Becoming Strategic: Finding Leverage Over the Social and Economic Determinants of Health

This 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. 

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Funder Collaborations — Flourish or Flounder?

The 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.

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Expert Q & A: Strategic, Emergent, or (fill in the blank) Philanthropy: What’s the Right Approach?

By 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

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Giving in Challenging Times

This brief guide is designed to serve both emerging and established donors looking at important questions and issues faced when giving in difficult political, social or financial times.

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Emotionally Invested: A Collection of Articles about Impact Investing

The 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. Written by Threshold Published by National Center for Family Philanthropy

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Building Sustainable Cities through Blended Capital

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.

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Staying the Course: How a Long-Term Strategic Donor Initiative to Conserve the Amazon Has Yielded Outcomes of Global Significance

This 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.

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Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide

The 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

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Strategic or emergent: why are we stuck in the swimming pool?

Responses 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.

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Conversations with Remarkable Givers

Conversations 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.

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

This 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.

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Beyond the Veneer of Strategic Philanthropy

This article discusses strategic philanthropy. While many foundations have developed strategic plans, few have made the internal changes necessary to actually behave strategically.

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