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 [...]
2013 Knight Community Information Challenge from Knight Foundation
Starting May 1, Knight Foundation will again be offering matching funds to community and place-based foundations seeking to make an impact by funding news and information projects. This year, however, the Knight Community Information Challenge is evolving.
While the challenge will continue to be an open [...]
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, [...]
Florida foundations made their voices heard in Washington this week. Florida Philanthropic Network led a team of 12 Florida grantmakers for visits with Florida’s representatives and senators as part of the annual Foundations on the Hill event on March 19-20, 2013. The event was co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of [...]
I recently received a call from a researcher on a new project. As I understood it, a prominent U.S. foundation had asked them to study how domestic donors deal with gender issues. They were to identify funders with a specific commitment to the gender lens in their funding priorities, and then document how these funders [...]
This nation has a proud history of journalism, long tied most closely to newspapers. But the newspaper industry, as we know, has experienced a severe decline in recent years. The signs of this decline were evident to many of us in my hometown of Detroit back in 1987, when our two highly competitive newspapers, the Detroit [...]
Over the past several years, no strategy for change has captured the imagination of philanthropy more than impact investing. In the United States and even more so in emerging markets, people and institutions with financial means are deploying those resources in new and sometimes innovative ways. Right or wrong, some of the newer players are [...]
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 [...]
Over the last several decades, accountability reporting, especially at the local level, has contracted dramatically, with potentially grave consequences for communities, government responsiveness, and democracy. Nonprofit media has the potential to partly fill this vacuum but faces obstacles as a result of outdated IRS rules.
A report by the Nonprofit Media Working Group (NMWG) of the [...]
I recently gave a presentation and created an infographic that shared what I learned about conducting a financial analysis of a nonprofit. I passed out copies of the infographic for those that couldn’t make the initial presentation, but realized they could have benefited from more than what was shared on the page. Was there a [...]
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 [...]
This is the first post in an ongoing impact investing series on RE: Philanthropy.
The new vision for the Council on Foundations, as President and CEO Vikki Spruill outlined in her blog post “Relevance + Network + Speed = Impact,” describes exactly how and why the Council is poised to support foundations interested in impact [...]
As a part of the staff of CF Insights, I have had the pleasure to work with the community foundation field for almost 4 years now and still I’m amazed at the ways the field as a whole contributes to the success of individual community foundations by sharing insights, data and support. [...]
The Council on Foundations’ commitment to encouraging collaboration is commendable, particularly considering the great accomplishments that alliance building has produced. Collaborative philanthropy has had a far-reaching impact on public opinion, legislation, civil rights, education, the environment, and much more. Thanks to the power of alliances, several key Millennial Development Goals are on target for 2015. [...]
The statistics are hard to ignore, and you may already be familiar with many of them. In 2010, guns took the lives of more than 31,000 Americans in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour. More than 50 percent [...]
The study and practice of leadership has been on my mind for the past several months. Since July, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the Career Pathways Program through the Council on Foundations.
It’s a leadership program that has been designed to prepare candidates to compete for and earn positions as philanthropic leaders. The [...]
You’ve probably heard of Google+ Hangout and perhaps even used it to connect with family and friends over the holidays. But have you thought about the uses it could have for foundation staff and grantees?
I started thinking about the possibilities after using Google+ Hangout for a team project and a virtual meeting. I’ve created a [...]
On a warm and sunny day more than ten years ago, I visited the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the King Center in Atlanta. Having read and heard about the U.S. civil rights movement and struggle for freedom for black people in this country, I was excited [...]
Last week, I predicted that the itemized deduction could soon be back on the table as Congress looks for ways to raise revenue. It may not have been a great leap to predict that, but my crystal ball is working: Yesterday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) announced a February 14 hearing [...]
As the daughter of a Vietnam veteran, and a veteran myself, the challenges those who serve face when they come home are topics near and dear to my heart.
There are so many ways to lean into this conversation. We can talk about mental health issues and the suicide rate within this population. According to a [...]
As foundations continue to assess where they can maximize the social return on their charitable investments, many are looking at issues of gender norms and equity.
While gender may impact every issue a funder addresses, often grantees and staff aren’t challenged to do innovative, intersectional work that connects race, class, and gender. For instance, differential treatment [...]
It took many long hours—and hundreds of e-mails—to get to this point, but we finally, officially, proudly launched the Next Gen Donors report at last week’s Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in San Jose. This launch represents the culmination of more than a year of data gathering, analysis, writing, and preparation, all in order [...]
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 [...]
We as a field have become and are encouraged to become increasingly “strategic” in our efforts. There is literature on the subject; we hold conferences and conference sessions on it. But, for all this strategy, are we more effective as a result? I would say not as much as we could be.
In recent years, [...]
Earlier this month, I joined the Council on Foundations after following a rather unique road in government relations, the law, and public policy. I’ve worked in all three sectors: public, private, and now independent. From my perspective, this new opportunity—this leap of faith that I’ve taken—is tailor made for what I do well, which is [...]
It’s no accident that the Council on Foundations 2013 Family Philanthropy Conference takes place this week in Silicon Valley. This is Ground Zero for technological innovation. Ideas birthed here have changed—and continue to change—the world.
Silicon Valley has been the workshop of some brilliant entrepreneurs. People like Steve Jobs, William Hewlett, David Packard, eBay founder Pierre [...]
At a pivotal historical moment, family foundations are poised to address matters of racial equity, inclusion, and diversity to enhance their impact. These concerns are central to any thematic area a family foundation would address in its programming. Health, education, income and wealth, and any range of other issues are characterized by persistent disparities among [...]
Blessed are the family foundations graced with harmonious board interaction, for they may be focused on their grantmaking. Running through case studies in preparation for our session at this month’s Council on Foundations Family Philanthropy Conference in San Jose, I am struck by the power of a grantmaking program rooted in community ties, family values, [...]
Today, 600,000 high-tech manufacturing jobs remain open in the United States and more than 82 percent of manufacturers report that these jobs are unfilled because they can’t find people with the necessary skills. More specifically, according to a Manufacturing Institute survey, there is a critical skills gap in advanced manufacturing. Jobs in this sector are [...]
In 2012 there were further signs that the once staid tradition of employees taking part in annual workplace giving campaigns has been upended by digital technology, younger workers with new ideas, and the need for more engagement between employers and employees. Those are the preliminary findings from America’s Charities 2012 Snapshot: Trends and Strategies to Engage Employees [...]
If you’re a busy professional, you may be interested in locating apps that can help you be more effective. But with more than 700,000 apps currently available in Google Play, finding the right ones to install on your Android phone can be difficult. With that being said, here are five free apps I’d like to [...]
Philanthropy is tightly woven into the fabric of American society. It’s hard to imagine life without the fruits of charitable giving, including hospice care, insulin, vaccines, civil rights, Sesame Street, the 911 system, and even white lines on roadways. These and other advances are among the products of philanthropy that support thousands of organizations serving [...]
Cities like Cleveland typically have rich assets in their “eds and meds”: top-tier academic and medical institutions that draw people from around the world. In NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology, we at the Cleveland Foundation and our partners have created a dynamic resource that plays in both sectors, opening young minds to the [...]
With the explosion of private enterprise in many parts of the world, there are more wealthy people looking for ways to give back to their communities. Business leaders in areas like Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and China are exploring ways to contribute to society. A new school at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) [...]
Dental disease isn’t usually top of mind in the national conversation about health care. However, it is a serious, chronic, infectious illness—and it is preventable. Consider this:
Dental disease (cavities) is the most common chronic disease in children, more common than asthma.
Every year across the United States, children miss 52 million school hours due to dental [...]
At next month’s Council on Foundations 2013 Family Philanthropy Conference, consultant Nathan James and I are hosting a session, “Is Family Philanthropy Ready for Adventures in New Giving?” We’ll be discussing potential intersections between family philanthropy and the new wave of giving tools enabled by technology and fueled by problem-solving approaches of millenials, entrepreneurs, and [...]
While at a food court for a late bite to eat, I overheard other diners talking about a young woman who had her unattended phone stolen. While some privately chided her for leaving it unattended, I started to think about how common it is for others to run into a similar situation. As a result, [...]
On one of the most storied streets in urban Native America, you can see a dynamic future taking shape. Colorful banners along Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis proclaim the only Native American urban business district in the country. Established in 2010, the American Indian Cultural Corridor features five Native-owned businesses, including a [...]
When the mainstream media pay attention to Native American communities at all, they most often tell stories of trauma and tragedy. There is truth in many of those stories, of course, but we at Northwest Area Foundation see a different reality that also is true. When we meet with people on [...]
Right now the debate on the fiscal cliff is consuming mainstream media and all conversations in Washington, D.C. Deficit reduction, the cliff, and tax reform all have major implications for philanthropy. Here are the three issues the Council on Foundations is watching and will continue to monitor for you in the days ahead.
1. Maintain the [...]
In June, I had the pleasure of introducing four recent graduates of the Cleveland School District at the Cleveland Foundation’s annual meeting. We wanted to showcase top achievers to put a human face on the investment we’ve made in the future of Cleveland’s young people. These college-bound students are a fitting example of why philanthropy [...]
Despite having a steady job, a mom in South Carolina, who hopes to help her daughter go to college, cannot afford to pay rent in the city in which she works. A promising entrepreneur in Wisconsin has a great idea to improve his community but cannot get the loan needed to get his business off [...]