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Why Every Funder Should Consider 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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Sticking Points: Grantee Roles and Relationships

Yes, there’s a power imbalance between grantmakers and grantees. Yes, everyone acknowledges it. Yes, even very experienced grantmakers wrestle with it. And yes, everyone says they try to break it down. Reality suggests otherwise. Even the most egalitarian and self-aware grantmaker can slip into the “I know best” mode. Think not? Don’t ask other funders. Ask grantees. Better yet, ask grantseekers who didn’t make the cut. Most will say that no matter how hard funders try—and some do—they usually aren’t able to step outside the bubble.





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Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2017 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. Each year, 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.  This publication includes the following: Insight: Big Ideas That Matter for 2017: What is political? What is philanthropic? Worksheets: Data, Governance, and Your Organization Foresight: Predictions for 2017 Hindsight: Renovations to Previous Forecasts Buzzword Watch Glimpses of the Future: Black Lives Matter and Closing Civic Space





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Innovations in Open Grantmaking

Innovations in Open Grantmaking seeks to provide inspiration and early proof of concept regarding innovative practices at every stage of the grantmaking process. The examples and lessons included can act as suggested guidelines for future research and experimentation around more openly and effectively providing access to public money.  This guide includes: Introduction to Open and Effective Grantmaking: What it is, why it matters Innovations Pre-Granting: Ideation challenges, improving the quality of applications through matchmaking, and prioritizing bottom-up participation Innovations in Granting: Open peer review and participatory judging, evidence-based grantmaking, expert networking, and open alternatives to grants Innovations Post-Granting: Opening data about grants, grantors, and Read more





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Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together

In Supporting Grantee Capacity: Strengthening Effectiveness Together, we look at how funders approach building capacity with grantees. Through examples from foundations ranging in size, mission, and geography, we explore various strategies for capacity building and the types of awareness that funders can choose to incorporate in decision making to facilitate informed, thoughtful judgments about strengthening organizations.





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Effective Foundation Boards: The Importance of Roles

Foundations are unique among organizations in the enormous latitude they have in determining their work and the manner in which it is done. This flexibility manifests itself particularly in the variety of roles that foundation board members can take. Most of the literature in the field focuses on best practices in board structure and processes. These are necessary in the spirit of responsiveness and legal accountability, but are not sufficient for effectiveness. Achieving role clarity, influence in decision-making and responsibility for impact are three keys to more effective foundation governance. These three attributes can be better understood and achieved by Read more





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Making Change by Spending Down

In September 2013, the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) and GrantCraft, a service of Foundation Center, partnered to tell the story of how the ACBP began spending down. There are few stories of foundation spending down—that is, spending all of a foundation’s endowment deliberately with the intent of closing—that have been publicly told, and none to our knowledge using a primary medium of a blog series. ACBP’s goal was to build on GrantCraft’s strength of sharing funder wisdom by highlighting more than 20 voices connected with the spend down over the 28-month period until it closed its doors. Both organizations value transparency, and so periodic blogs felt Read more





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Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016

Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016 is an annual industry forecast about the ways we use private resources for public benefit. Foundation Center is pleased to again partner with Lucy to offer the Blueprint as a GrantCraft guide. 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. Some ways you might consider using this Blueprint include: With colleagues at your organization, this publication can open conversations about the context for your work and any thoughts on expanding your strategic framework. With grantees, this publication can foster conversations outside Read more





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Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support

Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support, 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. This guide was developed in collaboration with International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP).





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Participatory Grant Making: A Success Story From Southern Africa

The Other Foundation (tOF) is an African trust dedicated to advancing human rights in southern Africa, with a particular focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. This report outlines the work that was involved in the development and implementation of the pilot grant making initiative, as well as reporting on the first grants that were allocated by the foundation. tOF received 114 applications for funding, from seven different countries, through an open call to support work that ‘advances the rights and wellbeing of LGBTI people in Southern Africa’. 12 peer reviewers from six different countries in southern Read more





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Communication That Counts: Lessons From South African Social Investors

Communication That Counts offers practical lessons in communicating for impact based on the experiences of funders and others involved in social investment in South Africa. The insights in Communication That Counts are pertinent both to South Africans and others beyond its borders, as it explores universal themes related to how to communicate with partners, social investors, and grantees; how to identify and achieve communication goals; and how different media can help enhance different messages. The guide was developed in partnership with Tshikululu Social Investments.





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Scanning the Landscape of Youth Philanthropy

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. Recommendations include providing wider access to youth philanthropy programs, centralizing resources, and increasing in-person gatherings. This scan was conducted in partnership with Youth Philanthropy Connect, a program of the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation.





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

The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) supports over 180 organizations across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. When SFF decided to invest in Burundi, it struggled to find the types of grantees the foundation wanted to fund— young, African-led, grassroots non-governmental organizations with localized knowledge about their communities, and innovative and creative solutions  to address needs. SFF realized that the funding  model created by international actors was further marginalizing an already frail civil society. SFF 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 Read more







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Roles@Work: Are you playing with a full deck?

Grantmakers manage a lot of expectations about their work. We’ve talked with hundreds of grantmakers about what their foundations and grantees expect of them to get their work done – and what they expect of themselves. Our new card deck, a tool we’ve named Roles@work, collects the 29 roles grantmakers mentioned most often. MORE Use the cards to jumpstart a conversation among colleagues about topics like how you weigh different roles, what you do too much of or not enough of, how you orient newcomers, or how you talk about the grantmaker’s role with board members and leaders.







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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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Programming on a Blank Slate: A Case on grantmaking in rural poverty

Imagine starting a new grantmaking program from scratch — no prior grantees, no established procedures, no set objectives. One grant maker’s experience in starting a rural program illustrates some of the questions you’d need to answer. Highlights: Taking up a new job in a new field; Identifying key issues to address; Narrowing the field & making your first decisions.





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Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation

“What are we doing, and why do we think it’s going to make a difference? Are we being effective?” Grantmakers ask evaluation questions like these of their grantees and themselves. This brief guide explains why grantmakers use theories of change to guide their questioning, unearth assumptions that underlie their work, establish common language, and develop strong action plans. Contributors to the guide also describe how a theory of change sets the stage for evaluation by clarifying goals, strategies, and milestones.







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Making Measures Work For You: Outcomes and Evaluation

An outcomes-based approach to evaluation works, proponents say, because it uses straightforward metrics to assess actual impact. How else to know if the work you’re supporting is leading to the desired changes? Other grantmakers counter that outcomes measurement should be approached with care. Hasty assumptions or over-confidence in the idea that program impacts can be translated into hard data can skew not only the evaluation but the work itself. This guide looks at tensions that drive the debate about outcomes measurement, as well as common questions about its potential risks and rewards.





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Inheriting a Grant Portfolio: A case on grant making in water management

Put yourself in the shoes of a grant maker who takes over a longstanding program, only to learn that it needs to be slimmed down and made more effective. This case surveys the landscape, then lets you decide what to do. Highlights: Reviewing what has gone before; Identifying a new focus and direction; Making your first decisions.





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Grow the Craft/Results from a GrantCraft Survey Quick Question: What’s the right relationship between philanthropy and government?

It’s practically a given these days that philanthropy and government ought to work together. But what should the relationship look like? How can grantmakers collaborate formally or informally with partners in government to advance the common good? And does everyone think this is such a good idea? To explore those questions, we invited eight foundation leaders to reflect on the current state of foundation-government collaboration and asked GrantCraft readers to say which statements resonated for them.





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Funding Community Organizing: Social Change Through Civic Participation

Grantmakers who fund community organizing say it’s the best option when you want to promote civic engagement and support lasting solutions to a community’s problems. Yet many funders, concerned about the ability to measure its impact and effectiveness, hesitate to take up community organizing as a strategy. In this guide, funders and organizers discuss what makes community organizing unique and uniquely effective, how to manage grantee relationships over time, understanding the value of process, and the grantmaker’s special role in fostering change.





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Funder Collaboratives: Why and How Funders Work Together

When it comes to funder collaboratives, is the whole truly greater than the sum of its parts? Can foundations make a bigger impact with grant dollars by working together than by going it alone? Yes, grantmakers say, as long as members define their goals, set clear operational guidelines, and work from the start to make the collaborative function well for grantees. In this guide, contributors share strategies for structuring a collaborative to fit its purpose, building strong relationships and resolving conflicts, and figuring out if the collaborative you’re in is working. MORE Contributors also offer ample proof that collaboratives are Read more





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Communicating for Impact: Strategies for Grantmakers

Foundation communications goes far beyond an annual report or the occasional press release about grantees. And it’s no longer the exclusive domain of big foundations, communications staff, or consultants. Integrating communications is critical to advancing programmatic goals. See how grantmakers use a “communications lens” to develop strategy, evaluate impact, take advantage of new media technologies, and more.





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Building Financial Strength & Program Quality: A case on grant making to strengthen organizations in a field

Work alongside a grantmaker who created a new program to strengthen community foundations – building both their financial wealth and the effectiveness of their programs. What choices would you have made? Highlights: Choosing a strategy; Shaping a new program initiative; Using an RFP to advace your goals.





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Translations of GrantCraft Guides

While GrantCraft materials are developed in English, several guides and other resources are available in different languages. These materials have been translated by partnering organizations and adapted for use by native speakers. German, French, Russian, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic.





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Workshops On Your Own

You can use our guides, videos, and cases to foster dialogue with colleagues. We offer several ready-to-go workshops, complete with slide decks and facilitator notes. To help you find discussion-generating activities that fit your group, look at examples of how others have used our guides and videos as a springboard to exploring the craft of grantmaking. The examples can be modified to fit your topic. And a range of tools pulled directly from our guides and videos can help you generate topical content.