U.S. Foundation Funding for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Infrastructure 2004–2015

FavoriteThere are an estimated 10 million non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide. If NGOs were a country, they’d have the fifth-largest economy in the world.¹ The nonprofit sector in the United States alone contributed more than $930 billion to the economy in 2014.² Given the volume and complexity of civil society organizations around the world, a substantial ecosystem of support organizations have emerged over time to enable, strengthen, and evolve their work. These support organizations, also known as “infrastructure organizations,” provide essential services such as strategic planning; evaluation, assessment, and feedback; board and staff development; data and research; legal services; business modeling; and support Read more

Tracking Progress: Setting, Collecting, and Reflecting on Implementation Markers

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

How we practice effective philanthropy: Resources and guides from the Hewlett Foundation

FavoriteThe Hewlett Foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group (EPG) seeks to strengthen the capacity of the foundation’s staff, its grantees and philanthropy, in general, to achieve their goals and benefit the common good. The team has staff whose roles are externally focused – making grants to strengthen nonprofits and the philanthropic sector – as well as staff whose roles are internally focused. Internally, we partner with Hewlett Foundation program staff and serve act as the foundation’s in-house experts on specific areas of philanthropic practice, such as grantmaking strategy, evaluation, progress tracking and organizational learning. Here are some useful resources related to the Read more

The Legacy of a Philanthropic Exit: Lessons From the Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Nuclear Security Initiative

Favorite This article describes how the findings of the NSI evaluation informed Hewlett’s philanthropic approach, and provides a case example of a philanthropic-initiative exit. Key considerations for monitoring and evaluation practices particular to the context of a planned exit are discussed.

cover image peers

Peer to peer: At the heart of influencing more effective philanthropy

FavoriteA Field Scan of How Foundations Use and Access Knowledge  Opportunities for funders to learn from their peers is the single most trusted source of practice knowledge for grantmakers. When staff and board members at foundations need trusted information about philanthropic practice, there’s one source that tops their list: their peers. In a new, first-of-its-kind study of how U.S. foundations access and use knowledge about effective philanthropy, most foundation staff and board members shared that they rely on their peers and colleagues, as opposed to particular organizations or publications, both as their most trusted knowledge sources and as their preferred Read more

Improving the Practice of Philanthropy

Favorite An Evaluation of the Hewlett Foundation’s Knowledge Creation and Dissemination Strategy. As part of the Hewlett Foundation’s evaluation of the $24 million it has invested to-date in knowledge creation and dissemination about philanthropic practice, the evaluation team used LearnPhilanthropy’s taxonomy to categorize the types of knowledge produced by its grantees.