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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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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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Top Ten Finance Essentials for Funders

What we do and how we serve is inspired by our commitment to create a financially strong nonprofit sector that’s better able to serve the community. Throughout our 30 years, we’ve developed some core concepts and philosophies on nonprofit finance that inform all our practices. Our Top Tens, crafted for both nonprofits and funders, give a concise summary of these concepts. Concepts include: benefits of unrestricted funding, business model and business planning, and knowing your role (as either a buyer or builder) as a funder.





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NFF Capital Partners Portfolio Performance Report 2011: Philanthropic Equity in Action

This report analyzes the role of philanthropic equity in the nonprofit sector, results generated to-date by philanthropic equity investments, and key challenges to developing a robust capital marketplace for philanthropic equity.  





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Looking-Glass World of Nonprofit Money: Managing in For-Profits’ Shadow Universe

This article by Clara Miller looks at the rules of money and finance that govern the nonprofit sector in comparison to those in the for-profit sector. Test your knowledge of nonprofit finance – and the contortions that tie nonprofits up in knots.





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Hype or Promise: Pairing philanthropy and profit takes work—and smart regulation

Realizing the full potential of impact investing requires moving beyond the aggregation of a few inspiring anecdotes to build the new systems that can support impact-investing aspirations more broadly. Explore ways to: measure value; cultivate transformational leadership; unlock philanthropic capital; move money; and take next steps in your impact investing.





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Four Horsemen of the Nonprofit Financial Apocalypse

What are the characteristics that make organizations vulnerable, from a capitalization point of view? Too much real estate Too much debt “Under Water” balance sheets and negative liquidity Torturous labor economics Any one “horseman” can make an organization more vulnerable in an uncertain, changing economy. But when these horsemen ride together, they can be fatal. This article by Clara Miller explores our sector’s problematic approach to making financial decisions – and what organizations that are in over their heads can do.





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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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Financial Reporting Done Right

Financial Reporting Done Right introduces a new way of financial reporting that improves transparency around how organizations manage their capital resources. While conventional accounting and reporting treat capital and revenue in the same way, NFF recommends that nonprofits make straightforward adjustments for capital that better reveal their true operating performance and progress.





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Case for Change Capital in the Arts

Explore a series of written and video materials on the need for capital in the arts. This series conveys stories and lessons learned from NFF’s $15 million Leading for the Future Initiative, the first national Initiative to deploy a specific kind of investment – change capital – to help arts organizations adapt their programming, operations and finances to thrive in a changed and changing economic and cultural landscape. Ten artistically excellent performing arts nonprofits are working with NFF over five years to develop and implement plans for achieving this transformation. Nearly three years into this exciting Initiative, we now have Read more





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State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

Nonprofit Finance Fund’s annual survey asks nonprofits in the US about their programs, financial health, and management strategies. Our hope is that this data will be used to spark dialogue in service of change.