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Building and Supporting Sustainable Fields: Views from Philanthropy

This paper defines a field, provides examples of how funders build fields, lists the elements of a strong field, and discusses effective donor practices to promote sustainable fields.  The paper concludes with questions that can help to assess field strengths and needs, and a discussion of the best time to exit a field.





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Program-Related Investments

Most often associated with the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation, which pioneered their use, Program Related Investments (PRIs) have become more common as the assets of foundations have increased. From 1998 to 1999, PRI authorizations nationally jumped from $203 million to $267 million—a rise of 31 percent. Still, PRIs represent only a small percentage of foundations’ awards; in 1999, the nation’s 50,000 foundations distributed $23 billion in the form of grants. This chapter explores why a foundation such as Robert Wood Johnson, with more than $8 billion in assets at the time this chapter was prepared, would make a Read more







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What’s Next for Philanthropy: Acting Bigger and Adapting Better in a Networked World

What’s Next for Philanthropy: Acting Bigger and Adapting Better in a Networked World argues that while philanthropic innovation over the last decade has been mostly about improving the effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness of individual organizations, the next practices of the coming 10 years will build on those efforts to include an additional focus on coordination and adaption—acting bigger and adapting better.





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Two Decades in Investment in Substance-Use Prevention and Treatment

The Retrospective assesses RWJF’s investment, what was achieved through its efforts, and the strengths and challenges of the Foundation’s approach. RWJF contributed toward progress on the substance-use problem through meaningful impact in five major areas: Increased knowledge about the substance-use problem; Influenced alcohol and drug policies; Informed and spreading promising prevention programs; Improved systems of care for substance-use disorders; and Built field infrastructure to strengthen substance-use research, policy, and practice. RWJF had an unprecedented investment in the field, contributing to change over time. Observations of how RWJF developed its overarching and program-specific strategies, conducted ongoing evaluation and learning, and exited Read more





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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Approach to Evaluation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has placed a high priority on program evaluation since its inception as a national philanthropy in 1972. It has developed a four-tiered system of evaluation that ranges from the evaluation of individual grants and clusters of grants to the qualitative assessments found in The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Anthology series.





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Social Impact Bonds: Analysis of a Mechanism for Financing Social Program Expansions

Little is known in the United States about social impact bonds (SIBs), which are relatively complicated and expensive instruments for bringing evidence-based social programs to scale. They require an effective partnering by government, service providers, coordinating intermediaries, and socially conscious investors. A research team at McKinsey & Co. studied the potential of social impact bonds in the United States, in particular for financing the expansion of proven programs in homelessness and crime prevention. The team also created tools for stakeholders—investors, nonprofits, government agencies, and others—to help them determine whether SIBs are instruments they should consider.





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RWJF Celebrates 40 Years of Research and Evaluation

RWJF’s work in the field of research and evaluation has been integral to its success and has informed the field of philanthropy as a whole. On Wednesday, September 19, RWJF hosted a webinar which looked back on the past 40 years (1972-2012) of research and evaluation at RWJF, highlighted programs that had a major impact on the field during that time, and shared lessons learned. Listen to current and former leaders of research and evaluation who were, and continue to be, involved in shaping RWJF’s research and evaluation work.







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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Process

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) commitment to applying program evaluation to learn from our work to improve the health and health care of all Americans provides the underpinning for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Evaluation Series. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development documents depict an ideal process around program evaluation. For very good reasons, the process cannot always operate this way. Therefore, these documents do not serve as process standards, but represent that which RWJF aims for in evaluation.





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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Lines of Responsibility

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation National Program and Evaluation Development: Lines of Responsibilities chart seeks to clarify the distinct roles within the Foundation program staff team. The program officer works with the national program office and their grantees. The evaluation and communications officers work with the independent evaluation and communications contractors. Grantees must be responsive to contractors, but primarily concerning issues of evaluation and communications.





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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations. The premise underlying Local Funding Partnerships has remained constant over its 25 years—by collaborating with local funders instead of acting alone, RWJF could improve the health and health care of Americans, while getting a larger return on its investment.













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Public Scrutiny of Foundations and Charities:The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Response

This chapter of the RWJF Anthology provides an overview of congressional scrutiny of foundations and charitable organizations and the sector’s response. They place the 2005 Senate hearings in the context of past congressional examinations of foundations, analyze the underlying issues, and explain how philanthropy is trying to address concerns about its lack of accountability. The authors conclude by discussing the approaches adopted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to make its own work more transparent, especially through its evaluation and communications strategies.





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Partnership Among National Foundations: Between Rhetoric and Reality

Collaboration among philanthropies is not so natural, and occurs less frequently than might be expected. This chapter examines partnerships involving national foundations generally and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation specifically. It explores the theoretical and practical reasons that collaboration among foundations should make sense, why it does not happen frequently, and what elements should be in place for partnerships among national foundations to succeed.





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Online Guide: Everything a Qualitative Health Researcher Needs to Know

Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) created an online guide for researchers employing qualitative methods in health care research. The site, Using Qualitative Methods in Healthcare Research: A Comprehensive Guide for Designing, Writing, Reviewing and Reporting Qualitative Research, is designed to describe common qualitative research paradigms, methods and analytical approaches; criteria to evaluate the quality of qualitative research; common pitfalls in qualitative research; and guidelines for writing and reviewing qualitative studies.





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Impact Capital Measurement

This report describes five different foundations’ approaches to measuring the social impact of program-related investments (PRIs). In addition, it reviews three other approaches to measuring the social impact of other impact investments that may be relevant to foundations.





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Guidance on Evaluation Reports to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: A Checklist for Evaluators

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is a long-time proponent of evaluation as a means to inquire systematically into the effects and impacts of its grantmaking programs. Evaluation reports to RWJF should generally include the elements listed in this checklist to be considered satisfactory. The checklist was adapted from several references listed at the bottom of the document. RWJF recognizes that not all of these elements pertain to all types of evaluation—for example, response rate may not be an issue for certain qualitative studies and attrition may not matter for cross-sectional studies. The report, however, ought to address most elements under most circumstances.





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Evaluating the Impact of Social Media at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

RWJF developed a logic model, that outlines how we believe our social media activities will produce programmatic improvement and greater impact. The model was designed and developed with the help of Victoria Dougherty, of Victoria Dougherty Consulting, who based the model on information collected through document review and interviews with RWJF communications staff, research and evaluation program officers, and other program staff at RWJF who were early adopters of social media in the workplace.





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Consumer Voices for Coverage: Advocacy Evaluation Toolkit

The Advocacy Evaluation Toolkit contains the instruments Mathematica used to collect data for evaluating the Consumer Voices for Coverage program. It explains how the instruments were developed, what each was designed to measure, and how Mathematica used them for the evaluation. Although the instruments in the toolkit were designed to collect data for the grant program and reflect its structure and goals, they can be adapted for other situations and uses, ranging from an organization’s informal self-assessment to shape its activities to a comprehensive evaluation. The toolkit suggests some of these adaptations. For people who might not be familiar with evaluation methods, Read more





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Can Feedback Fuel Change at Foundations?: An Analysis of the Grantee Perception Report

This brief report presents key findings about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s  Grantee Perception Reports over the years, and includes candid comments by RWJF’s leadership—CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Vice President of Research and Evaluation, David Colby—as to how they’ve responded to some of those findings.





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An Ecological Understanding of Evaluation Use

This report seeks to be helpful not only to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and other foundations, but more broadly to the fields of evaluation, aging, physical activity and public health in understanding what evaluation use looks like in context and how it can be facilitated. This case study illustrates the parameters of use (e.g., for whom? when? how?), as well as what constituted the use of the evaluation of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program Active for Life®: Increasing Physical Activity Levels in Adults Age 50 and Older.





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A Practical Guide for Engaging Stakeholders in Developing Evaluation Questions

RWJF commissioned FSG Social Impact Advisors to develop a guide for program officers, grant recipients, evaluators, researchers, and others interested in evaluation on how to engage stakeholders in developing evaluation questions. Since stakeholders are potential users of evaluation findings, their input into the scope of the evaluation is critical to ensuring the integrity and value of evaluation results. This guide provides the reader with a five-step process for involving stakeholders in developing evaluation questions, and includes a set of four worksheets to facilitate this process.





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A Guide to Strengthening and Managing Research Grants

One out of every four grant dollars provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funds research and evaluation.The goal of this report is to enhance the capacity of potential and current grantees to strengthen and manage research grants. After a short section of background information, the report features information on preparing the proposal, managing the research project, after the grant, and the conclusion.







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“Getting the Word Out”: A Foundation Memoir and Personal Journey

This chapter is a personal reflection by Frank Karel on his years as vice president for communications of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He looks back on the early days, when the Foundation was groping to find an appropriate role for communications, and traces its evolution to the present. Karel is uniquely qualified to provide this retrospective. He has had the singular experience of heading communications at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation twice. During his first tenure, between 1974 and 1987, he originated many of the communications strategies that the Foundation follows today. After leaving to head communications at the Read more





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A Foundation-to-Foundation Partnership: Lessons from a Unique Pairing of Funders

This paper reveals findings from a process evaluation of the partnership between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Northwest Health Foundation (NWHF) vis-à-vis its Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future (PIN) grantmaking program (initiated in 2005). A candid look at this partnership reveals successes and challenges, as well as what worked and what took time to work. Moreover, this paper reveals the hard work required to make this partnership evolve to create a program that has had a significant, positive impact on the field of nursing.