Philanthropy

Funder advocacy collaboratives: Framing thoughts
Philanthropy can be complicated, and working with other funders presents additional challenges. Even so, though a foundation may prefer to work alone, more and more funders are working collaboratively.  Particularly with advocacy issues, from which most...  more
How funders can help overcome the Overhead Myth
“Among the many myths that pervade the nonprofit sector, the Overhead Myth is perhaps the most destructive,” Nell Edgington says. “It is the erroneous idea that nonprofits must keep their fundraising and administrative costs cripplingly low, which leads to anemic...  more
Ed Scott, Silicon Valley’s most effective giver
Ed Scott is not as well-known for his philanthropy as the high-profile residents of Silicon Valley like Mark Zuckerberg and eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar, but his activities are notably wide-ranging. He has a special interest in Africa but also founded the Scott...  more
To get on the same page as grantees, funders must play the same game
Foundations and the organizations they fund have the same goal, at least on the surface: alleviate suffering and foster change. And though they want to be parthers, they take vastly different approaches on the way to that goal. As one observer put it, nonprofits are...  more
For funders focusing on developing countries, impact bonds present fresh opportunities
Social impact bonds (SIBs) are attracting attention as a way to support social change and return some capital to investors. Ideally, they will invest their profits in similar vehicles as a virtuous circle. Foundations are also investing in SIBs, Emily Gustafsson...  more
Hey, donors! Here’s a shovel-ready plan for changing kids’ lives
Bridgespan Group has a big idea: Put $1 billion to work funding preschool education.  The philanthropy consultancy’s proposal, “Billion-Dollar Bets to Increase Early Childhood Development,” is tailor-made for one wealthy individual, family, or foundation who...  more
The world’s top philanthropy advisers
To give money most effectively is every philanthropist’s goal, and any way to shorten the learning curve to that point is welcome. Naturally, there are advisers who provide guidance to novice as well as experienced philanthropists. “Today,” as Tara Loader Wilkinson...  more
How donors can spread ideas to help kids
Education receives a great deal of attention and money, yet preparing children for their first years in school is shockingly underfunded. Consider that as many as 25 percent of children from low-income families are not ready for kindergarten, as J.B. Pritzker and his...  more
Wall Street philanthropy: The 6 do’s and don’ts from the trading floor
“Wall Street is having an ever-growing influence on philanthropy,” Chris Addy says. “A 2015 research paper titled ‘The Wall Street Takeover of Nonprofit Boards’ found that the percentage of nonprofit board members who come from finance has doubled since 1989.” Addy,...  more
How to give away $1 billion
It only seems like being a philanthropist should be easy. To be a truly effective philanthropist is challenging. Decisions confront would-be donors at every turn, and answers are difficult to find. Moreover, a new generation is trying to find its own way through the...  more
Slow, steady, and humble
“Don’t let anyone tell you differently: Making meaningful progress on our toughest societal challenges is extremely difficult,” Phil Buchanan says in this post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy’s (CEP) blog. “There is no magic formula. And a big ego doesn’t help...  more
Never lose sight of these bedrock fundraising truths
Nonprofit board members who are new to fundraising may find the assignment daunting, as most people likely would. Even veterans could pick up a pointer or two from fundraising consultant and author Kay Sprinkel Grace. In this blog post for GuideStar, Grace chooses...  more
Essentials of Impact Investing: A guide for small-staffed foundations
For family foundations, which often operate with just essential staff, getting involved in impact investing may be a difficult task to take on. Among private foundations, fewer than half have an impact investing program. A new guide from Arabella Advisors, Exponent...  more
Providing assistance beyond the grant: S.H. Cowell Foundation
To be an effective philanthropist, it is not enough to just write checks and hope for the best. Post-grant support of grantee organizations is as important as financial support. The Center for Effective Philanthropy is profiling funders who provide “nonmonetary...  more
We need to prove impact investing makes a difference
When a nonprofit wants to know how well its programs are doing, it measures participation and surveys participants. Analysis of the resulting data may determine the programs’ future, but if a questionnaire overlooks important factors then an apparent success may...  more
Smart donors are putting nonprofits back in charge
There is an ongoing tension in the relationship between foundations and the organizations they fund, and it may be unavoidable. To put it simply, a foundation cannot create the change it seeks without the organization and the organization cannot create that change...  more
In search of the magic formula for philanthropy
Everyone is an expert when it comes to something that looks easy, like giving away money. Yet even there, opinions vary widely. To take just one example, one side urges philanthropists to “give while you live” while the other sees nothing wrong with a foundation that...  more
Thinking outside the box: How partnerships grow a foundation’s impact
“One thing that particularly strikes me about what we do here at the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies (ACBP) is that we operate programs within the foundation; we don’t just write checks,” ACBP Program Associate Amanda Levine says. “Partnering isn’t done the...  more
Motivating boards to raise money
When Kay Grace asks nonprofit board members who really likes to ask for money, on a good day one-third raise their hands. More often, one-quarter say they do. But all is not lost. For board members who are reluctant to actively fund raise, there are several...  more
Knowledge Services for smarter philanthropy
For family foundations that may operate with limited resources it would be beneficial to have access to information about how other foundations have solved problems, what issues they have worked on, and what they are working on now. The good news is that just such a...  more
Stop (just) measuring impact, and start evaluating
After years of hearing that measurement is the most important criterion in nonprofit work, Srianth Gopa would like present an alternate point of view. It is time, he says, to look beyond measuring impact to evaluating outcomes. “While measuring impact could be a...  more
Classical music philanthropy
The dire state of the classical music recording industry is well known. CD sales are dropping every year and the major labels take on few new artists. Even so, performing organizations and individual musicians continue to prepare new works, rehearse and perform them,...  more
Keys to a methodical giving plan
“Why learn to give?” asked Summitas Expert Katherine Lorenz in her post highlighted here a few days ago. Because would-be donors need to learn how to make the most significant difference with their gift. Legal and tax issues are also important when you want to have...  more
Impact investing can help foundations avoid obsolescence
America’s philanthropic foundations are getting a new look, and shedding some of their stodgy ways. Their endowments, for example, once home to only the safest investments, are being transformed into engines of change. In this opinion piece for The Chronicle of...  more
3 steps to collaboration that tackle society’s toughest challenges
Bringing nonprofit organizations together to tackle problems is a task that foundations are well-qualified to take on. One such collaboration is Reimagine Learning, more than 100 organizations and individuals working together “to fundamentally change how learning...  more