FavoriteStrategic learning is a powerful tool for foundations to achieve greater impact, yet foundations have struggled to create practices and behaviors that effectively support them in learning about strategy. Given that many foundations are engaged in strategic philanthropy, where they have specific conditions in the world they are trying to change, it is critical that they have the capacity to effectively learn about and improve their strategies. This article offers three principles for strategic learning, informed by the field of strategic learning and insights from practice across three foundations. Each principle is explored in terms of what it means and Read more
FavoriteIncreasingly, foundations and nonprofits are seeking to engage their staff in learning and reflection activities that assess successes and challenges, and then generate insights that can improve programs and funding strategies. Yet, despite the intuitive benefits, there are common challenges that often stand in the way of promoting strategic learning for continuous improvement. For the past year, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has been focused on creating more systematic and intentional strategic learning across our organization. As part of this work we cultivated a select cohort of staff to be “learning champions,” created simple tools and processes that can more Read more
FavoriteThis toolkit is for seasoned donors, donor advised fund holders, foundation trustees, and staff who are taking steps to significantly ramp up the impact of their giving. No longer content with just “making good grants” or “doing good things for the community,” you have taken a fresh look at your goals, strategies, and outcomes and decided that you could do things differently to achieve even more. We all know that setting bolder, bigger goals for impact is only step one. Implementing strategies and achieving these goals typically involves a winding path full of experiments, iterations, and obstacles. This toolkit is Read more
FavoriteKey Points As funders turn to community change, intentionally addressing the unique power differential between funder and grantee partners and structuring ways to mitigate this imbalance is essential to honest communication. Funder relationships with their grantees impact the legacy of major community initiatives. This article explores this relationship and its effects through the lens of the recent evaluation of one family foundation — the Robins Foundation in Richmond, Virginia — and its follow-up actions. Through a participatory evaluation process, we derived three principal approaches for this donor, and others, to consider in contemplating funder-grantee partnerships and the way these may Read more
FavoriteTracking progress is an important component of the Hewlett Foundation’s practice of outcome-focused philanthropy (OFP), which emphasizes being rigorous, flexible, and adaptive while staying focused on results and actively learning throughout the strategy lifecycle. The outcomes we hope to achieve through our strategies take years to accomplish. Implementation markers represent interim steps toward these outcomes. “Implementation marker” is a catchall term referring to particular activities, developments or events (internal or external) that help staff understand whether they are making progress in the near term. This guide is a deep dive into implementation markers—what they are and how to set, collect, Read more
FavoriteThis article presents examples of how strategic thinking evolved in a sample of health conversion foundations as they determined how they would address various social determinants of health. The article also considers how a foundation can develop a strategic pathway that fits with its mission, values, philosophy, resources, and sphere of influence.
FavoriteThe William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Education First participated in a half-dozen joint funding efforts to support the success of the Common Core State Standards in the nation’s K-12 public education system. Looking critically at these efforts, the authors learned lessons about why some collaborations are more effective.
FavoriteBy Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting Over the last century or so of philanthropic practice, multiple pathways for achieving results have emerged. Two of the most widely adopted (and most recently debated) are “strategic” and “emergent” philanthropy. Both have deep roots in the field, as well as a range of adherents and even skeptics. Other approaches in various stages of experimentation, adoption, or rejection include “philanthrocapitalism,” and “venture,” “catalytic,” and “high engagement” philanthropy. What’s a grantmaker to do? Which approach, hybrid, or combination of approaches is right for you/ your program or initiative / your organization? How can Read more
FavoriteThe theme of this issue of Passages is “Emotionally Invested” and it includes a number of articles about impact investing alongside your values. Impact investing seeks a return from one’s investments other than a strictly financial return. For the majority of impact investors, that means they seek a general or specific environmental, social or governance outcome, in addition to a financial return, from their investments.
Author: National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP)
Favorite A Program of Study and Case Analysis on The Kresge Foundation’s Social Investments Practice in Detroit. This case study examines strategies to confront the interconnected web of complex issues facing cities and their residents as they address income inequality and reimagine a sustainable Detroit.
FavoriteThis article examines how the design principles of a major philanthropic initiative have influenced its performance, and provides a practical example of strategic philanthropy that can contribute to the current debate over the merits and flaws of this approach.
FavoriteThe Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide will help all social change leaders push the envelope further on developing systems change capacities while exploring practical ways to facilitate systems change. It brings together an overview of the systems approach and mindset with a promising set of resources, tools, frameworks, and methods for understanding and influencing systems. Co-created with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Resource Guide advances the conversation about how philanthropy and the broader social sector can better adopt a systems approach to solving today’s most daunting problems. Explore the interactive website and download the guide
Author: Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO)
FavoriteResponses to John Kania, Mark Kramer and Patty Russell’s ‘Strategic Philanthropy for a Complex World’, published in the summer issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, have come largely from the US and from people who write regularly about philanthropy. Many of them have focused on the way consultants behave and how they interact with foundations and non-profits – in other words, the philanthropy system. We would like to broaden that debate and in doing so to leave the swimming pool and venture out into the sea.
FavoriteConversations with Remarkable Givers is an unprecedented collection of more than 1,200 video clips, drawn from 50-plus interviews with philanthropists and foundation leaders. Interviewees discuss important components of philanthropy such as how they involve family and choose which causes to support, and how they work with grantees and measure results.
FavoriteThis article reviews books by foundation officials, consultants and academics that broadly emphasize the idea that “strategic philanthropy” in some form promises significant improvements in the quality of giving.