Being the Change 12 Ways Foundations Are Transforming Themselves to Transform Their Impact

To 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 practitioners representing 50 funders and 8 philanthropic services organizations that have gone through or advised internal transformation.

Our interviews yielded surprising commonalities. Whether the foundations had grantmaking budgets of $5 million, $50 million, or $500 million, they shared similar reasons for reshaping their strategies and similar areas of internal organizational change.

Specifically, 12 practices have emerged that support the ability of foundations to transform their impact.

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April 2018

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Abigail Stevenson and Valerie Bockstette with Andria Seneviratne, Miya Cain, and Tracy Foster



Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation