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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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Laying the Groundwork for a National Impact Investing Marketplace

Impact investing is an umbrella concept encompassing several investment tools, including mission related investments (MRIs), program related investments (PRIs), and screening mechanisms for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities. The practice of impact investing is rapidly gaining momentum, but the level of activity among individual and institutional investors, including philanthropists and foundations, has barely penetrated projections of market potential. Foundations are among the most reluctant investors and represent the smallest share of current activity. The academic, nonprofit, Denver-based Impact Finance Center1 (IFC) has established a proof point for creating impact investing “marketplaces” at a statewide scale across all sectors, asset classes, Read more





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Enhancing Foundation Capacity: The Role of the Senior Leadership Team

This article examines the issue of foundation organization design and assesses how foundation leaders might think about their organizations as institutions. Noting that any organization structure inhabited by human beings creates silos and territorial issues, foundation leaders are increasingly using two primary mechanisms to minimize these artificial barriers and maximize collaboration: enhanced headquarters functions to help integrate across the organization, and senior leadership teams. This article reviews the structure, roles, responsibilities, and value-add of senior leadership teams at 19 foundations. The senior leadership team plays a crucial role in foundations, functioning as an advisory group to the president and chief Read more





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Benchmarking Evaluation in Foundations: Do We Know What We Are Doing?

Evaluation in philanthropy – with staff assigned to evaluation-related responsibilities – began in the 1970s and has evolved, along with philanthropy, in the four decades since. What has not changed, however, is a regular questioning of what foundations are doing on evaluation, especially since the world of philanthropy regularly shifts, and changes in evaluation resourcing and positioning tend to soon follow. This article presents new findings about what foundations are doing on evaluation and discusses their implications. It is based on 2012 research that benchmarks the positioning, resourcing, and function of evaluation in foundations, and follows up on a 2009 Read more





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Goal-Free Evaluation: An Orientation for Foundations’ Evaluations

Goal-free evaluation (GFE), in program evaluation, is a model in which the official or stated program goals and objectives are withheld or screened from the evaluator. Several obstacles must be overcome in persuading foundations and programs to consider GFE as a viable option, because both tend to view goal attainment as intuitively and inextricably linked to evaluation. This article presents the case for GFE as a perspective that belongs in a foundation’s toolbox. In particular, this article demonstrates GFE’s actual use, highlights aspects of its methodology, and details its potential benefits.





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Influences of Venture Philanthropy on Nonprofits’ Funding: The Current State of Practices, Challenges, and Lessons

This article looks at the current state of venture philanthropy practices in the nonprofit sector, based on data from a survey of 124 nonprofits that engage in venture philanthropy. The survey probes to what degree nonprofit funders are implementing core activities of venture philanthropy – use of market-based funding instruments, providing strategic assistance, board participation, and use of social and financial performance criteria. Seven venture philanthropy organizations were also interviewed for this article. Various tactics they have used to mitigate internal and external tensions are examined, including complying with diverse interests to balance conflicting views if internal tension is moderate Read more





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Activating the Power of Place: A Case Study of Market Creek

This article tells the story of a placed-based initiative to develop well-being and wealth in the historically underserved Diamond Neighborhood in San Diego, and discusses the place-based philosophy of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and the foundation’s motivation for place-based work. Its theory of change is presented through examples, along with the entry points the foundation chose for engagement and how it developed community capacity to engage effectively in this change work. The article also discusses plans to transition ownership to the Diamond Neighborhood community when the foundation sunsets in 2030.





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A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It

This article argues that philanthropic endeavors should be undergirded by a theory of philanthropy. Articulating a theory of philanthropy is a way for a foundation to make explicit what is often only implicit, thereby enabling internal and external actors to pose and resolve significant questions, understand and play important roles more fully and effectively, and improve performance by enhancing alignment across complex systems. A theory of philanthropy articulates how and why a foundation will use its resources to achieve its mission and vision. The theory-of-philanthropy approach is designed to help foundations align their strategies, governance, operating and accountability procedures, and Read more





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Theory of Philanthropy Inquiry Tool

Some 30 elements that can feed into a comprehensive theory of philanthropy represent a customizable tool for exploring the issues foundations face. A foundation can use the tool to gather data and perspectives about specific aspects of its heritage and approach; what is learned in addressing the elements can then be synthesized into a succinct and coherent theory of philanthropy. Produced as part of A Foundation’s Theory of Philanthropy: What It Is, What It Provides, How to Do It





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Investing in Community Change: An Evaluation of a Decade of Data-Driven Grantmaking

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation has a well-established continuum of grantmaking and technical-assistance programs designed to improve the quality of life for children and families living in low-income communities in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The foundation’s decade long focus on neighborhood revitalization has helped to shape a resident-driven, collaborative, long-term, and data-informed approach designed to make neighborhoods more attractive for large-scale investment. In 2014, the foundation engaged The Reinvestment Fund and Success Measures at NeighborWorks America to jointly evaluate the impact of its grantmaking and related programs from 2003 to 2013, to determine if practices in its approach Read more





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Grey Matter(s): Embracing the Publisher Within

Most foundations don’t think of themselves as publishers, yet many of them act as such – making information available by funding research and publications, or by authoring their own. And failing to think of these activities as publishing efforts has serious consequences for shared learning in the social sector. The shift toward knowledge-sharing strategies and approaches that embrace new search technologies, the logic of open access and open source, and the realities of the Internet as a largely decentralized and dynamic selfpublishing space offers the possibility of coordinating publishing efforts, and possibly agreeing to the use of shared practices that Read more





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Understanding Philanthropy Consulting: A Tool to Identify the Roles and Capabilities Needed From External Support

Brian Leslie M.B.A., SwitchPoint LLC; Kelsey Noonan B.A., SwitchPoint LLC; Clint Nohavec M.B.A., SwitchPoint LLC This article categorizes the distinct roles played by philanthropy consultants and presents a tool and framework for charitable foundations to identify and evaluate the roles and capabilities they need from those consultants. The article categorizes seven capability areas, from strategy setting to talent development, that are core to all foundations. Then, it identifies trigger points within these capability areas that lead foundations to undertake projects that may require outside support. Third, the article maps the capabilities that foundations consider in determining whether and how to engage philanthropy Read more





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The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results (Second Ed.): Book Review

The second edition of The Logic Model Guidebook: Better Strategies for Great Results is a straightforward guide, with excellent and varied examples, that achieves its purpose of giving readers a “basic understanding of how to create and use logic models” (p. xii). As enthusiastic champions of logic models, the authors adhere to the assumption that articulating precise and detailed logic models will lead to better results.





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Assessing and Advancing Foundation Transparency: Corporate Foundations as a Case Study

This article explores the mix of forces explaining variability in good-governance standards and practices by charitable foundations. A six-drivers framework for explaining improved foundation accountability and transparency is proposed and discussed in the context of a country study. Those drivers are: regulatory pressures, self-regulation, demands for information from donors and other relevant stakeholders, societal pressure derived from scandals, emulation, and third-party assessment. A simple tool for assessing foundation transparency internationally is proposed and then applied to corporate, endowed, and fundraising foundations in the U.S. and Spain. Foundations’ financial structure compounds with institutional factors to influence the stage of development of Read more





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Tactics in Philanthropy: The Case of the Moving Spotlight

In recent years, strategy has been a much discussed topic in philanthropy, while tactics have received little attention. The experience of the MacArthur Foundation’s environmental program and its Moving Spotlight approach provide examples of the importance of tactical decisions. Tactical decisions such as the timing of grants, foundation staffing levels, and the timing of evaluations all contribute to grantees’ ability to achieve outcomes. Structure and flexibility can be complementary approaches to grantmaking if the tactics are well thought out.





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How Inclusion and Equity Are Transforming a Foundation and a Community

Racial inequities in health care, education, incarceration rates and economic stability have persisted, in spite of federal policies to promote equity. The Denver Foundation launched what is now known as the Inclusiveness Project in 2002 to help nonprofits, including funders, become more inclusive of people of color. The Project defines diversity as one component of inclusiveness; inclusive organizations are defined as learning-centered organizations that value the perspectives and contributions of all people. The Project operates on three levels: individual, organizational and sector. An extensive evaluation has shown that there are impacts at all levels, including increasing the number of people Read more





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A Hedgehog Moment: The Roles and Pitfalls of Strategic Philanthropy for Family Foundations and Donors

The growing quantity of giving has not been matched by improved quality. The growth in the quantity of new philanthropy and the search for more effective philanthropy has now produced a “significant moment in the marketization of philanthropy.” A recent outpouring of books by foundation officials, consultants and academics has broadly emphasized the idea that “strategic philanthropy” in some form promises significant improvements. With these books, then, do donors, family foundations, and philanthropy generally have new usable knowledge to meet the challenge of quality grantmaking?





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The Family Difference? Exploring the Congruence in Grant Distribution Patterns Between Family and Independent Foundations

Using a broad group of family and independent foundations from a representative sample of Georgia foundations, the authors examined differences in giving patterns between family and independent foundations. Findings confirm the result of previous work that studied large foundations. There are no substantial differences between family and independent foundations’ preferences even when controlling for a nonprofit’s location and size. These findings are relevant for discussions about the role of non-family members on boards.





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Next-Generation Philanthropy: Examining a Next-Generation Jewish Philanthropic Network

As a result of mobility, philanthropy among a Millennial group of Jewish donors is becoming divorced from the communities in which their parents live. This group’s members generally perceive themselves as thinking and acting more strategically than past generations. They expect philanthropic organizations to operate with increased transparency, and those entities will need to adapt to these expectations in order to thrive. The characteristics that define the Millennial generation – open-mindedness, a desire for meaningful employment and philanthropic activity, technological adeptness, innovation – are changing philanthropy. Despite those changes, philanthropic priorities among families remain substantially constant and transcend generations.





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I’m Not Rockefeller: Implications for Major Foundations Seeking to Engage Ultra- High-Net-Worth Donors

This article describes how a group of 33 ultrahigh- net-worth philanthropists (UHNWPs) approach their giving. A few key areas dominated their giving priorities: education; health; poverty and social welfare; and children/youth initiatives each were a priority for more than a quarter of participants – with education expressed as an interest of 55 percent. A third of the 24 who responded to the question spent less than 10 percent of their full working time devoted to philanthropy, and 13 dedicated less than 20 percent of their working time. UHNWPs view their peers as their most trusted information resource. After peers, the Read more





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Challenges and Strategies for Family Foundations With Geographically Dispersed Board Members

This article, based on interviews with leaders of 10 family foundations, investigates the impact of geographic dispersion on governance, administration, decision making, and grantmaking activities. The greatest challenges for family foundations with dispersed boards involve assembling an appropriate staff, ensuring strong communication between staff and board members, and focusing the organization’s mission. Maintaining family board member interest in the foundation’s geographic area and bridging and strengthening ties between generations were also concerns. In order to maintain family legacies, all case-study foundations found unique ways to overcome challenges and were deliberate in ensuring that board members stayed actively engaged in the Read more





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What Is a Family Foundation?

Family foundations are important institutions, making up a significant portion of the foundation universe and having both local and global impact. Yet we have no shared definition of this diverse and evolving category. Clarifying the definition will help challenge persistent misconceptions, get perspective on the diversity, and improve foundations’ understanding of their own family dimensions. This article surveys the different definitions of family foundation that are, and have been, used by key organizations in the field and by researchers. It also reviews examples of the variations and complicating factors that make answering the title question difficult. A single or simple Read more





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The Education Collaboration Fund: Possibilities and Limitations of Pooled Funds

Raising money for a pooled fund is time consuming and requires expertise with the funding topic and the target audience. Yet the process of shopping around a pooled fund or collaborative concept can be valuable in its own right, even if most do not participate. Shared interest around a topic or community is a necessary but insufficient reason for participating in a pooled fund. A pooled fund provides an opportunity for individuals and family foundations to learn and grow as donors. Someone with passion, organizational skills, and persistence needs to drive the process forward or it will likely fall by Read more





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Developing a Master Data Sharing Agreement: Seeking Student-Level Evidence to Support a Collaborative Community Effort in Education

A private foundation, a public school system, and a state university joined forces to address a difficult, long-standing challenge: closing the academic achievement gap between urban and suburban students. All parties agreed that sharing of longitudinal, student-level data was required to drive and evaluate multiple efforts to close the gap, but significant technical, regulatory, and political obstacles stood in the way. The parties worked through multiple challenges and forged a Master Data Sharing Agreement (MDSA) that will facilitate both daily intelligence for program staff and powerful post-hoc research capacity. This MDSA text has been released online for your use under Read more





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Changemaking: Building Strategic Competence

Foundations have begun to recognize that how they go about their work is as important as what they support. To be better armed to address the urgent challenges facing Detroit’s children, the Skillman Foundation has adopted a changemaking role that draws upon and leverages its knowledge, networks, and civic reputation to supplement its grantmaking investments. Effective changemaking depends on the accrual of trust and respect that is built over time in relationships with community residents and stakeholders, public and private partners, and others with influence and resources. Changemaking required the foundation to build new strategic competencies such as working across Read more





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Evaluating the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund’s Social Determinants of Health Portfolio

Research over the past two decades repeatedly demonstrates the relationship between poor health outcomes and socioeconomic factors such as poor housing, poverty, racism, and structural inequity. In 2005, the Northwest Health Foundation, supported by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, began an initiative to address these social determinants of health (SDOH). A variety of projects – short- and long-term, large and small – were supported over the five-year period for a total of $12.4 million. The mean project-implementation grant was $175,350 and 2½ years in length; capacity-building grants averaged $50,000 for 1½ years. In all, 323 social-determinant accomplishments were identified. The Read more





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Strategies for Impacting Change in Communities of Color

Historically, organized philanthropy has given scant attention to giving among communities of color; however, as the population changes it is becoming more important to learn about and promote giving in these communities. The W. K. Kellogg Foundation supported the Cultures of Giving (COG) initiative over a five-year period to understand, develop, and support philanthropic giving within and among communities of color. COG began with two major principles of action – advancing strategies, approaches, and tactics of community philanthropy and connecting leaders of color in a community of practice such that they might learn, share, and collaborate with each other. Based Read more





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Defining, Building, and Measuring Capacity: Findings From an Advocacy Evaluation

Funders often focus their grants to build capacity, recognizing the important roles that leadership, skills, and infrastructure have on an organization’s effectiveness in carrying out its mission. This article reports on results from Mathematica Policy Research’s evaluation of Consumer Voices for Coverage, a program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support the role of consumer health advocacy coalitions in 12 states. The foundation based the program on a study that identified six core advocacy capacities, and designed it to strengthen these capacities. The evaluation found that the level of funding, substantial and targeted technical assistance, and the three-year Read more





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Building the Capacity of California’s Safety Net: Lessons From the Strengthening Community Dental Practices Demonstration

Community dental practices provide “safety net” services to populations who would otherwise have limited access to care. The financial crisis of recent years has made it increasingly difficult for safetynet dental practices to serve people most in need while still balancing their books. The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) and the California Pipeline Program (CPP) funded a demonstration project to test the effectiveness of practice-management consulting as a strategy for helping California’s community clinics survive and thrive. This model emphasizes customized technical assistance to enhance the business infrastructure behind the delivery of care. The evaluation of this demonstration revealed that most Read more





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Helping Government Agencies Become More Effective and Efficient: Discovering ‘Catalytic Combinations’ in Public Child Welfare Reform

This article describes work of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Casey Strategic Consulting Group (CSCG), a 10-year, multistate initiative that embeds outside experts – both public-system and traditional management consulting – in child and family services systems to improve system performance and outcomes. The article describes five types of levers that were influenced in different combinations to promote change in different state systems. We call these “catalytic combinations.” In numerous states, including Maine, Louisiana, Virginia, and Indiana, the CSCG initiative produced measurable improvements in key performance areas, including shortening stays in foster care, improving rates of permanent placements for children Read more





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Bridging Silos, Improving Systems

Systems that provide services to children tend to operate in silos; foundations can play a role in helping bridge these silos by supporting “systems building” efforts. Using examples from two foundations and two communities, this article explores the challenges and lessons learned in systems building work. Educating grantees and other community members about systems and systems building is a critical first step in the process. Supporting systems building requires an iterative process and foundations should continuously reinforce the importance of systems building activities.





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Corporate Giving Gets Smarter: ConAgra Foods Foundation Fights Childhood Hunger

This article discusses how a better “map” can develop strategic focus and alignment, increasing the potential for results. Program development and evaluation are best done hand in hand. In complex systems, co-construction has huge yield. It promotes accuracy, comprehensiveness, and utility. Grantmakers can provide more than funding; they can identify and use new tools, processes, and resources with multiple stakeholders for effectiveness. Alignment and integration are powerful principles inside and outside organizations as well as across sectors in pursuit of social change.





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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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Evaluation for Models and Adaptive Initiatives

Although there has been a growing emphasis on use of experimental designs in evaluation, there is also increasing agreement that evaluation designs should be situation specific. The nature of the program is one of the key factors to consider in evaluation design. Two types of programs – models, which provide replicable or semi-standardized solutions, adaptive initiatives, which are flexible programming strategies used to address problems that require unique, context-based solutions – require different evaluation designs. Evaluation of models requires understanding the stage of development of the model program, with summative evaluation done only when the model is fully developed. Adaptive Read more





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Using Civic Engagement and Collaboration to Create Community Change: Lessons From Charlotte, N.C.

The city of Charlotte, N.C. undertook a deliberative democracy process using the AmericaSpeaks “21st Century Town Meeting” process. The University of North Carolina-Charlotte performed a retrospective, process evaluation of the initiative examining the initiative’s components, coverage, participant feedback, short-term outcomes, and lessons learned. Early planning and implementation was done by volunteers, which ultimately was not sustainable. A new center, housed within an existing organization, was created to implement the recommendations. The initiative achieved a number of early successes, such as increasing the number of school nurses, expansion of an early childhood development program and an increase in after-school and summer Read more





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Practice, Practice, Practice: Preliminary Findings From an Evidence-Based Practice Funding Initiative at The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

The Tower Foundation supported a five-year initiative to support the implementation of evidence based practices (EBP). The average award was a three-year award of $84,050. The underlying grantmaking theory of change was that behavioral health providers could bring empirically tested protocols to their communities and sustain them over time if supported by long-term funding to support the real costs of implementation (e.g., training, technical assistance, adherence to program protocols, and cultural change). Grantees cited the high cost of training, certification, and recertification – especially in the face of high staff turnover – as a primary challenge to implementing EBPs. Several Read more





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Investigating the Roles of Community Foundations in the Establishment and Sustainability of Local College Access Networks in Michigan

Community foundations have a long history of supporting college access, particularly through the management of scholarship programs. This article examines the role of community foundations in the creation and establishment of local college access networks (LCAN) across the state of Michigan. We use the collective impact model as a framework to examine the roles of community foundations in the creation and development of LCANs. Our findings illustrate that community foundations have played a variety of roles, from fundraising to convening to cheerleading. The success of the community-foundation approach to LCAN development is evident both in the interviews conducted and the Read more





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Dimensions of Change: A Model for Community Change Efforts

The Dimension of Change Model (DOCM), developed by the authors, is offered as a potentially useful tool for foundations, government, bodies, consultants, coalitions, and even individual organizations that are initiating or engaged in substantive efforts to bring about community change. The dimensions contained in the model – structure, parameters, intention, approach, and people – offer a frame for addressing key aspects that emerge from the literature as fundamental to all change efforts. The model is offered as a way to design, implement, adapt, and evaluate change initiatives. The work of First 5 Marin Children and Families Commission in Marin County Read more





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The Role of the Congregation in Community Service: A Philanthropic Case Study

The Family Leadership Initiative (FLI), part of the larger Gatherings of Hope Initiative, was a collaboratively designed program to strengthen families and improve children’s education in Grand Rapids, Mich. FLI was launched in 2011 with two cohorts of 20 congregations who took part in a six-step design process. Programs were implemented in fall 2011. The program entailed holding monthly meetings for parents and children that included bonding time, parent education and homework support for students, and time for ministry. The initial evaluation shows high levels of satisfaction, with students reporting some academic improvements. For the congregations, FLI provided a rare Read more





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Philanthropy in the Faith Community: Mobilizing Faith-Based Organizations for Substance Use Prevention

· The Assistance for Substance Abuse Prevention Center, established by the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, has worked with community partners in the faith community to prevent alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse. · Reviving the Human Spirit (RTHS) was a collaborative project that provided resources to help congregations provide substance use prevention and recovery support in their communities, including the adoption of evidence-based practices. · Slightly more than two thirds of the congregations that participated in follow up interviews reported that their programs were still operating. · Faith-based programs have many things in common with programs operated by other Read more





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Building the Bridge for Diversity and Inclusion: Testing a Regional Strategy

Transforming Michigan Philanthropy Through Diversity & Inclusion (TMP) is a six-year research and development effort of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF). A unique experiment, TMP is the only statewide, comprehensive effort to promote diversity and inclusiveness among foundations in the country. Organizational excellence through diversity and inclusion requires an organization to find a goal that resonates with its stakeholders and then create collaborative communities that focus on achieving that goal. This strategy positions an organization to use the full diversity of those stakeholders for tasks such as problem-solving, innovation, quality initiatives, and the acquisition of resources. Diversity and inclusion Read more





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Who Becomes a Foundation CEO? An Analysis of Hiring Patterns, 2004-2008

This study provided baseline data about the professional and individual characteristics of 440 candidates selected to be the top executive in a grantmaking institution during a five-year study period (2004-2008), and about the hiring patterns of the diverse institutions making these appointments. Most new chief executive officers (79.5 percent) were not hired from within the same foundation. The percentage of external appointments grew in each successive year of the study period. Most new foundation CEOs (67 percent) were not working for a grantmaking institution when they were appointed. This majority made the transition from fields outside of philanthropy, such as Read more





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Sustainability Is Made, Not Born: Enhancing Program Sustainability Through Reflective Grantmaking

This article explores how reflective grantmaking can lead to enduring changes in the communities that foundations serve. The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati’s approach to evaluating and improving the sustainability of grant-funded projects is reviewed as an example. Their grantmaking framework includes policy and advocacy work, evaluation support, communications support, and technical assistance in addition to traditional funding of projects. This framework promotes sustainability of the funded work.





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Moving Diversity Up the Agenda: Lessons and Next Steps From the Diversity in Philanthropy Project

The Diversity in Philanthropy Project (DPP) was a three-year, voluntary effort of foundation trustees, senior staff, and executives of philanthropy support organizations committed to increasing diversity and inclusive practice across organized philanthropy’s boards, staff, grantmaking, contracting, and investing. DPP had significant achievements, including mobilizing greater commitment among foundation leaders to voluntary action on diversity and enhancing both the knowledge base and data methodologies available for understanding diversity, inclusion, and equity in foundation work. The initiative also faced its share of challenges, including difficulty assessing the impact on the diversity performance of foundations, slow adoption of recommended principles and practices, and Read more





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Designing an Evaluation of a New Initiative: A Practical Approach to Ensure Evaluation Use

This article describes the process of planning an evaluation of the Tribal Tobacco Education and Policy initiative. The initiative was launched in 2007 to reduce tobacco use among American Indians, who disproportionately suffer the negative health effects of tobacco use. The work of the initiative and the evaluation had to incorporate an understanding of tribal structure as well as of the traditional use of tobacco in American Indian sacred ceremonies. The theory of change was conceptualized as circular, rather than linear, in keeping with American Indian philosophical traditions. The planning process, utilizing evaluators familiar with community mobilization and policy evaluation Read more





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Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

As foundations seek to catalyze broad-based social change, there is a need for greater understanding of what social movements are, how they evolve, and how foundations can support them. Movement building presents unique challenges to foundations. Because movements, by definition, must be driven by the people who are most affected, foundations cannot determine the goals and timetables of a movement. The authors identify five core elements to movement building: organizing an authentic base; leadership; vision and ideas; alliances; and advocacy infrastructure. A framework for evaluating movement building is proposed, which can help foundations identify measureable outcomes and track progress throughout Read more





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Paradigm Shift: A Foundation/Grantee Partnership Using Data to Drive Neighborhood Revitalization and Assess Impact

The Wachovia Regional Foundation spearheaded the formation of a partnership to create a participatory outcome evaluation framework for its neighborhood revitalization work. The framework integrates the use of primary and secondary data and has been modified and improved to strengthen a variety of the foundation’s comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts. Forty-one community-based organizations have utilized the framework as a key tool to craft and implement neighborhood plans in a 62-county region. The framework has enabled grantees and residents to better understand and capitalize on market dynamics, enhance their participation in revitalization activities and begin to demonstrate the impact of sustained, strategic Read more





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A Model for Multilevel Advocacy Evaluation

The Colorado Trust provided three years of general operating support to nine advocacy organizations working to increase access to health through policy change work. The nine grantees had a variety of goals and strategies and had different levels of organizational capacity, but were evaluated using a uniform evaluation approach. The evaluation was designed to build grantees’ own evaluation capacity to incorporate real-time feedback, monitor progress toward goals, and to assess growth in the overall health advocacy community in Colorado. Individual grantees identified short- and intermediate- term outcomes related to The Trust’s intermediate outcomes, which were in turn related to the Read more





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A Road Made by Walking: Participatory Evaluation and Social Change

This article describes how participatory evaluation was used in a Ford Foundation–funded project to promote mixed-income housing in Atlanta. The project resulted in an increase in mixed income housing, but also in social outcomes such as increased knowledge about housing issues. Validity and reliability of the findings are demonstrated through feedback from the community members, rather than through statistical methods.





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Achieving Foundation Accountability and Transparency: Lessons From the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Scorecard

The purpose of this article is to help foundations in their accountability and transparency efforts by sharing lessons from one foundation’s journey to develop a scorecard. A commitment to funding and sharing the results from rigorous evaluations set the tone for Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) accountability. The Scorecard is a powerful tool for RWJF to set goals, track organizational effectiveness, and motivate responses to shortcomings. Foundations can tailor their scorecard to include what best serves their needs. With its Scorecard, RWJF found that comparative and quantitative measures are the most powerful forces to motivate change. Setting targets motivates staff Read more





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Are We There Yet? How to Know Whether Your Communications Are Effective

This article describes the results of a study on current knowledge and practices in evaluating foundation communications. The study consisted of three parts: an online survey of practitioners, a series of in-depth key informant interviews, and an extensive literature review. The study found that while most practitioners agree that evaluating communications is necessary to make decisions about their communication strategy, more than half did not regularly do so. Lack of experience or skills was the second top barrier cited, after lack of human/financial resources. Those who have more experience with evaluation were more likely to feel that it was not Read more





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Assessing Nonprofit Networks Prior to Funding: Tools for Foundations to Determine Life Cycle Phase and Function

Foundations and other funders can use life cycle analysis tools to determine a nonprofit network’s stage of development and functional characteristics as a precursor to funding network activities. Characteristics that determine a network’s readiness for funding include network cohesion (trust and communication), cooperation (mutual purpose and goals), and capacity for externally focused action. Network Mindset Survey analysis can help determine a network’s readiness for funding by measuring members’ understanding of the power and utility of networks; degree of membership engagement; identification of specific, common concerns; and readiness for productive action. Three networks that received foundation support for networking principles, mapping, Read more





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Assessing Nonprofits’ Communications Capacity: An Online Self-Assessment Tool

Foundations increasingly recognize the importance of strategic and effective communications to advance their social-change goals. This article provides a framework that helps foundations to better understand the communications capacity of their grantee partners. Based on a detailed analysis of a survey of 529 foundations, universities and nonprofits, the authors created a six-point index that identifies the characteristics and practices of organizations that are ranked as highly effective at using communications to advance their goals. The six indicators are: Involvement of organization leadership in communications, communications planning and organization-wide planning, staffing and the use of outside expertise, donor understanding and support Read more





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Beyond the Grant: How the W. K. Kellogg Foundation Went Beyond Grantmaking to Contribute to a Major Early Childhood Initiative

Key Points The seven-year SPARK (Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids) initiative, created by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), aimed at systemically linking the pre-K and kindergarten worlds as a way to position vulnerable children for greater success in the early grades. At the foundation, the initiative served as a departure point for WKKF to move from its traditional grantmaking role to a changemaker role. To create change, a foundation must articulate – and commit to – a point of view about how change can occur. A theory of change can be a powerful tool to guide ongoing planning Read more





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Beyond the NPR Crowd: How Evaluation Influenced Grantmaking at the California Council for the Humanities

This article describes an initiative designed to engage a broad cross section of Californians in the humanities. Initial findings from book reading groups were that participants were predominantly white, middle-aged women. Changing the type of programming to include poetry slams, photography, digital media, and writing programs broadened participation of various ages and ethnic groups. The location of the program also made a difference, with schools and community-based organizations drawing more diverse audiences than libraries.





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Beyond the Veneer of Strategic Philanthropy

“Strategic philanthropy” has become a dominant theme among foundations in the past few decades. While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically. Four challenges to strategic philanthropy are identified, including strategies developed in isolation from grantees that execute them and misaligned foundation structures, processes, and cultures that do not support strategic endeavors. In order to get beyond the veneer of strategic philanthropy, foundation leaders need to be clearer about their own role in creating change, develop the strategic capacities to do so, and then apply those capacities, learn from them, Read more





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Children’s Futures: Lessons From a Second-Generation Community Change Initiative

This article describes Children’s Futures, a 10-year initiative in Trenton, N.J., that seeks to improve the health and well-being of children from 0 to 3 years old and ensure that they are ready for school. During the first five years, the initiative was successful in implementing a number of evidence-based practices to improve children’s health, such as providing home visits to pregnant women, measuring and improving the quality of day care centers, and improving the use of information systems to track childhood immunizations. Efforts to provide services for fathers and improve home-based child care were not successful; these are areas Read more





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Community Building for Children’s Health: Lessons From Community Partnerships for Healthy Children

This article describes Community Partnerships for Healthy Children (CPHC), a 10-year, $17 million initiative of the Sierra Health Foundation targeted at improving children’s health in northern California by mobilizing communities to use their assets. Implementation grants were modest ($50,000 annually), but technical assistance and communications support were also provided. The initiative rolled out in four phases. Overall, a total of 31 communities participated in the initiative. Twenty-six communities remained through phase three, with 18 engaging in the final fourth phase. Evidence indicates that CPHC improved the health of some children in some communities with regard to some outcomes, but did Read more





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Community Philanthropy: How the Delta Region Revives, Embraces, and Promotes the Spirit of Giving

Community philanthropy is the giving of time, talent, and treasure that when invested locally is characteristic of positive change and lasting development. This article reports on a survey of 31 small Arkansas communities of 5,000 to 15,000 in population using open-ended descriptive questions. Responses were compared across communities to assess variation in giving/fundraising, civic engagement, and leadership. Data confirm that giving/fundraising was substantial, particularly in communities with populations of 8,000 or less. Findings show that people are giving not only their money, but also their services, time, and skills – especially in times of emergency response. Giving was not restricted Read more





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Community-Based Collaboration: A Philanthropic Model for Positive Social Change

A highly publicized incident served as a catalyst for the Austin, Texas, community, convened by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, to address gaps in the behavioral health system. The foundation worked with the local behavioral health authority, the mayor’s office, police and sheriff’s departments, and the city health department to design the Austin Mayor’s Mental Health Task Force. The task force was succeeded by a monitoring committee that identified six focus areas in which to develop action plans and monitor community progress. This collaborative process aimed to strengthen public commitment to behavioral health services and create a cross-agency planning Read more





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Constructing Collaborative Success for Network Learning: The Story of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool

Despite conversations about the importance of community collaboration, foundations continue to struggle with how to best frame and support collaborative success. Existing tools to assess collaboration may not fit with either a foundation’s values or a specific program strategy. From a foundation perspective, developing a community self-assessment tool reinforced the idea that collaborative functioning is crucial and deserves attention. This article shares a story of the development and initial use of the Discovery Community Self-Assessment Tool as a process of social construction critical to collective action and a possible indicator of network learning.  





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Creating and Scaling Innovative School Models Through Strategic Partnerships

The Texas High School Project (THSP) was created in 2003 as a public-private alliance to support education reform across the state. This article focuses on the pivotal role of philanthropy within the THSP alliance to create early college high schools (ECHS). The model has been scaled at different levels to produce direct, affordable pathways for students to both attend college and attain skilled careers. The ECHS schools have higher test scores, greater credits earned, and reduced dropouts rates compared to traditional schools. Foundations with a track record for supporting successful work can increase the overall commitment to joint projects and Read more





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Demonstrating the Value of Social Service Programs: A Simplified Approach to Calculating Return on Investment

In 2008, as charitable giving dropped by $6.4 billion, 54 percent of human service programs saw an increase in the need for their services. Additionally, 74 percent of programs specifically serving children and youth reported being underfunded or severely underfunded. As government and foundation grantmakers transition from charitable giving to social investment, a Gates Foundation report on eight methodologies to assist measuring social value creation finds the methodologies are many years away from being suitable for both nonprofits and grantmakers. To better recognize and communicate the work of frontline practitioners, there is a need to change the orientation of our Read more





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Developing Foundation-University-Grantee Collaboratives as a Model for High-Impact Philanthropy

This article reports on results from the Weingart Foundation’s Urban School Districts Reform Initiative. The goal of the initiative was to improve urban education, and ultimately raise student achievement, by supporting sustainable reforms in school districts educating high numbers of low-income students. The Weingart Foundation determined the scale and scope of the effort, and set forth specific goals and timelines; the districts were invited to propose projects that were organic and integrated into their own strategic plans. Based on research conducted by an intermediary, potential grantees were identified; six grantees were interviewed about their strategic plan priorities and four were Read more





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Embedded Foundations: Advancing Community Change and Empowerment

Embedded funders are foundations that have made long-term commitments to the communities in which they are located or work. Foundations have a long history in funding community development, often with few concrete results. Political conditions, the increasing divide between rich and poor, inaccessibility of education, lack of housing, and continued segregation and racial discrimination are issues that need be addressed concurrently and resources need to be drawn from a variety of sources, particularly the neighborhoods themselves. This complexity has created an impetus for embedded philanthropy. Embedded funders work participatively with the community and frame evaluations in less theoretical, more actionable Read more





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Embedded Philanthropy and the Pursuit of Civic Engagement

This article examines a range of civic engagement strategies pursued by embedded funders conducting community-change work in chronically disadvantaged communities. Embedded funders are place-based foundations that (1) commit to working in a particular community or communities over an extended period of time; (2) pursue direct and ongoing relationships with a range of community actors; (3) make community relationships and partnerships a primary vehicle of their philanthropic operation; and (4) provide extensive supports and resources beyond conventional grantmaking. Working as an embedded funder tends either to correlate with a prior commitment to civic engagement or to promote the development of such Read more





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Enrolling the Eligible: Lessons for Funders

Many social programs have a gap between the number of individuals eligible for services and the number enrolled. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation implemented Covering Kids & Families to increase enrollment in Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Grantees sought to increase enrollment by raising awareness among low-income families, simplifying the application process, and coordinating among programs. Funders are encouraged to consider the lifecycle of programs and organizations, the skills in coalition-building and working with public officials that are needed, and the need to fit political strategies with the local culture.





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Evaluating a Voter Outreach Initiative

This article describes an initiative designed to increase voting rates among low-income and ethnic groups in southern and central California communities. A rigorous evaluation demonstrated that participation rates could be increased by up to 10% among these groups. Using local, well-trained canvassers and making contact during the four weeks preceding the election were some of the more effective practices.





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Evaluative Tools for Articulating and Monitoring Foundation Strategy

Research shows that while foundation leadership and staff value strategy and foundations largely perceive themselves as strategic, they often struggle to articulate, implement, and track strategy. The William Penn Foundation has developed a collection of tools to articulate and assess its progress toward strategic goals. Each tool employs a structured format to promote standardization; flexibility, though, is encouraged in the application of each tool to ensure that form does not dictate function. Each tool provides a template for organizing information that should be tweaked as needed. The speed and breadth of adoption of each tool varies and is often related Read more





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Expanding Organizational Advocacy Capacity: Reflections From the Field

Organizational advocacy capacity is an increasingly important area of inquiry, raising questions about the opportunities (and limits) for achieving and sustaining policy change. The California Endowment implemented the Clinic Consortia Policy and Advocacy Program to expand grantee advocacy capacity to support the policy and operational needs of California’s community clinics. In-person meetings with decision-makers and developing working relationships were among the key advocacy activities undertaken by 19 grantees. Grantees secured several policy wins through a variety of strategies, including mobilizing member clinics to be potent advocates. The “return on investment analysis” indicates that grantees secured policymaker support for clinic programs Read more





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Exposing Real World Philanthropy to the Next Generation of Social Work Leaders

This article describes a method for instructing social work students in the art of enhanced collaboration with foundations, shifting the focus from “writing a winning proposal” and “finding alternative funding sources” to “developing collaborative partnerships for sustainable community development and social change.” The program consists of four major steps: charitable foundation review and case presentation, self-guided review of real-world proposals, mock grant proposal development, and side-by-side proposal review. Student proposals were rated similarly by the instructor and the foundation program officer, even though different criteria were used, suggesting that well-written proposals are also likely to clearly address foundation information needs. Read more





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Factors Influencing Donor Partnership Effectiveness

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) produced six case studies on jointly funded programs related to the environment, global health, and information technologies in developing regions around the world. A two-dimensional tool probing eight factors that influence donor (funder) partnership performance and interinstitutional communication was developed and used in conjunction with a Partnering Process Model to guide the preparation of the case studies. The case studies demonstrated that communication is important externally, that is, among donor partners, and internally, that is, within the various divisions of IDRC. With the use of this tool, it was possible to observe how communication Read more





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Finding the Fix: Embracing Philanthropy’s Role in Transforming an Urban Education Landscape

Education funders have historically used a “demonstration project” approach to funding, designed to lever change by demonstrating a new program and providing technical assistance to foster broader adoption. Despite demonstrating success with many of its grants, the Skillman Foundation’s education reform initiatives were derailed and undone by the instability of the district leadership, political landscape shifts, and disintegrating neighborhoods. A complete turnaround model must address the many issues facing a failing school, including culture, curriculum, school leadership, professional development, and classroom instruction. The stability of the central administration must also be considered. The new look at urban reform at scale Read more





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Finding the Win in Wicked Problems: Lessons From Evaluating Public Policy Advocacy

Many of the social issues private foundations and other philanthropies attempt to address — poverty, homelessness, global climate change — are wicked problems. That is, they defy easy definition, lack permanent solutions, and have multiple stakeholders. The wicked problems framework helps make explicit the challenging nature of the issue to be addressed, requires an inclusive style of leadership that seeks stakeholder involvement, and demands candid exchange among stakeholders about the nature of the problem and effectiveness of efforts to address it. A wicked problems framework provides a set of criteria and questions for evaluators of advocacy efforts to ask all Read more





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Foundation Evaluation Startup: A Pause for Reflection

This article reports on the accomplishments, challenges, and lessons learned in creating a new Department of Research and Evaluation at the California HealthCare Foundation. Different tools were developed to address each of three key areas: performance assessment, organizational learning, and program evaluation. These new processes and tools have been well received by both staff and the board, and have become increasingly important as resources become more scarce, making understanding and maximizing the impact of investments even more critical. Fostering a culture of evaluative inquiry in a fast-paced, payout-oriented environment is a significant challenge – program staff often feels pressured to Read more





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Foundation Readiness for Community Transformation: Learning in Real Time

This article describes the internal structures and processes adopted by The Skillman Foundation to support the iterative practice of “learning and doing” in the first phase of a rapidly evolving, ambitious community change enterprise in six Detroit neighborhoods. The foundation invested in its own and its partners’ capacity to learn in real time so that together they could adjust and readjust their strategies in response to initial results and, in doing so, deepen their working relationships and build further capacity for effective implementation. Challenges to supporting this learning culture included increased visibility and pressures to produce results and measurable outcomes, Read more





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Funding Cultural Adaptations to Promote Effective and Efficient Mental Health Service Provision

Given the changing demographics of the U.S. and documented racial and ethnic health disparities, behavioral health service providers must look at adapting their services to better meet the needs of their diverse client populations. Grantees implemented three types of cultural adaptations: sociocultural/organizational, structural/ service delivery, and clinical. Most adaptations were not directly related to the specific evidence-based practice and would be relevant in many service-provision settings.





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Getting to Results: A Tool and Lessons from the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s K-12 Education Portfolio

In 2002, the Annie E. Casey Foundation adopted a results-based accountability (RBA) framework to track and report on the results of their philanthropic investments. The RBA tool was piloted in a few program areas, including its K-12 education portfolio. Grantees were highly engaged in an iterative process to determine appropriate measures, refine the theory of change, and how to track progress. Overall, the RBA tool enabled staff to get a sense of how grantees were doing and therefore how the foundation was doing in a way that hadn’t been possible before. The K-12 program got a much clearer sense of Read more





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Going Deeper: Can Investigative Reporters Add Value to Assessment and Evaluation?

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation supplemented its standard evaluation approach by engaging professional journalists to elaborate on evaluation findings. The resulting reports are more direct, even critical, than any prior Knight Foundation attempt to evaluate and assess. It produced deeper looks into the intent and outcome of major initiatives, analyzing and addressing flaws in the theories of change underlying initiatives. The goal of reaching external audiences was not achieved.





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International Programming, Local Development, and Youth: An Experience in Northeast Brazil

The W. K. Kellogg Foundation funded a 10-year program of local development work in selected geographic areas in Northeast Brazil from 1997 – 2007. This article reports on program achievements and difficulties, and examines the ways in which the practices of the foundation facilitated and obstructed advances in the local development initiatives. Two main strategies were used: direct funding granted to organizations in the targeted regions and the creation of a comprehensive support system (e.g., youth projects funds, capacity-building in leadership and evaluation, and transfer of expertise from organizations). A team of foundation staff and consultants worked closely to create Read more





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Is the Policy Win All? A Framework for Effective Social-Justice Advocacy

This article offers a theory-of-change framework to help those engaged in social-justice advocacy to reflect on whether social-justice values are being retained in the process. A reproductive rights effort in South Africa provides an example of how social justice values can be lost in the advocacy process. The failure to sustain work on the ground pointed to the need to maintain a base of support even after a policy victory. Strategies must be revisited as social and political contexts change. One of the critical social-justice values that supports the establishment and maintenance of alliances is collaboration, which must continue to Read more





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Leadership Development in the Social Sector: A Framework for Supporting Strategic Investments

While much of the research on leadership and leadership development has historically studied private sector settings, recent work has begun to build knowledge about leaders in public and community settings. New models of leadership, including collective leadership, are being developed and implemented by foundations. A framework for identifying the level of intervention (individual, team, organization, network, or system) and the level of impact (individual, team, organization, community, or field of policy and practice) is proposed as a tool for more strategic investing in leadership development.





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Learning From an Adaptive-Consultative Approach: One Foundation’s Experience in Creating Systems Change in Education

This article describes a creative relationship between the Ball Foundation and the Rowland Unified School District. The approach was adopted by the Ball Foundation when they observed that grantees who had a closer relationship with them were more successful than those who had a more traditional relationship with them. Based on the concept of “adaptive leadership,” the relationship allows for flexibility and a more collaborative approach between the foundation and grantee. This approach requires both the funder and the grantee to be committed to learning and adapting strategies as needed to respond to both results and changing contexts. The funder Read more





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Learning-Circle Partnerships and the Evaluation of a Boundary-Crossing Leadership Initiative in Health

Leadership development approaches that are focused on individual knowledge and skill development do not suit the leadership needs of low income communities and communities of color in addressing the multiple factors that influence health disparities. Boundary-crossing leadership is rooted in a social justice perspective and seeks to address the isolation and fragmentation faced by those who are working to address systemic inequities. A multicultural approach to evaluation honors different ways of knowing, recognizes that groups have different learning questions, acknowledges and addresses power dynamics that exist between funders and grantees, and ensures that evaluation is culturally relevant and constructive for Read more





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Lessons (Not Yet) Learned

Despite a significant influx of charitable dollars over the last 10 to 20 years, solutions to complex social problems remain elusive, while philanthropy has been facing growing pressure to account for its tax-free dollars; to demonstrate, replicate, and scale success; and to be transparent about failed social investments. When foundations and their nonprofit partners ignore a failure and move on, whether it is to protect their own reputation or the reputations of valued partners or simply because of the pressure to keep going, it is too easy to toss out the baby with the bathwater – to toss aside a Read more





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Leveraging Grant-Making—Part 2: Aligning Programmatic Approaches With Complex System Dynamics

The purpose of this two-part article is to enable foundations to increase the leverage of their grantmaking resources by working effectively with the dynamics of complex social systems. This article examines how foundations can align planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts with the behavior of the social systems they seek to improve. Asking powerful questions of staff, board, grantees, and other stakeholders helps to transform how they think about their goals and strategies. In addition to using the power of questioning, foundations function more systemically by suspending their assumptions about their effectiveness and what is possible, creating the cultural shifts needed, Read more





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New Voices at the Civic Table: Facilitating Personal and Social Change

This article describes six pilot initiatives of the Alliance for Children and Families — New Voices at the Civic Table (New Voices), a philanthropy-funded effort to challenge human service organizations to integrate civic engagement as a permanent part of their infrastructure. All six New Voices models included common elements: leadership training, civic education, experiential learning, participatory decision-making, networking, and reflective evaluation. Each also reflected one of four primary variations to civic engagement based on their community needs and demands: self-efficacy, constituent involvement, mobilizing, and organizing. Results demonstrate that civic engagement in human services not only produces a means for promoting Read more





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Measuring the Impacts of Advocacy and Community Organizing: Application of a Methodology and Initial Findings

The increasing emphasis by funders on strategic grantmaking and measurable outcomes may be a disincentive to support policy and advocacy work, because of the perception that outcomes can be difficult to assess. A tool for measuring impact can reduce the barriers to funding advocacy and policy work. The tool draws upon the literature on evaluating advocacy and organizing, social capital building efforts, and return on investment approaches to evaluation. The tool was applied in two sites, where funders found it useful to understand advocacy impacts and learn how advocacy can enhance their grantmaking goals.





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Leveraging Social Networks in Direct Services: Are Foundations Doing All They Can?

Social networks are critical to physical and mental health, and they shape how people see themselves and their possible futures. Social networks represent an under-leveraged resource in social services’ efforts to alleviate poverty and other social challenges. Foundations may be unintentionally creating barriers to practice that leverages social networks by incentivizing individually-focused, highly specific services delivered in standardized, replicable ways. “Network-oriented” practice can help craft a new way forward that threads the needle between everything-is-different-for-everyone and everything- is-the-same-for-everyone. By focusing funding on efforts that build and support social networks, foundations can deepen and sustain the impact of their funding.





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Leveraging Grantmaking: Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Social Systems

The nonobvious interrelationships among elements in a complex system often thwart people’s best intentions to sustainably improve system performance. The complex, nonlinear problems that most foundations address can be solved most effectively by thinking systemically instead of linearly about these problems. Systems thinking offers a range of analytic tools to improve our capacity to think systemically, including ways to distinguish problem symptoms from root causes, reinforcing and balancing feedback, system archetypes, mental models, and system purpose and goals. Applying these tools enables us to target high leverage interventions that can lead to sustainable, system-wide improvement. These tools can be applied Read more





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Supporting Asian-American Civic Engagement: Theory and Practice

This paper is a review of relevant research related to the civic engagement of Asian-American youth. Little work has been done to understand the civic engagement activities of Asian-American youth. However, unique promoters and barriers to Asian- American youth civic engagement exist, given this group’s distinct historical, cultural, and sociopolitical experiences. Asian-American youth may have two different ethnic and racial identities, and these identities may be related to different kinds of civic engagement. Asian-American students who have a stronger pan-Asian identity are more aware that their fate is linked with other Asian-Americans and therefore are more likely to engage in Read more





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Strategic Communications for Influence: Lessons From the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Its KIDS COUNT Initiative

This article describes how the Annie E. Casey Foundation is using the KIDS COUNT Network in a new way: as a strategic communications tool in its focused efforts toward policy change, broad social change, and improved conditions for vulnerable children and families. An outcome map illustrates links between this strategy and the intended outcomes. Case illustrations of KIDS COUNT grantee activities surrounding the release of the 2008 KIDS COUNT Data Book describe the efforts of grantees in six states where the quantity and quality of media coverage surrounding the national data book reflected the kind of coverage that Casey believes Read more





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Speak Your Peace: A Communications Strategy for Changing Community Culture

Strategic communications can play a crucial role in advancing tangible community-wide impacts. “Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project” (SYP) was developed by The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and the Millennium Group to improve the civility of public discourse, under the premise that this would strengthen community decision making, expand civic engagement, and increase residents’ interest in elected office. The SYP campaign promotes nine principles (or “tools”) adapted from Forni’s book Choosing Civility (e.g., pay attention, take responsibility, apologize, give constructive criticism). City councils, county commissions, and school boards in the region adopted the nine tools as ground rules for Read more





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Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

As consumers and producers, people of color have been affected disproportionately by systemic problems in the food system. This article describes the Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy initiative, a joint effort of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to build the capacity of organizations led by people of color to engage in policy and advocacy work. Grantees successfully built their capacity to engage in policy work (e.g., increased capacity to identify policy targets), increased their organizational capacity (e.g., diversified boards), improved their communities’ capacity (e.g., created opportunities for dialogue and improved access to fresh Read more





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Scope, Scale, and Sustainability: What It Takes to Create Lasting Community Change

This article examines success factors that relate specifically to the ability of a comprehensive community initiative (CCI) to achieve the scope and scale required to generate community-level outcomes and to sustain those positive impacts over time. The CCIs selected for study represent a wide range of goals, strategies, and organizational structures. Six factors were found to cut across scope, scale, and sustainability. These factors include having a single broker or entity that holds the vision of the change effort; clearly defined roles; alignment among interventions, resources, and geography; meaningful community engagement; competent leadership and staff; and strategic, cross-level relationships. Additional Read more





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Using Community-Based Participatory Evaluation (CBPE) Methods as a Tool to Sustain a Community Health Coalition

Participatory evaluation has set the standard for cooperation between program evaluators and stakeholders. Coalition evaluation, however, calls for more extensive collaboration with the community at large. Integrating principles of community based participatory research and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Strategic Prevention Framework, which guides much coalition work, into coalition evaluation has proved useful to foster community affiliations and support reciprocal relationship building. The resulting evaluation method, named community based participatory evaluation (CBPE), takes time, money, and skilled personnel but can lead to more accurate results and coalition sustainability. The CBPE method has proved essential in sustaining two Read more





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Use of Layering for Effective Partnership Building: Leveraging Positive Impact in Education Philanthropy

Federal initiatives provide opportunities to link national, state, and local partnerships. New opportunities create a challenge of how to maximize mission-related goals while also seeking out new partnerships. “Layering” allows core foundation goals to be addressed while further examining how building new partnerships can expand with national and federal opportunities. Each “layer” represents multiple sector partnerships at the local, state, federal, and national levels. Layering differs from collective impact in its focus on strategic alignment with existing work to new partners versus the focus on the partnerships and organizational behavior of those relationships. Building new partnerships with philanthropic, private, and Read more





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Turning the Ship: Moving From Clinical Treatment to Environmental Prevention: A Health Disparities Policy Advocacy Initiative

This article examines success factors for a statewide initiative to reduce health disparities by establishing environmental policies to reduce asthma risk factors for school-aged children. Twelve local coalitions and a statewide network focused on schools, housing, and outdoor air policies. Multiple types and levels of policy advocacy were encouraged by the Initiative so that issues at the local level linked to larger issues across the state, and conversely state-level policies supported local endeavors. Factors that contributed to the success of the initiative included: structuring the initiative on a systems change model; employing multiple technical assistance providers to assure fidelity to Read more





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Trends in Global Philanthropy Among U.S. Foundations: A Brief Review of Data and Issues

International grantmaking has increased dramatically in the past two decades, at a rate faster than domestic grantmaking. The increase in international grantmaking, stimulated by increased interest in global issues, was fueled by increased foundation assets and especially by new foundations created since 1990. While many of the issues confronting international grantmaking exist with domestic grantmaking, they have special aspects and increased importance because of the global context. Many foundations have now accumulated information about how best to work in partnership with other foundations, governments, and business; these lessons would benefit all foundations. Thoughtful collective action taken by foundation membership organizations Read more





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Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking

This article provides guidance on how foundations can frame, focus, and advance efforts to achieve public policy reforms. Five essential steps for developing public policy strategy are described: choosing the public policy goal, understanding the challenges, identifying influential audiences, determining how far those audiences must move, and deciding how to move them. Two tools developed specifically to support foundations during the strategy development process are presented.