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23 posts from March 2010

This Week in PubHub: Women and Health

March 10, 2010

(Kyoko Uchida manages PubHub, the Foundation Center's online catalog of foundation-sponsored publications. In her last post, she wrote about our free PubHub widgets.)

PubHub features four reports on its home page each week on a broad monthly topic, along with a link to a complete list of reports on that topic. In March, we're highlighting reports on women, and this week the focus is on women and health.

Women_and_health Healthcare reform is on (almost) everyone's minds these days, but how will it affect women in particular? To answer that question, one could start by looking at the current status of women's access to health care and coverage. Women at Risk: Why Many Women Are Forgoing Needed Health Care (Commonwealth Fund) finds that while women require more healthcare services than men during their reproductive years, they are also more likely to go without needed care because of cost. According to a 2007 Commonwealth survey, 45 percent of women in the United States were un- or underinsured, while only 30 percent had adequate coverage and no difficulties accessing or paying for care.

Health and Health Care Access Among California Women Ages 50-64 (UCLA Center for Health Policy Research) notes that while older women in California are uninsured at a lower rate (14 percent) than younger women (24 percent), fully one-third of low-income women in that cohort were uninsured, while almost one-third of all older women reported delaying or forgoing care. Given the health concerns of older women, the report calls for the adoption of proactive, preventive health policies and greater access to affordable coverage.

A 2009 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, Putting Women's Health Care Disparities on the Map: Examining Racial and Ethnic Disparities at the State Level (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation), looks at variations among women in health status, access to and utilization of health care, and social factors such as poverty, wage gaps, and education by race/ethnicity and state. Predictably, women of color fared worse than white women overall, but there was also considerable variation within racial/ethnic groups across states; indeed, in states where the racial/ethnic disparities were smaller, it was often because all women were doing poorly. The report highlights the importance of shaping state-level policies that reflect the particular demographics, challenges, and needs of women in that state, including expanding greater access to primary care providers and reproductive health services.

Reproductive health is at the heart of a controversial provision in the House version of healthcare reform legislation. If passed, the provision would prohibit the public plan in any so-called insurance exchange from covering abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the woman's life, and would prohibit federal subsidies from being used to purchase health plans that include broader abortion coverage. Access to Abortion Coverage and Health Reform (Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation) highlights concerns that such restrictions also may eventually limit the availability of private plans that cover abortion, affecting not only low-income women who qualify for subsidies, but all women.

The experience of women, each of these reports conclude, underscores the need to expand access to high-quality coverage that includes routine prevention, screening, treatment, and maintenance as well as built-in cost protections. The $64,000 question, of course, is whether healthcare reform's time has come. What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

While you're at it, feel free to visit PubHub and comment on these and other reports. And be sure to check out other reports related to the issues women face today.

-- Kyoko Uchida

Aravind Wins Hilton Humanitarian Award

March 08, 2010

Congratulations to Aravind Eye Care System, the world's largest eye care provider, on winning the 2010 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. The $1.5 million prize honors nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that have significantly alleviated human suffering -- an apt description of the work Aravind has carried out at multiple locations in India since it was founded in 1976 by Dr. G. Venkataswamy.

"Aravind is a remarkable enterprise and its...impact on millions of patients is phenomenal," said Steven M. Hilton, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in announcing this year's prize. "In a thirty-year quest to end blindness in India, Aravind has developed innovative technologies that are now a model for bothe developed and developing world."

Check out the short video below to learn more about this remarkable organization.

This year, the Hilton Humanitarian Prize will be presented for the first time at the Global Philanthropy Forum's annual conference. (Click here for more details and/or to register for the conference.)

Previous winners of the prize include PATH (2009), BRAC (2008), Tostan (2007), Women for Women International (2006), Partners in Health (2005), Heifer International (2004), the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (2003), SOS Children's Villages (2002), St. Christopher's Hospice (2001), Casa Alianza (2000), the AMREF/African Medical and Research Foundation (1999), Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (1998), the International Rescue Committee (1997), and Operation Smile (1996).

-- Mitch Nauffts

American Express to Launch 'Game-Changing' CSR Initiative

March 07, 2010

Later this evening, during the Oscar's broadcast, American Express will become the latest Fortune 500 company (JP Morgan Chase, Target, Pepsi) to launch a social media-enabled CSR campaign. The Members Project, as the initiative is called, pairs the resources of Amex with the research and advocacy tools created by TakePart, an online community that "connects its members directly to the issues that inspire them to engage, contribute and take action."

According to the press materials I received, the initiative is like other online corporate giving campaigns in that it lets users help American Express decide what organizations to support. But that's only the beginning. At the Members Project Web site, "people can get informed about the causes they care about, connect to other engaged users, organize their own campaigns, and volunteer to drive real change." American Express and TakePart would like you to think of it as "CSR 2.0."

As I said, the intitiative will be launched during the Oscar's with two ads -- one featuring Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone, and the other with Yvon Chouinard, founder/owner of Patagonia, the high-end designer/maker of outdoor clothing and equipment. If you're not planning to watch the Oscar's from beginning to end, you can preview the spots here.

Stay tuned over the next couple of days as we share more details.

-- Mitch Nauffts

What a Foundation Wants to Know

March 06, 2010

Congratulations! Your organization's good work and outreach efforts have paid off and that foundation program officer you had been wooing has come through with a grant. But now she's requesting a site visit. Don't panic. This is your organization's chance to shine -- and cement a relationship that could bear fruit for years.

How to proceed? Here's a quick list, taken from After the Grant: The Nonprofit's Guide to Good Stewardship, the latest installment in the Foundation Center's series of fundraising guides, of helpful items to consider when planning a visit:

  • Arrange the visit for a time when you can show your agency off in the most favorable light. Think about not only when critical staff and board members will be available, but also when clients and community members may be accessing your services.
  • E-mail your program officer clear and concise directions to the site. And provide a cell phone number if the visit is not scheduled for your primary location.
  • Whenever possible, offer a tour that includes clients. If that's not possible, try to have a client available during the visit who is willing to share his/her perspective on your services.
  • Don't hand out materials during the visit. The last thing you want is the program officer rifling through paper as you're trying to show your people and program in action. Save those handouts for the end of the visit. And if there are a lot of them, offer to mail or e-mail them.
  • If a previous grant from the foundation made possible something tangible, be sure to point it out during the visit.
  • Be prepared to discuss current opportunities and challenges in an honest and open way. Since you've already received a grant, try not to focus on "selling" your organization; instead, think about highlighting your organization's services in the context of community needs.

What should you expect from the program officer? Everyone's heard the old saw about "If you've seen one foundation, you've seen one foundation." But there are plenty of commonalities among foundations, especially within a specific funding area. This list, from the Frances L. and Edwin L. Cummings Fund, of things a foundation wants to know should come in handy the next time a program officer comes to visit:

  • Is the executive director an effective leader? Is the organization's staff capable and well trained?
  • Does the organization have a proven track record, in general and as it relates to this program?
  • Does the organization have the capacity to expand to meet increased need in the community?
  • Is the organization offering innovative programs or is it replicating the efforts of others?
  • What is the present financial situation of the organization?
  • Is the board of directors "active" or "passive"?
  • Does the board support the organization financially and, if so, to what extent?
  • Does the board work to enlist support from their business/personal contacts?
  • Does the organization have a documented long-range plan developed with the participation of the board?

Here are some final words from the book:

It's important to remember that, at its core, a successful funding relationship, like any other relationship, is about building trust and a sense of comfort and camaraderie between key staff and the foundation program officer. With the ease and convenience of voice mail and e-mail, grantees today are able to stay in touch quickly and have questions answered with relative ease. Meetings are a more deliberate and intentional opportunity to present information about your agency, so be sure to use your face time wisely....

What would you add to the above?

-- Mitch Nauffts

Readings and Other Stuff (March 5, 2010)

March 05, 2010

Lots of interesting stuff on the internets today:

What are you reading/watching?

What, Why, and How Story Matters

March 03, 2010

(Consultant Thaler Pekar helps smart leaders and their organizations find, develop, and share the stories and organizational narratives that can rally critical support. Her previous posts in this series can be found here, here, here, and here.)

Listening I fear the term "story" is being used so broadly as to render it meaningless.

Messages are not stories. Statements of belief and opinions are not stories. And, most of the time, answers to direct questions are not stories.

Many well-intentioned professionals are rushing out and thinking they are asking for stories, when they are not. What gets shared as a result of their efforts is often called story, even when it is not.

Allow me to define the term simply. "Story" implies a series of unfolding events. Something happens to someone or something. A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Understanding and recognizing a real story matters for three reasons: First, stories provide rich insight into complex emotions and situations, and competing, or even seemingly contradictory, values. They bridge the rational and the emotional. And stories provide context, enabling us to create meaning out of complexity and confusion. Flannery O'Connor observed, "A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way." It follows that by listening to stories, you will hear things you wouldn't ordinarily hear.

Continue reading »

Transparency, Partnership, and Glasspockets

March 02, 2010

(Janet Camarena is director of the Foundation Center's San Francisco office and project lead for the center's Glasspockets initiative.)

Magnifying-glass In setting out to start a national conversation on foundation transparency, the Foundation Center knew that, despite our longtime role as a provider of transparency for the field, it would be a relatively uninteresting conversation if we limited it to ourselves. Indeed, the conversation we imagined having included many dimensions -- accountability, effectiveness, strategic communications -- that others could speak to directly and with more authority. In fact, from very early on one of the most exciting things about Glasspockets was the opportunity it provided for us to engage with others in the field whose work we had long admired.

In thinking about current examples of foundation transparency, for example, the Center for Effective Philanthropy's Grantee Perception Reports immediately came to mind. Because the spirit of Glasspockets is all about creating a culture of transparency within foundations, we were especially drawn to those foundations that went beyond thinking of the process as an internal exercise and took the extra step of posting the grantee feedback on their Web sites. So we reached out to our friends at CEP to secure permission to include those reports on the Glasspockets site as well as to get their input on features of the site that were in development at the time. Thanks to our friends in Cambridge, the foundations that have made their Grantee Perception Reports public are featured in our "Transparency 2.0" table and are noted in the "Who Has Glass Pockets" template.

Widely considered to be experts in matters of governance and accountability, another partner we contacted early on was the UK-based One World Trust. The trust's Global Accountability Reports provided the Glasspockets team with an excellent framework to use when thinking about how to approach foundation accountability. And One World Trust representatives were also generous with their time in terms of providing feedback and input as we developed the "Who Has Glass Pockets" assessment.

Coincidentally, the trust at that time was developing an online database of commonly accepted governance standards as a way to promote effective practice through the sharing of codes of conduct, certification schemes, reporting frameworks, and awards. That tool is featured as a "partner resource" on the Glasspockets homepage and is a wonderful way for foundations to benchmark their governance practices against those of their colleagues in other countries.

Because transparency and communications are closely linked, we also enlisted the help of the Communications Network, which works to strengthen the voice of philanthropy. Communications Network executive director Bruce Trachtenberg reviewed and provided input for several drafts of the “Who Has Glass Pockets” template, and we know Bruce and his network members will continue to be helpful moving forward, especially as far as trends in the field of strategic communications are concerned. Currently, Glasspockets is featuring the Communications Network's latest report on The State of Foundation Communications.

As mentioned, one of the goals of Glasspockets is to increase understanding of foundation transparency and accountability online as well as off and to illuminate successes, failures, and ongoing experimentation in the field, which made Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) a natural partner for the project. We will be relying on GEO to help us identify foundation accountability case studies and trends in evaluation, as well as to point us to leaders and best practices in these areas. Currently, Glasspockets is featuring GEO's new report (issued jointly by GEO and the Council on Foundations), Evaluation in Philanthropy: Perspectives from the Field, and Pat Pasqual, the director of our D.C. office has interviewed GEO's Courtney Bourns about the report.

For many years, the Foundation Center has reported on institutional philanthropy’s quantitative contributions to specific fields and has provided more in-depth, qualitative reports in partnership with affinity groups and others interested in a particular area or specific topic. One of our goals for Glasspockets was to bridge these two types of information, and that required a partner who regularly looks at the field of philanthropy and identifies the most compelling and/or daunting challenges on its plate. We didn't have to look far. Jane Wales and the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) team are neighbors of our San Francisco office, and the forum hosts an annual conference that, as GPF puts it, "attracts donors to issues, to effective strategies, to potential co-funding partners, and to emblematic agents of change from around the world." We partnered with the forum last year to develop presentations around a number of critical issues facing philanthropy and the world, including global health, climate change, and poverty, and that partnership helped inform many of the content areas in the "Philanthropy at Work" area of the Glasspockets site. We will be partnering with GPF again this year for its 2010 conference in April, and we fully expect that our joint efforts will continue to inform the topics addressed on the site moving forward.

It goes without saying that our Glasspockets partners have been absolutely essential to getting us this far, and I want to express our appreciation for their collegiality, time, and guidance. Before I wrap up, I'd like to leave you with this thought: The above list of partners is only a beginning. Indeed, we're looking for others to join us in this ongoing conversation. Do you have content you'd like to see featured on the Glasspockets site? Are you working on something or engaged in a transparency-related effort that would make a good Glasspockets feature? If so, we welcome your help. To learn more, e-mail us at glasspockets@foundationcenter.org.

We look forward to talking with you!

-- Janet Camarena

Readings and Other Stuff (March 1, 2010)

March 01, 2010

Here are a few things that caught our attention today:

What are you reading?

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."

    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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