Archive for the ‘Nonprofits’ Category

I spent the first day of spring 2013 fast-walking Capitol Hill with foundation colleagues from all across the country. Hundreds of us were there for Foundations on the Hill, philanthropy’s annual push to remind lawmakers why giving matters.
In brief encounters with our elected officials and their staffs, we tried to connect the dots between their [...]

Thank you, Jennifer Lentfer, for making it okay to say, “I don’t know.” Well, for encouraging us to say it more frequently, anyway.
Her Values and Evidence – Not at Odds: Seeking a Healthier Relationship with Results in International Philanthropy talk explored our preoccupation with measuring positive impact. One of our conclusions in the break-out [...]

Thomas Jefferson is often quoted as having said: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Even a man of Jefferson’s brilliance could scarcely imagine the collapse of the newspaper industry, which was [...]

It’s a little unfair to sit through a 90-minute panel and laud it for what it covered and rap it for what it missed, but in a way, that’s the challenge of sessions at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference. Listening to the discussions is a matter of looking for trends and patterns, the big [...]

Organizations working to make the world a better place have strong ambitions. They want to reduce gun violence in the wake of Sandy Hook, get Americans off the couch and active, and keep children safe from climate change. These groups need to wield influence to succeed—not in a Machiavellian way but [...]

This is post is part of an ongoing impact investing series on RE: Philanthropy.
In recent years, I have championed the potential of impact investing to unlock new forms and sources of capital for the social sector. But financial capital is just one piece of the puzzle. Through my work at the Rockefeller Foundation and more [...]

Living inside the Washington beltway must be a profoundly disorienting experience. Maybe there’s something in the Potomac River, maybe it’s just too much time in the world’s most self-absorbed echo chamber, or maybe it’s just the pressure of too much traffic. Honestly, I don’t know.
To continue reading this post please visit The [...]

The Connecticut Council on Philanthropy recently hosted a Creative Place Making Funders Symposium in Hartford. The day was full of innovative examples of how communities are reborn through creative partnerships.
We heard from Carol Coletta, executive director of ArtPlace, who shared inspirational stories of success in using art to re-energize, remake, and rebirth the American city. [...]

As the practice of impact investing matures, evolving from a peripheral concept to a mainstream practice, the momentum around this nascent industry is growing. At a time when governments, foundations and donors look to do more with less, impact investing offers a means to generate social and environmental value with the potential for financial returns. [...]

Dear Philanthropy Community,
I’ve been thinking about our relationship for months. I wasn’t really sure how to bring this up, because I’m really worried about offending you. Making you angry has real consequences for the kids I serve. But, as I continue in this work, I realize I also have a role in making [...]

Nonprofit charity: water recently launched its innovative, annual September Campaign, seeking to raise $1.7 million in order to bring clean, safe water to nearly 26,000 people in Rwanda. Under the leadership of founder Scott Harrison, the organization is reinventing the nonprofit model by marketing itself like a tech company, guaranteeing 100 percent of donations to funding its water [...]

What if the once-a-year “reveals” of a charity’s impact had the hype of the iPhone 5? What if millions of people blogged about program and performance upgrades developed during the past year by the most dynamic charity in the world? What if people were making viral videos and sketching out projections for a charity’s outcomes [...]

Collaborating for greater impact starts with nonprofit leaders who develop wide-reaching social networks, communicate clearly about their missions and objectives, and are flexible about how those objectives are met. Funders are uniquely positioned to recognize these leaders and create greater impact together.
This age-old concept of working together is worth revisiting, particularly when social change seems [...]

We are marking the first anniversary of Philanthropy’s Promise with a wonderful milestone: 125 leading U.S. foundations that represent a total of more than $3.37 billion in annual giving have pledged to prioritize the needs and promote the democratic participation of underserved communities such as the poor, the elderly and LGBTQ citizens.
When NCRP launched Philanthropy’s Promise [...]

With one-third of Americans still lacking broadband Internet connections at home, access to the internet is often considered an equity issue. Yet programs aimed at narrowing the digital divide may leave their strongest legacies in the areas of community and economic development.  Online access is a gateway to opportunities in education, workforce, and health, and [...]

Part 2: Collaboration
I see collaborative work and outcomes management as two sides of the same “working smarter” coin. I discussed outcomes management in my first post in this series, and my organization, Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), has embraced its importance. VPP is committed to learning from our work, and although the nonprofit partnerships we fund [...]

“The movement towards outcomes-driven philanthropy has done a lot to diminish creativity,” concluded one CEO at a recent GMA Foundations’ NPO Conversation on creativity. At this regular lunchtime forum, leaders of seven Boston-area nonprofits were asked to open up about their organization’s most creative moments, their innovation wish list for 2012, and obstacles to organizational [...]

I never imagined that I would actually be the inaugural winner of the Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award until my name was announced during the awards ceremony in Las Vegas. My immediate reaction was to make the “I Love You” sign, because love is the reason I was there in the first place. My heart [...]

If there is an epicenter of the decline of a city and its loss of an economic base, the candidates start with Detroit, where the population has plummeted 25 percent in the last decade to 714,000–this for a city whose population was 1.85 million in 1950. The city now has an extraordinarily high poverty rate, [...]

There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That’s true in life and true in philanthropy.
Grantmakers are dedicated to working with nonprofits and community organizations to address the toughest challenges. There’s no doubt that the past several years have required [...]

Recently I was sitting in Manhattan with four extraordinary women. Down the table from me was Jennifer Buffet, president and cochair of the NoVo Foundation; Catherine B. Reynolds, chair and CEO of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation; Josefina Vázquez, executive director of the Boston Women’s Fund; and Karen Osborne, president of The Osborne Group. As panelists charged with discussing [...]

“The nonprofit sector as a whole has the opportunity to harness the power of innovation to improve the quality of service delivery.” That’s one of the key findings from “Unleashing Innovation: Using Everyday Technology to Improve Nonprofit Services,” a new research report from MAP for Nonprofits funded by the ADC Foundation and researched by Idealware.
Sound [...]

What does Jeremy Lin have to do with the future of philanthropy?

When LINsanity comes to philanthropy from The Nathan Cummings Foundation on Vimeo.

I got some insight into that question recently when I joined Ruth Cummings and Jaimie Mayer Phinney, both trustees of the Nathan Cummings Foundation, at the Council on Foundation’s Family Philanthropy Conference. Ruth [...]

As community foundations become active leaders in local news and information, many are learning they don’t need to go it alone. A variety of different partnership models are emerging and they are detailed in a new report by FSG for Knight Foundation.
The report is aimed primarily at foundations entering the news and information field, but other [...]

“If we are not at the table, we run the risk of being on the menu.” How I remember that comment from last year’s Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). Sure enough, we had a close call this past season with efforts to trim the charitable deduction. This alone provides a major incentive for CMF and [...]

This post first appeared on the HBR Blog Network.
More and more, companies are building long-term commitments to corporate social responsibility (CSR). In 2012 the rise in consumer activism and mobility, the Occupy movement, 24-hour accountability (thanks to social media), and global resource depletion will force every enterprise, large and small, to make CSR a focal [...]

How do foundations make giving decisions? Hope Consulting and Guidestar have released the much-anticipated Money for Good II study (MFG II) to answer these questions.
Here is what they found about foundations-a category dominated by family foundations. Foundations research nine out of 10 grants to nonprofits for an average of four hours. Small family foundations with [...]

July was an incredibly busy month for me this year. Not only did I marry my best friend, I also started working as a volunteer teacher for Computer Community Outreach and Education (Computer CORE), a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Va.  Computer CORE is a place where low-income, (often-times) first-generation immigrant adults can learn career development [...]

In America, the debate lumbers on about the best way to coordinate the philanthropic sector and the U.S. government. Meanwhile, one post-conflict West African country has jumped right in — the Liberia Philanthropy Secretariat is the fruit of collaboration between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and private foundations. It is the world’s only national government office dedicated [...]

As lawmakers continue to wrestle with options to reduce the federal deficit, philanthropic leaders are finding themselves defending the status quo. Recently, the Senate Finance Committee received testimony from philanthropic leaders and researchers on incentives for charitable giving and options for tax reform. Although the panelists were prepared for specific questions from committee members, I [...]

In mid-2008, The Denver Foundation started to receive calls from food pantries, reporting that demand was up 20, 30, even 40 percent.
Donations? Those were flat or down. At the same time, Colorado ranked low in comparison to other states when it came to distributing food stamps to eligible families. Frontline organizations serving the hungry were [...]

I have $2.48 in my wallet right now. It’s all in change, but that change equals more than two days worth of philanthropy to GiVE 365. For $1 a day, I can help make a grant of $7,500 to build mobile skate ramps for skateboarding clinics in urban neighborhoods. I can be part of giving [...]

1. It’s “coopetition,” not competition

Coopetition combines the advantages of competition and cooperation. Match days inspire coopetition and work because you are creating one event that benefits all. They also provide nonprofits with new opportunities to engage the community and raise money at a very low cost. calculates its new donor acquisition costs at 7 [...]

We are gearing up for our third annual Give to the Max Day in Minnesota on November 16-an online “holiday” that kicks off the year-end giving season for nonprofits across the state.  As I write, my e-mail inbox is dinging, hopefully with another message from a nonprofit promoting the big day!
GiveMN is a collaborative venture [...]

After watching a high-stakes stalemate in Congress over the federal budget this summer, the philanthropic community is now preparing for a critical fight over the role of charitable giving in American society.
Since 2009, the Council on Foundations has fended off repeated efforts by the White House to cap the charitable deduction at 28 percent as [...]

Lessons on talking and not talking from the Stanford Nonprofit Management Institute …
As the autumn leaves unfurl their brilliant foliage and crisp days wane, I still get that urge to go back to school.  And here in Palo Alto, California, about 325 of us from 15 countries and 35 states are doing just that, this [...]

All funders want reliable data from their applicants so they can make informed decisions about their investments. In the arts and cultural world, foundations in 11 states are using an effective system to do just that: the Cultural Data Project (CDP) operated by The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Although the CDP is less than a decade old, [...]

When I read the description of the Rural Philanthropy Off-Site session for Sunday’s preconference, I thought, “Rural in California?  Really?  I’m from West Virginia—I know rural.”  I welcome the opportunity to learn what works in other areas of the country, so I signed up.
Sunday’s session was nothing less than great!  And guess what—I saw some [...]

Tropical Storm Irene may have seemed like a nonevent in some places, but not here in Vermont. We’re seeing firsthand the devastation left by this disaster, which is the worst flooding here since 1927. More than 160 roads were impassable, and “you can’t get there from here” was heard all across the state. Thousands of [...]

How does philanthropy meet the public? How does the public find and meet philanthropy?
Up until now, interactions between single charities and individual donors have happened accidentally, occasionally prompted by media. No comprehensive, coherent interface has existed to facilitate them.
Four obstacles have impeded public-philanthropic interaction: (1) print technology, (2) no clear definition of philanthropy; (3) confusion [...]

Representatives from Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation, J. Marion Sims Foundation, The Duke Endowment, The Spartanburg Community Foundation, The Springs Close Foundation and Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina met with Representative James Clyburn (D-SC6) at his district office in Columbia. Assistant Minority Leader Clyburn is one of 12 appointees on the new congressional [...]

Part 2: What We Did            Part 1: The Initiative
So what principles and practices did we implement? We started with realistic expectations regarding attrition. According to the “rule of halves,” at every choice point along the way a group of participants will drop in half. Thus, to achieve our participation goals, we targeted a much larger [...]

Part 1: The Initiative
Nonprofits that focus on community organizing know a thing or two about driving participation at events. So when our team led a capacity-building initiative directed at these organizations, we decided to borrow from their playbook. We learned that applying principles such as the “rule of halves” and cultivating personal connections takes time [...]

Recently, E*TRADE Financial renewed its partnership with, a nationwide, online mentoring program for at-risk middle and high school students, by providing a one-year grant of $300,000 to fund the organization’s online youth mentoring programs in low-income communities in New York City; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; San Diego; and Los Angeles.
Launched in 2000 to address the [...]

Since China’s Deng Xiaoping embraced the Open Door Policy in 1978, the Chinese economy has witnessed astonishingly rapid growth, leapfrogging Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy. Along with a vertical increase in the number of billionaires (China trails only the United States now), the number of Chinese private foundations has increased from 202 in [...]

At Venture Philanthropy Partners (VPP), we have always emphasized the board’s role in helping high-performing organizations scale. We assess the strength of the board and its leadership when we are considering investing in a nonprofit. We evaluate the working relationship between executive leadership and board leadership and assess whether organizational aspirations are aligned. We have [...]

Tooth decay-almost 100 percent of which is preventable-is the most prevalent chronic disease in children aged 5-17 and a growing phenomenon among very young children, especially those in low-income and minority households.
Poor oral health is a serious issue and can often lead to a lifetime of painful, costly medical issues and diminished educational attainment. Ten [...]

As I approach my senior year in college, I often find myself reflecting on my life, amazed at how fast the time has passed. When I tell people I am a rising senior, I am constantly asked, “What are your plans after graduation?” I am still uncertain about my future, but what I do know [...]

Today we are making a number of updates to our global software donations program designed to give more nonprofit organizations access to the technology they need, when they need it.  We’re currently reaching more than 40,000 organizations around the world each year – translating into over $3.9 billion of donated software since 1998 - but [...]

Welcome to RE: Philanthropy! In this blog, guest and Council bloggers share ideas and insights on the most pressing issues in philanthropy. If you want to contribute, please contact

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Council on Foundations.


Kate Ahern
Ruby Takanishi
Eva Nico and Rebecca Graves
Jessica Bearman
Roslyn Tam
Kelly Shipp Simone
Andres Spokoiny
John Feather
Valerie Batts
Monica Buhlig
Mark Hecker
Rosalie Nezein and Jesse Wrenn
Lisa Jordan
Sharna Goldseker
Mark Neithercut
Philip L. Cochran
Rodney McKenzie
Deborah Hoover
Ben Francisco Maulbeck
Lana Williams
M. Jeff Hamond
Julia Boyer and Danny Murphy
Kelly Brown
James Head
Susan Beaudry
Nancy Jones
Tim Walter
Jack A. Calhoun
Michelle Kalina
Melanie Coon
Jennifer Leonard
Lara Kalwinski
Marco F. Cocito-Monoc
Judy Sjostedt
Ralph Fuccillo
Fred Dedrick
Steve Delfin
Mary Phillips
Darren Sandow
Joanne Kelley
Laura Meyer
Rita L. Soronen
Oz Spies
Sue Santa
Will Heaton
Janet Brown
Larry Kutner
Hallie Preskill Mayur Patel and Charles Gasper
Susan McPherson