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Pay-What-it-Takes Philanthropy

It’s time to break the “starvation cycle,” a vexing pattern of underfunding and underinvesting that prevents countless nonprofits from maximizing their impact. Despite years of conversation around the topic of funding the real cost of programs, many grantmakers continue to pay flat—and too low—overhead rates regardless of a their grantees’ actual needs. “Pay what it takes” philanthropy looks to remedy the situation by providing a flexible approach to funding, grounded in real costs. By taking into account the true dollars needed, this new approach has the potential to shift funding from programs and services to what it actually takes to create Read more





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Making Big Bets for Social Change

Donors feel this “aspiration gap” in their philanthropy. For the last 16 years, The Bridgespan Group has counseled more than 50 of the world’s most generous and ambitious philanthropists. Many have said some version of “I can’t find enough opportunities to put large amounts of my money to work on the issues I really want to change.” They’ve spent years searching for such defining opportunities; they’re deeply frustrated; and they’re worried that they’re not making nearly the difference they could. Is their frustration warranted? Would more big bets really make a big difference? If the answer is “Yes” to both Read more





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How Do I Build Strong Relationships with Grantees?

Collaborating effectively with your grantees is critical. This publication from the Bridgespan Group and GiveSmart outlines the keys to building strong relationships with grantees that are grounded in shared goals and buoyed by a productive working relationship.





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The Nonprofit Leadership Development Deficit

In more than a decade of research on nonprofit leadership, we at The Bridgespan Group have observed little change in the No. 1 organizational concern expressed by boards and CEOs: succession planning. In survey after survey of nonprofit leaders succession planning comes out on top. In fact, it is mentioned twice as often as the next concern.1 Our most recent research provides a clue as to why. Only 30 percent of C-suite roles in the nonprofit sector were filled by internal promotion in the past two years—about half the rate of for-profits.2 Even more concerning, this low promotion rate did Read more





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Donor Decision Tool: Questions to Ask When Researching a Nonprofit

Whether you are a donor or a grantmaker, as you embark on getting to know your potential grantees, you may find it helpful to keep this guide with key questions pertaining to: Strategy and results Leadership Financials Organization and operations The guide also includes a worksheet to help you keep track of your progress and there is a supplemental resource here: http://learnphilanthropy.org/donor-decision-tool-research-nonprofit/





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Lessons in Funder Collaboration: What the Packard Foundation Has Learned about Working with Other Funders

Funder collaboration has been a hot topic in philanthropy for years. But interest has grown of late as more funders realize that individual efforts simply are not enough to address complex social problems. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has championed this view for decades as it has worked with dozens of other funders towards a common purpose. Clearly, collaboration can be a powerful means to amplify resources and impact, as this report presents in some detail. But good intentions aren’t enough to ensure success. Bridgespan’s exploration of Packard’s collaborations identified a number of factors that significantly raise the chances Read more





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Three Key Roles Funders Can Play in a CEO Transition

Changes in a nonprofit’s leadership affect the organization’s staff, its board, and potentially how it will achieve its goals. With so much at stake, it’s important that a funder works with the nonprofit it supports to ensure a smooth CEO transition—and help sustain the organization until it gets a new leader.





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The Nonprofit Board’s Role in Onboarding and Supporting a New CEO

The number one responsibility of any board—for-profit or nonprofit—is effective management of the senior executive, especially a new one. Yet, nonprofit leaders often report to Bridgespan that their boards fall short of that goal. Here are five ways nonprofit boards can improve onboarding and their support of new CEOs.





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Nonprofit Leadership Development Toolkit

Bridgespan’s Leadership Development Toolkit, and the leadership development guide, videos, and tools within it, are designed to share stories, lessons, and immediately actionable next steps so that you can effectively work with your senior leadership team to develop the next generation of leaders for your organization.





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Galvanizing Philanthropy

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





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Give Smart Content Library

Getting real, lasting results from your philanthropic giving requires planning, strategy, realism and partnership. Whether you’re new to philanthropy or farther along, the materials in the Give Smart library can help guide you in your philanthropic journey.







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

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







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Donor Profile: Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving

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









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Donor Profile: The Lynch Foundation and Teach For America: How Philanthropy Can Help Ideas Become Reality

Peter and Carolyn Lynch take a portfolio approach to their philanthropy, and Teach For America is just one example of how they’re returning outsized impact for their investment dollars.





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Donor Profile: The Hilton Foundation Sees a Need — and Finds a Partner

According to Steven Rothstein, president of the Perkins School for the Blind, if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes a “big village” to raise a child with disabilities. It also takes a donor with a special kind of focus, patience, and willingness to learn.









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Donor Decision Tool: How to Research a Nonprofit

What is the best way to research, or perform due diligence on, a nonprofit organization you’re considering funding? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors, including how much you already know about the organization, the size of your grant, and its importance to the nonprofit, among other things. You will want to balance the extent of your effort with respect for the busy leaders of these organizations. To get started, just answer the questions you’ll find in this tool. We’ll recommend a tailored research plan based on your responses. Includes: Due Diligence guide Site Visit guide Read more







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Delivering on the Promise of Nonprofits

As U.S. nonprofits take on an increasing share of society’s work, they face mounting pressure from stakeholders – donors, boards, employees – to show results. To make the greatest possible impact, they need to explicitly state the outcomes they’re aiming for and how they plan to accomplish those goals. The authors say organizations should start by rigorously addressing a few interdependent questions: Which results will we hold ourselves accountable for? How will we achieve them? What will the results really cost, and how can we fund them? How do we build the organization we need to deliver those results? Together, Read more







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Can You Open-Source Your Strategy?

Strategy development has traditionally been the domain of the C-suite, employing structured tools for analysis and tightly managed decision making. The Wikimedia Foundation (the nonprofit that operates Wikipedia) took a different approach by open-sourcing its strategy formulation, drawing on the community of Wikimedians around the world. The process took place in public, on a strategy wiki that anyone could contribute to.





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Business Planning for Nonprofits: What It Is and Why It Matters

The business-planning process offers a nonprofit’s decision makers a rare opportunity to step back and look at their organization as a whole. It is a time to connect the dots between mission and programs, to specify the resources that will be required to deliver those programs, and to establish performance measures that allow everyone to understand whether the desired results are being achieved.





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When You’ve Made Enough to Make a Difference

To achieve breakthrough changes, donors need a multiplier effect—an approach that delivers many dollars’ worth of impact for each dollar invested. In short, they need to develop an investment model. To do so, donors must understand two fundamental areas: the methods of change that breakthrough results require (such as scaling high-impact nonprofit organizations or changing government policy) and how they can best support those efforts—through the roles they play, the resources they devote, and the relationships they develop.





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Tiger Foundation: Profile in Engaged Philanthropy

Tiger Foundation was started by legendary investor Julian Robertson, Jr., founder of Tiger Management. One of the most successful hedge funds of the 1990s, Tiger Management quickly generated incredible wealth for its 20- and 30-year old investment staff. But from the beginning, Robertson also wanted to instill in his employees a commitment to giving back. Equally important, he wanted to cultivate in them the desire to move beyond “traditional charity” and participate actively in the philanthropic process. So he created a venue for doing so, establishing the Tiger Foundation in 1990 with a dual mission that drives the organization to Read more





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Three Cases of Better Corporate Philanthropy – Nike, Goldman Sachs, and Intel

Given that companies are putting more than $14 billion a year into charitable causes, measuring results and ensuring real social impact should be important goals. A few corporate leaders are realizing these goals, including Goldman Sachs, Nike and Intel. MORE To do this they apply the same discipline to their charitable work that they do to their core business — insisting on strategic focus, investing at scale and measuring results.





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The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

Why do nonprofits and funders alike continue to shortchange overhead? To answer this question, we studied four national nonprofits that serve youth. Each organization has a mix of funding, including monies from government, foundation, and individual sources. We also interviewed the leaders and managers of a range of nonprofit organizations and funders, as well as synthesized existing research on overhead costs in the nonprofit sector. Our research reveals that a vicious cycle fuels the persistent underfunding of overhead.





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

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





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Ten Nonprofit Funding Models

Through our research, we have identified 10 nonprofit models that are commonly used by the largest nonprofits in the United States. Our intent is not to prescribe a single approach for a given nonprofit to pursue. Instead, we hope to help nonprofit leaders articulate more clearly the models that they believe could support the growth of their organizations, and use that insight to examine the potential and constraints associated with those models.





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Philanthropy FAQ: What Is Impact Investing and Why Should or Shouldn’t Philanthropists Consider It?

Impact investing has become a hot topic among donors and financial investors alike. But what does it mean, and why might you consider it as a philanthropic option? Broadly defined, impact investing means investing capital to generate social impact in a way that also provides monetary returns. These returns may vary from the initial principal amount upward (or, potentially, downward), depending on the nature of the investment.





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Philanthropy FAQ: How Do I Work with My Family to Achieve High-Impact Philanthropy?

Philanthropy offers an exciting opportunity to bring your loved ones together to support a common cause. However, getting the best possible results with your philanthropy and preserving the social bonds that are important to you can sometimes require trade-offs.





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Philanthropy FAQ: Which Legal Structure or Structures Should I Use To Give My Money Away?

The right mix of philanthropic legal structures is different for everyone, so it’s no surprise that one of the most common questions philanthropists have when ramping up their giving is “what structure or combination of structures should I use?” This guide is not intended to replace more specific tax, estate, or legal counsel, but instead offers a walk through a few of the options and some considerations when making this decision.







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Philanthropy FAQ: Should I Give Anonymously or Publicly?

Giving publicly or anonymously isn’t black or white. Philanthropy is a public expression of personal values and family commitments, with its own set of rewards and rules. Whether or not you “go public” is a matter of strategy and personal style. Ask yourself, given the change you want to see in the world, what’s the right approach? Here are some key considerations behind public and anonymous giving.







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Philanthropy FAQ: Do I Spend Down or Form a Foundation in Perpetuity?

According to a 2009 Foundation Center report, 12 percent of foundations plan to spend-down their assets, and 63 percent plan to give in perpetuity. What’s surprising is that 25 percent of foundations are undecided. No one likes to dwell on his or her own mortality, but thinking about how you want your philanthropy to be managed after your lifetime is essential.







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How To Guide: Getting Better Over Time

To be a successful philanthropist, you’ll need to make good decisions about how to spend your money, time and influence. Here’s advice on how to do just that. Three practices will help you stay on track: Measure your grantees’ performance thoughtfully. Request and reflect on data that can inform decision-making. Ask: are my grantees and their programs getting results? How can I help them do better? Ensure your philanthropic strategy is tied to grantee strategies. Ask: Do my grantees’ results contribute to the overall success I am aiming for? Am I clear on how? Take into account external factors. What Read more









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How Do I Measure Results – Both Mine and My Grantees’ – In a Practical Way?

One of the most common concerns donors have is how to measure the results they are getting with their dollars. This “Frequently Asked Question” document helps donors think through how they can measure their own – and grantees’ results thoughtfully.







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Give Smart: Philanthropy that Gets Results

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