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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.





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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. This resource provides clear, practical guidance for funders looking to examine their organizational structures and strategize about their capacities and operations through discussion questions, action steps, and lessons from peers. It is intended to provide an accessible and actionable introduction of RPA’s Theory of the Foundation to a global funder audience.





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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.





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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.





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Why Every Funder Should Consider Participatory Grantmaking

This blog post discusses participatory grantmaking. This type of grantmaking demonstrates a paradigm shift in how funders work with grantees as agents of change in their communities rather than simply as beneficiaries of aid. It goes beyond grantmaking into the importance of advancing public and democratic participation in decision making. In essence, the process itself is part of the impact.





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Nonprofit Collaborations: Why Teaming Up Can Make Sense

For-profit companies have long recognized the value of collaborations. More nonprofits are now looking for the same benefits. A successful collaboration can help a nonprofit: save costs by sharing infrastructure and administrative expenses strengthen programs expand the value proposition for both organizations improve efficiency tap complementary skills and abilities increase leadership skills









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Who’s in the Room? Who Should Be?

Bringing people together is one of the key roles of philanthropy. It’s important to make sure you have the right people in the room so that the time spent is productive and the outcome is useful for everyone. To ensure you’ve tapped the right players for your next gathering, ask yourself these three questions before you issue invitations: What is our overall goal? What roles are essential to accomplish our goal? How can we make the best use of others?





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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.  





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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.







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

This report discusses how through a better understanding of what defines a quality job and a set of practical methods for measuring the quality of jobs created, we believe Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and others in the impact investing community will be better positioned to make more effective investments that support good jobs for workers, businesses, and communities.      





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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





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Framework for Connecticut’s Statewide System of Early Childhood State and Local Partnerships

The Connecticut Early Childhood Funder Collaborative, a project of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, brings national expertise to consider a new “Framework.” In 2015, Early Childhood Funder Collaborative (Collaborative) provided funding for the purpose of developing recommendations for an infrastructure connecting state child-serving agencies, especially the Office of Early Childhood, with local communities and communities with each other. The resulting report, Framework for Connecticut’s Statewide System of Early Childhood State and Local Partnerships, concludes with a set of recommendations for Connecticut Leaders to consider in creating a statewide network of local or regional early care and education partnerships. The recommended Read more





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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





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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.







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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





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Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support

This guide 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.





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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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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.





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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.





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

In this case study, the reader will learn about The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) and how they 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 influence donors on the pivotal role of civil society in Burundi. To achieve this, SFF created the Social Impact Incubator.





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The Role of the Congregation in Community Service: A Philanthropic Case Study

The Family Leadership Initiative (FLI), part of the larger Gatherings of Hope Initiative, was a collaboratively designed program to strengthen families and improve children’s education in Grand Rapids, Mich. FLI was launched in 2011 with two cohorts of 20 congregations who took part in a six-step design process. Programs were implemented in fall 2011. The program entailed holding monthly meetings for parents and children that included bonding time, parent education and homework support for students, and time for ministry. The initial evaluation shows high levels of satisfaction, with students reporting some academic improvements. For the congregations, FLI provided a rare Read more





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Philanthropy in the Faith Community: Mobilizing Faith-Based Organizations for Substance Use Prevention

· The Assistance for Substance Abuse Prevention Center, established by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, has worked with community partners in the faith community to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. · Reviving the Human Spirit (RTHS) was a collaborative project that provided resources to help congregations provide substance use prevention and recovery support in their communities, including the adoption of evidence-based practices. · Slightly more than two thirds of the congregations that participated in follow up interviews reported that their programs were still operating. · Faith-based programs have many things in common with programs operated by other Read more





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

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





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Reflection on Practice Video: Starting as a New Grantmaker

This video looks at a variety of issues commonly faced by new program officers as they take up their role — from finding promising ideas to support, to understanding the dynamics of good grantee/grantor relations, to helping grantees collaborate effectively with others.







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Justin Laing on Successful Foundation-Grantee Relationships

Justin Laing, program officer at the Heintz Endowments, is one of the high-performing program officers profiled in the Center for Effective Philanthropys research report, “Working with Grantees: Keys to Success and Five Program Officers Who Exemplify Them.” Through this research, CEP identified four keys to strong funder-grantee relationships. In this conversation with PhilanthroMedias Susan Herr, Laing discusses these keys and how they are put to use in his daily work.





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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.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.





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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations. The premise underlying Local Funding Partnerships has remained constant over its 25 years—by collaborating with local funders instead of acting alone, RWJF could improve the health and health care of Americans, while getting a larger return on its investment.





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Partnership Among National Foundations: Between Rhetoric and Reality

Collaboration among philanthropies is not so natural, and occurs less frequently than might be expected. This chapter examines partnerships involving national foundations generally and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation specifically. It explores the theoretical and practical reasons that collaboration among foundations should make sense, why it does not happen frequently, and what elements should be in place for partnerships among national foundations to succeed.





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A Foundation-to-Foundation Partnership: Lessons from a Unique Pairing of Funders

This paper reveals findings from a process evaluation of the partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) vis-à-vis its Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) grantmaking program (initiated in 2005). A candid look at this partnership reveals successes and challenges, as well as what worked and what took time to work. Moreover, this paper reveals the hard work required to make this partnership evolve to create a program that has had a significant, positive impact on the field of nursing.





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Constructing Collaborative Success for Network Learning: The Story of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool

Despite conversations about the importance of community collaboration, foundations continue to struggle with how to best frame and support collaborative success. Existing tools to assess collaboration may not fit with either a foundation’s values or a specific program strategy. From a foundation perspective, developing a community self-assessment tool reinforced the idea that collaborative functioning is crucial and deserves attention. This article shares a story of the development and initial use of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool as a process of social construction critical to collective action and a possible indicator of network learning.  





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Factors Influencing Donor Partnership Effectiveness

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) produced six case studies on jointly funded programs related to the environment, global health, and information technologies in developing regions around the world. A two-dimensional tool probing eight factors that influence donor (funder) partnership performance and interinstitutional communication was developed and used in conjunction with a Partnering Process Model to guide the preparation of the case studies. The case studies demonstrated that communication is important externally, that is, among donor partners, and internally, that is, within the various divisions of IDRC. With the use of this tool, it was possible to observe how communication Read more





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Learning From an Adaptive-Consultative Approach: One Foundation’s Experience in Creating Systems Change in Education

This article describes a creative relationship between the Ball Foundation and the Rowland Unified School District. The approach was adopted by the Ball Foundation when they observed that grantees who had a closer relationship with them were more successful than those who had a more traditional relationship with them. Based on the concept of “adaptive leadership,” the relationship allows for flexibility and a more collaborative approach between the foundation and grantee. This approach requires both the funder and the grantee to be committed to learning and adapting strategies as needed to respond to both results and changing contexts. The funder Read more





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The Potential of Partnerships for Health Advocacy and Policy Change: The Legacy of the Partnership for the Public’s Health Initiative

This article reports on a study of 11 partnerships between public health departments and community organizations that were funded by The California Endowment to support advocacy and organizing to improve health outcomes in the communities. The evaluation examined the sustainability of the partnerships as well as the policy and advocacy work of the organizations. Almost 90 percent of the activities in policy change and community capacity building was sustained, whereas partnership and health department capacity building activities were the least likely to be sustained. The policy change legacies at the community level were strong and included empowerment of community members, Read more





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The Blind Men and the Elephant: Learning a Little at a Time About Civic Engagement

Key points: This article, written from the perspective of the evaluator, describes what happened in one community in which four noncollaborating funders were supporting community development programs.  The Treeline Collaborative evolved from grassroots origins to become a leading organization in the community, serving as a one-stop shop for many programs and providing a structure for civic engagement of residents.  A collaborative evaluation would have enabled a deeper understanding of the Treeline Collaborative, the outcomes it attained and missed, and the multiple roles it plays in the community, perhaps leading to more effective program and funding decisions.