Three Ways Funders Delude Themselves About Equity

FavoriteThis editorial points out ways that funders get in their own way when it comes to equity and how they can avoid doing so. They include: Not clearly defining what equity means Assuming aggregate data indicates an equitable outcome Expecting grantees to address equity without doing so themselves

Guide to Impact Investing

FavoriteGrantmakers In Health (2017): This guide provides a framework to help funders think strategically about the potential of impact investing, part of a growing practice that incorporates environmental, social, and governance criteria into investment decision making. Kresge helped fund the study.

Changing in Place: The Skillman Foundation, Detroit, and the Good Neighborhoods Initiative — How did a hometown grantmaker conduct and conclude its largest-ever initiative?

FavoriteTo capture information on the unique challenges facing an embedded funder as it changes program direction, Bob Tobin, senior consultant at Williams Group, interviewed Marie Colombo, Skillman Foundation director for strategic evaluation and learning in this article of The Foundation Review.

End-Game Evaluation: Building a Legacy of Learning In a Limited-Life Foundation

Favorite This article shares the emerging hypotheses of two foundations, The Atlantic Philanthropies and the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation — each four years from sunset — about the opportunities and challenges for evaluation in the limited-life context. The article argues that systematically capturing and sharing knowledge — about programs, as well as social-change methods and grantmaking practices — can increase a foundation’s influence and impact during its final years and beyond.

Exiting From Large-Scale Initiatives: Lessons and Insights From a National Scan of Philanthropy

Favorite This article shares insights and lessons from a research project commissioned by The California Endowment in early 2016 to inform the planning for its transition out of Building Healthy Communities. A guiding framework for exit and sustainability planning is presented as a set of recommendations that relate to issues such as managing relationships between funder and grantee partners during the exit, using the initiative’s theory of change as a tool for decision-making, finding a balance between demonstrable success and equity, and managing the internal processes of the funding organization.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

FavoriteThis article discusses four areas where foundation exits present particular challenges and where there are significant opportunities to improve practice — deciding on and planning to exit, funder leadership, clear communication, and final grants — and includes summaries of advice from funder and grantee perspectives.

Partnership With Government: An Exit Strategy for Philanthropies?

Favorite Atlantic Philanthropies’ exit strategy involved a formal partnership arrangement with the Northern Ireland Assembly. This article draws on qualitative data gathered through interviews with key stakeholders — the funder, government officials, and NGOs — and considers the consequences of this approach for sustaining and mainstreaming policies and practices. It also offers both specific and general lessons on partnering with government as an exit strategy.

Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

FavoriteWhen funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.

Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

FavoriteOne of the goals of this program is for the participants to share their experiences with the broader field. See what grantmakers have learned while developing strategies, particularly as it relates to the principles, practices and benefits of grantmaker-grantee partnerships.

How Can We Prepare for Collaboration?

FavoriteBecause collaboration is hard and messy, many grantmakers and nonprofits are uncertain about the best way to move forward. The first step is to look inward and ensure that the right elements are in place. This piece discusses several steps that grantmakers can take to prepare for any type of collaboration.

Working with Grantees

FavoriteTo many nonprofits, foundation operations are shrouded in mystery. Because prospective grantees are seeking funding from foundations, there may be a perceived power imbalance. However, building strong and effective relationships with grantees can help foundations develop new knowledge and insights into issues, and to test and scale innovative strategies. Open communication, approachability, sharing lessons learned, and collaborative evaluation are key to developing strong partnerships with grantees. Resources are free or for Council members. Data: Not Another Four Letter Word Grantmaking Application Process Resource Guide: A Grantmaking Primer Tips for Effective Grantee Relations Exiting Responsibly: Best Donor Practices in Ending Field Read more

Shifting Winds: Foundations Respond to a New Political Context

FavoriteCEP surveyed foundation leaders about their reactions to the shift in presidential administrations, and the degree to which they were making changes as a result. The report reveals that the reactions and responses of U.S. foundations to the shift in national political context vary widely, but most foundations are changing their practices or shifting their emphases.

A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations

FavoriteThis report illustrates the ways in which limited life foundations approach spending down in nine key areas, including investing, grantmaking and strategy, and communications. The results show that most leaders of limited life foundations choose to spend down because of the belief that it will lead to greater impact. And though these foundations’ leaders wrestle with a similar set of issues in their work, the interviews revealed that there is no one way to spend down.

10 Essential Roles of Foundation Board Members

FavoriteAs a board member, how can you make sure you bring your best to the table and bring out the best in your foundation? If you understand and embrace these 10 essential roles, you will help ensure that you are fulfilling your duties with wisdom and clarity — and doing your part to advance your foundation’s mission.

Community Leadership Video Catalogue

FavoriteBrowse the CFLeads Video Catalogue on Community Leadership Hear stories that demonstrate community leadership in action by leaders in the community foundation field. We hope these videos inspire, motivate and challenge you in your own practice of community leadership.

Who’s in the Room? Who Should Be?

Favorite Bringing people together is one of the key roles of philanthropy. It’s important to make sure you have the right people in the room so that the time spent is productive and the outcome is useful for everyone. To ensure you’ve tapped the right players for your next gathering, ask yourself these three questions before you issue invitations: What is our overall goal? What roles are essential to accomplish our goal? How can we make the best use of others?

A Resilient Power Capital Scan

Favorite This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.

Capital and Collaboration – Strengthening Community Investment in Smaller, Postindustrial Cities

Favorite To better understand the system of community investment, and with the hope of developing interventions that would permit it to achieve greater scale, efficiency, and impact, the authors developed a framework they called “capital absorption.” This work offers potential routes forward for understanding and addressing need in low- and moderate-income communities in postindustrial cities throughout New England.

Capital and Collaboration – An In-Depth Look at the Community Investment System in Massachusetts Working Cities

FavoriteThis publication presents the work of the Capital & Collaboration Initiative, a cross-sector effort designed to increase the scale, efficiency and impact of investments in Massachusetts cities of more than 35,000 people (excluding Boston.) The initiative has identified several cross-cutting priority areas for action that are important to achieving their broader goal of transformative change.

How-To: Content Strategy

FavoriteNonprofits and foundations value the importance of web and digital media; yet the idea of developing a strategy for their content tends to be an afterthought to lengthy design and development projects, if it is considered at all. This how-to guide will help explain what content strategy is, how you can develop one, and how you can put it to work for your organization.

Philanthropy Scholarship and Practice – Bridging the Divide

FavoritePhilanthropy 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.

Five Elements of a Thriving Justice Ecosystem

FavoriteBy listening to our clients and partners and looking to people whose history, knowledge, and experiences have been forced to the periphery, Change Elemental has come to believe there are five elements that are critical to advancing a thriving justice ecosystem: Advancing Deep Equity Cultivating Leaderful Ecosystems Valuing Multiple Ways of Knowing Influencing Complex Systems Change Creating the Space for Inner Work In partnership with the Nonprofit Quarterly, MAG has published a series on the elements. The five articles in the series present each element in turn, exploring what it means and how people, organizations, and networks are putting it into Read more

Data Playbook

FavoriteA Measured Approach. For purpose-driven organizations, data means more than just numbers and graphs–it is about understanding what more you can do to change lives and strengthen communities. The Data Playbook provides the building blocks you need to put data to work for your mission.

Ideas 42 Report: Nudging for Student Success

FavoriteBreaking Barriers to Postsecondary Education:  Ideas 42 issued a report in June 2016, sponsored in part by The Kresge Foundation, that presented 16 case studies based on behavioral science that shows how subtle, sometimes hidden barriers can, over time, result in a student not completing a postsecondary degree.

Foundation Payouts

FavoriteIn the first Alliance Audio series, editor Charles Keidan hosts a roundtable discussion with Angela Kail (Head of the Funder Team, New Philanthropy Capital), Cathy Pharoah (Co-Director of the Centre for Giving and Philanthropy, Cass Business School, City University London), and Jake Hayman (CEO of Ten Years’ Time) on the topic of philanthropy sector payouts. Following on from their pieces in Alliance over the last few months, these philanthropy experts and practitioners discuss the controversial topic of payouts; why they should be imposed, why they should not be imposed, and what they might mean for the sector as it stands at the Read more

Effective and Emerging Approaches to Mission-Related Investing

FavoriteThis white paper defines mission investing strategies, including: socially responsible investing (SRI); environmental, social, and governance (ESG); mission-related investing (MRI); and impact investing. Readers will also learn more about a nine-point impact investing roadmap with questions to help develop your foundation’s investment strategy.

11 Essential Practices for Effective Grantmaking

FavoriteThe options for effective grantmaking are more varied today than ever. What used to involve simply making financial gifts to qualified nonprofits now has grown to include public-private partnerships, social impact investing, program-related investing, crowdfunding, and many more avenues for achieving a foundation’s mission. Whether your foundation is just getting off the ground or has a venerated history that’s about to enter a new phase, you’ll have many choices to consider as you plan your way forward.

Offshore philanthropy

FavoriteOrganized philanthropy exists because a few individuals are able to accumulate a vast surplus of resources. Given how much good is done with philanthropic donations, it seems ungrateful to look too closely at the source of that money. Yet recent financial data leaks, including the Panama Papers and the earlier HSBC Swiss Files, act like glasses for the myopic—they bring into focus one of the wealth management practices that enables private individuals to hold on to resources. Moreover, a number of named individuals are well-known philanthropic donors. With these revelations, the sector should look hard at the uncomfortable ways in Read more