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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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Rethinking the funding equation: Can general operating support become the new normal?

Nonprofit leaders are raising their voices on the issue of operating support. While I stood silent as a professional working at Treehouse, today’s leaders are starting to speak up about the great need for unrestricted funding. Vu Le, a Seattle nonprofit leader, has received national recognition for his humorous, spot-on blog that contains several posts about this issue. Yet with all of this momentum, why does general operating support still account for only a relative fraction of all grantmaking?





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Investing in Leadership

Leadership is one of a number of factors that determine the effectiveness of a nonprofit organization’s work. Visionary leaders possess the ability to assess the way things are and then inspire us to help create new solutions. In this sense, leadership does more than set policies and define goals; it creates a paradigm for a better world. This brief guide, part of the Philanthropy Roadmap series, is designed for both emerging and established philanthropists. It sets out five key questions that donors can ask to evaluate leadership.





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The Nonprofit Board’s Role in Onboarding and Supporting a New CEO

The number one responsibility of any board—for-profit or nonprofit—is effective management of the senior executive, especially a new one. Yet, nonprofit leaders often report to Bridgespan that their boards fall short of that goal. Here are five ways nonprofit boards can improve onboarding and their support of new CEOs.





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The 2014 Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits

For more than eight years, Idealware has researched the software that can help nonprofits more easily meet their missions. We’ve interviewed countless nonprofit staff members on hundreds of different topics to gather the impartial information that organizations need to make better decisions, and spent thousands of hours analyzing it to create easy-to-understand overviews. The Field Guide to Software for Nonprofits is the culmination of our work, summarizing all that information into a handy, easy-to-use publication–and we’ve just updated it for 2014. Through straightforward overviews, it helps nonprofits pinpoint the types of software that might be useful for their needs and Read more





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A Practical Guide to Integrated Communications: A Workbook for Nonprofits

Between more traditional channels of communications like direct mail, email, and newsletters and all the new channels you’ve adopted, like social media, multimedia, and blogs, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to your organization’s messaging. How do you create and maintain a consistent voice across so many channels? How do you coordinate your various communications to work in tandem rather than competing, engaging constituents and inspiring them to take action rather than confusing, overwhelming, or annoying them? Channels cannot thrive in a vacuum. Your constituents will think of them all as one voice—your nonprofit’s—and so should you. Read more





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Understanding Software for Program Evaluation

In our increasingly data-driven world, nonprofits need more than ever to be able to measure and monitor the effectiveness of their programs. It’s difficult to improve program services or reach without first measuring current effectiveness. How many meals served at a soup kitchen, the number of students in a mentoring program who graduate high school, the percent of the target population without access to affordable housing—such numbers help organizations identify the areas where they can improve their programs. Like many big-data issues, the sector looks to technology to help with program evaluation. We have donor management databases, case management systems, Read more





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Financial SCAN (Situation and Comparables Analysis)

Assessing a nonprofit’s financial health is time-consuming and challenging. Which metrics and trends should you focus on and what do they mean? What should you consider when comparing organizations? NFF and GuideStar have partnered to create Financial SCAN, an affordable, web-based way for nonprofits to show a clear, comprehensive picture of their financial condition and history. Financial SCAN brings meaning and insight to financial information, helping organizations make the connection between money and mission in financial reporting, communications and planning. Learn more about how grantmakers use Financial SCAN reports as part of their own due diligence, and view a product Read more





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Donor Decision Tool: How to Research a Nonprofit

What is the best way to research, or perform due diligence on, a nonprofit organization you’re considering funding? The answer to that question depends on a number of factors, including how much you already know about the organization, the size of your grant, and its importance to the nonprofit, among other things. You will want to balance the extent of your effort with respect for the busy leaders of these organizations. To get started, just answer the questions you’ll find in this tool. We’ll recommend a tailored research plan based on your responses. Includes: Due Diligence guide Site Visit guide Read more