I enjoyed presenting at a great session, “Small Grants, Big Difference,” during last week’s Council on Foundations Annual Conference with Daniel Tillias of Pax Christi Sakala in Haiti; Kate Ahern of the Case Foundation; and Monica LaBiche Brown of Water for People. It was great that 75 or more people came to our session because [...]
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 [...]
Russell Conwell was a motivational speaker at the turn of the 20th century who had a famous talk called “Acres of Diamonds” that he allegedly delivered 6,000 times. The talk began with a story about an ancient Arab—Ali Hafed—who longed to find a diamond mine so that he could influence the world with his riches. [...]
Having moved from London to New York just two weeks earlier, I walked into the Council on Foundatons’ day-long global preconference session with trepidation; would I remember what my organization did? Would the other attendees groan when they realised I was a fundraiser? Would they understand my funny English?
The day launched into a discussion on [...]
I had a great time at the Council’s Annual Conference in Chicago. There were so many highlights and packed workshops, especially the lunch plenary featuring the mayors of Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.
One thing that made it especially fun was the cool new app sponsored by the Knight Foundation. When I first downloaded it, I [...]
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 was seemingly straightforward. We had provided a small grant to an income-generating project in Malawi. It was to a youthful and energetic group that wanted to start a chicken project, and sell the eggs and the offspring to generate revenue to support their work.
But in their first report, the group explained to us that [...]
On the TV show 30 Rock, Alec Baldwin’s character is a GE/NBC executive in charge of “TV and microwave programming.” He has to turn around the show-within-a-show led by Tina Fey’s character and invent a new kind of oven. He comes up with a “trivection” oven that combines radiant, microwave, and convection heat, and hires [...]
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 [...]
Evolving the narrative. Leadership imperative. Our path forward.
Three simple, but important concepts discussed in yesterday morning’s corporate pre-conference forum at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference. Or as my friend, colleague, and recently retired IBM executive, Ann Cramer, said, “Stewarding our resources for the betterment of the world!”
This year’s session was a follow-up to [...]
With the drawdowns of U.S. military forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, this nation faces a new challenge that should be front and center for U.S. foundations—the reintegration of veterans into society. Those of us from the Vietnam era remember a very different dynamic, a younger demographic of returning veterans, younger largely because they were draftees, [...]
Accountability is a funny thing in philanthropy. For most funders, it’s self-driven. Therefore, it’s a matter of conscience-the territory of values, emotions, and vision. But accountability in the field is frequently discussed in terms of data and evaluation: “Using data to hold ourselves accountable.”
There are two problems here: One is that evaluation is not only [...]
The Council’s important 2013 impact investing initiative is enriching this year’s Annual Conference agenda. Through sessions on Monday, April 8, attendees will have a chance to hear about innovative ways foundations are making investments that intend to produce social and financial returns.
The day kicks off with a breakfast plenary on food justice. With virtual remarks [...]
As a sector, the foundation community must have an enormously high IQ. If you take a quick look at the vitae of staff members of just about any foundation, you’ll find degrees in multiple fields—sometimes attached to just one individual. I know at our foundation most program associates have at least one master’s degree.
But when [...]
At the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF), we aspire to “go viral.” Whether this sounds good to you may depend on your generation—or how recently you have battled a cold. I will put your mind at ease by saying that we aim to share messages rather than multiply germs. Similar to powerful examples such as the [...]
Storytelling is at the heart of all emotions. Think about it. You hear a song, the lyrics move you, you have an emotional reaction. You see a sad movie, you may cry. It’s no different with brands that vie for emotional connections with their consumers. And nonprofits simply must use communications—storytelling—as a very important tactic [...]
When people think about improving health, the first thing that comes to mind is going to the doctor’s office or the gym. For a long time, public health experts correlated community health with medical settings and individual choices. But years of research, grantmaking, and listening to our community partners has given us greater clarity on [...]
When one sits in an office every day, as I do, under the photo of a great, visionary leader such as Andrew Carnegie, it is impossible not to wonder how to do justice to that individual. It requires a great deal of discipline, drive, and action to live up to Mr. Carnegie’s legacy, because when [...]
One of the occupational requirements that comes with running a network focused on demonstrating the power of smart communications to help foundations and nonprofits improve people’s lives is to be prepared to answer the frequently asked questions: Who excels in using communications to further their missions or programs? Where can I find great examples of [...]
Two years ago a new Republican administration came into power on Long Island and quickly moved to dissolve a trusted 40-year-old youth board and fold its remnants into a new, multi-issue, countywide department. The nonprofit sector, along with Democratic legislators, tried to convince the administration not to take this course of action but failed. Concerned, [...]
Who can argue with Bill Gates and his call for a more thoughtful and holistic approach to measurement?
It sounds like a simple equation: If you want to achieve progress, you set a clear goal and find a measure, or measures, that will drive progress toward that goal.
Ideally, however, measurement is a way of thinking. It [...]