The Keyboard Charitable Trust: Beginnings
by John Leech:The snow had begun to fall softly that February day in 1991. By early evening its loose mass became treacherous under a brittle and doubly slithery crust. The car descended the slope to the Old Banking Hall in Old Broad Street almost under its own...  more
Nonprofits need a new social contract with foundations
With the new year, changes in many aspects of American society are bound to come. Nonprofit organizations supporting conservation, human rights, and women’s health, to name just a few initiatives, will feel headwinds from Washington. Some nonprofits have reported...  more
Grants management and the foundation of the future
Experienced philanthropists know that every aspect of a foundation’s work has an impact on its effectiveness and the success of the programs it supports. There seems to be increased awareness that grantmakers and the organizations they support can both achieve more...  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
Network transformation: Can big nonprofits achieve big results?
“In an era of tech-enabled, high-growth social enterprises, it’s easy to overlook the very large, slower-growth organizations with expansive networks that have been serving children, youth, and families for a decade—or longer. But it’s these national and global...  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
For foundations, succession planning should be a high priority
“Plan ahead” was IBM’s famous motto, while the Boy Scouts reminded its members to “Be prepared.” What was good advice for corporate employees and young men is equally relevant to private foundations that have to replace an executive. “You should already have a well...  more
Report urges nonprofit boards to ‘do better’
For all the nonprofit organizations with decades-long histories, there are also those that end abruptly. New York’s City Opera had a lengthy and public end, while the Federation for Employment & Guidance Service (FEGS) collapsed in a few months and received less...  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
Funding documentaries to drive policy change
Some of the ways a philanthropist can promote social change are by supporting intervention with at-risk groups or lobbying legislators. Education is also important, and one effective means of educating the public is through film. Documentaries, whether shown on...  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
How offering an innovation prize energized our grant making
The J.M. Kaplan Fund held an open call for social entrepreneurs and found itself changed by the selection process. The foundation created the J.M.K. Innovation Prize to “seek out boldly promising ideas in the field of social-sector innovation—however untested or...  more
Art donors give to smaller nonprofits
The best place for your art donation may not be a museum—not if you want it to be seen, that is. Consider that most museums display only a small percentage of their collections and you may follow the example of the collectors who give pieces to other nonprofits. Among...  more
The prevalence and best practices of mega-gifts
“While titans of industry actively negotiate their commercial transactions, they should understand that a gift agreement requires just as much planning and deliberation as any business contract,” Julia Chu says. In this article for Wealth Management, Chu recommends...  more
Seven habits of highly ineffective foundation boards
Phil Buchanan, president of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, has seen many foundation boards at work—“dozens and dozens,” by his estimate. Some worked well and were effective, but by no means all. A few years ago, he summed up his observations in a post that...  more
The changing face of Asian philanthropy
“Asia’s young inheritors are doing things differently from their forefathers. And this includes taking a structured, professional approach to philanthropy” Tara Wilkinson says in this article for Wealth-X. “Philanthropy is an age-old tradition in Asia, but wide-scale...  more
Miriam Heatherich and First Hand: Rescuing children
The mission of Singapore-based nonprofit First Hand is protecting children, particularly disabled children from Cambodia, who are in desperate need of aid. Although the Pol Pot regime was overthrown in 1979, the damage done to the country is still being felt. “There...  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
Make advocacy a part of every board member’s duty
For a nonprofit board member, just showing up is not even close of 80 percent of the job. There is governance and fund raising, for example, and there is advocacy. Stand For Your Mission is a campaign that promotes “creating positive change through board advocacy,”...  more