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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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Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

One of the goals of this program is for the participants to share their experiences with the broader field. See what grantmakers have learned while developing strategies, particularly as it relates to the principles, practices and benefits of grantmaker-grantee partnerships.





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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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Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits

Investing for Impact: Building the Capacity and Infrastructure of High-Performing Nonprofits explores the experience of Social Innovation Fund subgrantees to understand the capacities that enabled these nonprofits to scale up their programs rapidly and the types of support from their intermediary grantmakers that proved most helpful. While the SIF model may differ from other grantmaking, the experiences of subgrantees and intermediaries have much to offer the broader philanthropic community in reinforcing what it takes to grow nonprofit impact.





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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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Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale

This sponsored supplement, “Smarter Philanthropy for Greater Impact: Rethinking How Grantmakers Support Scale,” was produced by Stanford Social Innovation Review for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO). It was created to capture the latest thinking about how nonprofit organizations, grantmakers, public funders, and social entrepreneurs can increase the impact of successful solutions to urgent social challenges. In the following pages, leaders from across the social sector offer their perspectives on “scaling what works”—what it means, what it takes to do it right, and what needs to happen to ensure that proven and promising solutions find their way to more communities and Read more





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Coaching and Philanthropy: An Action Guide for Grantmakers

This guide was created as a resource for grantmakers as they explore these and other questions about coaching. The guide has three parts: Master the Basics, Make the Case and Make It Work. The guide also includes examples of grantmakers that have embraced coaching as an important form of support for grantees, as well as recommendations for the field of philanthropy as it seeks to broaden the use and effectiveness of coaching.





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Strategic Co-Funding: An Approach for Extended Impact

Co-published by GEO and REDF as an update to REDF’s 2008 article “Out of Philanthropy’s Funding Maze: Roadmap #1, Strategic Co-Funding,” designed to re-introduce the idea of strategic co-funding and highlight effective strategies and current examples.





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Evaluating Community Change: A Framework for Grantmakers

Place-based initiatives involve multiple partners joining together to tackle pressing community-wide issues. In order to better understand and quantify the positive impact of these complex, long-term initiatives, this publication offers a framework of measures and potential indicators that can help grantmakers’ evaluating process and ultimately improve their work.





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The Source Codes of Foundation Culture

This publication begins an exploration into the set of influences shaped by grantmakers’ founders and leaders that affect organizations’ internal cultures. Funders can use this document to support conversations among board and staff to articulate and understand the origins of organizational assumptions, examine beliefs and behaviors, and identify aspects of culture that drive or impede effective work.





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Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity

Capacity building enables nonprofit leaders and organizations to develop the skills and resources they need to improve their work. Since each situation is unique and circumstances are always changing, effective capacity-building support is tailored to best suit the needs of grantees. This publication offers practical guidance and considerations to help grantmakers design an impactful approach.





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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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Leveraging Social Sector Leadership

Strong leadership is critical for effective social sector organizations, yet the sector chronically underinvests in its leaders. What do social sector leaders need to help them succeed and, just as importantly, stay in the sector? What can grantmakers do to support these leaders? This publication synthesizes findings from new research conducted by the authors and offers recommendations for grantmakers.





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What does effective due diligence look like?

Due diligence is a process that helps grantmakers get to know grantseekers. Typically, it’s seen strictly as a means to ensure an organization’s financial and legal compliance. However, when done well, due diligence has the potential to provide insight into such critical attributes as the role of the organization’s board, the position the nonprofit holds in its field and community, and the level of alignment between our own mission and the goals of the grantseeker. The difficult part of due diligence is in asking the right questions and in a way that makes the most of the nonprofit’s time and Read more





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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

Grantmakers recognize the value of supporting effective, well-led organizations — strong organizations create meaningful changes in the world. To help us understand whether we are making progress in supporting nonprofits in ways that allow them to be successful, GEO conducts field research to track trends in grantmaker practice. In short, we want to know: is grantmaking getting smarter? GEO’s 2014 study highlights some important shifts in how grantmakers support nonprofit results, but also reveals where we’re falling short. To help inform this study, we convened a nonprofit task force and feature the perspective of nonprofit leaders throughout the report to Read more





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Working Better Together: Building Nonprofit Collaborative Capacity

Collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but key capacities are needed to enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.





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Catalyzing Networks for Social Change: A Funder’s Guide

GEO and Monitor Institute partnered to release Catalyzing Networks for Social Change, to explore what it takes for grantmakers to cultivate a network mindset, offer recommendations for how funders can effectively build the capacity of networks and identify five network approaches that are helping grantmakers and social change makers to harness the power of networks.





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Four Essentials for Evaluation

GEO created this guide to help grantmakers get to the next level in their evaluation efforts. Four Essentials for Evaluation builds on our previous publication, Evaluation in Philanthropy, to offer grantmakers a practical perspective on how to build or strengthen the capacity of their organizations to tap the transformative power of evaluation for learning. This guide provides grantmakers with ideas, insights and examples from their peers to help them develop and strengthen the following four essential elements that are part of any successful evaluation approach: lead, plan, organize and share.





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Learn and Let Learn

This publication explores how learning communities can be powerful tools in creating and shaping peer connections that help expand knowledge, deepen skills and enhance practice. Learn and Let Learn offers key insights for grantmakers drawn from six in-depth case studies of learning communities gathered for GEO’s Scaling What Works initiative by the Research Center for Leadership in Action at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.





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Pathways to Grow Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in the Journey

Since 2010, through the Scaling What Works initiative, GEO has fostered a conversation about scale that considers a variety of ways nonprofits are creating more value for communities and how funders are supporting their work. Pathways to Grow Impact shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. The publication is the result of a collaborative project with Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group that sought to answer the question: How can grantmakers best support high-performing nonprofits in their efforts to grow their impact? Pathways to Grow Impact is for any grantmaker who wants his or her Read more







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Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements

GEO has prepared a publication that provides a framework for understanding the array of roles that funders can play in supporting movements and networks. Many Hands, More Impact: Philanthropy’s Role in Supporting Movements offers an orientation to some of the inherent benefits and barriers to supporting movements and provides insight into ways that grantmakers can explore collaborative efforts for social change.





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WIDESPREAD EMPATHY: 5 STEPS TO ACHIEVING GREATER IMPACT IN PHILANTHROPY

Through examples from the field, the publication provides concrete steps grantmakers can take to build a gut-level connection with their stakeholders. Having widespread empathy allows funders to base their decisions and actions on an authentic, firsthand understanding of the perspectives of grantees, community members and other partners. In turn, we become more effective as our work is grounded in more thorough, ground-level knowledge of organizational and community priorities and needs.





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CRACKING THE NETWORK CODE: FOUR PRINCIPLES FOR GRANTMAKERS

GEO’s newest publication sets out to crack the code behind the network mystique. In fact, there is a method to working more efficiently and effectively through networks, and a critical first step for grantmakers is adopting a network mindset, which may require dramatic shifts in attitude and behavior for some. Cracking the Network Code outlines four principles that comprise the network mindset, illustrates the principles with a range of examples of networks that have achieved real results, and offers practical questions and recommendations to help grantmakers achieve the benefits and avoid common pitfalls of working through networks.





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The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook

We know that grantmakers who understand and act in the best interest of grantees achieve better results. Practicing smarter grantmaking can make the difference between pretty good performance and achieving the best possible results. But, where should you start? Take smarter steps forward in your grantmaking with The Smarter Grantmaking Playbook. Find the answers you seek to more than 50 common questions captured from your GEO peers. Receive a primer on the grantmaking practices that are most supportive of nonprofit success. Turn knowledge into action with practical tools, frameworks and related resources that you can share with your colleagues to Read more





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Smarter Grantmaking in Challenging Economic Times: Insights for Foundation Leaders

We have produced this briefing, based on conversations we’ve had with hundreds of grantmakers, to provide foundation leaders with a framework and considerations to help guide decisions about how best to support grantees.





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Reframing the Conversation: A GEO Briefing Paper Series on Growing Social Impact

Conversations on scale and innovation continue to dominate philanthropic discourse as the social sector forges new ways to achieve greater impact with limited resources. Motivated by the desire to explore and expand upon current approaches to growing social impact, invite wider participation in the scaling conversation, and showcase practical examples and peer-to-peer advice, we developed this briefing paper series as part of the Scaling What Works initiative. The collection pulls together the best thinking, research and actionable approaches to scaling impact, and provides additional resources for grantmakers that want to dive deeper into paper concepts and questions.





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On The Money: A Review of Key Financial Challenges Facing Nonprofits Today — and How Grantmakers Can Help

Despite a wave of interest in recent years in what it takes to build stronger, more effective nonprofits, the sector as a whole still suffers from a chronic case of financial stress that inhibits effectiveness. Philanthropy can be a part of the problem, but also a part of the solution.





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Listen, Learn, Lead: Grantmaker Practices That Support Nonprofit Results

GEO’s Change Agent Project seeks to inspire change in grantmakers so they can help their grantees achieve meaningful results. This report on Phase 1 of GEO’s Change Agent Project delves deeper into what is neccessary to instill change in grantmaking practices. This publication was reprinted in 2010.





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Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? A National Study of Philanthropic Practice

A comprehensive study of the attitudes and practices of staffed grantmaking foundations in the U.S., which examines the connection between listening to and learning with grantees and improving practices to achieve better results. In light of the global economic downturn, this survey also highlights some of the key shifts in grantmaking since 2008 and what they mean for supporting nonprofit resilience.





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Investing In Leadership Volume 2: Inspiration and Ideas from Philanthropy’s Latest Frontier

Grantmakers today are doing more than just talking about the connection between leadership and nonprofit performance. They are looking for information and perspective about what works and what others are doing. And, at the same time, pioneers are experimenting with various approaches, sometimes clumsily, but often with success.





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Investing In Leadership Volume 1: A Grantmaker’s Framework for Understanding Nonprofit Leadership Development

Ask any grantmaker about the distinguishing characteristics of strong and effective nonprofit organizations, and the conversation inevitably will turn to leadership. But what kind of leadership do nonprofits need, and what role can grantmakers play in strengthening leadership development in the sector? Given the vast literature on leadership development and the challenges of translating research and theory into practice, this publication explores a sampling of the leadership development literature.





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General Operating Support: Action Guide

As grantmakers strive to help nonprofits succeed in today’s difficult environment, one practice stands out as part of the solution: general operating support. In this publication, based in part on a GEO listserv discussion, GEO explores the nature of general operating support, how to make the case for it within your organization, and how to make it work.





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Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives from the Field

This publication offers a brief overview of how grantmakers are looking at evaluation as a means of improvement. It is based on a review of the current literature on evaluation and learning, outreach to grantmakers that have made these activities a priority, and the work of GEO and the Council on Foundations to raise this issue more prominently among their members.





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Due Diligence Done Well

The challenge for you as a grantmaker is to learn as much as you can about potential grantees without asking for more information than you really need and, as a result, placing an added burden on the nonprofit organizations you work with. Learn about effective due diligence and how to create a grantee-friendly approach to information gathering that enhances communication, trust and confidence.





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Do Nothing About Me Without Me

A growing number of grantmakers believe they can be more effective to the extent that they meaningfully engage their grantees and other key stakeholders. Grantmakers doing this work have arrived at an understanding that much of the knowledge and experience they need to solve the problems they want to solve, and to help them do a better job as grantmakers, resides in the communities they serve. The values guiding this work are captured by the phrase that has been made visible by the disability rights movement in recent years: “Nothing about me without me.”





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Critical Issues in General Operating Support Volume 2: Assessing the Impact

Many grantmakers agree that general operating support can boost effectiveness and impact for nonprofits. At the same time, however, the field continues to struggle to answer a question that has become a significant barrier to the wider use of general operating support: How are we going to measure its impact? GEO’s review of grantmaker practices suggests some answers.