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10 posts from July 2018

Redesigning Online Education for the Global South

July 20, 2018

Logo_PhilUPhilanthropy University was launched in 2015 with seven courses that served more than 220,000 users from over 180 countries. Despite this success, we decided a little more than a year ago to pause the delivery of these courses. How come?

To understand why, it's important to understand how the target audience of Philanthropy University has shifted. We initially designed courses for a broad audience of social impact organizations around the world, from large nonprofits in California to small civil society organizations in rural Pakistan.

By 2017, however, it was clear to us that the way to deepen our impact was by focusing on local organizations based in the Global South — the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania that are generally low-income and tend to be politically and culturally marginalized. To ensure that our courses would be accessible and relevant to that audience, we realized we would need to redesign them.

Understanding the barriers for Global South learners

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) hold the potential to bring a single course to learners across the globe. But studies show that learners from more developed countries disproportionately enroll in and complete MOOCs. Given the seemingly untapped potential of MOOCs, Philanthropy University's Instructional Design team set out to understand the pain points and needs of learners in the Global South and how they access online course content. In an environment where MacBook Airs and Google Fiber are not the norm, could learners access an online course easily?

For example, the original Philanthropy University courses included short video lectures from some of the world's leading experts in capacity building. Qualitative feedback from learners in the Global South indicated, however, that Internet bandwidth constraints interfered with their ability to stream videos, while spotty Internet connectivity made it challenging to progress through the course content. "It was really difficult for me to watch the videos," a learner in Ghana told us. "They did not load. So most of the time, I was just reading the [video] transcripts. It was so difficult…. I couldn't watch them."

To address these technical constraints, we redesigned our platform and underlying technology in the following ways:

  1. Podcasts: Rather than relying on video to convey key course concepts, we transitioned critical content to a podcast format. This enables learners to access instructor insights through a medium that loads significantly faster than video and allows our team to test whether this popular content medium is an effective way to teach. We have drawn from the narrative storytelling style of pop culture podcasts to see how effectively it drives learning outcomes.
  2. Design for downloadability: Because learners indicated they do not have consistent access to the Internet — they may have it work but not at home — it was essential that we design courses for offline consumption. With that in mind, we focused on ensuring that key course components were downloadable and developed an Android app that allows learners to download content when connected to the Internet and then consume it on the go.

In addition to considering the technological barriers that our target users faced, we also paid attention to linguistic barriers. Philanthropy University courses are all designed in English, but that is not the native tongue of the majority of our target learners. So we redesigned the content of our courses to ensure they were accessible to non-native English speakers by:

  1. Simplifying language: We revisited all the language in our courses to explicitly define complex terms, simplify vocabulary and grammar, and design images and graphic organizers. In addition, we used language modeling and sentence frames to help English language learners participate in course discussions and assignments. Example: My greatest challenge in fundraising is _______ because ________.
  2. Creating scrolling transcripts: All media content in our courses was redesigned to include transcripts, as they often improve comprehension by helping learners visualize what they hear. Our redesigned platform includes a scrolling transcript feature that highlights media transcript text as it is spoken and allows learners to actively follow along with the transcript as they listen to the content.

Serving the needs of local organizations

The final question our Instructional Design team investigated related to content relevance. Feedback suggested that Global South learners felt the original courses were divorced from their own realities and needs. How could we ensure that courses taught applicable concepts for local leaders?

After some thought, we settled on redesigning the content in two ways:

  1. Applicable assignments: The original course assignments often asked learners to analyze case studies, many of which were based on contexts that would be unfamiliar to learners in the Global South. So we redesigned these assignments to serve as tools for the learner's own organization. By applying concepts to their own work, we ensured that the content of the assignment would be relevant and useful to the learner.
  2. Incorporating Global South voices: We also worked to incorporate the voice of the Global South learner into the design of the courses. Global South learners were invited to share their stories of applying course concepts within their own organizations. By including these stories and voices in the courses, we helped ensure the relevance of the content and positioned our learners as experts on their own context.

Course design should always be iterative, responding to the needs and feedback of learners. The process of redesigning Philanthropy University's original seven courses is just the first step in ensuring that our courses are accessible and relevant for our target users. We will continue to learn about our users' needs and push our thinking so that we can create MOOCs that are not only available to — but specifically designed for — Global South learners.

Maggie_CoffinTo learn more about Philanthropy University and our course offerings, check out our website.

Maggie Coffin is the manager of instructional design at Philanthropy University.

The Opioid Epidemic and the Urgent Need for a Philanthropic Response

July 19, 2018

Opioid_addiction_for_PhilanTopicPhilanthropy is critical to a flourishing democratic society, one in which a vision for solving intractable problems and empowering people to thrive is shared by most, if not all. Among other things, philanthropy has been a driver of some of the greatest breakthroughs in the public health area, including the discovery of a vaccine for polio and the development of antiretroviral therapy to address the scourge of HIV/AIDS. Yet as we consider the most urgent public health crisis in America today — the disease of addiction and the threat posed by the opioid epidemic to our communities and families — we are at a loss to explain the glaring absence of a robust philanthropic response.

Overdose is the number-one cause of accidental death in the United States, its impact felt across every demographic and zip code. Opioid overdoses alone kill more people in a weekend than the worst hurricane, and yet there has been no emergency-like response, from philanthropy or government. With a few notable exceptions, foundations and grantmakers focused on health and social issues have gone AWOL, leaving much-needed solutions desperate for funding support. Just recently, for example, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, one of the few foundations to focus on substance use disorders, announced that it will be phasing out its grantmaking in this area.

Throughout our careers, we have worked alongside some of the sharpest philanthropic minds and leading substance use experts and have come to believe that if more funders were to direct their resources to solving the opioid epidemic and addressing the addiction crisis in America, it would, at a minimum, catalyze a badly need response from government, business, and the private sector and lead to better health outcomes for millions of people.

Of the numerous recommendations put forward by experts in the field of addiction, there are six where foundations and individual donors, without having to reinvent themselves, could focus their resources and expertise and have real impact in terms of reducing the number of overdose deaths in America. 

1. Reduce the level of opioid prescribing. Foundations and individual donors can start by supporting groups working to advance medical and healthcare protocols and practices designed to reduce the unnecessary prescribing of opioids, an important first step to reducing the number of people who develop opioid addiction.

2. Expand access to treatment. To curb the epidemic, government and the private sector must work together to significantly expand access to evidence-based treatment, something philanthropy has played a role in delivering for other health issues. And to be most effective, a large-scale rollout of addiction treatment should be integrated into mainstream health care so that the 90 percent of people with substance use disorders who today do not receive treatment are reached. 

3. Scale local harm reduction efforts. Philanthropy can play a key role in scaling up harm-reduction efforts such as syringe services programs, fentanyl testing, and drug user health facilities — all of which have been proven to improve the health of individuals who suffer from opioid use disorder while reducing overdoses and transmission of bloodborne disease. 

4. Raise awareness and end stigma. To enhance treatment, prevention, and recovery supports for people with opioid use disorders, philanthropy should follow the roadmap it created for the scourge of cancer. Foundations can do much to raise public awareness of the fact that addiction is a chronic, recurring condition requiring ongoing social supports, including housing, behavioral therapy, and steady employment.

5. Scale promising practices. Regional foundations have become expert at scaling initiatives. Foundations can play a game-changing role in ending the opioid epidemic by intentionally seeking out opportunities to work with others to scale promising practices in at-risk communities.

6. Take risks. Solving a problem of this magnitude requires taking some risks, and foundations are well positioned, in a way that government and the private sector are not, to do that. While there are evidence-based practices that have been shown to be effective in reducing overdose deaths, foundations should also invest in cutting-edge programs with the potential to result in even bolder and more effective solutions. One example is fentanyl-testing programs, which help people with opioid use disorders avoid using the illicit and deadly opioid fentanyl. 

7. Offer hope. Unfortunately, the growing number of overdose deaths has created a sense of hopelessness among some who think the problem is too big to take on. We know much more about substance use disorders today than we did twenty years ago, however. And just as we have learned how to effectively treat, manage, and prevent diabetes, we can do the same with all forms of substance use disorders. The number of individuals dying from drug overdoses — more than sixty thousand in 2016 — should shock us. These deaths are preventable if we frame and treat addiction as a disease, one that has an early onset and can be prevented and treated. Foundations can do much to advance the science that shows addiction is not a moral failing, and to broaden the discussion about addiction to include the underlying causes of substance use disorders.


Foundations are instrumental in helping society navigate and develop solutions to our most complex challenges. The opioid epidemic cuts across many issue areas, including economic development, access to health care, employment, discrimination, trauma, and stigma. Foundations must lead on this urgent issue and do more to build the infrastructure needed to address substance use disorders and prevent the further loss of life.

Rain Henderson is the founder of Elemental Advisors, which advises private- and social-sector leaders working to contribute to the health and well-being of Americans using evidence-based models, market structures, and metrics. Regina LaBelle of LaBelle Strategies advises nonprofits and public-sector agencies on strategies for effectively addressing the opioid epidemic. From 2009 to 2017, she served in the Obama administration as chief of staff and senior policy advisor in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

What's New at Foundation Center Update (July)

July 18, 2018

FC_logoSummer is a time to break from routine, rejuvenate, and reevaluate. As the thermometer climbs, Foundation Center is doing its part to refresh its thinking and processes to better serve the social sector. With that in mind, here's our June roundup:

Projects Launched

  • IssueLab launched its special Democracy Collection. In it, you'll find reports about election and campaign administration, voting access and participation, government performance and perceptions of that performance, the role of the media in democracy, and more. With the midterm elections fast approaching, this is a collection I'm personally digging into with added interest. Check it out and suggest an addition.
  • CF Insights launched the 2017 Columbus Survey Results Dashboard, which provides access to the most up-to-date, comprehensive dataset reflecting the current financial state of community foundations in the United States. The latest iteration of the dashboard also has new social media functionality that makes it easier for community foundations to raise their visibility in their communities by sharing their rankings with stakeholders and the public.
  • Our decades-old Funding Information Network (FIN) launched two new partnership packages in June that are designed to help libraries, community foundations, co-working spaces, and nonprofit resource centers better meet their local social sector needs.
  • Glasspockets launched a website refresh featuring a more user-friendly path for participation in the "Who Has Glass Pockets" transparency assessment and benchmarking tools. New content areas include how (and why) you can (and should) participate, and what to do if you're not sure where to start.
  • SDGfunders.org was re-launched with a new, dynamically updated dashboard. The platform tells the story of how philanthropic dollars are being used to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goals and aims to foster better coordination among those working to build a better future for all.

Content Published

What We're Excited About

  • We'll be launching our 2017 Annual Report later this month. Look for stories on the importance of sharing knowledge, delivering data to local communities, strengthening the global philanthropic sector, servicing the needs of community foundations, and more.
  • We'll also be launching a new GrantCraft guide on participatory grantmaking at the end of the summer. Check out these videos from funders already engaged in the practice answering commonly asked questions about shifting the power in decision-making. Stay tuned for more!
  • Later this summer, our Midwest office will partner with DigitalC and Microsoft to launch the first Data Maturity Survey for Northeast Ohio/Cuyahoga County.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 436,678 new grants added to Foundation Maps in June, of which 14,033 grants were made to 4,014 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Foundation Directory Online now includes more than 12 million grants. See this Eye on FDO blog post to learn more about the new Organization Search feature in FDO.
  • New data sharing partners: Ausherman Family Foundation, Inc.; Australian Executor Trustees; Brooks Foundation; Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation; Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation; Media Development Investment Fund; Susan McKinnon Foundation; Mutual Trustees; and We Raise Foundation. Tell your story through data so we can communicate philanthropy's contribution to making a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.
  • We provided custom searches for the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Executives' Alliance for Boys and Men of Color.
  • We're hosting a Proposal Writing Boot Camp in Detroit, MI, July 25-27

Data Spotlight

  • Funders have made grants totaling $3.8 billion in support of ocean and coastal waters around the world. Learn more at FundingTheOcean.org.
  • In 2016, foundation funding for SDG 10, Reducing Inequalities, totaled over $340 million. Check out the latest data on SDG funding at SDGfunders.org.

If you found this update helpful, feel free to share it or shoot us an email. I’ll be back next month with another update.

Jen Bokoff is director of stakeholder engagement at Foundation Center.

A Conversation With La June Montgomery Tabron, President and CEO, W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Philanthropy and Racial Healing

July 16, 2018

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was one of the first large foundations in the U.S. to apply a racial equity lens to its grantmaking, beginning in the mid-1960s with its investments in Historically Black Colleges and Universities, continuing in the 1990s with initiatives aimed at narrowing the digital divide in poor and rural communities, and more recently under the banner of America Healing, a five-year, $75 million initiative launched in 2010 to improve life outcomes for vulnerable children and their families through the promotion of racial healing and the elimination of barriers to economic opportunities.

In recent years, the foundation has moved to amplify its racial equity and reconciliation work through its Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (THRT) framework, a national and place-based process launched in 2016 to bring about transformational and sustainable change and address the historic and contemporary effects and consequences of racism.

Recently, PND spoke with Kellogg Foundation president and CEO La June Montgomery Tabron, who became president and CEO of the Foundation in January 2014 after serving in numerous leadership positions there over twenty-six years, about the foundation’s TRHT work, the importance of emerging leadership in such work, and what institutional philanthropy can do to advance that work.


Philanthropy News Digest: The Kellogg Foundation launched its Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) effort in 2016. Are you pleased with the results of the effort to date?

La June Montgomery Tabron: As you know, the Kellogg Foundation has been working in this space strategically for several decades. Roughly a decade of that work was done under the banner of America Healing, which was an initiative aimed at addressing what we believed was a lack of connection and of mutual understanding in American society. The goal of America Healing was to foster a different level of awareness of how relationships are built by sharing stories and enabling people to come together in their common humanity. And what we learned is that, yes, we need to encourage people to build these relationships and share these stories, but at the same time the real levers for change are at the local, grassroots level, and that by embedding this kind of work in communities, it truly can be transformative.

That realization led directly to the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation effort, which took what we learned from America Healing and our knowledge that relationships were at the root of this kind of work and placed it squarely in a local context. Racial healing has to be rooted in relationship building and common experience, and so TRHT brings together people who live in the same community to think about how they can create a better, more equitable community together.

To your question of where we are to date, I think it is moving in exactly that direction, of making change happen locally. We have fourteen places in the United States working in this space. They all are creating their own plans. And no plan looks alike, which is exactly what we expected. But those plans all are characterized by the richness of diversity that comes from being place-specific, from different sectors coming together to work on a common problem, from identifying a starting point and coming up with real, practical solutions for how transformation can be achieved. We are very pleased with the work to date and the fact that it's taking place at the ground level, which is where the Kellogg Foundation is most comfortable.

PND: Would you say the country is more divided or less divided on issues of race today than when you launched TRHT?

LMT: I'm not sure we know. We see and hear the divisive discourse in the media. We look at polls, but polling data can be informed by the divisive discourse we all are exposed to. What I see and hear is a weariness in people with respect to the division in the country. Personally, I don't believe we know whether things are better or worse, because back when we launched our Truth, Racial Heal­ing & Transformation work the conversation was different, and it's hard to compare conversations that are rooted in different circumstances.

However, I can say that when we bring people together in communities and there's a space made for authentic dialogue, which is the basis of our TRHT work, people are willing to be open with each other. Even if they don't start there, that's where they end up. There's a positivity that emerges when a group of people decides to leave the divisive rhetoric behind and engages in a very local and often personal conversation. No one wants to live in a community where the police are seen to be racially biased. No one wants to live in a community where the public schools are failing, and kids are being denied the opportunity to achieve. No one wants to live in a community where a few people have a lot and most people don’t have enough. Most people see those kinds of communities as the exception, the anomaly, and they're eager to make sure their community isn't one of them. That's the kind of thoughtfulness and commitment we are trying to leverage as we engage with community leaders and ask them to be more forward-looking and equitable.

PND: Over the last few years, we’ve seen a growing number of foundations — large and small, local and national — adopt a racial equity lens in their work. Do you see that development as a vindication of TRHT?

LMT: First, I'm very pleased to see that this conversation is becoming more widespread and is being acknowledged as the norm. There was a time when Americans didn't want to speak about race, and the fact that race-focused conversations are more common today and we have a shared vocabulary that we can use to discuss these issues is something we at the foundation are pleased about. That change required leadership, and I think we were willing, and our board was willing, to step into that leadership space and name, squarely and forthrightly, what was happening in our country and the impact it was having on our children.

And, of course, we want the transformative part of the work to be embraced and funded by others. This cannot be the work of one foundation; this has to be the work of a nation. The way we have approached this work has always been to be fully inclusive and collaborative. It was always our goal that this would extend well beyond the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Indeed, we believe it should extend far beyond the United States of America; this is a global issue.

PND: One of the key components of TRHT is its focus on emerging leaders. Does the Kellogg Foundation have a working definition of emerging leadership? And why is emerging leadership so important in the context of racial equity?

LMT: We do believe emerging leadership is important, extremely important. The Kellogg Foundation was created because its founder believed that people are the most important ingredient in the change equation. And at the end of the day, people not only make change, they sustain change. Leadership is critical to creating the kind of community you want, and to sustaining that community. As we think about our work, everything we do is fundamentally built on supporting leaders, their aspirations, and making them the agents of the kind of change they want to see.

Your readers may not know this, but our leadership programs date back to the founding of the institution. And in all our leadership programs, we address the issue of equity and racial equity as a fundamental aspect of effective leadership. Regardless of the level at which they are working, leaders have to understand this context as they are working. Our new leadership program, the WKKF Community Leadership Network, isn't separate from our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work; it's connected, as is all our work. So, as we are working to build and sustain racially equitable communities, our leadership program is focused on collaboration, networking, and how you make and sustain local change. That work is critical.

PND: When we spoke with you in 2014, you told us that the fact that women had been tapped to lead several major foundations wasn't necessarily proof that gender equality in the sector had been achieved. I think you analogized the development to the election of Barack Obama as president, referring to both as "transactions," albeit positive ones, in a long process toward racial and gender equality. In your view, are we making progress as a country in terms of full equality for women and people of color?

LMT: My fundamental sentiment hasn't changed. I still believe that we've had transactions, both good and bad. When you look at the data, you still see disparities in earnings for women: white women earn 82 percent of what their male counterparts earn, while African-American women earn 63 percent. Clearly, we still have work to do in this space.

What we at the Kellogg Foundation would hope to see is a more systemic approach to these issues, one that goes beyond transactions. That's how we think about all our work. Things happen, but it will take a systemic approach at the national level to transform those transactions into everyday practice.

We're not there yet. We are making progress. There have been policy shifts in that direction, but we can't claim victory, and it would be naïve to do so. What we can do is continue to be a good partner and highlight the evidence and best practices that come out of our work, share them more broadly with others and support them as they work to advance systemic, sustainable change that impacts everyone.

PND: Do you think foundations, and the sector more generally, are doing enough to support not only organizations working in communities of color, but also organizations led by people of color? And do you have any specific recommendations for donors and funders who are thinking about doing more in this area?

LMT: We can all do more. It's very important for us, as we partner with a community, to get to the level where we understand the dynamic of who these organizations are and what the community mapping looks like. I encourage all funders to increase their level of awareness of the landscapes in which they are playing as they enter a new field or geography. What I find too often, however, is that when you try to do that, the data you need isn't always available. One of the things we've been thinking about as we examine our community leadership network, as well as our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation work, is how we can help communities build and collect that type of information so that it’s readily available to funders who want to understand the players in the community, how they connect, and what the larger ecosystem looks like. But again, the best thing we can do as funders is be more informed as we enter these spaces.

PND: Is there an organization in particular that should be filling this role? Or is it something for a coalition of funders and nonprofits to do together?

LMT: That's a good question. I think it could be an entity that already has a role in the space that is willing to take on the larger ecosystem. But it should be a part of the first conversations that any coalition has as it starts to come together. One of the first things we think about is the landscape. Again, it's only one way, even though we hope every com­munity across the nation conducts such an analysis. As you know, we've produced a Business Case for Racial Equity nation­ally, as well as in Mississippi, Michigan, New Mexico, and New Orleans. And if you look at those reports, it's both a compelling way of thinking about landscape and a tool that any community could use to quantify its own growth potential if it were to make everyone in the community a productive citizen and full participant in the life of the community.

PND: If I'm not mistaken, the figure you came up with for the U.S. economy is $8 trillion.

LMT: Yes, $8 trillion by 2050, and for our home state of Michigan the figure was $92 billion. I was recently on Mackinac Island for the Mackinac Policy Conference, which brings together business leaders and policy makers from the state, and our business case was distributed to and discussed by conference attendees. What was so interesting was that the findings were juxtaposed with another con­versation about how commun­ities and municipalities are woefully underfunded. It was a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate that there's money being left on the table as we all think about how to grow and strengthen communities and municipalities and families.

The real value of these reports is in connecting dots that people don't normally connect. If you're an elected official in a municipality and your only concern is to complain to the state about the inade­quate flow of resources to your city, maybe these reports will help you see that there are things you yourself can do to transform your city and bring more people into the workforce, grow your tax base, and create opportunity where maybe those things were lacking.

PND: It sounds ambitious. Where does it start?

LMT: We started nationally, and now we're doing it state by state. Our theory of change is that it is a very useful document if you're a policy maker looking for wins in your community. It's an important document for businesses as well, in that business leaders are always thinking about ways they can grow their business. At the Mackinac conference, we had several conversations with business leaders who were thinking about their workforce needs, and how critical it is at this moment to create a pipeline of skilled workers who will are able to do the jobs that need to be done. But, of course, we can't talk about the workforce of the future without talking about biases, including racial bias, however unconscious it might be.

That said, we've seen a great deal of interest in the reports on the part of business leaders. In fact, later today I'm meeting with a repre­sentative of the United States Chamber of Commerce, which is considering sharing the national report with every chamber chapter, because they see the potential from a business strategy perspective, just as we see it from a human and equity perspective.

At the end of the day, we believe a multi-sectoral approach is needed to address these issues, which are public issues, they're busi­ness-economic issues, they're faith-based issues. And so, we're working to forge coalitions and share with them our Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation message. And we hope other places will look at our report as a tool as they begin to think about the changes they want to make in their com­munities. At the end of the day, creating productive human capital is something we should all be for.

PND: Can you imagine a future in which the Kellogg Foundation no longer will feel the need to apply a racial equity lens to its work?

LMT: I don't know. Racial equity isn't something we do because it's a nice thing to do. It's the core issue out of which everything else we do flows. Whether it's growing the economy, improving the education system, having a healthier nation — racial equity is at the core of the transformation that needs to happen in all those areas. In that respect, we will continue to work to connect the dots and bring people together.

Your question reminds me of a moment I had when we were opening two museums in Mississippi. Myrlie Evers, Medgar Evers' wife, came up to me and said, "I've gone through days of feeling great, and sometimes health challenged, but through all of this, I've never felt more hopeful that my husband's life and death has not been in vain. I see what you are doing at the Kellogg Foundation, and it gives me hope that we are continuing to make the progress we need to make as a country."

And you know, when I think about young people, particularly those young people in Parkland, Florida, I am hopeful. What I see from our younger generation is people who are not in denial about the issue of race. This country has spent centuries in denial, and one thing I am thankful for in this very tumultuous time is that it is no longer possible to be in denial. Our young people are living the reality and the truth of who we are as a nation, they are courageous, and they are taking these issues on. And they are moving at a much faster pace than I've seen in the past. I think we're on the threshold of a great new movement that will change the face of the nation, and it will be led by young people. So, I'm hopeful about the future and believe our young people will get this done.

Matt Sinclair

Weekend Link Roundup (July 14-15, 2018)

July 15, 2018

France_WorldCupOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....


In the twenty-first century, are private secondary schools antithetical to the public good? On the Aeon site, Jack Schneider, a scholar of education history and policy at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, considers the arguments for and against.


Ireland has announced that it will completely divest itself of investments in fossil fuels over the next five years, becoming the first country to make such a commitment. Adele Peters reports for Fast Company.


According to a new report from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, nonprofit boards "that include a higher percentage of women tend to have board members who participate more in fundraising and advocacy. [And members] of these boards also tend to be more involved in the board's work." You can view the full report (58 pages, PDF) here and the executive summary (8 pages, PDF) here.


A little bit of good news. A report from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association finds that the rate of opioid use disorder among its members declined last year to 5.9 per 1,000, compared to 6.2 per 1,000 the year before, while the decline in opioid prescriptions being filled by doctors has fallen 29 percent nationally since 2013. Christopher Zara reports for Fast Company.

Higher Education

Forbes contributor Josh Moody tries to answer the question: Why are there so few women at the top of the Ivory Tower?


In a guest post on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Social Velocity's Nell Edgington suggests that tax reform passed by the Republican-controlled in December may not be the end of the world for nonprofits and the nonprofit sector.


The Bush Foundation in St. Paul recently was ranked by the First Nations Development Institute as the seventh biggest foundation funder of Native issues in the U.S.  "On one hand, it is exciting to be recognized as one of the top funders of Native American organizations and causes," writes Jen Reedy, the foundation's president. "On the other hand, we are really small compared to most of the other foundations on the list. So being ranked so high is actually more of a indication that giving to Native issues is just not a priority to most other foundations." 

"Philanthropy is 'coherent' when it is logical, well-organized, well-planned and sensible – as well as easy to understand and articulate," writes philanthropy consultant and Denver Post columnist Bill DeBoskey. To help families, foundations, and family offices achieve that coherence, DeBoskey shares six key lessons he has learned over the years.

Here on PhilanTopic, Foundation Center president Brad Smith suggests that in the present cultural/political environment, foundations may have to forego short-term gains if they want to "win" the long game.

Social Media

Fact of the Day: the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has been used on Twitter almost 30 million times.

And on the Communications Network blog, Michael Roston, a senior staff editor at the New York Times, shares some lessons that the Times' social media desk has learned about the effective use of Twitter.

(Photo credit: AFP / Charly Triballeau)

Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.


Philanthropy in the War Zone

July 12, 2018

Broken-glassMost of the things philanthropists care about — civility, moderation, partnership, consensus — are fast disappearing. Our country, and much of the world, seem to be moving to a kind of scorched-earth politics in which division along ethnic, racial, religious, gender and identity lines is the currency of power. As ideologies become more rigid, people increasingly are balkanized into spatially segregated communities and social media echo chambers. In this kind of undeclared war, being right and winning are all that matter, with seemingly no aisle to cross and no common ground.

How should foundations navigate the world of 2018 and beyond? How can they? To be sure, foundations have something valuable to contribute — flexible resources free from market, electoral, and fundraising pressures. But will they use them to fight, transcend, or simply ignore the conflict that surrounds them?

Fight to Win…

As long as they do not run afoul of IRS restrictions on explicitly partisan political activity and lobbying to influence specific legislation, foundations and their grantee partners may and often do engage in politics (with a small "p"). One way to track foundations’ political engagement is to look not at the "what" of their grantmaking but the "how." At Foundation Center, we refer to these as "support strategies," which include cross-cutting approaches such as advocacy, coalition building, accountability, grassroots organizing, litigation, and systems reform. Collectively, these approaches have accounted for $27.5 billion in funding around the world since 2006. While that is less than 6 percent of total grantmaking over the same period, it is a significant amount and, in recent years, has grown. When we have more complete data for 2017 and 2018, I’m sure it will show the trend is accelerating.

“As befits a sector that prides itself on its diversity of perspectives, foundations have different views of what the solutions should be....”

Foundations are also striving to make American democracy itself work better. Foundation Funding for American Democracy (a web portal developed by Foundation Center) shows that since 2011 more than 5,600 foundations have made some $4.2 billion in grants for work related to campaigns, elections and voting, government effectiveness and transparency, and civic participation. As befits a sector that prides itself on its diversity of perspectives, these foundations have different views of what the solutions should be. Consider, for example, a grant from the Grogan Family Foundation to Judicial Watch "to fight corruption and voter fraud" and a grant made by the Joyce Foundation to the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund for "…developing and promoting a reform agenda that includes redistricting, judicial independence and voting rights." Both foundations and their grantees are working to improve the electoral process, but they have diagnosed the problem differently and are supporting quite different remedies.

Implicit to the theories of change that guide this kind of work is the idea that approaches developed by grantees eventually will be reflected in party platforms and government policy. But there are plenty of indications that growing numbers of Americans view the political establishment, government institutions, and parties themselves as part of the problem rather than the solution. Increasingly, we find ourselves mired in a culture war in which the rules of engagement seem to reward portraying "the other" as an enemy to be vanquished, rather than as a potential partner in the search for a common future. In such a war, foundations increasingly will need to ask themselves and their grantees how far they are willing to go to "win." Should foundations support groups that dehumanize immigrants by derisively describing government policy toward them as “catch and release” (a term whose origins relate to sport fishing)? Should they support groups that demonize their opponents when they casually label them Nazis or fascists?

...but Risk Losing

The future is likely to be even more contentious, and foundations may have to reach out to those who are willing to fight hard for change — inside and beyond traditional parties and institutions — without resorting to scorched-earth tactics, people and organizations that are willing to risk losing in the short term in order to "win" the long game. Deep, lasting reform takes time, may contribute to electoral or policy setbacks in the near term, and, to the extent that it is about political power, is inherently risky. When you take a controversial stand, people on the opposite side will come after you with everything at their disposal, including legal action, official investigations, and, in some cases, personal attacks. Ask the foundations that are advocating for other foundations to divest themselves of their fossil fuel-related assets. Look at the way the media has gone after foundations like George Soros’s Open Society Foundations or the Bradley Foundation. Taking or supporting a controversial position is risky whether one’s vision leans conservative or progressive. When doing so, foundations should not expect that they'll be able to hide behind their grantees. Instead, they will have to "own what they fund," as those eager to criticize them will reasonably assume any grant reflects a foundation's own organizational position and beliefs.

“Make no mistake, an ideologically motivated attack against the legitimate activities of any one foundation is an assault on all of philanthropy....”

The more foundations fight, the more organizations like the Philanthropy Roundtable and the Council on Foundations will need to step up and defend philanthropic freedom, regardless of the issue. Make no mistake, an ideologically motivated attack against the legitimate activities of any one foundation is an assault on all of philanthropy.


Inevitably, some foundations will look at the world around them and see forces at work that are beyond the power of their grant dollars to change. Whether it's because they don't have the staff resources or the inclination to engage with a contentious issue, they may decide to transcend the turmoil of the moment and focus their investments on the long-term future. We're all familiar with examples of seemingly whimsical pursuits like sending a manned mission to Mars, but I'm thinking of more concerted  initiatives such as the Science Philanthropy Alliance.

SPA was created by a group of nine foundations to "ensure more private funding is earmarked for the kinds of research initiatives that have led to the scientific, technological and medical breakthroughs that fuel our technology and information-driven economy of the 21st century." Among the alliance's members are some of the most prestigious names in American and global philanthropy, names like Alfred P. Sloan, Gordon and Betty Moore, and the UK-based Wellcome Trust, as well as newer philanthropies such as the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative and the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation.

It's a perfect example of how foundations can use their financial assets, intellectual capital, and freedom to focus on the long-term by supporting the kinds of basic scientific research that may lead to the next big breakthrough a generation from now -- or to nowhere. While it's a sign of our times that supporting science is seen in some quarters as a political act, this particular group of funders has decided to ignore the daily slings and arrows of Twitter and march boldly into the future.

“[Most foundation funding] represents the kind of steady, annual support that has built the magnificent institutions that are so vital to American life....”

Business as Usual

Undoubtedly, the majority of foundations will ignore the turmoil and retain their traditional focus on health, education, and the arts, with grants large and small being made to alma maters, hospitals that have cared for loved ones, and symphony halls. Together, these areas of giving account for nearly 60 percent of all foundation funding in the United States. Yes, a small portion of this funding can be controversial, to the extent it supports arts productions that defy societal convention, university programs that focus on issues of race, or organizations working to ensure equality of access to health care. But most of it represents the kind of steady, annual support that has built the magnificent institutions that are so vital to American life. In their own way, these foundations are betting on such institutions to be there for all of us when we finally emerge from these tumultuous times.

Philanthropy in the war zone is tough. As endowed private institutions, foundations do have choices: they can fight, transcend, conduct business as usual, or adopt some or all these approaches simultaneously. Whatever they choose, foundations will continue to be essential in helping America find its way through to the brighter, more constructive future that is ours to create.

Bradford K. Smith is president of Foundation Center.

Disrupting Arts Philanthropy: Five Lessons Learned

July 10, 2018

Memphis_music_initiative_1The work of Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), which was featured in the recent study Toward the Future of Arts Philanthropy, is centered on  community empowerment through arts funding. The study explores MMI's funding and programmatic practices in the context of promoting equity and inclusive practices in arts funding, access to arts education, and youth development and offers a potential strategic framework for other capacity builders committed to equity in the arts.

The effects of race and place on access to funding and other resources are evident in what we call "philanthropic redlining" — patterns of exclusionary funding practices that all too regularly frustrate arts organizations led by people of color and hamper their efforts to serve marginalized communities. As noted in our study, public funding for the arts at the state and federal levels is down as much as 30 percent over the last decade, and the situation for black- and brown-led organizations, which are often dependent on such funding, is even more precarious. At MMI, a crucial aspect of our work is our commitment to address this issue through a proactive, and corrective, approach we call "disruptive philanthropy."

In addition to operating direct programs that provide music engagement opportunities for black and brown youth, we work to nurture and expand the arts ecosystem in Memphis by supporting community organizations working on the frontlines to increase access to music programs for youth of color. We believe that investments in black-led organizations are an investment in long-term community sustainability. We invest to build strong and efficient organizations — with a focus on communities of color — through general operating support grants as well as supports aimed at fostering sustainability and improving the quality of their programs. Our goal is to enhance the capacity of nonprofit organizations to deliver programs and secure sustainable funding and other resources beyond those provided by MMI. We are working to build a pipeline of community-based leaders dedicated to improving conditions for black and brown youth and to give black and brown leaders the space and time to fulfill their potential and achieve their goals.

In our direct programs, we take our people-centered investment to an even higher level. Our summer program, MMI Works, provides paid opportunities for high school students to work in arts nonprofits and businesses. Participating black and brown youth gain access to career training as well as professional and personal development, building the skills and the networks needed for long-term success. We also invest in the region's creative economy through our In-Schools Fellowship program, which pairs local musicians with Memphis schools and reaches more than four thousand students through instruction and mentorship.

We are a learning organization and constantly evaluate what is working well and what we can improve on. Here are five takeaways from our work that continue to inform our disruptive approach:

1. It's not about you, Philanthropy. Philanthropic work isn't about showing how smart you are; it's about empowering and liberating people. Those who seek to help must respect the community as experts in order to drive solutions that work for the world that they know best. Our work doesn't exist in a vacuum. Whether it's musicians, neighborhood leaders, youth, or teachers, we need as many voices in the room as possible if we are to represent the true needs and interests of those we aim to serve.

2. Brace yourself for difficult conversations. Be prepared to take a lot of heat when you start to talk about moving money and shifting power. It's a zero-sum game. For an organization like ours based in the racialized South, the realities of the region's past play out on a daily basis. In order to move through and past those dynamics, there has to be frank and honest recognition of the institutional practices and structures that have led to the historical neglect of black- and brown-led organizations and communities. And that requires deep thinking about the equitable practices you employ, at every level of your work.

3. "Relationships are the new grant application." This idea was inspired by a colleague and friend in equity and community-based work, Takema Robinson, principal at New Orleans-based consulting firm Converge. Thanks to Takema, MMI will be grantee report- and application-free by 2019. In an effort to rethink the kind and amount of information we need from our partners, we are transitioning from an already short application form to verbal site visit-based reporting. We have always funded, engaged, and partnered with organizations no matter where they are on the organizational development continuum. But by meeting organizations where they are and dispensing with the trappings of traditional grantmaking, we hope to make it easier for our partners to focus on their missions and efforts to engage youth of color.

4. Impatience and comfort zones are enemies of impact. Disrupting established patterns of philanthropy requires focusing on long-term results and reexamining one's relationship with the words "data" and "evaluation." The kinds of metrics funders have traditionally used to capture "impact" does not have to be the only way we measure success in this work. Just as it has taken many years for the practices that perpetuate disparities and unequal distribution of resources to become ingrained in the sector, it will take time and new tactics to change the system for the better.

5. Stop centering whiteness in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. This means shifting away from prioritizing the perspective of any group — including gender, sexual orientation, or class —that traditionally has had the upper hand in philanthropic power dynamics. MMI is led mostly by people of color, and in our work we intentionally empower other leaders of color in arts organizations to have voice. As we recognize organizations for their individual programs, we also push leaders of color to build relationships and foster partnerships that support and encourage their peers.

By no means is this an exhaustive list of what it takes to disrupt philanthropy. The elements may vary based on the community context and operating ethos of each organization. The common thread to a disruptive approach is taking whatever step it takes to "do philanthropy differently." We do not take the journey of this work for granted; we approach it with humility on a daily basis. We believe that our youth, families, and neighborhoods deserve not only different types of support, but exponentially more of our time, talent, and treasure, and our experiences continue to shape and refine our work as we endeavor to be timely and responsive in addressing the needs of the community. We hope that our work will offer some insights that can be replicated in other philanthropic initiatives aimed at spurring transformative change in communities of color.

Kiesha_davis_for_PhilanTopicKiesha Davis is director of grantmaking and capacity building at Memphis Music Initiative, where she leads a team responsible for investments to build strong and efficient organizations serving communities of color.

5 Questions for...Ruth LaToison Ifill, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Council on Foundations

July 05, 2018

Ruth LaToison Ifill was named vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Council on Foundations in May, succeeding Floyd Mills. A military spouse, LaToison Ifill previously served as the manager of national career development services for veterans and military family members for Goodwill Industries International, where she also spearheaded initiatives to improve organizational understanding of and engagement with diversity and inclusion issues internally and in program implementation.

PND spoke with LaToison Ifill about the ways in which the council is working with member foundations to promote DEI across the sector and support systems change; the importance of data and intersectionality to that work; and the impact funders can have on the racial leadership gap at nonprofits.

Headshot_Ruth_LaToison_IfillPhilanthropy News Digest: The position of vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion was created in 2016 "to advance the council's work to promote inclusiveness as a fundamental operating principle in philanthropic organizations." How has philanthropy's approach to DEI changed over the last two years? And do you feel there's a greater sense of urgency now given the current political environment?

Ruth LaToison Ifill: I think the biggest change is that there is now a very robust ecosystem of philanthropic organizations and philanthropy-serving organizations that are working to drive diversity in the field in a myriad of ways. The council, specifically, has been partnering with, but also is being held accountable by, its member organizations. Together, we are demonstrating leadership and developing a diverse talent pipeline in philanthropy through our Career Pathways program, which has already seen great success and graduated sixty-one people of different ethnicities, backgrounds, and beliefs, 87 percent of whom have gone on to take senior and executive appointments at foundations. At the same time, the council's board is more diverse than it's ever been, which has led us to be more vocal and strategic in our internal efforts and in the services we deliver to our members.

We engage with over a thousand philanthropic organizations, and we are seeing incremental changes in the way our members are doing business. More and more of our members are focusing on racial equity and on the LGBTQ community in ways they were not before. So, we are seeing the sector change, but there's still much work that needs to be done, and we're collaborating with the sector and our partners to accomplish that work.

I hate to give credit to the current political environment, and I want to be fair to the previous administration, which was instrumental in raising DEI up as an issue. But the council had already been actively working to make the world a more inclusive place and highlighting the importance of respecting people regardless of which group they belong to or how they identify — and that became even more important as we saw people whom we love and care about being disparaged. We need to respond to that, of course, but our work on these issues started well before the current environment and only has become more urgent.

PND: What has the council been doing to support foundations' efforts to advance DEI in the field? And what is your number-one priority for that work over the next year or so?

RLI: It's about advancing the work and "inching" our members forward. The philanthropic sector is a big ship with a lot of moving parts and a complicated ecosystem of different types of organizations led by different kinds of people. We first need to demonstrate the cultural humility needed to do the hard work of expanding our perspective and understanding marginalized populations; there are leaders in this space who are already doing work that we can learn from. Philanthropy must be intentional about listening and learning, and that's a process that takes time. We at the council want to be a part of our members' process of learning and broadening their perspectives.

My priorities in this new role are intersectionality and data. Sometimes we can get stuck on the one issue we care about most or the one issue that gets the most attention, but I firmly believe this is not a zero-sum game. We really want people to see the importance of focusing on multiple communities and of paying attention to the data about how local communities are affected. For example, if you're a foundation and immigration is a major issue in your community, the data you are collecting about the impact of your work in that community should help you respond. Paying attention to the data specific to each community is how we want foundations to approach this work: to look at the focus on their giving, the composition of their boards, their staff, and then determine when and where they need to make changes in order to more closely align their work with their mission.

PND: While at Goodwill Industries, you oversaw the organization's efforts to develop a culture of learning and diversity. What were the greatest challenges you encountered in that work? And are there lessons you learned there that you feel apply to the work you'll be doing for the council?

RLI: I learned at Goodwill that it's all about data. Any DEI professional will tell you that "diversity, equity, and inclusion" has to be a part of the effectiveness of every team, program, or service. Data is what helps to keep you relevant, innovative, and morally responsible. By focusing on impact data — not just the number of people served but how their lives were improved — you can help make the best case for DEI. If you're in the diversity space and trying to effect change, gathering, analyzing, and using data to outline your next steps is critical. That's true for any type of foundation, whether it's a community foundation, a large family or private foundation, or a large corporate giving program.

Goodwill has a data analytics initiative that's going to be integrated from retail all the way to mission services and workforce development. Paying attention to data that shows who you serve and how equitably marginalized communities are served — that's what helps steer the ship in a more holistic and intersectional direction. Most people, innately, want to do good, but without impact data you don't know how or where you need to make changes to do good in a meaningful way. And data helps you tell the story. You can say you're committed to diversity and inclusivity, but if you don't have data from your board and HR team, if you don't have data on recruiting and on the kinds of organizations you're giving money to, and on the populations those grantees are serving, and how equitably or inequitably they are receiving services, you're going to find it hard to make change.

At the council, the Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey looks at a lot of data, particularly at the CEO level, and last year we parsed out some of that data in our diversity report, State of Change: An Analysis of Women and People of Color in the Philanthropic Sector. One of the things we'll be working on is how to take this analysis to the next level: how do we get more information from the sector, to make informed and meaningful impact for populations that have been historically marginalized in our sector?

PND: Are there specific aspects of DEI work that foundations should be paying more attention to?

RLI: I think one blind spot is intersectionality. As I said, this is not a zero-sum game. We can't stop paying attention to people because we want to talk about issues. When foundations look closely at their impact data, they'll find that their passion for people and communities requires them to recognize that certain populations are more negatively affected than others by many of the problems philanthropy is trying to solve. You can't try to improve a local community's access to food and water without intersectionality. You can't say you care about dismantling systems that perpetuate poverty and then ignore the fact that communities of color often are displaced to areas without access to healthy food or cultural amenities or decent public transportation. Issues like poverty, food access, and race are inextricably linked. In the same vein, if you want to improve the overall mental health of youth in America, you can't ignore research that shows which populations are the most affected; you have to talk about LGBTQ youth, who are more prone to commit suicide at unacceptably higher rates. If certain populations are disproportionately impacted by an issue philanthropy is responding to, philanthropy has to care about intersectionality; you have to target your efforts to those populations.

PND: For the most part, private foundations are created by people deeply embedded in and rewarded by existing economic and power arrangements. Does that fact complicate their ability to address structural racism and drive real systems change in society?

RLI: It certainly has the potential to influence the lenses that donors and philanthropic leaders apply to their work, but there are organizations like the Meyer and W.K. Kellogg foundations that are taking the lead in this area. It's the responsibility of each philanthropic organization to think carefully about how their funding model addresses structural racism, and it's our responsibility at the council to pay attention and respond. There are people committed to holding organizations accountable around the impact their dollars can and should be making in communities, and some of the work we're doing with our Inclusive Economic Prosperity events reflects that. It's not lost on those of us at the council, or our partners, or the attendees at our Inclusive Economic Prosperity events, how racial and economic disparities are inextricably connected. We have to start somewhere, though, so the council will continue the work to hold people accountable, and we'll do what we can to ensure that racial equity is highlighted as we work to address economic issues, with the ultimate goal of creating more equity as we create more opportunities for wealth.

Given the wealth that foundations control and the prosperity that many philanthropic leaders have been afforded, foundations must pay attention to the way their grantmaking affects racial and economic inequities. The Building Movement Project's Race to Lead report series about the racial leadership gap in the nonprofit sector talks about how philanthropy, through grantmaking, affects how nonprofits select their leaders and board members: patterns of how they give and to whom they give affect the diversity of the leadership in the sector. Which is why private foundations, corporate foundations, and community foundations all have a responsibility to pay attention to how their actions affect existing power dynamics.

— Kyoko Uchida

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (June 2018)

July 03, 2018

Just in time for your midweek Independence Day celebration, here's a quick look back at the most popular posts on the blog in June. Enjoy!


What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or charged you up? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Interested in writing for PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Send a few lines about your idea/article/post to mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Weekend Link Roundup (June 30-July 1, 2018)

July 01, 2018

Lionel-Messi-en-souffrance-lors-de-France-Argentine_w484Our weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Civic Tech

International Affairs/Development

On the GuideStar blog, Gabe Cohen, the organization’s senior director of marketing and communications, talks with Mari Kuraishi, president of GlobalGiving (which she co-founded with Dennis Whittle in 2001), about the organization's founding and early years and the values and qualities the organization is looking for in its next leader.


In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Vu Le suggests that the best leaders may be those who are "willing to give up the things they care about, not out of pity and charity, but in recognition of and in response to systemic injustice. Among other things, it means sometimes we men do not apply for that perfect job, even if we think we are well qualified for it. It means white allies sometimes do not take the microphone, literally or figuratively, so that others can have a chance to speak and be heard. It means larger organizations sometimes do not pursue catalytic grants, even if they have a high chance of getting them, and instead support the smaller, grassroots organizations led by marginalized communities. It means foundations share decision-making power with nonprofits and communities who have lived through the inequity they are trying to address."


Kee Tobar, a Stoneleigh Foundation Emerging Leader Fellow and an attorney in the Youth Justice Project at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, marks the end of Pride Month with a guest post on the Generocity site that highlights the "closet to poverty pipeline" in which too mnay LGBTQ youth find themselves trapped.


Jutt back from a busy week at the IFC-ASIA: Ecoystems for Good conference in Thailand, Beth Kanter shares some tips that will help you design a formal reflection process that can lead to improved project or event results.

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Naomi Orensten, CEP's director of research, shares the latest results of a survey of funders it periodically conducts to better understand their perceptions across a number of dimensions of CEP's work, engagement with and use of its research, and experiences as users of its assessment and advisory services.


In The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal talks to Stanford professor Rob Reich, whose new book,Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, makes the case for private foundations as an un-democratic force in American society. Reich bases his claim on four main arguments: foundations are unaccountable to voters or to marketplace competition; they are not transparent; they are are donor-directed and do not have to consider the perspectives or feedback of the people they were set up to help; and they are tax-subsidized, meaning that tax dollars that would have gone "to the government, where at least there is nominal democratic control over spending priorities," is instead spent on whatever social purpose the foundation donor decides to support.

In a post on the NCRP blog, Nathan Boon, a program officer with the William Penn Foundation, outlines some of the things the Philadelphia-based foundation has done to refocus its institutional priorities on racial equity and justice.

On Transparency Talk (the Glasspockets blog), Hanh Cao Yu, chief learning officer for the California Endowment, explores the significance of fellowships and other intentional foundation approaches, to creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive philanthropic sector.

"On Tuesday, the judge in the Trump Foundation case, Saliann Scarpulla, made a series of comments and rulings from the bench that hinted — well, all but screamed — that she believes the Trump family has done some very bad things." Adam Davidson reports on the Trump Foundation's mounting legal troubless.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has issued a new analysis (16 pages, PDF) of its grant practice. Based on interviews with program staff and written by Aimée Bruederle, the report looks at such things as how the foundation collects grantee information; how it uses data and captures what it learns; how it uses technology to "interface" with grantees; and how it defines roles within the organization.

Make no mistake, writes Richard Marker on his blog, the core concepts of the field that he and others had a hand in developing in 2002 still make sense, but "they need to be contextualized for every situation. Scandinavia is not Latin America, and neither is Spain like China. Moreover, family funders are all different even as they are all the same. If one appears to be only U.S.-centric, or oblivious to local laws, history, and culture, it will be hard to get to the underlying universal aspects that define decision making."

(Photo credit: J-S Grond, à Kazan)

Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org


Quote of the Week

  • "To be the object of contempt or patronising tolerance on the part of proud neighbors is one of the most traumatic experiences that individuals or societies can suffer. The response, as often as not, is pathological exaggeration of one's real and imaginary virtues, and resentment, and hostility toward the proud, the happy, the successful...."

    — Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), "The Bent Twig: On the Rise Of Nationalism"

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