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21 posts from April 2017

Advocacy Funder Collaboratives

April 07, 2017

The following post is part of a year-long series here on PhilanTopic that addresses major themes related to the center’s work: the use of data to understand and address important issues and challenges; the benefits of foundation transparency for donors, nonprofits/NGOs, and the broader public; the emergence of private philanthropy globally; the role of storytelling in conveying the critical work of philanthropy; and what it means, and looks like, to be an effective, high-functioning foundation, nonprofit, or changemaker in the twenty-first century. As always, we welcome your thoughts and feedback. To access the complete suite of advocacy funder collaborative resources, visit Foundation Center's GrantCraft.org site.

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"Funders need to collaborate more." How many times have we heard that?

The good news: Funders are collaborating more. Today, there are all kinds of learning networks, aligned funding and strategy associations, affinity groups, and other structures that are making it easier for grantmakers to collaborate.

Many funders, however, are still apprehensive about funding advocacy. A Foundation Center analysis of a sample of the largest funders demonstrates that only 12.8 percent of overall foundation grantmaking explicitly supports policy, advocacy, and systems reform. The Atlantic Philanthropies observes that advocacy funding is too often "the philanthropic road not taken, yet it is a road most likely to lead to the kind of lasting change that philanthropy has long sought through other kinds of grants."

Multi-party_Advocacy_IL

It's an easy road to avoid. Publicly taking a stand on controversial issues can be dicey for foundation leaders, and supporting advocacy can be complex, time-intensive, and risky. Stir the varied interests, goals, and personalities of a diverse group of funders into the mix and it becomes even more daunting.

Given the deepening concern — and increasing activism — sparked by the recent change of administration in the U.S., that may be changing. Wherever you stand on the issues, it is hard to ignore the dramatic upswing in advocacy activity since the election. Some of it involves collaboratives successfully bringing together funders to advance important issues through public policy campaigns, communications, research, and strategic grantmaking. And they are getting results, despite the obstacles in their way.

If we're to overcome the inevitable concerns about joining an advocacy collaborative and understand what makes them successful, we need to ask: What distinguishes an advocacy collaborative from other kinds of collaboratives? For an answer, we spoke with several advocacy collaborative stakeholders. This is what we heard:

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Changing the Political Climate

April 06, 2017

Us-politics_climateThe election of Donald Trump, together with Republican control of the U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives and most statehouses, is both a reflection of and serves to underscore the dramatically altered political climate in America. Many nonprofit and philanthropic leaders are scrambling to figure out how they can best operate in this new environment. Too few of them are thinking about how they might work to change it.

A lot of people would like to see it change. We know that a significant majority of Americans are stressed by the outcome of the election and that fully two-thirds are deeply concerned about what it will mean for the nonprofit sector and the nation. That presents an opportunity for charities and foundations. Instead of trying to make do, nonprofit leaders should try to make change.

Make no mistake: efforts designed to alter the context for the administration's policy agenda will find a sizeable and receptive audience. Sixty percent of Americans are embarrassed by the past actions and rhetoric of the president and do not feel he shares their values; similar percentages feel he is neither temperamentally suited for the job nor honest and that his actions are dividing the country. Given these concerns, an outpouring of donations and willing volunteers are finding their way to charities either directly affected by the Trump agenda or working to resist it.

The question now for many nonprofits is how will they deploy the new support they are receiving. Will it be used to ramp up frontline services made necessary by cutbacks in government funding and regulations? Will they allocate it to policy advocacy and organizing aimed at directly contesting the Trump and Republican agendas? Will they also use it help fuel initiatives aimed at changing the political climate in ways that renders these other activities less necessary?

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Remembering Paul Connolly

April 05, 2017

Headshot_Paul_Connolly

PND was saddened to hear of the death of Paul Connolly. Widely respected within the field, Paul was a friend to both PND and the Foundation Center, always generous with his time and eager to share his extensive knowledge of the social sector. Like his colleagues at Bessemer Trust, who sent us the following statement, we will miss his smarts, his smile, and his engaging personality.

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Bessemer Trust colleagues and clients express their deepest sympathy on the death of Paul Matthew Connolly, director of philanthropic advisory services, who passed away on March 29, 2017.

Paul made a large and lasting impact on Bessemer during his three-year tenure. As director of philanthropic advisory services, he elevated the department to new levels of expertise and service. Based in San Francisco, Paul worked with clients and colleagues across the country, making strong connections with many client families regarding charities that were dear to them. He raised Bessemer's standing in the philanthropic community by skillfully connecting people, sharing his vast knowledge, and serving as an ambassador for the firm. 

Prior to joining Bessemer, Paul worked for TCC Group, a management consulting firm specializing in private foundations and nonprofit organizations, where he served as chief client services officer and senior partner. He also served on the board of directors. In his sixteen years at TCC, Paul helped lead the firm's growth strategy, including launching its Western Regional office and building the philanthropy practice. Earlier in his career, he was an associate director at the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), where he oversaw an $11 million loan fund that provided financial and advisory services to nonprofit clients.

Paul authored two books on nonprofit organizational development: Navigating the Organizational Lifecycle: A Capacity-Building Guide for Nonprofit Leaders and Strengthening Nonprofit Performance: A Funder’s Guide to Capacity Building. A frequent speaker and author on effective philanthropy, he published articles in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Foundation Review and was quoted in The New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

Over the years, Paul served on numerous boards and advisory committees on both the East and West Coast. Most recently, he served as board chair of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, on the board of directors of the Nathaniel Wharton Fund, and on an advisory board for the Foundation Center

Paul earned a BA, with honors, from Harvard University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management, where he advised student leaders of the Yale Philanthropy Conference. Paul will especially be remembered by students and graduates who benefited from his mentorship and support in navigating careers in philanthropy.

Bessemer Trust and the philanthropy field have lost a thought leader, colleague, and friend. Our deepest condolences go out to Paul's loved ones.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (March 2017)

April 04, 2017

Maybe the nicest thing we can say about March was that it came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. If the lion's share of your media consumption during the month was devoted to March Madness (of the sports or political variety) and you missed out on your regular PhilanTopic reading, well, here's your chance to catch up.

What have you read/watched/heard lately that got your attention, made you think, or gave you a reason to feel hopeful? Feel free to share with our readers in the comments section below. Or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Reframing Addiction: Removing Stigma, Saving Lives

April 03, 2017

Addiction_disease_brain_300Every parent worries about the harm his or her child might encounter in the world. As parents, we dedicate our time and energy to protecting our children from every preventable danger — accidents, violence, illness. Why, then, don't we take steps to stop the epidemic that is claiming more American lives than car crashes or gun violence — the devastating disease of addiction? Addiction is killing our children. Even worse, the stigma associated with addiction keeps many people who are affected from seeking treatment.

In 2011, I lost my son Brian to addiction. He didn't die of an overdose or as a result of a drug-related crime. In fact, he had been in recovery for more than a year. The undeniable reality is that it was not just addiction that claimed my son's life — it was the shame he felt every morning when he opened his eyes that led him that day to research suicide notes, light a candle, and take his own life.

Brian had struggled with the disease of addiction for nearly ten years, cycling through eight different treatment programs. He desperately wanted to lead a normal life. His substance-use disorder was not indicative of a lack of willpower on his part; rather, the chemistry of his brain continually worked against him. Brian wasn't irresponsible. He was always curious, cheerful, and consistently caring. A dear companion and a beloved child. Full of compassion.

I wish I could say my anguish has subsided over the years since his death. But it has only intensified with the knowledge that addiction is a disease that is preventable but that we don't prevent; that is treatable but that we don't treat; that is undeniable but that we continue to deny.

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Weekend Link Roundup (April 1-2, 2017)

April 02, 2017

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

Arts and Culture

The National Endowment for the Arts, which has been targeted for elimination by the Trump administration, is a "uniquely American [institution]: diverse and independent, with a significant part of the budget distributed to state and local organizations. It also collaborates with nonprofit and private donors." Hillel Italie reports for the AP.

Civil Society

There's a lot of noise out there these days and not nearly enough signal. A reminder, writes Kathlyn Mead, president and CEO of the San Diego Foundation, that "change starts with dialogue. [That before] we act, we must listen and attempt to understand each other. What are the challenges others face that we might not? How do our actions impact people both inside and outside our community? How does the past affect the future?" Good questions, indeed.

Community Improvement/Development

"Compared to many places around the world, [the U.S.] has developed an enviable community development finance system that productively uses public resources to leverage private investment, incentivizes banks to invest in underresourced communities, and fosters a sophisticated network of organizations and practitioners who excel at revitalizing places where others deem investment too risky," writes Kimberlee Cornett, managing director of the Kresge Foundation's Social Investment Practice. But for "all their positive impact, these strong, productive programs still [aren't enough to] meet the real need of our low-income neighborhoods, friends and families."

Black or white, economic pain is economic pain and lack of opportunity is lack of opportunity. Which is why, argues Bill Bynum, an Aspen Institute trustee and chief executive officer of HOPE, a credit union, loan fund, and policy center in Jackson, Mississippi, that "[n]o purpose is served toward the goal of creating broad prosperity by building barriers between oppressed groups."

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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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