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Foundations as Network Strategists, Weavers, and Managers: Learning From One Foundation’s Journey and Results

This article shares insights from a five-year evaluation of the Oral Health 2020 network, an effort by the DentaQuest Foundation to align and strengthen efforts in service of a national movement to improve oral health. The evaluation helped to place the foundation’s journey in the context of a broader field seeking new approaches to achieve deep and sustainable social change.





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Giving in Challenging Times

The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors released a guide called “Giving in Challenging Times,” in 2008. They followed up ten years later with this blog post and recommended that donors take their time to carefully “review, recalibrate, and recommit” – an approach that also makes sense now.





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Vision and Voice: The Role of Leadership and Dialogue in Advancing Diversity, Equity, and inclusion

This year-long study surfaced two key findings for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion — organizational culture is central; and leaders need support from peer networks. The study also surfaced corresponding practical lessons: Leadership, from the CEO in particular, is critical to advance this work. Changing an organizational culture requires leaders to foster an environment that encourages learning. Talking with board and staff about race, sexual orientation, disability, class and other forms of inequality is difficult and complex, but essential. Experimenting is good, particularly when it comes to policies and practices to recruit and retain diverse candidates. Sharing life experiences builds trust. Read more







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Nonprofit Collaborations: Why Teaming Up Can Make Sense

For-profit companies have long recognized the value of collaborations. More nonprofits are now looking for the same benefits. A successful collaboration can help a nonprofit: save costs by sharing infrastructure and administrative expenses strengthen programs expand the value proposition for both organizations improve efficiency tap complementary skills and abilities increase leadership skills





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Building and Restoring Civic Capacity: The Obama Administration’s Federal-Local Partnership with Detroit

This report focuses on what the partnership contributed to Detroit’s revitalization efforts and how it helped build local capacity. Initiatives and projects detailed in the report in which The Kresge Foundation was involved include the Blight Task Force, the Detroit Home Mortgage program, creation of the city’s global engagement strategy and attracting support for sustainable recreation at Historic Fort Wayne.





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Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

Philanthropy scholarship has the potential to inform practice and policy so that societal wellbeing is enhanced and positive change achieved. How can we make this happen? This special feature suggests two possibilities and also documents some successful experiences of knowledge transfer that may serve as prototypes for bridging the divide.





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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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Through the Looking Glass: Foundation Evaluation and Learning and the Quest for Strategic Learning

This article addresses different models that foundations use to establish staff evaluation and learning functions, what other organizational considerations they should take into account in order to prioritize strategic-learning work, and what tools and approaches can be used to initiate strategic learning. Interviews with officers from more than a dozen foundations revealed that strategic learning does not require wholesale structural and cultural change; an incremental approach, instead, can phase in greater complexity as foundations expand staff capacity. The interviews also uncovered several areas where further exploration of system building and practice at foundations has potential for advancing the field.





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Funding Indigenous Peoples: Strategies for Support

This guide looks at how funders collaborate with and bring support to indigenous communities around the world. Through examples from a diverse range of foundations, this guide explores how grantmakers work with indigenous peoples, the approaches they take, and the practices they find effective.





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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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Assessing the How of Grantmaking

As grantmakers, most of us pay attention to what we fund—grantmaking strategy and impact—and who we fund—the grantees we support. But what about how we fund? Practices matter. Your grantmaking practices are one of the most public—and sometimes one of the only—expressions of your organizational values that grantseekers experience. How do you want the world to see you?





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The Social Impact Incubator: The Segal Family Foundation Invests in Burundian Civil Society

In this case study, the reader will learn about The Segal Family Foundation (SFF) and how they decided that the only way to advance their grantmaking was to build the capacity of local organizations to be leaders and change-makers, as well as inform and influence donors on the pivotal role of civil society in Burundi. To achieve this, SFF created the Social Impact Incubator.





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Strong Starts for Children

This five-session discussion guide helps people get involved in an important issue facing all of us: the well-being of our youngest children. The guide looks at how we are connected to the lives of children in our community and the “invisible” effects of racism and poverty. It also guides people in developing plans for action.





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Building the Capacity of Networks to Achieve Systems Change

Networks have historically played an essential role in promoting progress in areas such as social justice, political reform, environmental protection, and public health. Foundations are increasingly recognizing the power of networks and looking for strategies to help networks achieve their potential. The most common strategies are: a) convene a new network around a mission in line with the foundation’s interests, or b) make grants to an existing network whose interests align with the foundation’s. Each strategy has practical limitations. This paper analyzes an alternative strategy developed by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation (MRBF). In addition to providing networks with grants, Read more









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Building Financial Strength & Program Quality: A case on grant making to strengthen organizations in a field

In this case study, the reader will learn about a grantmaker who created a new program to strengthen community foundations – building both their financial wealth and the effectiveness of their programs. What choices would you have made? Highlights: Choosing a strategy; Shaping a new program initiative; Using an RFP to advace your goals.





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The Grantmaking School: Strategy Development in Grantmaking

Strategy Development in Grantmaking is an intensive two-day learning experience designed to help individual grantmakers and their foundations develop or refine a strategic lens to grantmaking and leverage improved program results for deeper impact. By defining strategic philanthropy and reviewing models and tools for strategy development and implementation, resources will be provided to guide and inform your foundation strategy. You and your colleagues will move through a series of individual and group activities and discussions, allowing for both interactive and personal reflection throughout the session.





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Give Smart — Philanthropy That Gets Results

Getting serious about philanthropy is like embarking on a voyage. It is exciting to explore your beliefs and aspirations, learn from experts and practitioners, and experiment with different types of grants and organizations. But the journey can also quickly become overwhelming; the social and environmental needs are so great that it can be hard to know where to start! To help, we’ve created a wide range of resources to inform and inspire. Explore the sections to learn more about how to get started in your philanthropy and to keep improving as you go.