Building new partnerships with philanthropic, private, and Read more
Participatory evaluation has set the standard for cooperation between program evaluators and stakeholders. Coalition evaluation, however, calls for more extensive collaboration with the community at large. Integrating principles of community based participatory research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Strategic Prevention Framework, which guides much coalition work, into coalition evaluation has proved useful to foster community affiliations and support reciprocal relationship building. The resulting evaluation method, named community based participatory evaluation (CBPE), takes time, money, and skilled personnel but can lead to more accurate results and coalition sustainability. The CBPE method has proved essential in sustaining two Read more
For this webinar, we learned what is happening in the field of youth philanthropy to prepare for this massive shift. The Foundation Center and Youth Philanthropy Connect partnered to conduct the first landscape scan of this scale on youth grantmaking, and they joined us for this discussion. We learned about the impact it has made on the lives of youth. Participants also learned how you to take part in their inspiring movement.
Everybody’s talking about it. Individual donors, foundations, impact investors, and nonprofits all say they want it. But what do they all mean? This analysis examines the different ways people are using the term and the implicit assumptions that can prevent progress. It ends with the 3 key questions that enable donors to cut through the noise and stay on the path to making the positive difference in the world they seek. Although helpful to all donors interested in practicing high impact philanthropy, the analysis offers specific examples related to addressing the needs of women and girls, thanks to our collaboration Read more
Through examples from the field, the publication provides concrete steps grantmakers can take to build a gut-level connection with their stakeholders. Having widespread empathy allows funders to base their decisions and actions on an authentic, firsthand understanding of the perspectives of grantees, community members and other partners. In turn, we become more effective as our work is grounded in more thorough, ground-level knowledge of organizational and community priorities and needs.