FavoriteWhen grantmakers focus on learning for improvement, we use evaluation and learning to generate information and insights that will help us better understand both how we’re doing in our work and how to improve. A focus on taking action based on what we learn ensures that we are engaged in strategic or applied learning. Our learning should be tied directly to the strategies we are pursuing and the decisions we are making. Learning in Philanthropy: A Guidebook provides a solid basis for thinking and talking about the next steps in our organization’s learning work. The guidebook is designed to serve Read more
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
FavoriteRoyal giving in the spotlight This issue includes an in-depth interview with Hong Kong based philanthropist, James Chen, perspectives on the development of philanthropy in Russia and Vietnam and philanthropy-backed efforts in online learning to help the capacity building of CSO’s in the global South. This issue also shines a spotlight on the world of royal philanthropy, the topic of our special feature. On the surface, there seems much to commend the philanthropic works of members of royal families (or MRF’s to use the parlance). They bring networks, credibility and resources to improve health and education, tackle neglected causes, and Read more
FavoriteKey Points The literature on nonprofit organizations exhorts them to understand and develop their communities’ strengths and capacities. Yet, identifying those communities, appreciating the conditions that affect them, and integrating organizational stakeholders can pose difficulties for any nonprofit, including foundations. This article examines how a tool relatively new to nonprofits — geographic information systems — can be used to support community building by bringing together different stakeholders. A geographic information system is designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present spatial or geographic data, thus allowing an organization to map its community and share that visualization with its stakeholders. Read more
FavoriteThere is general agreement that we don’t know as much as we’d like to know about Muslim philanthropy, a phenomenon broadly defined as giving ‘of any kind, which involves self-identifying Muslim individuals, institutions, communities, and societies as key agents’. This lack of knowledge is remarkable given that Muslims comprise almost a quarter of the world’s population, and give around $1 trillion per year according to some estimates. In the new issue of Alliance magazine, out on 4 September 2018, guest editors, Tariq Cheema and Yunus Sola, argue that the potential of Muslims to contribute to the well-being of humanity would be greatly Read more
FavoriteFast-paced; Information and technology rich; Institutional lite; High stakes; Quick mobilization; Decentralized voice and action; Multi-tasked to the max. Whether we are millennials by generation or not, this is our contemporary context. This is where civic sector leaders live. This is also where equity and change approaches often die amidst what feels like strategy overload – the constant flow of “new” ideas, packaged models, and ready-made techniques. Colleagues often ask me why I say knowledge instead of learning. In this article, I discuss the difference and share why knowledge is actually the key element in addressing structural inequity. If we Read more
FavoriteThis issue is devoted to philanthropy’s developers – the people, organisations and networks central to the growth and development of philanthropy worldwide. Whether that’s data and research, advice and consulting, training, advocacy or representation, there’s an essential and vibrant but under-appreciated eco-system of philanthropy support worldwide. In our special feature, Alliance editor, Charles Keidan and guest editors, Benjamin Bellegy and Maria Chertok offer a new and change-oriented vision for the future development of the field. The feature includes views from leading funders about why infrastructure matters, as well as discussion of the impact of tech, and the need for better data, collaboration and Read more
FavoriteThese free resources are a sample of what’s available in NCFP’s Family Philanthropy Knowledge Center, the premier source of information and inspiration for family philanthropy. Our 24-hour digital library puts thousands of resources at your fingertips—discussion papers, sample policies, assessment tools, webinar replays and much more.
Author: National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)
FavoriteIn 2017, Open Road conducted an analysis of 102 applications from the past five years to assess trends in its portfolio. The analysis looked at multiple variables, including the size of the organization, project type, sector focus, geographic focus, legal status, and type of original funder. The analysis also coded each application under a taxonomy of “roadblocks” that describe 22 specific challenges that these organizations faced, divided into three broad categories: Organization Misfortune, Acts of God/Market Economics, and Funder-Created Obstacles. The findings from this multivariable roadblock analysis provide the first-ever empirical dataset on “what goes wrong” in impact focused projects Read more
FavoriteThe Digital Adoption survey seeks to understand how organizations are making decisions and addressing the challenges of internet access and use by both staff and the communities they serve. Nearly 60 percent of organizations surveyed said they do not provide any digital inclusion programming, and the biggest barrier to doing so is resource and capacity—not surprisingly, the top two indicators that organizations would provide digital literacy programs and other services were new or increased funding and training for staff. The good news is digital adoption is increasing, but there are still gaps or needs among specific communities that digital inclusion Read more
FavoriteEverything is in process. But our ways of thinking about organizational development often don’t account for that. This tool helps you think about where you have been and where you are headed by examining the ongoing change of your organization, team, project, strategy or field. The Giving Practice is Philanthropy Northwest’s national consulting team. Pretty Good Tools are created by The Giving Practice consultants for practitioners in philanthropy, based on our consulting engagements.
FavoriteField Notes in Philanthropy hosts conversations exploring the places where politics, current events and philanthropy intersect and their impact locally and globally. Hosted by: Patrick Center, News and Public Affairs Director, WGVU Public Media, PBS & NPR Tory Martin, Director of Communications and Engagement for the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy Matthew Downey, Director of Nonprofit Services for the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
FavoriteTo achieve meaningful impact at scale, many foundations are aiming to influence the actions and investments of the public and private sectors as well as address the complex and deeply entrenched conditions that hold social problems in place. To do so, foundations are not only offering grant funding but are also expanding how they apply their assets, knowledge, skills, networks, and people in new ways. There is a wealth of information on how to adapt strategies to create impact at scale and to change systems; however, less has been written about what internal practices are needed to make this happen. To find out, we interviewed 114 Read more
FavoriteCurrent Focus: Data and the Sector In April, May, and June, we’ll explore how data can drive effective philanthropy. We’ll hear from colleagues across the sector and identify resources from years of research and engagement. We’ll gather what we learn and share it with you, presenting perspectives on all the ways data impacts our work and our missions. Related reading, webinars and other resources. Curated content, resources, & tools focused on topics and concepts important to philanthropy right now. Field Focus is an initiative to empower our networks by bringing practitioners, thought leaders, and issue experts together around one theme.
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
FavoriteIn this March 2018 issue of Alliance, we look in-depth at the phenomenon of diaspora philanthropy. With increasing numbers on the move, new ties are being formed between peoples, nations and states across the world. While most attention has focused on remittances – the act of sending money from one place to another – we shine a light on the philanthropic dimensions of diasporas worldwide. The perspectives of contributors from Africa, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Ireland and Palestine, to name a few of the places you can read about in this issue, reflect the truly global nature of diaspora giving. While Read more
FavoriteThe Hewlett Foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group (EPG) seeks to strengthen the capacity of the foundation’s staff, its grantees and philanthropy, in general, to achieve their goals and benefit the common good. The team has staff whose roles are externally focused – making grants to strengthen nonprofits and the philanthropic sector – as well as staff whose roles are internally focused. Internally, we partner with Hewlett Foundation program staff and serve act as the foundation’s in-house experts on specific areas of philanthropic practice, such as grantmaking strategy, evaluation, progress tracking and organizational learning. Here are some useful resources related to the Read more
Favorite Re-imagining measurement is an ongoing initiative to spur innovation in how foundations and nonprofits approach monitoring, evaluation, and learning. In the materials, you’ll find best thinking from the field about a path to a better future, and a toolkit with bright spots, leading edge practices to spread, and innovations to try.
FavoriteThis is Alliance magazine’s alphabetical glossary of key terms in philanthropy and social investment and links to useful philanthropy organizations. We invite readers to help revise and refine the glossary by submitting further entries or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
FavoriteIn 2017 Foundation Center surveyed a sample of U.S.-based foundations about whether they conduct evaluations, what they evaluate, and whether they share what they learn outside of their organization. This infographic lays out key findings from that survey.
FavoriteTo realize this vision of improved data for deeper philanthropic impact and transparency, WINGS, Foundation Center, CENTRIS, and partners from around the world created and refined the Global Philanthropy Data Charter. The main objective of this revision is to make the document more accessible and provide concrete guidance on how to successfully engage in data-sharing processes.
FavoriteTruly inclusive markets lead to expanded opportunity for more broadly shared prosperity, especially for those facing the greatest barriers. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, authors from FSG analyzed historical cases where such inclusive transformations actually occurred in order to understand the ways in which they were achieved. Using these insights, in this report they offer practical recommendations for funders and intermediaries seeking to enable more of these shifts in the future.
FavoriteSolidarity – more in common? ‘We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.’ These were the words of Jo Cox in her maiden speech to the UK Parliament on 3 June 2015. On 16 June 2016, just over one year later, Cox was murdered on her way to a meeting in her constituency. The Alliance special feature, guest edited by King Baudouin Foundation’s Stefan Schäfers, explores the complex and sensitive relationship between philanthropy and solidarity. Jo Cox’s murder was not just an affront to our common humanity but a Read more
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FavoriteCreating the Conditions to Advance Justice: Redefining Capacity Building By listening to our clients and partners and looking to people whose history, knowledge, and experiences have been forced to the periphery, MAG 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 recently published a series on the elements. The five articles in the series present each element in turn, exploring what it means and Read more
Favorite This article describes how the findings of the NSI evaluation informed Hewlett’s philanthropic approach, and provides a case example of a philanthropic-initiative exit. Key considerations for monitoring and evaluation practices particular to the context of a planned exit are discussed.
FavoriteThis editorial blog introduces a special issue of The Foundation Review on Exit Strategies. Foundations of various sizes and geographic foci share what they have learned about exiting with grace and impact.
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Favorite The State of Evaluation project is the first nationwide project that systematically and repeatedly collects data from US nonprofits about their evaluation practices. Survey results are intended to build understanding for nonprofits, to compare their evaluation practices to their peers; for donors and funders, to better understand how they can support evaluation practice throughout the sector; and for evaluators, to have more context about the existing evaluation practices and capacities of their nonprofits clients.
FavoriteDeveloped in partnership with the Center for Evaluation Innovation, Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices is the most comprehensive data collection effort to date on evaluation practices at foundations. The report shares data points and infographics on crucial topics related to evaluation at foundations, such as evaluation staffing and structures, investment in evaluation work, and the usefulness of evaluation information.
Favorite What exactly is creative placemaking? The simple answer is any artistic or creative effort to make a particular community stronger. There are literally hundreds of communities carrying out creative placemaking projects across the U.S. – and countless more around the world. Here are two particularly strong examples, both supported by The Kresge Foundation. .
FavoriteAs more families look to get their children involved in philanthropy at a younger age, the National Center for Family Philanthropy is offering a resource that will help the next generation learn how to carry their families’ legacies forward. Generations Together – sponsored by U.S. Trust – is an online resource that helps young adults, teens and children explore family traditions and goals, learn about giving, and understand how philanthropy works.
Author: National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)
FavoriteThis report explores unique challenges and opportunities, and offers a set of recommendations for how to realize the promise of working better together. The insights here are based primarily on in-depth dialogues about family philanthropy collaboration that occurred during the third National Summit on Family Philanthropy.
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
FavoriteSome 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.
FavoriteThis report seeks to identify and describe state-of-the-art approaches to valuing social returns on social investments (SROI), to review the organizational challenges to implementing an SROI measurement process, and to examine in detail organizations in the Netherlands and the United States that have attempted to use SROI measurements. The focus of each piece of the project was SROI methods and valuation in the health care field, specifically. In the conclusion, the report distills some best practices and practical tips for conducting SROI measurements.
Author: Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy
FavoriteThe goal of this microsite is to share what the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has learned in more than 35 years of supporting the field, offer key insights, and highlight our legacy of partnering with community foundations in a way that advances the vital work they do to strengthen their communities. The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the first community foundation in the U.S. This milestone brings with it both increased attention to the field of community philanthropy and the opportunity to demonstrate the significance of these institutions to the communities they serve.
FavoriteThis paper defines a field, provides examples of how funders build fields, lists the elements of a strong field, and discusses effective donor practices to promote sustainable fields. The paper concludes with questions that can help to assess field strengths and needs, and a discussion of the best time to exit a field.
FavoriteAlthough much has been written about ‘what donors believe’ and ‘how modern foundations work’, hard data about how private foundation donors view themselves, their roles, and the non-profits they support is relatively scarce. With almost 1,200 US-based private foundation clients, Foundation Source is well positioned to put some of the common assumptions about this sector to the test. Last November, we carried out a survey of our clients that debunked some of philanthropy’s most established axioms – especially those relating to foundation attitudes to non-profits.
FavoriteAnthony Tomei writes about the changing global economic structure and how it relates to philanthropy: The collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 seems to mark a symbolic moment at which the world changed. The changes were felt very differently in different parts of the world, but it seems likely that the resulting shift in the balance of economic power will turn out to be permanent. What about philanthropy? Five years on, how do things look? How have foundations responded? Have they changed the way they see their role and the way they do things? These are the questions this Alliance special feature Read more
Favorite An Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Knowledge Creation and Dissemination Strategy. As part of the Hewlett Foundation’s evaluation of the $24 million it has invested to-date in knowledge creation and dissemination about philanthropic practice, the evaluation team used LearnPhilanthropy’s taxonomy to categorize the types of knowledge produced by its grantees.
FavoriteA growing number of foundations and philanthropists have elected to give away their money by a fixed date rather than establish perpetual foundations. The paths they’ve chosen to take, and how they chose them, provide useful tips for other philanthropists on how they can align their giving with a path that best accommodates their goals.
FavoriteThis 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 study that used a similar design.
FavoriteThis article documents the Tower Foundation’s experience funding evidence-based practice (EBP) programs and its work to measure the success of these initiatives. After funding EBPs in five consecutive grant years, it was time to take stock and assess the drivers of program success and failure. Learning from these, the foundation may better understand the demands and expectations that they put on grantees. Looking forward, foundations can assist, as Tower did, with direct support of implementations. They can also do things to make communities more EBP ready and EBPs more generally viable and affordable.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThis article examines the emerging best practice of layering, a process and strategic alignment of building new, multiple sector partnerships at the local, state, federal and national levels that can expand with federal initiatives. These new opportunities create a challenge of how to maximize mission-related goals while seeking new partnerships.
FavoriteThis article discusses how 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. 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 under a Creative Commons license (Community Research Institute, 2011a).
FavoriteThis brief report presents key findings about Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Grantee Perception Reports over the years, and includes candid comments by RWJF’s leadership — CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Vice President of Research and Evaluation, David Colby — as to how they’ve responded to some of those findings.
FavoriteThis 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.
FavoriteThis article examines the Social Capital Benchmark Survey organized by Robert Putnam and Lew Feldstein and funded by 34 community foundations. Six years later, 12 of the community foundations participated in the National Social Capital Learning Circle and reported that the survey results supported their community leadership work.
FavoriteAs more foundations and other grantmaking entities venture into self-evaluation, these methods should be examined in light of international funding relationships. In order to better understand how these tools and methods can be used internationally, the authors outline the opportunities presented when using frames as one basis for decision-making in complex situations.
Favorite This article discusses how foundations and their nonprofit partners might think about failure and share their hard-learned lessons. The overarching argument of this article is that foundations face certain dilemmas in their grantmaking that are related to mistakes and that need to be acknowledged and reflected on.