Policy Influence: What Foundations Are Doing and Why

FavoriteFoundations’ engagement in public policy has contributed to advances in society in areas from civil rights to consumer protections to public health. At the same time, and with greater intensity in recent years, the role of philanthropy in influencing policy has been the subject of scrutiny. And yet little data is available about how many foundations engage in efforts to influence public policy, why they undertake this work, and how they approach it. So CEP studied the perspective of foundation leaders across the country on this topic. This report seeks to provide foundation staff, leaders, and boards with data and Read more

Crucial Donors: How Major Individual Givers Can Best Support Nonprofits

FavoriteThe report, titled Crucial Donors: How Major Individual Givers Can Best Support Nonprofits, distills insights from nearly 200 nonprofit leaders from CEP’s Grantee Voice panel to learn what types of support nonprofits already receive from major donors, what major donors can do to support nonprofits better, and how nonprofits’ relationships with major donors differ from their relationships with staffed foundations. This resource also includes questions to guide major donors in deciding what kind(s) of support to provide to nonprofits. What did we learn from these nonprofit leaders? Crucial Donors identifies three key findings regarding the ways in which major donors Read more

DONORS: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You to Know

FavoriteWith support from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, we are broadening the scope of our knowledge resources to apply insights to large donors who are giving significantly to support nonprofit causes. We believe that some of our data-driven insights on effectiveness are not particular to foundations, but are broadly applicable and useful regardless of the structure that major donors use for their giving. Donors: 5 Things Nonprofits Want You to Know is CEP’s first resource to bring those data-driven insights to this new audience. For this resource, we looked at what CEP has heard through candid, anonymous feedback from more than Read more

Greater Good: Lessons from Those Who Have Started Major Grantmaking Organizations

FavoriteWith more than 30,000 new private foundations established in the U.S. in the past 20 years, it is vital that early-stage grantmakers learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before them so they can avoid common mistakes and position their grantmaking organizations for success. To learn more about what it takes to effectively get a grantmaking organization off the ground, CEP interviewed 35 leaders — including trustees, CEOs, program staff, and operations staff — of 14 grantmaking organizations that were established, or that experienced significant growth, in the past 20 years and that hold at least $350 million Read more

Staying Connected: How Five Foundations Understand Those They Seek to Help

FavoriteCEP’s 2016 report, The Future of Foundation Philanthropy, finds that foundation leaders believe learning from the experiences of those they are ultimately trying to help holds a great deal of promise for increasing foundation impact in the coming decades. But CEP research also shows that both funders and grantees alike don’t always see this learning happening.

Understanding & Sharing What Works: The State of Foundation Practice

FavoriteAssessing the performance of a foundation is notoriously challenging, but it is crucial to learning and improvement. How well do foundation leaders believe they understand what is and isn’t working in their foundation’s programmatic efforts? How are they building that understanding? What information are they choosing to share with others? To answer these questions,  the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) surveyed and conducted in-depth interviews with private and community foundation leaders regarding what they know about what is and isn’t working in their foundations’ efforts to achieve their goals. Based on 119 survey responses and 41 interviews, Understanding & Sharing What Read more

Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations

FavoriteIn discussions about diversity at foundations, it’s essential that the perspectives of grantees be included in the conversation. That’s why CEP turned to its Grantee Voice Panel of nonprofit leaders to learn more about how nonprofits are thinking about diversity — and how foundations can be most helpful to their grantees, if at all, when it comes to this topic. Based on survey responses of 205 leaders of nonprofit organizations with annual expenses between $100,000 and $100 million, Nonprofit Diversity Efforts: Current Practices and the Role of Foundations provides a collection of data on topics such as how diversity relates to the Read more

Bracing for a Downturn: Nonprofits, Charitable Deduction Worries, and How Foundations Can Help

FavoriteOn January 1, 2018, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect, providing significant tax reductions for both individuals and corporations and doubling the amount of the standard deduction that individuals can claim in their tax returns. How are nonprofit and foundation leaders viewing the implications of this legislation? What role can funders play in helping grantees respond to it? In January and February 2018, CEP surveyed nonprofit and foundation leaders to gain insights into these questions. Based on survey responses from 170 nonprofit CEOs and 187 foundation staff who hold the highest level of responsibility for programmatic work at Read more

Relationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success

FavoriteRelationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success sheds light on what constitutes a strong funder–grantee relationship, what nonprofits say it takes for funders to foster such relationships, and the crucial role that program officers play in the equation. The report finds that in the eyes of nonprofits, the most powerful ways that funders can strengthen their relationships with grantees are to: 1) focus on understanding grantee organizations and the context in which they work; and 2) be transparent with grantees. Less powerful, but still important to forming strong relationships, are the experiences grantees have during the selection process Read more

Benchmarking Program Officer Roles and Responsibilities

FavoriteIn this report, the Center for Effective Philanthropy shares the results of a survey conducted in mid-2016 to gain a better understanding of the role of the program officer. The report provides a comprehensive collection of benchmarking data on topics ranging from the professional and educational backgrounds of program officers, to technical information about the structure of the program officer role, to program officers’ perspectives on certain aspects of their work, such as the funder-grantee dynamic.

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.

The Future of Foundation Philanthropy: The CEO Perspective

FavoriteBased on the perspectives of more than 200 foundation CEOs collected through in-depth interviews and responses to a survey from May to June of 2016, this report captures foundation leaders’ views on challenges and concerns about the changing landscape in which they work, practices they believe to hold the most promise for helping foundations reach their potential, and the most pressing issues that will influence foundation philanthropy in the coming years.

Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices

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.

Sharing What Matters: Foundation Transparency

FavoriteCEP analyzed survey data from 145 foundation CEOs and more than 15,000 grantees and systematically reviewed more than 70 foundation websites. This report reveals that funders see grantees as the primary audiences for their transparency efforts, and both foundations and grantees believe transparency about the substance of foundation work, rather than about financial disclosures or governance, matters most to effectiveness.