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Philanthropy Lessons: Value Beyond Dollars

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





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Nobody’s (Philanthropically) Perfect

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





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Philanthropy Lessons: Who Knows More?

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







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Philanthropy Lessons: The Power Dynamic

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





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

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





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Board Succession: From Planless to Inspired

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





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Philanthropy Lessons: The Many Forms of Evaluation

Evaluating impact can involve diverse data points, from tangible measures such as people served and dollars spent to less concrete aspects including lessons learned and challenges faced. Effective philanthropists embrace evaluation, understanding its dynamic and complex nature.





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The Makings of Phenomenal Foundation Executive Directors

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





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10 – Minute Impact Assessment

We all want to have impact—or, in simpler terms, make a real difference. How do we get there? This simple tool will give you a framework for discussing impact; help you identify areas of strength and opportunities for increasing your impact; and give you tips and resources to strengthen specific areas in your journey toward greater impact.





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

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





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2015 CONNECT Conference

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





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Top Resources for Philanthropists with Few or No Staff

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





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Teen Philanthropy Cafe

This series introduces young people to strategic, thoughtful philanthropy, and inspires them toward giving with impact. Families and adults who work with youth can use these guides to facilitate peer discussions and fun activities around giving. On the menu Grantmaking Collaboration in Philanthropy The Path to Impact Leadership for a Changing World The Nonprofit Universe Thoughtful Site Visits Using Your Voice This project is a partnership of Exponent Philanthropy and Youth Philanthropy Connect, with funding by the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.







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Annual Board To-Dos

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





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From Generation to Generation

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





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Getting to Impact Through Evaluation

Evaluation is key to increasing your impact, and, although evaluation may have been overwhelming or unproductive in the past, it doesn’t have to be going forward. This primer introduces you to simple, straightforward evaluation from start to finish so you can: Set the stage for evaluation at your foundation. Create a road map for your giving that will help you target an evaluation. Understand five key steps of evaluation: targeting, asking, tracking, learning, and using. Know where to turn for support when evaluating your work. Get started on the road toward even greater impact.





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Growing Through Giving

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





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How Can We Offer Health Insurance

In our 2008—2009 Foundation Operations and Management Survey Report, ASF reported that 63% of the responding foundations have paid staff, including board members who work as staff. An estimated 67% provide their full-time, paid employee(s) with health insurance while 39% provide dental insurance; while 26% provide their part-time, paid employee(s) with health insurance and 13% provide dental insurance. You might consider looking into the following resources.





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How Do We Set Staff Compensation?

Should you choose to hire paid staff, compensation must be reasonable and the services provided must be reasonable and necessary for the carrying out the tax-exempt purpose of the private foundation. Compensation may even be provided to a disqualified person (staff or board member) as long as the aforementioned standards are met.





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Investing in Nonprofit Leaders

Strong leaders play an essential role in the success of nonprofit organizations, and as funders, your accomplishments hinge on theirs. By taking steps to support nonprofit leaders, you can bolster the organizations you trust, support the issues you care most about, and further your mission in a meaningful way. Includes: Why focus on leadership? Obstacles to strong, successful leaders Seeing your grantees clearly: tools and tips Grantmaking to support leadership







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Keeping Good Records: Small Foundations’ Guide to Staying Organized

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





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School, Work, Family, and Foundation Too

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





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The Trustee Handbook

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





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Twelve Activities that Require Extra Oversight

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