Articles of Interest

Legacy

4 Foundations to Philanthropy: Listen More and Speak Less. For experiencedScreen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.27.38 PM nonprofit leaders, the good news is not in the findings themselves, but in that they are being offered by foundation leaders, who are beginning to recognize that much of the responsibility for change lies on their shoulders. Still, unintended consequences loom. Read more…
 

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.42.08 PMCSR: A Strategic Imperative for Long-Term Value. The material impact that CSR initiatives have on corporate performance has resulted in a sea of change. CSR has evolved from simple corporate giving and employee volunteer programs into comprehensive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) programs that integrate sustainability into business strategyStudy after study shows that the financial benefits of CSR are significant. Read more…

Legacy Foundation and Risk Taking: Different Approaches to EmpoweredScreen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.34.17 PM Philanthropy. For the last decade or so, the philanthropic sector has been struggling to adapt to changing external conditions and by extension reckoning with its very purpose. What makes this sector unique is not that it wrestles with these questions, but that such a large segment of it struggles to align practice with purpose. For instance, according to a recent study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, fully two-thirds of foundation CEOs believe it is possible for foundations to make a significant difference in society — but few think they are actually doing it. Why? Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.50.21 PMSocial Purpose as a Place of Competition — Yes or No? Companies, if they are genuine about their goal to become a responsible business, should look at the whole spectrum of their operations and impacts and look to address all of them. Social purpose can deliver a competitive advantage…and it might make us lose focus on delivering real impacts. Read more…

Failing Forward: The Importance of Course Correction. Underlying mostScreen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.55.16 PM grantmakers’ strategies are a set of assumptions that guide implementation. These assumptions are laid out early in the development of the strategyand are based on a combination of current context, data, and hunches about how the work will unfold. Here are four “fail forward” examples of our mistaken assumptions and subsequent corrective actions, which funders of all stripes planning and implementing strategies may find insightful. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-09-25 at 4.58.02 PMThe Promise of Skills-Based Volunteering. One of the fastest-growing corporate citizenship programs is skills-based volunteering — in which a team of corporate employees works for an extended period of time to help a nonprofit solve a complex operational problem. The benefits of the program for both parties are clear, but it’s also tougher to implement than many initially think. Read more…

Demystifying the Theory of Change Process. The idea that nonprofits should developtheory of change a theory of change has been widely embraced in recent years, and funders have helped drive the momentum. In fact, many funders now require that nonprofits submit a theory of change document with grant requests. But funder demand is certainly not the only reason to engage in the process. Developing a theory of change really is a means of assuring that your organization is actually doing the right things in the right ways. Follow these five steps. Read more…

Donor Intent: Building a Legacy of Impact Through Partnerships. Donor intent matters. A bevy of articles, consultants, and examples are available on how to craft donor intent statements 

partnershipsand how to communicate them. Whatever the content and form, they should be dynamic, reciprocal learning tools that engage family members and beneficiaries. Extreme care needs to be applied so donor intent is not a one-way, power relationship. At its best and most effective, it is a shared connection that embodies cooperation, mutual exchange, and honest give-and-take. Read more…

Can Shareholders Sue CEOs For Corporate Social Activism? 
In The Wall Street Journal on August 17th, Jon L. Pritchett and Ed Tiryakian had the following message for shareholders: “Our message to small shareholders of companies like Starbucks, Merck and Target: You can sue when a CEO decides to institute a corporate social-responsibility program that has no benefit to the business.  If you want to ensure shareholder primacy is protected, keep your legal options open.”  Read more…
 
Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.06.05 PMShared Gifting: Shifting Funding Power to Nonprofits. When nonprofits dole out grant money to peers, the result is a transformative experience that fosters innovation, collaboration, and learning. They challenge traditional power dynamics, and demonstrate how the act of giving a gift can transform relationships and create new value through the process of giving it away. Read more…

 

Creating Value with a Strong Brand and Reputation. The interaction between a company’s bottom line, its environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, and the way customers view both its product and its people is complex. Figuring out the right mix may be demanding at times. If you get it right, the rewards are more than worth the effort. Read more…

 

nonprofit boardHow to Succeed on a Nonprofit Board. Serving on a nonprofit board is immensely rewarding, and everyone should consider doing it. But the rewards come only to those who participate fully and use all they’ve got to further the missions they really believe in. Great board members ask who, what, when, where, how, how much, and why? Read more…

 

10 Foundation Activities that Call for Additional Care. Private foundation trustees and staff percautionsoversee countless activities, from setting direction and selecting grantees to reviewing policies and investing assets. Several foundation tasks — some mandatory, some voluntary — call for additional care. All are worth your careful consideration to help you be financially savvy and legally compliant, and to help you take full advantage of your foundation’s flexibility. Read more…
 
Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 6.35.01 PMGeneral Support and Myths about New Funders. There are a lot of statements made about “new” donors and how they differ from more “established,” older ones. Some are probably true. Many, alas, are myths. It’s not about new donors versus old. It’s about what it takes to achieve your goals. And more funders, new and old and in between, need to recognize that strengthening organizations strengthens impact. Read more…

 

new ideas

You can Discern and Inspire Promising New Ideas — Before Anyone Else. Many foundations avoid being the first funder of new initiatives. For the Blackstone Ranch Institute, being first-in is often the ultimate sweet spot. For over a decade, this found
ation has been placing early philanthropic investments in a broad range of new initiatives in the environment and sustainability fields. Read more… 

Five Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Grantees. Behind the numbers in The Center for Effective Philanthropy recently released Benchmarking Program Officer Roles and Responsibilities report you can almost hear program officers crying out: “We want to build and maintain strong relationships with our grantees, but we need more time and resources to be able to do it!” We all know that strong relationships with grantees are important for productive partnerships that lead to greater impact. But when it comes down to it, do foundations really walk the walk? Read more…
 
PatiencePatient Philanthropy: How a Small Foundation Got Big Results. Philanthropy often seems to be reinventing itself. Strategic plans are undertaken; old priorities get restated; new buzzwords develop. While there is an ongoing argument about how much this kind of churn may actually help the ultimate beneficiaries, a small foundation doesn’t often take the time or budget for that kind of contemplation. Yet small size can enable a certain flexibility and responsiveness that can drive change perhaps even more effectively than the most competent big budget efforts. Read more…

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What CSR Can Learn from Other Business Functions: An Outside-In Perspective. Thereare fundamental holes in how CSR, as a business function, is managed. This article outlines some of these challenges and what CSR practitioners can begin to do to move forward. There are 3 fundamental issues in CSR today: (1) The illusion of siloes; (2) Lack of accountability; and (3) Obtuse mental models. Read more…

 

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.49.38 PMTime to Reboot Grantmaking. Social sector organizations need a “healthy diet” of funding to achieve maximum impact. Nonprofits need to build strong foundational capabilities. Non-profits need organizational resilience based on financial health. Read more…
It’s Clear, Social Investment Drives Business Value. A myth has long lingered in the private Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 9.45.49 PMsector- the bottom line can only be driven by company-centered investments and business strategy Today, however, the conversation has shifted from company-centered to stakeholder-centered, from bottom-line to triple-bottom line. And as CSR becomes more deeply integrated into core business strategy, a clear fact is emerging: Profit and Purpose should NOT be divorced. Read more…

Morton Friedman

Off the hook with Milton Friedman. Nearly fifty years ago, Milton Friedman published a polemic, an article that altered the way many people think about corporations and their role in society. Countless writers have explained why it’s poorly reasoned, dangerous and wrong. (Including business school deans, Harvard Business Review and Fortune). Read more…

 

Unleashing Large-Scale Change. The current political moment has attracted activists at Changeunprecedented levels. For those who seek to convert initial engagement into meaningful social change, the question is how do we increase and sustain it? There are eight characteristics that are usually present when large numbers of people join together to make the world measurably better. Read more…

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2017 Cone Communications CSR Study. 2017 will be remembered as the year that corporate social responsibility (CSR) was redefined. Although CSR will always be grounded in business operations – from water conservation to supply chain transparency – recently, the stakes have gotten a lot higher. Companies must now share not only what they stand for, but what they stand up for. Read more…

Friend or Foe? Philanthropy Should Welcome New Styles of Giving. One point within a friend or foerecent philanthropy debate that incited passion — and perhaps frustration — was a discussion about the ways in which this new set of donors seek to engage with grantees. The perspective shared by Dr. Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was that these high net-worth donors often seek to become subject area experts on the issues they’re addressing, they desire a deep level of engagement with the leadership of the nonprofit organizations that they support and they are willing to make larger grants and take significant risks. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-06-20 at 7.50.15 AMShow Me: Why Your Data Should Be Seen (and Not Just Read). Let’s talk about data. Nonprofit organizations are lousy with it – participant data, program data, financial data, sales data, fundraising data. Nonprofits are drinking from a fire hose and the water pressure is building. We are scrambling just to find enough bandwidth to store our data. And like secretive hoarders, we are reluctant to admit how little of this data we actually use. Read more… 

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Benchmarking Data on Foundation Program Officers. The role of program officer atfoundations is an important one – especially to the grantees whose experiences with funders are greatly shaped by their interactions and relationships with their program officers. Yet, relatively little is known about the intricacies of the program officer role. What are program officers’ backgrounds? On which responsibilities do they spend more of their time? How do they think of their relationships with grantees? Read more… 

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 2.43.06 PMRisk Culture and Risk Management in Philanthropy. The Rockefeller Foundation and Arabella Advisors recently published a white paper entitled, “Risk Management for Philanthropy: A Toolkit.”The report reminds us that the most fundamental aspects of risk management lies within the funder-grant recipient relationship, and the primary barrier to successful risk management is the lack of transparency and trust between funders and nonprofits. A useful lesson for any type of organization and its stakeholders. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-05-20 at 2.47.26 PMAgainst “Big Bets.” Strategic philanthropy should reject the latest fad of large grants in favor of long-term steadfast commitments to the many organizations making progress on our most important problems. It is not about pushing lots of cash out the door while looking for speedy results, but about becoming part of and helping to nurture an ecosystem of grantees, beneficiaries, and other funders whose efforts, cumulatively and over time, help make progress. Read more…

skill based volunteering

A Whole Lot of Good: Making the Case for More Pro Bono and Skills-Based Volunteering in the Workplace. What if, instead, it was a “yes, and” scenario, whereby employees focused on their work, yes, and focused on using their skills and expertise to drive change? Just imagine the ripple effects – think of the impact on the employees, the company, and our global society.We can shape the future we want by bringing more societal engagement into the workplace, leveraging our companies’ unique resources, and taking action for good. Read more… 

building relationships

From the Mouths of Funders and Nonprofits: 20 Ways to Build Better Relationships. Morethan 200 funders and nonprofits participated in candid conversations in Los Angeles and San Francisco in early May to describe what a great funder-nonprofit relationship looks and feels like. Both funders and nonprofits expressed similar characteristics that contribute to true partnerships. Read more…

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Shifting Winds: Foundations Respond to New Political Context. A recent study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy reveals that the reactions and responses of U.S. foundations to the recent shift in national political context vary widely, but most foundations are changing their practices or shifting their emphases. This report provides a snapshot  of foundations at this moment in time that is helpful to funders as they consider how their own work may or may not be affected by changes in Washington, D.C. Read more…

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Barriers to Funder Collaboration and the Will to Overcome Them. Anythoughtful observer of philanthropy will note that, when working on stubborn societal problems, no single actor-even the wealthiest of foundations-can accomplish much by itself. This is both a historical fact and a present day reality. Foundation leaders know the social sector needs more and better collaboration for impact, but four barriers often get in the way. Read more…

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Systems Thinking: A View from the Trenches. In recent years, systems thinking — a discipline that helps us understand interdependent structures of dynamic systems — has emerged as a powerful force for change in the philanthropic world. Borne out of the realization that significant and sustainable social change requires more than discrete interventions, systems thinking has become de rigueur for any foundation looking to create impact at scale. But what does systems thinking and change look like in the trenches? Read more…

Why Foundations Should Reconsider Warren Buffett’s Advice. It is a risky proposition to warren buffetttake issue with any advice offered by Warren Buffet. Clearly, for a foundation to continue making a positive impact toward its stated mission in perpetuity, investment gains are a necessary component to support operations and grantmaking. When considering investment options for a foundation’s endowment, fees should absolutely be a factor, and index funds are a low-cost option. But index funds largely replicate the broader markets and hold hundreds of securities. As a result, mission alignment is nearly impossible through these passive strategies. Read more…

sabbaticalMy “Mission Sabbatical” and Why Your Foundation Needs One Too. I went on “sabbatical!” I was still working every day, but my wonderful board gave me “mission time.” Yes, you heard correctly. I was given 3 months to think about our foundation’s mission, its work, and our processes. I’m convinced that other foundations must follow suit, because it is so healthful to a single-staffed organization like mine. Read more…

Solving the World’s Biggest Problems: Better Philanthropy Through Systems Systems ChangeChange. It’s one of the perennial questions facing the nonprofit world: Why, despite the sector’s collective resources and best efforts, do so many social problems remain so persistent? This stubborn gap between intentions and outcomes is drawing increased attention from across the philanthropic community. Many within the sector are coming to a shared conclusion: For too long, nonprofit boards and donors have emphasized the creation and growth of long-life organizations with ever-growing staffs and budgets. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.35.07 PM3 Ways Businesses Can Help Struggling Nonprofits. How would you like to be in PBS’ or Meals on Wheels’ shoes right now? These two organizations alone stand to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding if U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget passes. Many other nonprofits face funding cuts as well. Those not yet affected by cutbacks are scared they’ll be next. Here are three suggestions on how businesses can step up right now to support the missions of worthy organizations. Read more…

What is Behind Great Funder-Nonprofit Relationships? Often in the complex funder-relationshipsnonprofit relationship, it seems nonprofits do the asking, reporting, and proving, while donors sit in positions to say yes or no, how much, when, and what’s required. Achieving a different, deeper relationship takes more than just good intentions — it takes flexibility, finesse, and a sincere desire to acknowledge and address the power dynamics at play. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.10.11 PMThe CSR Effect: Social Media Sentiment and the Impact on Brands. When companies contribute their time, talent, and financial support to communities, they strengthen their brands as well. That’s why the U.S. Chamber Foundation partnered with IBM on a breakthrough analysis of social sentiment as it relates to the practice of corporate citizenship. This first-of-its-kind study demonstrated conclusively that engagement in corporate social responsibility (CSR) does impact an organization’s reputation — in some surprising ways. Read more…

What Role Should Philanthropy Play in Local Communities? What obligations – if anyScreen Shot 2017-04-24 at 12.02.08 PMdo foundations and new donors have to local communities in which they are based? And what role should they play in addressing rising income inequality? Many would argue that the issues donors care about – often a personal decision – should be the only determinant of a foundation’s grantmaking. Read more…

Arriving at 100% for Mission. Now What? The mission at the Heron Foundation is to help goalpeople and communities help themselves out of poverty. Their strategy calls for us to address root causes and invest in organizations poised to help us achieve our mission, regardless of sector or tax status. Back in 2012, the Foundation determined that the challenges they were trying to address demanded every resource they could muster. So they decided to invest 100 percent of their endowment towards fulfilling its mission, by fiscal year end 2017. Read more…

A Date Certain: Lessons from Limited Life Foundations. The limited life approach in Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 2.36.23 PMphilanthropy has received increased attention in recent years. But across foundations, perpetuity is often still seen to be the default, and there is considerable uncertainty about the practice of spending down. The Center for Effective Philanthropy conducted in-depth interviews with leaders of 11 limited life foundations to learn the ways in which they grapple with several important issues along their journey to pursuing their goals in a finite period of time. Read more…

bill gatesNew Report Examines Risk in Philanthropy Through Two Lenses. Risk is the likelihood of an undesirable outcome. Every action includes an element of risk. Philanthropy is no exception to this rule. In fact, charitable donations – because they seek to solve seemingly intractable problems – are often referred to as society’s ultimate “risk capital.” Bill Gates has said, “Philanthropy should be taking much bigger risks than business.” Read more…

Adding Value: 3 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Grants. We have come to think of Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 9.48.53 AMour grants as investments, similar to those we make in the financial markets. When we invest in a new organization or idea we are, in effect, venture investors. Like our counterparts in the financial marketplace, we can usually add value by giving our grantee something in addition to money. The idea of adding value seems good. But there are at least two competing policy considerations. Read more…

Screen Shot 2017-03-22 at 9.55.12 AMThe Civic Media Crisis and What Philanthropy Can Do. The media, civil society, and democracy are under unprecedented duress around the world. It is important to see these phenomena as interconnected-to understand that the decline of the civic media poses a threat to civil society and, ultimately, to the democratic process itself. And it’s vital that philanthropy responds to this threat. Read more…

This Is Not a Normal Grant Cycle Or A Time to Wait And See. Donors with a wide not normalvariety of political beliefs and philanthropic missions have reached out to express their concerns. They see that the diversity they have championed, the social safety net they have built, the environment they have preserved, and the American values they have defended are now at grave risk. This is a time for donors to resist the temptation to treat our current trajectory as the new normal. Now is a time to act. Here are five things donors resisting the direction our president is taking America should do. Read more…
complex issuesPhilanthropy & Complex Problems: Being Real, Stepping Into Leadership. In the wake of the recent election campaign, I’ve been thinking about our country being divided, and things being “stuck.” We know that by collaborating we could accomplish big things, but we still don’t come together. Sometimes it seems like humanity, in the words of one popular songwriter, is a “bunch of whining, fighting shmoes.” The important work of many small funders-to build opportunity, promote health, reduce hunger and suffering, and protect the environment-is often undercut or compromised by disagreements between competing factions. Read more…
Speaking Truth to Power. On many occasions over these years, this funder has made Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 8.42.58 PMmistakes and fallen short. When he has, he has always been grateful for the caring individuals who are willing – even courageous enough – to tell him so. However, these kinds of frank, honest conversations are too rare. Because of the inherent power dynamic, between foundation and nonprofits, he lives with a nagging suspicion that people won’t tell him what they really think out of fear of curtailing the prospect of securing the foundation’s resources. Read more…
Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.32.17 PMCorporate Social Responsibility for a Data Age. Proprietary data can help improve and save lives, but fully harnessing its potential will require a cultural transformation in the way companies, governments, and other organizations treat and act on dataRead more…
Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.40.41 PMPeer to Peer: At the Heart of Influencing More Effective Philanthropy. A new study of how foundations access and use knowledge for effective philanthropy found that foundation leaders are more likely to go to their peers when gathering information. Read more…
Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.46.57 PMIs CSR Changing Business? New Angles and Early Strategies are launching a pioneering study to investigate whether the past decade’s intensive activity in Corporate Social Responsibility has produced change in the way companies do business. This research will provide new insight into how managers perceive CSR and sustainability, and how CSR has changed the organizations they work for. It seeks to understand managers’ challenges to incorporate CSR in business and the impacts they think are already noticeable. Read more…
Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 7.56.19 PMNew Report Details Shifts in Foundation Operations. More small-staffed foundations are engaging in activities beyond traditional grantmaking, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2017 Foundation Operations and Management Report released yesterday. The only study that captures benchmarks for foundations that operate with few or no staff, which comprise the vast majority of the philanthropy sector, the report details trends in foundation grantmaking, operations, investments, and governance. Read more…
Berkshire BankDeepening Engagement: The Road Map to 100%. Earlier this year, Berkshire Bank announced a 100% participation rate in its corporate employee volunteer program. The secret sauce or silver bullet to double or even triple participation in your program doesn’t exist. Are you looking for a collection of best practices, tips and my insights on what it takes to improve participation (and impact)? Read more…
canibalization
The Cost of Collaboration Can Be Brutal — And Edible. What keeps this author up at night? He has nightmares about cannibals. It’s not a phobia. It’s a perfectly reasonable and realistic fear in the nonprofit sector. Read more…
CSR TrScreen Shot 2017-01-25 at 3.59.55 PMends in 2017. Tim McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation predicts this year’s top CSR trends. He is up front about the fact that 2017 seems like a particular difficult year to make predictions, given the recent Presidential election, the Brexit vote and continuing turmoil across the world. Read more…
Why Major Philanthropists Are Giving More Money to Just One Cause. Private funders Big Betsare ramping up their efforts to help tackle several social and environmental challenges facing the U.S., including conservation, immigration, and education reform. It takes a bold commitment to confront some of the world’s most intractable social problems. And while big bets don’t always yield big advances, small bets rarely do. Read more…
Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 4.15.31 PMBuilding Fundraising Capacity Means Changing Organizational Culture. Over the past six years, the Eugene & Agnes E. Meyer Foundation has supported 28 organizations  in adopting the Benevon approach. Those organizations have raised $7.1 million from individual donors — much of it in the form of multi-year pledges. In simple terms, that represents a tenfold return on the Foundation’s investment of $650,000. And that return will compound as donors continue to give in future years. While pleased with the results, the Foundation has also learned some important lessons about their role in building fundraising capacity — lessons that will shape their future work and can help inform how other grantmakers might approach building fundraising capacity. Read more…
Corner Office Sustainability Passions Get Trapped at the Top. A new report from Bain & reportCompany, Achieving Breakthrough Results in Sustainability, that only 2 percent of corporate sustainability programs achieve or exceed their aims, compared to 12 percent of other corporate transformation programs…despite the fact that many CEOs want to play a positive role in environmental stewardship and social development. Read more… 
Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 5.02.07 PMWhy Our Community Foundation Partners With State Legislators to Improve Policies and Address Needs. A foundation describes its experience leading a policy briefing on foster care for legislative staffers. More than 75 staffers from some of the most influential senators and representatives had gathered to learn what they could do to improve policies impacting the most vulnerable children in Texas. They were not lobbying. They were educating their state legislators about the real conditions in their districts and about solutions that have been tested with their private dollars. Read more…
To Increase Impact, Foundations Must Leverage Our Privilege. From Stuart Comstock-Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 5.18.19 PMGay, President and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation: “It’s clear from The Future of Foundation Philanthropy that I’m not the only person to point out the incredible privilege of working in a foundation.We have the luxury of sitting back on a lofty perch where, merely by dint of our position, we are assumed to be smarter than we probably are, and are given more deference than we probably deserve.” Read more…
Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 5.29.19 PMTrust Is Essential to Changemaking; Funders Must Take the First Step. The lack of trust between funder and grantee remains one of the biggest barriers to impact in philanthropy. Without open, honest conversations, funders can’t learn what nonprofits really need to deliver outcomes desired by funders, grantees, and most of all-people and communities in need. Read more…
Eliminating Implicit Bias in Grantmaking Practice. Some of philanthropy’s core practices may implicit-biasunwittingly be leading funders to perpetuate the inequities they’re trying to eliminate. In their effort to ensure that grant dollars go toward effective organizations, many philanthropists have adopted grantmaking practices that can actually perpetuate the unequal distribution of funds. Read more…
social-issuesTaking a Stand: How Corporations Speak Out on Social Issues. Major corporations are facing growing pressure to weigh in on social issues — and this pressure is coming from both internal and external sources. The nonpartisan Public Affairs Council conducted a survey of major corporations to better understand how and why companies speak out on social issues such as discrimination, the environment, human rights and access to quality education. Learn more about which issues companies are advocating for and what specific actions they have taken. Read more…
Aligning Funders’ Good Intentions with Nonprofits’ Real Needs. The time is right for fundersscreen-shot-2016-12-13-at-4-35-37-pm to reconsider how they can make the most of the dollars they invest in grantee leadership development, but they must start by better understanding the leadership challenges nonprofits face. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-4-39-04-pmA Practical Guide to Help Companies Measure the Social Return of their Pro Bono Service Programs. Companies want to do good for their nonprofit partners through their pro bono programming. But, many companies know that they need an improved approach to social impact measurement to better assess the value of their services. Taproot Foundation and True Impact recognized the lack of pro bono program measurement standards and common confusion over how to measure the effects of pro bono service. Together, with support from Mastercard, they demystified this issue by developing a practical guide for corporate social responsibility (CSR) professionals. This new resource will help corporate pro bono practitioners seize opportunities to better tell the story of their impact on the nonprofits they serve, validate their investment, and continuously improve their offeringsRead more… 
A Decade of Boom for Philanthropy, A Bust for Social Justice. A new National Community for screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-4-44-05-pmResponsive Philanthropy report finds that philanthropy did not respond adequately to the needs of underserved communities in the wake of the Great Recession of 2008In the decade that included the worst global economic crisis in 70 years, America’s philanthropic sector ballooned. Foundation assets grew by 70 percent; the charitable American upper classes channeled almost half a trillion dollars to their coffers. And America’s marginalized communities saw what little wealth and stability they had hollowed out. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-5-01-28-pmFoundation CEO Angst: Moral Imperatives and Insomnia. More than two-thirds of the CEOs of large, staffed foundations in the United States believe foundations have the potential to make a significant difference in society. That’s the good (and perhaps hardly surprising) news in a new report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). But there is bad news, too, and some may find it more surprising. A much smaller proportion – just 13 percent – of the 167 foundation CEOs responding to a survey we fielded believe that foundations are making a significant difference today. Instead, most characterize the current difference foundations make as “moderate” and cite a number of barriers that impede foundation impact. Read more…
Turbulence Ahead: 10 Questions for Nonprofit Boards to Urgently Ask and Answer. screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-5-08-18-pmGood governance and effective, efficient management are never more important than when facing a sudden or impending period of instability. As we head into a transition of the presidency, we will surely see substantive changes to our operating environments. Is your board on point? Boards must take these next few weeks and months to consider the what-ifs — not in a fright-filled way, but as an organizational stress test. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-06-38-pmThe Business ROI of Social Investing. ACCP and IO Sustainability just launched a landmark initiative to help companies identify how corporate social responsibility (CSR) supports both the financial bottom line and social objectives. The initiative focuses on developing tools that enable managers to structure social investments to deliver measurable benefits for the business and society; determining which investments will deliver strategic value; and measuring results. Read more…
Here’s How Philanthropy Can Bridge America’s Political Divide. How does philanthropy figure intopolitical-divide this campaign season? Over the past decade, foundations across the political spectrum have embraced the notion of “strategic philanthropy,” tying funding to specific societal goals. It is of course logical to devote resources toward desired outcomes. However, organized philanthropy can magnify and sustain societal divisions. While many organizations espouse a bipartisan ideal, most institutions approach bipartisanship as either a separate project disconnected from their policy priorities or as a tactic of last resort designed to increase support for their desired positions. Read more…

screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-27-28-pmSo You Want to Become a More Intentional Learning Foundation?  For those foundations that are building out a new learning and evaluation function, Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices, the new research report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy and Center for Evaluation Innovation, is a welcome resource. Here is some advice for those foundations beginning this organizational change journey: (1) Know your history; (2) Link strategy, learning and evaluation; (3) Set a priority for… Read more…

World’s Largest Companies Seeing Financial Performance Aligned with Social Responsibility. screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-35-05-pm The link between a company’s business strategy and their engagement with society is ever more vital, as are the people within the company leading this connection. With the growing recognition that long-term business performance is tied to social responsibility, companies are allocating bigger budgets to the community engagement team, elevating giving officer roles and responsibilities, and ensuring that both employees and customers are able to show their commitment to giving back through the brand. Read more… 
moneyLet’s Talk About My Money. Hiding my wealth in social justice circles has become exhausting. My feelings swing from indignation born of imagined judgments of me, to heavy guilt and the desire to divest our personal portfolio of all that is harmful as if to make the money clean. At the cost of being judged and condemned, I’ve decided I will not be less than who I am. Read more…
There’s No Such Thing as Nonprofit Sustainability. I’ve worked as a foundation exnonprofit-sustainabilityecutive, senior program officer, and advisor to foundations for the past several eons. I’ve reviewed hundreds of proposals, recommended tens of millions of dollars in funding, developed grant strategies and evaluations, and partnered with public and private funders of all shapes and sizes. And through it all, the illusion of nonprofit sustainability persists. I own up to being guilty of contributing to this illusion, and I think it’s about time to bust the myth. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-8-57-28-pmVoices of Board Chairs: A National Study on the Perspectives of Nonprofit Board Chairs. There is relatively little research that investigates the topic of nonprofit board chair leadership, but this role is pivotal in many organizations. It helps to structure, uphold, and revise the container for dialogue and disciplines for managing conversation, and to establish the atmosphere for deliberation. This takes a measure of sophistication as well as self-awareness regarding the match between one’s own personal leadership characteristics and the needs of the board, the organization, and the community served. But do nonprofits honor this leverage point with the attention it deserves? Maybe not. Read more…
Four Approaches to Nonprofit Sustainability. Insights from nonprofits that have effectively adapted their work over time can help other organizations screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-11-16-pmthink creatively and develop a strong strategic plan. Learn about four possible approaches employed by other organizations that might help build your organization’s brand, breathe new energy into the organization, and access new sources of funding — all in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way. Read more… 
screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-17-29-pmThree Ways to Get People to Read Your Corporate Responsibility Report. Your employees, consumers, shareholders and others are demanding more corporate responsibility (CR) information from companies, but they probably aren’t reading your CR report. As expectations continue to increase around transparency and responsibility, there remains a disconnect. Although 88 percent of global consumers say they want companies to tell them what they’re doing to operate more responsibly, only 25 percent report they’ve read a CR report in 2015. This article provides three tips to increase engagement, accessibility and relevancy of your next report. Read more…
inclusivity
A Call for Inclusvie Entrepreneurship. Philanthropy needs to support more community-driven solutions, not just Ivy League ones. Some foundations are already taking the lead to promote funding of off-the-grid social entrepreneurs. Support starts with promoting equity in the search for grantees. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-30-58-pmGrants Management and the Foundation of the Future. When grantmakers think about their funding strategy, we often focus on where we will give, to what, and to whom. We think about the results we want our funding to spark or enable. But strategy is supported (or not) by operations: the way in which grantmaking programs are structured and how grants are introduced, applied for, screened, decided, made, monitored, reported upon, assessed, and learned from. These funder practices are what we call “the how.” Read more…
The GRI reporting framework is changing. What do you need to know? Measuring and screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-41-17-pmevaluating corporate citizenship efforts are critical steps in managing and improving programs. Increasingly, your stakeholders expect that the results of corporate citizenship investments can be quantified. Careful planning and evaluation can strengthen corporate citizenship performance, and deliver benefits such as improved reputation, higher employee engagement, and better resource management.  Read more…
screen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-50-32-pmPrivilege is a Blind Spot that We Need to Recognize and Confront to Do Philanthropy Well. Privilege can be a barrier to good philanthropy in a number of ways and it often shows up as attempts to do for instead of with those most affected. In order to do philanthropy well, we must work hard to recognize and confront privilege. Read more…
Study Finds that Corporate Sponsorships Negatively Impact Nonprofit Brands.When wescreen-shot-2016-09-18-at-4-54-11-pm think of the intersection of corporate philanthropy and brand, we typically think about the positive benefits companies receive through their commitments to community development or enrichment projects. However, a recent study conducted by researchers from Kings College and Vlerick Business School suggests that corporate branding of social initiatives might also have unintended, negative impact on the nonprofit recipients themselves. Read more…
A Corporate assumptions Giving Challenge: Check Your Assumptions, Change Your Approach, Increase Your Odds of Success. The release of Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, brought encouraging news: at an estimated $373.25 billion, charitable donations hit a record for the second year in a row. That amounts to more than $1 billion a day contributed to charitable causes by America’s individuals, corporations and foundations. The impact corporate giving had on that total is explored in this guest post. Readers might be surprised to learn some long-held assumptions aren’t backed up by the report’s data. Read more…
owning-powerOwning Power in the Social Sector. A flux of power structures over time reflects the social sector’s underlying discomfort with power, which makes sense given that social sector organizations view the abuse of power as the cause of many injustices they aim to eliminate. This discomfort shows up culturally as an unstated belief that only the “many,” not the “few,” should exercise power. Those working in the sector are thus caught between job descriptions that require the use of power and an organizational culture that distrusts it. Read more…
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Priorities, Vision and Back-Casting: Keys to CSR Strategy. Understanding your company’s business strategy is essential if your corporate citizenship programs are to be more than a “nice to have” and your C-suite is going to commit. It is a process that is not about predicting the future, but rather creating it. Read more…
screen-shot-2016-08-22-at-8-02-21-pmPutting Grantees at the Center of Philanthropy. Research shows that grantmakers that are more connected to their grantees-those that have an ear to the ground-are more likely to provide the support that nonprofits need to be successful; they are five times as likely to offer capacity-building support and two times as likely to offer multiyear support. We also know that tapping the knowledge and perspective of grantees and community members builds trust and helps shape more-effective solutions.This new series, produced in partnership with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, explores why and how grantee inclusion is key to effective philanthropy, from both the funder and nonprofit perspectives. Read the first two parts:

Effective Marketing Tips for Your Corporate Philanthropy Programs. Marketing is missing-ingredientobviously a very important aspect of business, yet few entities do an effective job of leveraging it for corporate philanthropy programs. For some reason, the idea of exposing philanthropy seems awkward and forced to many – but do not let this scare you. The value of corporate philanthropies, while often started for the purpose of enjoying tax breaks, extends far beyond financial benefits. Want to know the missing ingredient to success? Read more…

screen-shot-2016-08-22-at-8-13-21-pmWhen Innovation Goes Wrong. Efforts by social enterprises to develop novel interventions receive a great deal of attention. Yet these organizations often stumble when it comes to turning innovation into impact. As a result, they fail to achieve their full potential. Here’s a guide to diagnosing and preventing several “pathologies” that underlie this failure. Read more…

Ready to ACT? 3 Steps to EffectiveFoundation Communications. An effective screen-shot-2016-08-22-at-8-22-07-pmcommunications strategy can amplify a foundation’s impact by lifting up the successes of its grantees and other partners, elevating the causes that matter most to the organization, and connecting ideas, people, and resources around a common purpose. Every foundation, regardless of the size, can read the rewards of integrating a strategic communications approach into its mission. Three steps can help foundations ACT on an impactful communications plan. Read more…

collaborate-or-competeCollaborate or Compete? When it Comes to Corporate Responsibility, How about Both? We would all like to think that companies collaborate on social responsibility –after all, combining the resources of corporations can increase the impact they can have on social issues. And for the most part, they do. But, let’s not sugarcoat this, companies use their corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts as a source of competitive advantage. And, as CSR rises in importance, the competition over being responsible is heating up. Read more…

screen-shot-2016-07-23-at-7-30-50-pmIn Case of Emergency. In the nonprofit sector, unpredictability is a fact of life. There are a variety of ways in which unexpected circumstances can stall or halt a project. Nonprofits and their funders need to plan for  and budget for — unforeseen events that can disrupt worthy projects. Read more…

skepticismCorporate Philanthropy: Totals Up, Skepticism Down? “Corporate philanthropy” may sound like an oxymoron to some, yet according to a Fortune article, twenty Fortune 500 companies are demonstrating that deep private-sector investment in charitable causes might not be so farfetched. As giving totals across all funding sources increase, the nonprofit sector as a whole remains reliant on its loyal individual benefactors, while gaining confidence that their corporate friends will continue to stick around.  Read more… 

screen-shot-2016-07-23-at-7-59-32-pmUp for Debate: Pay-What-It-Takes Philanthropy. A new grantmaking approach is needed — one that provides enough money for nonprofits to pay for all their operations, not just programs and servicesThe first step toward achieving that is for grantmakers to realize that different types of nonprofits have different cost structuresRead more…

screen-shot-2016-07-23-at-8-08-15-pmReporting on Meaningful Change. In the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that the efforts of the public and private sectors are inextricably linked. To meet ambitious social and environmental targets, progress must be tracked and evaluated by all the estates and actors of society. It is clear in contemporary society that most stakeholders see companies as the actors that have the resources, know-how, and efficiency to achieve the social and environmental improvements necessary. Read more…

screen-shot-2016-07-23-at-8-16-11-pmStronger Nonprofits, Stronger Communities. The nonprofit sector is a vital partner in building healthy, vibrant, stable communities where businesses and people can be successful. Across the nation, local nonprofit organizations are working every day to strengthen communities, provide critical services, and advance the causes of equality and opportunity for all. Read more…
owning-powerOwning Power in the Social Sector. Power has a mixed history in the social sector. Early on, many organizations addressing issues like poverty, health, or the environment adopted internal processes that reflected the inclusion and collaboration they sought to create in the world. Today, many of these organizations are modifying their structures as they shift power from headquarters to their staff in the regions and communities where they work. Read more…
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What Big (and not-so-big) Donors Can Learn from Philanthropy, Bloomberg Style. If you have been in the nonprofit sector long enough, you may have noticed that as the Baby Boomer generation ages, the face of philanthropy and giving is undergoing a dramatic shift in the connection between donors and their philanthropic gifts. Spoiler alert-they are more connected than ever. Read more…
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.22.30 PMDemonstrate Your Value Through Strategic Measurement. When done right, corporate citizenship is a serious investment of money, resources, and time. To ensure that your CSR programs continue to receive the funding and attention they deserve, you must be able to demonstrate-to your leaders, your partners, and broader stakeholders-the return on that investment, or the ROI. What do your efforts offer the business? How do they advance the missions of your nonprofit partners? How are they benefiting your employees, customers, and shareholders? Read more…
High Engagement Funders & Strong Funder-Grantee Relationships. One of the many Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.26.13 PMapproaches funders choose to build strong relationships with grantees is one identified as “high-touch” or “high-engagement.” This can entail closer and more active relationships with grantees, iterative and time-consuming grant processes, highly detailed plans for the funded work, capacity assessments, intensive evaluation requirements, and more. It’s an approach often associated with venture philanthropists, but really it’s used by a wide variety of self-identified strategic funders, or simply in the context of funders providing large, multi-year grants. Read more…
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.31.19 PMCorporate Citizenship Reporting Advances ESG Issues and Your Business. Today’s corporate citizenship reports are more engaging and relevant, and are communicating the positive environmental, social, governance, and business value that companies are creating. A corporate citizenship report was once a nice to have; now approximately 93 percent of the Global 250 issue them. Read more…
OverheadDemanding that Nonprofits Not Pay for Overhead is Preventing Them from Doing Good. A new report from Bridgespan, a consulting firm for nonprofits and Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.36.35 PMphilanthropists, says not supporting indirect costs is incredibly damaging. The result is a “starvation cycle” in which foundations are crippling the outfits they’re trying to support. In the commercial world, investors have come to expect that companies in different spaces require different overhead. There is no boilerplate expense sheet. That’s a lesson nonprofit funders have failed to learn. Read more…
Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 6.45.38 PMFor Sunsetting Foundations, a Limited Life but a Perpetual Contribution. There was a time when families who were establishing private foundations rarely thought about an end to the foundation. They assumed what they had created would last (as intended) in perpetuity from generation to generation. What they discovered, as John D. Rockefeller observed years ago, is that “perpetuity is a very long time.” Read more…
CorporatScreen Shot 2016-05-19 at 8.40.26 PMe Citizenship Impact Extends Beyond a Company’s Headquarters. A company’s corporate citizenship impact extends beyond its headquarters. To address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues effectively, CSR professionals today must look beyond their own operations and deep into their supply chain. Read more…
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12 Common Criticisms of Philanthropy — and Some Answers.
Critics have argued that charitable giving isn’t focused enough on the poor, isn’t sufficient to make a difference, is undemocratic, and more, but research — and history — show otherwise. Read more…

5 Issues Foundations Must Confront to Stay Relevant.
What it takes for a foundation to be Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.07.33 PMeffective is difficult to master, yet timeless. At the same time, however, there are current trends that foundation leaders and boards must pay attention to if they want to be as effective as possible. In this essay, Big Issues, Many Questions, CEP President Phil Buchanan explores the five most pressing issues facing U.S. foundations in 2016. From growing dissatisfaction with the so-called establishment to embracing collaboration and aligned action, these are the trends that foundation CEOs and boards cannot overlook or ignore. Read more…
Screen Shot 2016-05-19 at 9.50.10 PMHow Philanthropy Can Address Barriers to Social Mobility. New research has provided greater insight into the inter-related factors that create barriers to upward mobility for low-income people, including how access to higher education, racial inequality and structural racism, and the neighborhood in which you live affect your socioeconomic trajectory. But how do we address these barriers and create effective ladders of mobility out of poverty? How do we find and implement solutions that will work? Read more…
There’s No Such Thing as Nonprofit Sustainability. Change — real change — takes time. We sustainabilityface long arcs of work to tackle problems, and the illusion in the sustainability conversation hampers our collective work. And through it all, the illusion of nonprofit sustainability persists. In this article, Jeffrey M. Glebocki owns up to being guilty of contributing to this illusion, and he thinks it’s about time to bust the myth. Read more…

CSRLooking Good by Doing Good. Hundreds of studies have evaluated the link between “doing good” socially and “doing well” financially. Many firms and managers continue to underinvest in doing good. Meanwhile, there is an oft overlooked factor that can enhance the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility: media attention. Learn about four ways corporate philanthropists can do better by their beneficiaries – and themselves. Read more…

Three Shifts Toward Changing Philanthropy’s Advocacy Narrative. Advocacy is the single most Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.31.45 PMeffective strategy to achieve social impact. Without advocacy, achieving real social transformation is not possible. It provides both the scale and pathway to implement the solutions foundations fund. Focusing on possibilities and changing the narrative is imperative for advancing social change. Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.51.35 PMWhat’s the Best Way for Your Business to Give Back? Learn how a start-up company used the most powerful tool they had to combat inequality for people living with disabilities: entrepreneurship. They have seen an incredible outpouring of support for their mission. Learn about how they have harnessed the power of Corporate Social Responsibility to create and cultivate support for their company’s calling. Read more…

For Foundations, Succession Planning Should Be a High Priority. If you sit on a Board of succession planningDirectors, should you wait until you are formally notified to start thinking about how you would go about replacing your foundation’s president? Rational thinking would say don’t wait. You should already have a well-considered plan in place to deal with both planned and emergency departures. By taking the time to establish a succession plan, the Board can ensure that an organization remains unharmed by either the anticipated or unexpected loss or retirement of a key leader. Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 7.12.39 PMVolunteer Projects Engage Employees and the Community. In corporate volunteerism, a company’s employees and retirees work together with local young students and residents to revitalize a community in need. Schools are cleaned up, fresh flowerbeds are planted in parks and colorful murals are painted in children’s play areas. But there is more to the project than the short-term satisfaction of people from different backgrounds working together for a day. Mentoring relationships and future volunteer collaborations are born. Read more…

The Lazy Funder’s Guide to High-Yield Philanthropy. You can do a lot with a small team and still lazy fundermaintain a high standard. It doesn’t necessarily require a combination of brilliant systems and preternatural instincts, but mostly it’s simply about sticking to a set of core practices that have evolved over time. The good news is that these same practices are available to anyone looking for the optimal impact-to-effort ratio. Read more….

What Might Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 7.28.01 PM“Transformative Transparency” Look Like? As a funder, being clear about grant guidelines and grant decisions means that grantees understand your rules and how to play by them in order to get the money. That’s a purely transactional relationship. Take it a step further, and say that your foundation is also very transparent about a specific initiative it funds. You’ve had many conversations with stakeholders as you shaped the initiative, and you’ve gone above and beyond to include their input in the design of your new program. That’s laudable, but it’s still a transactional kind of transparency. They helped to build it, but you own it – and ultimately, it’s still a relationship in which you make the rules. Read more…

A Must-Read: Risk Management for Government-Funded Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.51.17 PMNonprofits. This article provides a concise and clear description of the frailties of government-funded nonprofits. It includes two calls for action: one for better advocacy to protect the health of nonprofits contracted with government, and one for execs and board members to educate themselves about the financial dynamics of the enterprise they are guiding. Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.54.53 PMSurvey Says: Foundations Should Improve Transparency.  A new study by the Center for Effective Philanthropy analyzing survey data from 145 foundation CEOs and more than 15,000 grantees on the transparency of foundations reveals that most believe that grantmakers could become more effective and credible if they were more open to the public about their failures and shortcomings. A shortage of staff and resources to focus on such efforts were cited as deterrents to full transparency.  Read more…

AmEx Foundation President Discusses the Millennial Loyalty ChallengeTim McClimon, millennialspresident of the American Express Foundation, examines the challenges facing many CSR professionals today in keep millennial leaders engaged. Forbes says that the future of our work industries lies in inspiring Millennials. But it’s hard to do when many are busy planning their job exits. Read more… 

 

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 6.11.03 PMSystems Grantmaking: Make Real Change Happen. Solving today’s pressing problems requires impacting the bigger picture – the systems we live and work in. Management Assistance Group and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations have assembled this guide of powerful tools and resources to help you make real change. Read more…

Sparks Fly on E Street: Radical Change in the Future of CSR. Who knew that there is a e street bandcorrelation between Bruce Springsteen and CSR? This article argues that companies make CSR partnerships almost exclusively with charities and nonprofits, and insists that this must change. The author suggests that we must base corporate social investment decisions on outcomes, not on tax status. Read more….

How a New Generation of Business Leaders Views Philanthropy. Today, business leaders are not only trying to addressScreen Shot 2016-03-22 at 6.20.11 PM community and global problems earlier in their lives; they are also questioning the traditional divide between commerce and philanthropy. The author conducted a number of interviews, and a few themes emerged: invest for impact in both non- and for-profits, measure results (but not at the expense of taking risk), and shape your existing business around social good. Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 6.17.56 PMEvaluating Grantees: Learning from a Top Performing Funder. One funder’s unusual reporting and evaluation system is proving very helpful to grantees. Spoiler alert: it’s all about letting the grantees choose metrics and being really engaged. Read more…
Matching Programs as a Way to Leverage Impact. From the Lancaster County Community Foundation: We discovered that matching programs Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 9.03.24 PMcan really work. We also learned that how we structure the matching program matters. And so when we took this approach and applied it to our current initiative, the “Ah-Ha Project: Creative Solutions to Real Programs,” we used what we learned through our pilot program to build in an ongoing evaluation channel. Read more…
The Modern Marriage Between Tech Philanthropy and Nonprofits. It’s a modern relationsScreen Shot 2016-02-21 at 6.30.18 PMhip in a modern world. It’s a marriage full of promise. But does our culture’s celebration of the male-dominated tech world end up overshadowing critical skills like empathy that are required for social change? Read more…
Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.39.45 PMCould Giving Circles Rebuild Philanthropy from the Bottom Up? At a time when conventional philanthropy is being criticized for being distant, overly hierarchical, and out of touch with grassroots realities, giving circles might provide some of the building blocks of a healthier and more effective system of funding for social change. But is this really true?  Read more…
64% of CEOs Are Increasing Investment in CSR in 2016. In a newly-released survey from Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.48.28 PMPricewaterhouseCoopers, 64 percent of global CEO respondents cited corporate social responsibility as “core to their business rather than being a standalone program.” The report also shows that CEOs think of social responsibility as key to attracting the most talent and garnering greater trust.  Read more….
Supporting a Foundation’s Move Towards Unrestricted Support. In 2012, only 23% of all grantmaking dollars consisted of general operating support. Last year, CEP’s advisory services team had the Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 8.58.37 PMopportunity to help a funder with a major grantmaking change: a shift to provide more organizations with longer, larger, general operating support grants. CEP shared insights from other grantmakers who had undergone similar processes as the funder moved through the internal conversations and implementation challenges accompanying such a transition. Read more…

Six Family Philanthropy Trends to Watch in 2016.  The National Center for Family Philanthropy presents six family philanthropy trends to look Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.45.24 PMout for in 2016. There is an expectation to focus even more on impact, a growth in transitional forms of philanthropy, and a louder voice from Millennials. Read more…

AmEx2016 Trends in Corporate Social Responsibility. Tim McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation, shares his 2016 predictions for CSR trends. His forecast includes CSR going from voluntary to required; companies will focus on materiality assessments; and the continued ambiguity around for-profit and non-profit models to give money away. A philanthropist’s dilemma! Read more…

collaborationSupporting Nonprofit Collaboration: Helping Your Grantees Accomplish More Together. Funders are uniquely positioned to cultivate and support nonprofit collaborations. This article explores what makes a successful nonprofit collaboration, and specific ways in which funders can be supportive. Spoiler alert: It’s hard! Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.29.06 AMThree Stakeholder Groups, Three Stakeholder Strategies. Read how EY, Salesforce, and Northwestern Mutual create strategic corporate citizenship programs by engaging three core audiences: customers, employees, and communities. The engagement process helps companies determine the issues for which they are most likely to be held responsible, those that are associated with their business in the minds of their customers and critics alike – and those they are most suited to address. Read more…

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.23.03 AMNew Report Details How Foundations Create Change. Exponent Philanthropy released their 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report, detailing how foundations work to create change, and the seven strategies their members use to bring about outsized impact, resulting in more than a single dollar’s worth of impact. Read more….

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What Money Can BuyThe New Yorker dives deeper into Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation’s big decision to move their focus toward tackling inequality. “There is a lot going on at the Ford Foundation,” [Walker] declared. “So fasten your seat belts!”  Read more…

Integrating Sustainability for Maximum Business and Social Value. Environmental sustainability is a critical business issue for companies Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 7.13.06 PMacross the globe. As businesses are often seen as some of the greatest contributors to pollution, waste, and environmental problems, they are increasingly pressured to not just reduce waste or use less energy, but to develop sustainable practices and policies that will preserve and even improve the environments around them. Read more…

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The First National Benchmark Survey of Family Foundations. The National Center for Family Philanthropy has released the results of a survey conducted with the Urban Institute on trends among family foundations. The report uses survey results of a representative sample of 2,500 family foundations. Read more…
The Power of Shared Purpose: A Core Concept of Extraordinary Small Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 7.18.23 PMNonprofits. Size and impact are not always correlated as far as nonprofits are concerned. There is always something impressive about a small nonprofit that punches well above its weight class. What creates that kind of magic? Read more…
Report Indicates How Corporate Giving Connects to Overall Business Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 6.58.27 PMStrategy. The 2015 Community Involvement Study conducted by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship finds that nearly all companies have a community involvement strategy or are in the process of setting one up. The most effective are those that align their programs with overall business objectives-bringing the unique skills and expertise of employees to bear on some of society’s toughest challenges. Nearly 90% of the companies that measure the connection between volunteer participation and employee engagement found a positive correlation between participation and engagement scores. Read more…
High Visibility, High Reward: Transparency in Foundations. From Rob DiLeonardi: “After 27 years in foundation philanthropy, I’ve been blessed Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 7.02.50 PMwith the opportunity to learn firsthand some important lessons, and today I share a key one: Publishing your guidelines, and generally being transparent about your grantmaking process, will save you time, energy, and money, and increase the impact of your giving.” Read more….
Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 7.07.53 PMYou Want Nonprofits to Act More Like Businesses? Then Treat Us As Such. If funders and donors and society want nonprofits to be like businesses, Nonprofit with Balls suggests that nonprofits need significant funding investments, faster decisions from funders, the acceptance of risks and failures, among other things. Read more…
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Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2016. Philanthropy wonk Lucy Bernholz’s seventh annual forecast for philanthropy and the social economy is out. The Blueprint provides an overview of the current landscape, points to major trends, and directs your attention to horizons where you can expect some important breakthroughs in the coming year. Read more….

Reshaping the Business of the Board: Grantpickers or Strategic Thinkers? If the job of the foundation board is to oversee strategy and determine the effectiveness of the Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.05.51 PMorganization in achieving its goals, isn’t it also the board’s job to pick the right grantees? Probably not. For large foundations that want to achieve big audacious goals, selecting individual grantees is probably not the best use of their wisdom. Therein lies one of the strange dichotomies of foundation board governance — a tension that has to be carefully managed by foundation CEOs. Read more…

With the Nonprofit Community, Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder. I just Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.12.47 PMreturned to the U.S. after five years of living in Singapore and working with philanthropists and NGOs across Asia. As I resettle and reconnect, friends ask how I’ve changed since I left. While there are many things I learned in Asia, I am overwhelmed by how much I missed the “nonprofit-ness” of the U.S. I missed the way the third sector in the U.S. is understood to be a vibrant part of society. I missed the way nonprofits create public spaces for caring, inclusion, and recovery. Read more…

Corporate Citizenship Measurement and Progress. Corporate citizenship professionals are becoming increasingly adept at tying CSR programs to overall business strategy, Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.20.23 PMcreating programs that make the most of their employees’ unique skills and their companies’ products and services, and tackling the problems that are most relevant to their stakeholders and operating contexts. In this way, they are addressing environmental, social, and governance issues while contributing to important business goals. To ensure that they are efficiently investing their time, skills, and financial resources, effective CSR professionals are relying on careful measurement and evaluation tactics. Read more…

BenchScreen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.32.10 PMmarking Foundation Governance. The Center for Effective Philanthropy released a report, Benchmarking Foundation Governance, that shares data on topics related to foundation boards – including composition, member expertise, structure, involvement, and characteristics of meetings based on survey responses from CEOs at 64 private, U.S.-based foundations giving at least $10 million annually. Read more…

Achieving a Circular Economy: How the Private Sector is ReimScreen Shot 2015-11-15 at 8.43.22 PMagining the Future of Business. Companies are actively pursuing alternative approaches to the take-make-waste model that decouple economic growth from resource constraints–such as the circular economy. This concept has captured the attention of many companies that see the economic opportunities of a viable model to successfully tackle sustainability challenges; drive performance competitiveness, and innovation; and stimulate economic growth and development. Read more….

Five Guidelines for Successful Funder Collaborations. What does it take to assemble funder roundtableand manage a successful collaboration among philanthropic funders? It’s a timely question as more funders pursue collaboration to address complex social problems. The “good governance” agenda pursued by California Forward and Climateworks’ emphasis on collective action to address climate change are just two examples. Now the Packard Foundation shares lessons on how funders can work together to amplify their resources and impact. Read more…

Is Playing It Cool Holding Us Back in Philanthropy? We have all heard the warning: In philanthropy, following the heart will lead you astray. follow-your-heart-printHunger, homelessness, children who lack opportunity, disasters, etc., all touch us deeply. And we give to organizations that have served us. But before long, the dollars and attention get used up. Year after year we give, and needs don’t seem to go away; some only get bigger. We are counseled to do smarter, more educated giving. But are we also limiting ourselves? Read more….

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Foundation CEOs as Artful Jugglers. Wondering about the unique challenges of being a foundation CEO? Fay Twersky, director of the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a member of the Center for Effective Philanthropy Board of Directors, found that the CEOs she interviewed tended to say that, upon looking back, they felt they had under-invested their time and energy in creating a “healthy organization.”  Read more…

The Philanthropy of a Corporate Cheat: Volkswagen. If you’ve been the Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 5.34.54 PMbeneficiary of philanthropic support from Volkswagen, the news that the company has brazenly lied — for several years — to car-buyers, the public, and the U.S. government as a whole about the emissions levels of its diesel cars might make you question exactly what Volkswagen was trying to achieve with its corporate giving. Read more…

MistakeThe Importance of a Funder’s Humility. A funder questions if he and his colleagues sometimes lose sight of what is most important in philanthropy. Maybe there needs to be more focus on grantees, and a better understanding of what their partners need in order to thrive. Read more…

Securing a Sustainable Supply Chain: Lessons from CSR Research.  A Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 5.46.41 PMcompany’s corporate citizenship impact extends beyond its headquarters.  To address environmental, social, and governance issues effectively, CSR professionals must look beyond their own operations and deep into their supply chain. How and where are materials sourced? How are the components of products developed? What are the environmental and human rights ramifications of those processes? Social issues  can only be effectively tackled when a company’s commitments to corporate citizenship and reporting are adopted by their suppliers and partners. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-10-20 at 5.50.09 PMThe Source Codes of Foundation Culture. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has released a new publication, The Source Codes of Foundation Culture, a resource exploring the organizational culture of foundations and what it takes to modify the values and practices deeply ingrained in their work. Funders can use this document to support conversations among board and staff members to articulate and understand the origins of organizational assumptions, examine beliefs and behaviors, and identify aspects of culture that drive or impede effective work.  Read more…

The Building Blocks of Corporate Reputation. Some boards may be better building blockspositioned to navigate complex environmental issues and prioritize the long-term benefits of environmental performance. Firms with larger, more independent boards, comprised of directors that have specialized knowledge of potential environmental impacts (CEOs of other companies, lawyers), have better environmental performance. Read more…

Nonprofit Board Service Should Be Accompanied By Donations. Service on nonprofit boards provides business executives and professionals with a unique opporScreen Shot 2015-10-20 at 6.29.21 PMtunity to develop as leaders. In fact, nonprofit board service is the ultimate experience in ethics, accountability, leadership, group dynamics, crisis management and communications. On a nonprofit board, board members engage around a mission of common interest to imagine and achieve the organization’s greater potential together with the CEO. But the question of whether companies should be supporting these nonprofits financially as well is often a challenging one. Read more…

What is Your Investment Yielding for Your Company and Your Cause? Are thScreen Shot 2015-08-20 at 8.42.35 PMere bad corporate citizenship programs?  Aesop said that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.  Whether your company is in the very beginning stages of corporate giving, or you have developed a sophisticated corporate citizenship program with integrated ESG (environmental, social and governance) impact metrics, every investment is an opportunity to start a virtuous cycle. Read more…

Why Every Philanthropist Should be Active on Twitter. The Ruderman Family twitterFoundation explains how to get closer to your target audience in order to practice sound philanthropy. Spending more time with the end-users of your dollars and getting to know their challenges can result in making a bigger difference. Read more…

Corporate Citizenship Efforts Improve Consumer Perception & ReputationBrand. When consumers perceive a company’s corporate citizenship efforts to be robust and focused on stakeholder well-being, instead of just company well-being, they are more likely to view a company’s product positively and use the product more. (Note: To read the full article requires a small payment to the American Marketing Association.) Read more…

MacArthur and Ford Foundations Diverge on Strategy. The Chronicle of Philanthropy divergerecently took a look at how two major foundations – The Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation -are taking very different new approaches to their grantmaking. Read more…

Trends from The Global Reporting Initiative: Value, Digital, and Ethics. The cScreen Shot 2015-08-23 at 8.22.12 AMorporate citizenship reporting space continues to evolve through voluntary and regulatory pressures. The Boston Center for Corporate Citizenship is encouraging companies across the globe to take an active role in shaping recently identified trends for the benefit of businesses, communities, and the planet. Read more…

barriersFive Barriers to Focus and Ways to Push Past Them. It’s not easy for funders to hone in on a giving focus and yet it is one of the most fundamental steps to take toward fulfilling philanthropy. Focus lies at the intersection of values and passions, community needs and the unique dollar and non-dollar resources. This article provides ways to overcome some of the barriers to finding your focus. Read more…

Rethinking Endowment Spending Rates within a Foundation. Endowment spendendowmenting rates are at the heart of every foundation and should hold deep connections to mission alignment, values, and governance. The “norm” for spending rates is five percent, but this article questions whether that is enough in order for foundations to invest in research as well as build infrastructure and internal capacity. Read more…

Rural Philanthropy Is Still Underfunded. Despite receiving attention from the Council on Foundations and the federal government, a new report releasScreen Shot 2015-07-22 at 9.14.48 AMed by USDA reveals that there is still a need to boost rural philanthropy. Rick Cohen of The Nonprofit Quarterly suggests that this could be a public policy issue (and opportunity), not just a matter of persuading foundations to do more. Read more…

Communicating Social Impact Stresses the Need to Publicize CSR Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.27.53 AMPrograms. If Corporate Social Responsibility is really going to make an impact on a business, as well as on society, a company’s social policies and impacts must be effectively communicated. This is the premise of Communicating Social Impact, a new report that presents the findings of a 12-company research working group convened by The Conference Board.   Read more…

Today’s Problems Need 3-Sector Solutions. The lines between government, nonprofits and business are increasingly blurring Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.33.41 AMand, in some cases, vanishing altogether. As David Miller of The Denver Foundation points out, there was a time when the distinctions among the private, public and nonprofit sectors were clear and distinct, but those days are gone. Read more…

In Search of the Magic Formula for Philanthropy. Foundations are most effective Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.38.36 AMwhen they match their approaches to their goals and to the contexts in which they are working, driven by a focused logic about what could lead to what. And let’s remember that progress will rarely come easily. Read more… 

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.52.54 AMJetBlue Moves People. JetBlue’s mission is to inspire humanity, and to achieve it they begin with their crewmembers — the company’s term for its employees. By listening and acting strategically, the airline has developed corporate citizenship programs that effectively drive crewmember engagement; now the next step is increasing awareness externally. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.58.20 AMActionable Approaches for Grantmakers. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ newest publication, Learning Together, examines open learning and evaluation practices among grantees, other funders, community members, government agencies and more, along with some informative case studies. Read more…

Ever Wonder Who Is Your Most Important Corporate Citizen Client? Leaders must be sure that every person in their company is cScreen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.34.50 PMontributing to a corporate citizenship strategy that helps to deliver business value and social value. This article advises companies on the most essential business strategy and supports the priorities that are most central to-and most affected by-company operations. Read more…

Improving Relationships Between Grantmakers and Their Grantees. Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.36.36 PMFoundations are tackling increasingly complex challenges with sophisticated models for both grant giving and evaluation. While most foundations make good faith efforts to resolve grant-related difficulties, there remains the simultaneous accumulation of less flattering grantee perceptions. The Center for Effective Philanthropy offers some advice on how to improve the relationship between grantmakers and their grantees. Read more…

Philanthropy Surges 5.4% to Record $358 Billion, Says ‘Giving USA.’  AccordiScreen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.38.08 PMng to the newly released 2015 Giving USA: Annual Report on Philanthropy, charitable giving is estimated to have risen to a record $358.4 billion last year.  That means that the 2009-to-2014 recession recovery is the fastest on record in the past 40 years. Read more…

ChalScreen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.42.38 PMlenging the Orthodoxies of Philanthropy. Are traditional assumptions about how we “do” philanthropy preventing us from finding new and better ways of working? As the world around philanthropy changes rapidly, it’s important to consciously examine the orthodoxies that guide practice and determine whether these old assumptions are still valid, and whether we ought to carry them forward or flip them on their heads-partially or completely. Read more…

6 Ways to Champion Change Within Your Foundation. If you are looking to catalyze change at your foundation, this article can championhelp you explore how your fellow trustees and staff can champion change successfully from the inside out. Read more…

4 Rules to Make You Smarter, Your Networks Stronger, and Your CSR Programs Better. The principles described are not unique. They are the underpinnings of Design Thinking — chScreen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.45.58 PMampioned by IDEO — and Appreciative Inquiry, taught widely at the Carroll School of Management. The approach encourages innovation and creativity and is particularly relevant to the field of corporate citizenship. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-06-21 at 8.47.36 PMHow Should Community Foundations Define ‘Community?’ Emmett Carson, CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, provides a thoughtful examination of fundamental questions facing U.S. community foundations today. Acknowledging that a key characteristic of community foundations is their leadership and civic engagement within their stated geographies, Emmett explores how these institutions are engaging with donors who have a wide range of interests in diverse geographic areas. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 9.17.43 PMFoundations are Engaging in Impact Investing & Negative Screening. The Center for Effective Philanthropy has released their new report entitled, “Investing and Social Impact: Practices of Private Foundations.” The report analyzes responses from CEOs of large private foundations on their current state of operations. Read more…

 

What Happens When You Google “Social Innovation?” What comes to mind when social innovationyou try to do a quick word association with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? Philanthropy, Volunteering, Accountability, Reporting, Sustainability, and maybe the Triple Bottom Line – these are the usual suspects. But what about Shared Value? Read more…

 

data qualityData Quality Can Help Further Philanthropy’s Mission. Corporate philanthropy has a dual mission of pursuing public welfare and supporting the values of parent corporations. Assessing the alignment of philanthropic activities with these missions can be challenging, but today’s data-rich environment provides prospects for meeting that challenge. Taking advantage of these opportunities requires access to high-quality data. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 9.11.42 AMA Helpful Guidebook for Nonprofits (Regardless of Your Location!) The Colorado Nonprofit Association recently released “Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Colorado.” This guidebook is a support mechanism to enable nonprofits to address issues of capacity and accountability as they strive to build the foundation for true mission achievement. Read more…

Nonprofits (aScreen Shot 2015-04-19 at 12.08.53 PMnd Foundations) Want More Data But Need More Resources. The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) has released a new report, entitled Assessing to Achieve High Performance: What Nonprofits are Doing and How Foundations Can Help, which aims to understand more about which nonprofits are assessing performance, how they are approaching this work, and what they are looking for from their funders to support it. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of it comes back to data. Read more…

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A Response to the CEP Study: A Call to Rethink How We Support Grantees. After digging into the CEP report (see above), the Director of Research, Evaluation and Strategic Learning at The Colorado Trust asks: Can we as foundations commit to providing not only operating support, but enough operating support for nonprofits to improve and enhance their evaluation work? We need to ask critical questions of grantees: what are your evaluation questions? What do you want to know to improve your work? How will you use these results? Read more…

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Impact Investing Can Help Foundations Avoid Obsolescence. The intersection of private wealth and public accountability is getting more complicated, prompting many in the foundation world to operate in new ways – and with approaches that could eventually turn the entire way philanthropy operates upside down. Read more…

What’s the Best Way to Engage, Aid, and Support Your Community? PhilanthropyScreen Shot 2015-04-19 at 12.18.34 PM and community engagement have become integral parts of business, but there are many ways and means by which companies can organize and manage such efforts. Read more…

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 12.35.20 PMBuild an Effective CSR Strategy. During a recent conversation, a member of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship mentioned that they felt their strategy was frozen in place.  They wanted to know: How do other companies thaw out their corporate citizenship strategy each year? How do they keep it from getting frozen in the first place? Read more…

The Top Five Most Promising Trends in Philanthropy. Impact investinewtrendsng is seen as the most promising trend by most philanthropists. But did you know that the Middle East stands out by giving the highest ranking to philanthropy aimed at eliminating the root cause of a problem instead of alleviating symptoms? Read more…

Three Questions and ACTIONS for Envisioning a Better Corporate Citizen Strategy. “Be a surfer. Watch the ocean. Figure out where the big waves are breaking and adjust accordingly,” wroSurfer for articlete Jason Fried and David Hansson, founders of internet company 37 Signals, when asked to describe their approach to strategy. As you scan the corporate citizenship ocean, what big waves do you see? These three questions and actions can help identify your company’s big corporate citizenship “waves.”  Read more…

In Pursuit of Better Outcomes Through Transparency-Fueled Adaptability. If you’re a small foundation aiming to achieve greater philanthropic impact, Plan A and Plan Btransparency can be a tool to drive impact through better project management and improved grantee relationships: transparency for adaptability rather than accountability. Read more…

The Civic 50: A Roadmap for Corporate Community EngagemeScreen Shot 2015-03-16 at 5.02.40 PMnt in America.  This report identified the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States each year and showcases examples of how companies use their time, skills, and other resources to improve the quality of life in their communities. Read more…

Reconstructing Philanthropy from the Outside In. A funder-to-funder take on how to create breakthrough social change. Read more…

A Framework for Successful Corporate Citizenship. The most successful corporate citizens invest in more than compelling programs. What sets these companies apart? Read more…

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