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Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

When funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.





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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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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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Tips for Effective Grantee Relations

What are the characteristics of a win-win relationship for grantmaker and nonprofit alike? This checklist may help. Be willing to apologize. Return phone calls. Admit when you don’t know. Ask. Be truthful, compassionate, considerate. Ask advice. Admit error. Listen. Listen. Make people comfortable. Don’t withhold information that is appropriate and important to give. Walk a mile in a grantseeker’s shoes. They pinch.







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Disaster Philanthropy

Disaster philanthropy is the term used when a foundation responds to a natural disaster, man-made emergency or complex humanitarian crisis with grantmaking or fund raising. Ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leaders in the philanthropic community have become more aware of the importance of this approach to giving. What follows are the stories of three Minnesota organizations that have made the foray into disaster philanthropy. What have they learned from their experiences? And how can this approach help every foundation do a better job of delivering on its core mission?





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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.





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Engaging Other Funders

The Beldon Fund’s ten-year experience with spending out while seeking to accomplish an ambitious mission yielded a range of useful lessons. They cover the practical nuts and bolts of putting a foundation on a spend-out course as well as specific tips on effective program strategies to achieve impact. This lesson shares how they brought more funders to the table.





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Evaluation Benchmarks

The Beldon Fund established a set of performance benchmarks for success based on whether its programs were increasing the effectiveness of its grantees and drawing more resources to the field as a whole. They list the indicators the foundation developed to measure the impact of its portfolios.





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Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

Grants Managers Network (now PEAK Grantmaking) looked across the field to better understand attitudes and perceptions about grants management and grantmaking practices. They took deep dives to learn more about foundations that are intentionally moving toward “successful structures” that integrate operations and program for greater impact.





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Values-Based Grantmaking: Why It Matters

PEAK Grantmaking continually advocates for the adoption of effective practices in the philanthropic sector. According to a survey of our members and others in philanthropy, we found that, while many believe that grantmaking process and structure very much (65%) or moderately (25%) affect the ultimate success of grants, many grantmakers (41%) believe that assessing and changing how grants are made isn’t a priority. One way PEAK Grantmaking is seeking to encourage members to analyze their practices is by engaging them in conversations on whether their practices reflect the values that are explicit or implicit to their organizations.





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11 Essential Practices for Effective Grantmaking

The options for effective grantmaking are more varied today than ever. What used to involve simply making financial gifts to qualified nonprofits now has grown to include public-private partnerships, social impact investing, program-related investing, crowdfunding, and many more avenues for achieving a foundation’s mission. Whether your foundation is just getting off the ground or has a venerated history that’s about to enter a new phase, you’ll have many choices to consider as you plan your way forward.





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35 Keys to Effective Evaluation

As the need for scarce grant dollars grows more intense, so does the need to make certain those dollars are spent as effectively as possible. Hence the question of how to evaluate the consequences of grant supported activities has risen to the forefront.





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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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Grantmaking Should Be Grounded in Real Costs

There is growing recognition that supporting nonprofit organizations with limited, restricted funding does not work. So what can we all do to make sure this recognition leads to systemic change that sets up nonprofit organizations for success and honors funders with the results their generosity deserves? This article explores what needs to be done in order to ensure that effective grantmaking is grounded in understanding the real costs of operating individual nonprofit organizations.  This article was originally published as Pay-What-It-Takes-Philanthropy, published by the Stanford Social Innovation Review in June of 2016.





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Sharpen Your Focus – 5 Questions That Will Improve Your Grantmaking

Giving money away is a complicated business, but Putnam Consulting Group has found a few simple questions that can bring a lot of clarity to the process. The questions are straightforward, but they lead to deep issues that can have a profound impact on the way you direct your grantmaking. As you consider your next initiative, take some time to ask these questions.





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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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Catalytic Philanthropy

The idea behind catalytic philanthropy can be traced to one of FSG’s very first articles, “Philanthropy’s New Agenda: Creating Value” (Harvard Business Review, 1999). In that piece, they noted that funders have a variety of options—beyond their grant dollars—to create social change. To determine the best interventions and roles for them to play, foundations need to develop clear strategies based on data and well-defined goals.





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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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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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Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers

Guiding Principles and Effective Practices for Connecticut Grantmakers is a concise resource listing eight guiding principles for Connecticut grantmaker accountability and suggested effective practices. The Connecticut Council’s Board of Directors offers these Guiding Principles and Effective Practices to its members and other Connecticut funders to articulate a shared commitment to excellence and to serve as a guide for Connecticut funders as we pursue our missions. CCP recognizes that there are different ways to implement each of the Guiding Principles and offers suggestions for effective practices that can be adopted or adapted to best suit your organization.  More information on implementing these Read more





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Funding the Extraordinary: An Evaluation of the Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture Program’s Institutional Capitalization Grantmaking

This report showcases NFF’s evaluation of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. To see two executive summaries that distill findings from this report, see “Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization” and “Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers.”





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Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers

With the generous support of the Kresge Foundation, NFF released two summaries sharing lessons learned on capitalization in the arts sector. The summaries distill findings from NFF’s study of 36 capital grants made by the Kresge Foundation to arts organizations between 2010 and 2012. This summary, Recommendations for Capital Grantmakers, is written for arts funders who are looking to make smart and impactful investments. It includes tips for planning a grantmaking strategy, making the grant match the need, and ensuring that the grant is implemented successfully.





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Funding Locally

Imagine sustainable change at the grassroots. Imagine giving to address specific issues in specific places while building local communities and infrastructure. Now don’t limit yourself to your hometown or a place where you have roots or relationships. Instead, imagine you can do it anywhere in the world.





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Supporting Social Entrepreneurship

For philanthropists accustomed to more traditional grantees, yet interested in backing these groundbreaking leaders, funding social entrepreneurs can feel like entering uncharted territory. Donors might find themselves intrigued by the potential for change, and yet, at the same time, unsure of what to expect in a field where the unexpected is the norm.   That’s why we wrote this brief guide. Think of it as an introduction to social entrepreneurship. Part of our Philanthropy Roadmap series, the guide is designed to help philanthropists evaluate whether they want to include support for social entrepreneurs in their giving or investment programs, and Read more





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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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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.