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The State of Global Giving by U.S. Foundations

FavoriteThis report represents the latest in a decades-long collaboration between Foundation Center and Council on Foundations to regularly analyze the data and trends on international grantmaking by U.S. foundations. In addition to a detailed analysis of funding trends by issue areas, regions, population focus, and strategies, this report also relates these trends to key events and developments during the time period, such as the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Ebola crisis in West Africa, the reversal of the global gag rule, and the increasing legal restrictions faced by civil society in countries around the world.





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Do Your Homework to Increase Grantmaking Success

FavoriteWhen funders develop new grantmaking strategies, they should dedicate time and resources to understanding the needs of the issue or population they want to help, identifying best practices and models that are already demonstrating success, and finding the right partners to help them succeed. Putnam Consulting Group gives six steps to successful funding.







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Working with Grantees

FavoriteTo many nonprofits, foundation operations are shrouded in mystery. Because prospective grantees are seeking funding from foundations, there may be a perceived power imbalance. However, building strong and effective relationships with grantees can help foundations develop new knowledge and insights into issues, and to test and scale innovative strategies. Open communication, approachability, sharing lessons learned, and collaborative evaluation are key to developing strong partnerships with grantees. Resources are free or for Council members. Data: Not Another Four Letter Word Grantmaking Application Process Resource Guide: A Grantmaking Primer Tips for Effective Grantee Relations Exiting Responsibly: Best Donor Practices in Ending Field Read more





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A Resilient Power Capital Scan

Favorite This report, one in a series of reports by Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute on advancing resilient power in low-income communities, seeks to address how foundations can best develop a portfolio of capital interventions—from grants to impact investments— that together would successfully scale up the solar+storage/resilient power market to benefit low-income populations and to advance their missions. It provides a capital scan of foundation opportunities and actions to guide foundation financial support for this market.





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35 Keys to Effective Evaluation

FavoriteAs the need for scarce grant dollars grows more intense, so does the need to make certain those dollars are spent as effectively as possible. Hence the question of how to evaluate the consequences of grant supported activities has risen to the forefront. This tool will help you make sure grant money is spent as effectively as possible and how to evaluate the consequences of grant supported activities  





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Innovations in Open Grantmaking

FavoriteThis publication seeks to provide inspiration and early proof of concept regarding innovative practices at every stage of the grantmaking process. The examples and lessons included can act as suggested guidelines for future research and experimentation around more openly and effectively providing access to public money.  









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Cultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders

FavoriteThis report argues that more money needs to go towards grassroots organizing and advocacy for the environment and climate change movements to regain momentum and win important legislative and regulatory battles. Environment and climate funders can become effective resources of a strong and successful movement for change by decreasing their reliance on national advocacy groups and increasing funding for grassroots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms.





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Bringing grantmaking in from the cold

FavoriteIncreasingly, the practice of grantmaking as a tool for bringing about social change has fallen out of favour, replaced by newer, snappier-sounding forms of philanthropy. In laying out their wares, venture philanthropy, strategic philanthropy, philanthrocapitalism and, most recently, ‘catalytic philanthropy’ have all made claims for greater effectiveness.  





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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships

FavoriteRobert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnerships provides matching grants for innovative community-based projects aimed at improving the health and health care of underserved and vulnerable populations. The premise underlying Local Funding Partnerships has remained constant over its 25 years—by collaborating with local funders instead of acting alone, RWJF could improve the health and health care of Americans, while getting a larger return on its investment.





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Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in the Gulf/Midsouth Region

FavoriteThis report looks at how 20 nonprofits in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of underserved residents in the democratic process through policy engagement. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $114 return for every dollar spent.





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Fusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

FavoriteThis report outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking.





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The Dragonfly Effect: Quick, Effective, and Powerful Ways to Use Social Media to Drive Social Change: Book Review

FavoriteThe Dragonfly Effect identifies a four-step process symbolized by the wings of the dragonfly. The metaphor does a good job of describing how these four major areas must work in tandem to give the lift needed to reach one’s goals via social media.









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Foundation Readiness for Community Transformation: Learning in Real Time

FavoriteThis article describes the internal structures and processes adopted by The Skillman Foundation to support the iterative practice of “learning and doing” in the first phase of a rapidly evolving, ambitious community change enterprise in six Detroit neighborhoods. The foundation created a “learning team” that used a program logic model and other evaluation and learning mechanisms to foster ongoing candid discussion and build capacity to work in new ways. Although it is still a work in progress, logic model thinking is leading to greater clarity about the activities and intended results.





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Measuring the Impacts of Advocacy and Community Organizing: Application of a Methodology and Initial Findings

FavoriteA tool for measuring impact can reduce the barriers to funding advocacy and policy work. The tool draws upon the literature on evaluating advocacy and organizing, social capital building efforts, and return on investment approaches to evaluation. The tool was applied in two sites, where funders found it useful to understand advocacy impacts and learn how advocacy can enhance their grantmaking goals.





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Setting the Table for a Sustainable and Just Food System

FavoriteThe Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Food Policy (DLSFP) initiative sought to build the advocacy capacity of ten people of color led organizations to address food and agriculture systems issues and broaden the diversity of the sustainable agriculture and food movement. Describes some of the findings of the initiative such as: limited civic and leadership capacities of their constituencies, lack of inclusiveness into the agricultural food sector. The lessons learned from the initiative suggest a new theoretical model for building advocacy in people of color-led organizations.





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Tools to Support Public Policy Grantmaking

FavoriteThis article provides guidance on how foundations can frame, focus, and advance efforts to achieve public policy reforms. Five essential steps for developing public policy strategy are described: choosing the public policy goal, understanding the challenges, identifying influential audiences, determining how far those audiences must move, and deciding how to move them.