Ever had a question, but didn’t have the courage to ask it? We will ask the question for you. Our Expert Q & A’s provide commentary from field experts on the burning questions all newcomers and those new to their role have about the journey in which they are about to embark.

Have a burning question you’d like us to cover? Submit it and we’ll find an expert to answer, and post here.


 

Expert Q & A: How Can a Young Professional Prepare for Advancement?

By: Karen McNeil-Miller, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Identify a potential role/level you would like to attain and seek out several people who already have those roles.  Find out the competencies/behaviors/skills needed to be effective in the role currently and in the future Be intentional in your career to seek roles along the way that can offer you an opportunity to develop those skills and competencies. Join EPIP (Emerging Professionals in Philanthropy) Volunteer inside and outside your organization to develop your skills Look for internal developmental assignments such as task forces, workgroups, committees, etc. Network with the people who Read more

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Expert Q & A: How can grantmakers best read and analyze nonprofit financial statements?

By: Chad Gorski, Grants & Finance Coordinator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Understand the goal of the statement analysis and consider the risk assessment needs of your organization: What part of the required due diligence process does it fulfill? How much risk is acceptable? What red flags will impact decision-making? Is a ground-up analysis necessary or can third party info be used? See Project Streamline’s guide on Grant Budgets and Financial Reports,  which helps grantmakers think through what information is really needed to make a grant. The Due Diligence Done Well guide from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is also very useful. Understand the Read more

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Expert Q & A: How can philanthropic organizations create a learning culture even while “leading under pressure?”

By: Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, Associate Dean and Clinical Full Professor, University of Michigan Ross School of Business; co-author with Dr. Erika Hayes James, Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis For the last decade my co-author, Erika James, and I have researched how organizations lead under pressure and especially in crisis situations. Although most organizations do not frequently confront crises, leading under pressure has become a new norm. Pressurized situations can be the result of budget constraints, time limitations, stakeholders’ demands, shortage of resources or employee strife.   From our research, we discovered that Read more

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Expert Q & A: How can we make learning fun for new grantmakers?

By: Jessica Bearman, principal, Bearman Consulting I went to Google and did a quick search on “Fun and Learning” and quickly noticed that with or without the quotation marks, all the hits were resources for kids. Searching on Adults Learning and Fun yielded a bunch of websites devoted to icebreakers… as though fun can be part of learning, as long as it’s contained at the beginning of the meeting or workshop. And so then I asked myself: “What makes learning fun and how can fun make learning better?”  Based on what we know about how adults learn, here are some quick Read more

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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

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Expert Q & A: What can someone new to grantmaking, but joining a foundation in mid-career, do to accelerate his or her learning curve in this new field?

By: Judy Mohraz, trustee, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust 1.   Start by getting a handle on the soul of philanthropy, as well as the work of philanthropy.  Read the key works, for example: Mark Constantine’s Wit and Wisdom: Unleashing the Philanthropic Imagination; Joel Fleishman’s book, The Foundation:  A Great American Secret; Harvard Business Review articles on strategy written by Mark Kramer, Michael Porter, and others. 2.  Get some exposure, if you don’t already have it (and if you do, don’t let it lapse…) to non-profits and the pressure they live under every day.  Know the basic mechanics of good governance, in a non-profit context, and the Read more

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Expert Q & A: What can someone working at a corporation in an area unrelated to corporate philanthropy do to orient himself or herself when joining the corporate citizenship team?

By: Ann Cramer, director, Americas, IBM Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs 1.   Get a basic orientation of your own corporate culture, values, and direction – corporate philanthropy and citizenship today is a lot different than employee engagement (volunteerism) with “tee shirts and balloons,” or even community relations and contributions.  Use local corporate donor groups as well as the Council on Foundationsand Forum of Regional Associations of Foundations affiliates to learn with and from colleagues. 2.  Read some of the really key/basic works.  For example: Rosabeth Moss Kanter”s “From Spare Change to Real Change;” The work of Michael Porter, Mark Kramer, John Kania on  foundation strategy, collective impact, Read more

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I’m in charge of hiring a consultant to help our foundation with strategic planning and streamlining our internal grantmaking process. What are some of the most important questions to ask when soliciting potential consultants and what are some reasonable expectations we should keep in mind?

By: National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers member’s Molly Penn and Deborah Flood of Penn Flood Consulting  In our experience, it is important to describe the process clearly and with uniformity to all prospective consultants so you can do an “apples-to-apples” comparison of their respective approaches.  Toward that end, you may want to consider these internal questions we typically ask in our preliminary conversation with a prospect foundation client. Project Goals: First, clarify what you want the consultant to help you with and to what extent those goals overlap. For example, some foundations might want to use the board retreat to Read more

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