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Freedom Funders: Philanthropy and the Civil Rights Movement

This resource includes three approaches that today’s foundations can learn from the Freedom Funders in our ongoing fight to protect civil rights: Grantmakers should intentionally prioritize underserved communities in developing and implementing strategy. They should involve those most affected by injustice, such as by funding organizations committed to grassroots organizing and advocacy. They should utilize tools such as equity analysis to examine structural barriers that keep certain communities from equal life opportunities. Anything less and foundations risk reinforcing the very inequities they claim to address.





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As the South Grows: On Fertile Soil

From her desk at the Selma Center for Nonviolence, Truth & Reconciliation, Executive Director Ainka Jackson can see the Edmund Pettus Bridge stretched across the Alabama River. The bridge carries Highway 80 from Selma upstream to Montgomery across farms so fertile that King Cotton and stolen labor once made Selma the wealthiest city in Alabama. Now, it is among the poorest. In 1965, the bridge was the site of widely broadcasted and morally electrifying moments in the Civil Rights Movement, making it a lasting symbol of the power of nonviolent resistance to oppression. Now Selma suffers from one of the Read more







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Grantmaking in the South: An Opportunity to Support Equity and Resilience

NCRP’s Ryan Schlegel interviewed Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation’s executive director Justin Maxson and network officer Lavastian Glenn about philanthropy in the South. Among the topics they discussed: foundations’ support for social change in the South, how to strengthen partnerships between Southern and national funders, and what has changed in the South since Lavastian authored an article in the summer 2013 edition of Responsive Philanthropy.





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Moving Philanthropy from the Margins to the Center

This article is adapted from the book Philanthropy in Democratic Societies.[1] Moving philanthropy from the margins to the center of scholarly inquiry permits a task at the heart of any inquiry about democracy: understanding the complex division between what is public and what is private, tracing the evolution of that division over time, identifying the public dimensions of private wealth and power, and recognizing when private action supports or, alternatively, threatens the public interest. Philanthropy in Democratic Societies provides an integrated, multidisciplinary exploration of philanthropy’s role and legitimacy in a democratic society, revealing how such a focus can open up Read more





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Pennies for Progress

In 2008, on the eve of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, America’s foundations were doing better than ever. During the economic calamity that followed – as the housing, labor and stock markets collapsed – foundations weathered the storm better than most. Meanwhile, the public these foundations serve was suffering. One might expect foundations, whose charitable dollars escape taxation by virtue of serving the public good, to have increased their support for underserved communities during and after the Great Recession. We found that in the decade that ended in 2013, foundation support for America’s marginalized communities grew just 5 percent as a Read more





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Not All Grants Are Created Equal: Why Nonprofits Need General Operating Support from Foundations

Not All Grants Are Created Equal explores the debate on foundations providing project support versus operating support. The report investigates the types of organizations that receive the most general operating support and lays out the case of why nonprofits need general operating support and why foundations are often reluctant to provide it.





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Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy is Social Justice Philanthropy

The crises affecting our nation and the world have prompted philanthropists to become more organized, focused and, perhaps above all, “strategic” in their efforts. The movement toward “strategic philanthropy” has already contributed to greater philanthropic effectiveness. Yet, despite important contributions to education, health, the arts and the environment, it is clear that philanthropy’s ultimate impact is still limited. Great disparities along the lines of race, gender, class and other identity markers persist and, in some cases, are even exacerbated. This suggests that something is missing from our sector’s understanding of what makes for truly strategic and effective philanthropy: A clear understanding Read more





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Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

What differentiates an exemplary foundation from the rest of its peers? What can foundations do to improve its relevance to nonprofits, the economically and socially underserved Americans and society as a whole? Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact is the first ever set of measurable guidelines that will help foundations and other institutional grantmakers operate ethically and maximize the impact of their dollars.





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PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard

NCRP’s recent webinar, “PIMBY: Philanthropy in My Back Yard” connects the Kresge Foundation, the subject of a recent Philamplify report, to the practice of place-based grantmaking, and discusses how foundation investment in communities is a prime strategy for long-term success. For additional resources about place-based grantmaking, check out the recording of NCRP’s PIMBY webinar





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Cultivating Nonprofit Leadership: A (Missed?) Philanthropic Opportunity

From 2003-2012, the country’s top foundations dedicated only 0.8 percent of total grants to nonprofit leadership development. And yet, as shown by recent historic progress around immigration, criminal justice and other social justice movements, we need leaders who are strong, skilled and connected to successfully realize positive, social change.





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Understanding Social Justice Philanthropy

This report examines the meaning of social justice philanthropy based on literature reviews and conversations with grantmakers, academics and nonprofit practitioners. What are the main elements of social justice philanthropy? What are the contradictions? This paper sets the stage for a report published by NCRP in the fall of 2004 that assesses the size and scope of the philanthropic social justice field and offer recommendations for funders.





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Towards Transformative Change in Health Care

Analysis shows that only 31 percent of 880 foundations and institutional grantmakers that give billions towards domestic health-related causes gave half of their grants to meet the needs of the poor, disabled, the elderly and other underserved populations. Langston and NCRP recommend two strategies for health funders to improve significantly the impact of their philanthropy: allocating at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit underserved communities and 25 towards advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement that promotes long-term systemic reform.









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The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011

Numbers from The State of Giving to Underserved Communities 2011 show that there was a slight increase in giving to benefit marginalized groups, broadly defined, such as the economically disadvantaged, racial/ethnic minorities, LGBTQ citizens and others, at 42 percent in 2011 compared to 40 percent average in 2008-2010.







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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region

This report looks at how 20 nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of underserved residents in the democratic process through policy engagement. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $114 return for every dollar spent.





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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Pennsylvania

This report looks at how 15 Pennsylvania nonprofits organizations and their allies leveraged foundation grants to secure nearly $122 of benefit for every dollar spent for Pennsylvania residents. The report is the sixth from NCRP’s Grantmaking for Community Impact Project (GCIP) series. (Note: Printed copies are available for purchase)





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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in North Carolina

In this report, NCRP document how 13 local nonprofits and their allies leveraged foundation grants to secure nearly $2 billion in benefits for North Carolinians.





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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Minnesota

In this report, NCRP documents how 15 local nonprofits and their allies leveraged foundation grants to secure nearly $138 of benefit for every dollar spent for Minnesota’s citizens.





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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in Los Angeles County

This report looks at how 20 nonprofits and their allies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of vulnerable residents in the democratic process through advocacy and community organizing efforts. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $150 return for every dollar invested in their policy engagement efforts.





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Social Justice Philanthropy: The Latest Trend or a Lasting Lens for Grantmaking?

Report defines and discusses the concept of social justice philanthropy and provides an assessment of its future in philanthropy. Social Justice Philanthropy: The Latest Trend or a Lasting Lens for Grantmaking? explores how grantmakers define and apply the concept of social justice to their work. The report’s findings indicate that social justice philanthropy is fraught with many definitional variations, as well as disagreements on how to apply social justice concepts to grantmaking. While many agree that social justice philanthropy is somehow concerned with a more equitable redistribution of economic, political, and social power, there is little consensus on what a Read more





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Rural Philanthropy: Building Dialogue From Within

Studies the disparity in giving between urban and rural nonprofits, and how geographical isolation and capacity-building needs greatly reduce the ability for rural nonprofits to secure funding. Also offers substantive recommendations on ways to make philanthropy more responsive to rural America. (Note: Printed copies are available for purchase)





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Responsive Philanthropy: Foundation Examines Its Practices Using Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

This issue of the quarterly journal looks at a leading San Francisco foundation that evaluated its own practices using “Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best,” building the capacity of nonprofits serving older adults, updating nonprofit advocacy regulations, and a call to transform philanthropy.





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Moving a Public Policy Agenda: the Strategic Philanthropy of Conservative Foundations

For more than three decades, conservative strategists have mounted an extraordinary effort to reshape politics and public policy priorities. NCRP’s report documents the substantial role that 12 conservative foundations have played in developing and sustaining key institutions in the movement. It also outlines lessons learned from grantmakers interested in influencing public policies.





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Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Results by Funding Policy and Community Engagement

Leveraging Limited Dollars provides solid evidence of the impacts of foundation-funded policy advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement based on findings from the seven research sites. The report explains why these strategies are successful and how they create stronger communities.







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Grantmaking for Community Impact Project Impacts Directory

This directory contains every advocacy and community organizing impact that was achieved by 110 organizations in 13 states over a five-year period. The directory is a compilation of data reported in each of seven “Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities” reports, and includes monetized and non-monetized impacts.





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Grantmakers and Policy Engagement: An Illinois Profile

In July 2010 Donors Forum and NCRP jointly distributed a survey to Donors Forum members in order to learn more about their approach to policy engagement. The two organizations wanted this information to inform their mutual goal of fostering greater philanthropic understanding of the value of both engaging in advocacy and also funding nonprofits that use advocacy, organizing and civic engagement as tools to improve their communities. This report describes the survey findings.





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Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

This report outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking.





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Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders

This report argues that more money needs to go towards grassroots organizing and advocacy for the environment and climate change movements to regain momentum and win important legislative and regulatory battles. Environment and climate funders can become effective resources of a strong and successful movement for change by decreasing their reliance on national advocacy groups and increasing funding for grassroots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms.





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Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact

The Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact is the first ever set of measurable guidelines that will help foundations and other institutional grantmakers operate ethically and maximize the impact of their dollars. It attempts to answer the questions: What differentiates an exemplary foundation from the rest of its peers? What can foundations do to improve its relevance to nonprofits, the economically and socially underserved Americans and society as a whole? (Note: Printed copies are available for purchase)





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Confronting Systemic Inequity in Education: High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy

This report answers the questions: – How can philanthropy be more effective at deploying its limited resources to help reform and improve our school systems? – How can philanthropy help break the cycle of persistent inequality in access and opportunities among underserved students in our communities? Offers concrete strategies based on two recommendations from Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: The deliberate focus on addressing the needs of students from marginalized communities that will, in turn, benefit all students; and the support of efforts to find long-term solutions to the education equity crisis in the U.S through advocacy, organizing and Read more







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A Call to Action: Organizing to Increase the Effectiveness and Impact of Foundation Grantmaking

Many nonprofit organizations are constantly struggling to find enough resources to make their organizations more effective and sustainable. A Call to Action illustrates how the lack of core operating support is at the center of this struggle. It tells of the needs and aspirations of nonprofits by enabling them, in their own words, to share their stories. Printed copies are available for purchase.