1633 posts categorized "Philanthropy"

How Philanthropy Can Catalyze Private Investment in Opportunity Zones

March 13, 2019

Oppzones_792x800The U.S. Department of the Treasury expects Opportunity Zones to unlock well over $100 billion in private investment in low-wealth communities across the United States. The tax incentive, which became law as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, seeks to encourage patient capital investments in more than eighty-seven hundred designated census tracts across the country by permitting investors to reinvest capital gains in designated census tracts in exchange for tax benefits.

Opportunity Zones represent the first time federal tax policy has sought to tap unrealized capital gains to advance economic and community development. Proponents believe the incentive will help transform low-wealth communities, while skeptics have doubts that funds will flow to the people and places most in need — and, even if they do, that the ensuing transformation will have a positive impact on longtime residents and small businesses.

Against this backdrop, philanthropy should step up and help shape the Opportunity Zone landscape so that benefits of the legislation also accrue to longtime residents and businesses.

Here are six ways philanthropy can help:

1. Shape the rules of the game. Philanthropy can influence IRS guidelines for Opportunity Zones — and, if necessary, follow-on legislation — to ensure that the incentive is implemented in a manner that reflects the interests of communities and the intent of the program. For some foundations, this may include support for developing and tracking metrics, stakeholder interviews to uncover opportunities and issues, and/or deep-dive case studies of specific transactions. The data from these activities can then be used to generate valuable tweaks to the design of the program. As always, data-driven insights will be critical to making the case for modifying, fine-tuning, or extending the incentive.

2. Level the playing field. Foundations are well suited to ensure that communities are poised to attract investor interest and have a seat at the table as Opportunity Zone transactions are negotiated. Organizations such as Accelerator for America are already working with cities across the country to create investment prospectuses, while others such as the Governance Project are working with municipal leadership to develop business cases and strategies for priority projects in communities such as Louisville and San Jose. There is far more that can and should be done, however, and the unique features of rural Opportunity Zones must also be accounted for so that those communities are not left behind.

3. Incentivize investor behavior. Capital is likely to follow the path of least resistance. This does not imply that social returns cannot be integrated effectively into Opportunity Zone transactions. Rather, it is incumbent on philanthropy to help create an environment where community benefits, standardized impact reporting, and related activities become "no-brainers" for investors. The Opportunity Zones Reporting Framework, a voluntary guideline recently introduced by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance and the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University, is an important initiative aimed at defining best practices for investors and fund managers looking to deploy capital in Opportunity Zones.

In addition to support for emerging norms and guidelines, we see a few additional ways to create incentives for investors to focus on social returns. Philanthropy can partner with impact-oriented investors to demonstrate what is possible in real-world transactions. A few carefully selected and constructed demonstration deals could begin to unlock practices across similar asset classes in different places. Philanthropy could also support a high-profile annual award for the highest-impact transactions, as well as the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for Opportunity Zone transactions and funds.

4. Create investable opportunities. Now that the Opportunity Zone incentive exists, the challenge is to develop a robust pipeline of transactions that meet both the needs of communities and the return expectations of investors. To that end, philanthropy can help by identify projects for investment and provide the upfront investment needed to take an idea to the project proposal stage. Once a deal has been conceptualized, philanthropy can play a role in reducing risk exposure for investors so that deals with the greatest potential to drive positive change proceed.

In addition, because Opportunity Zones are a new tool, template agreements and other documentation needed to enable transactions do not yet exist. Philanthropy can help there by investing in efforts to establish a collection of model agreements that could be shared across locations and projects. Such an investment would reduce transaction costs and help establish norms and expectations with respect to social impact.

5. Build wealth for local residents. It's inevitable that new investment dollars will change Opportunity Zone neighborhoods. As such, it's important to minimize displacement risks and create upside for residents, including small business owners, by better meeting their current needs and creating mechanisms for wealth creation throughout the process, including at exit. This could include clauses that commit project sponsors to hiring from within the community, financial upside for local organizations, and/or clauses for business owners to buy back their equity at a pre-agreed price. To do this effectively, philanthropy should engage with investors and local leaders to seed and share demonstration transactions that show the way.

6. Accelerate progress via coordination and knowledge sharing. Ultimately, the strength of the Opportunity Zone program is that it is inherently local. While each of the designated census tracts is unique, there are common challenges and patterns across designated zones. Philanthropy can help accelerate results and improve the allocation of scarce resources by supporting coordination and communication within and across markets. These activities might include seeding "open-source" solutions, sharing learnings across stakeholder groups, and promoting coordination among leading actors across the country. While informal coordination and information sharing happens today, thoughtful investments by philanthropy could truly super-charge impact.

It seems as though Opportunity Zones have captivated all of us working to build more equitable communities and a more inclusive economy for all Americans. Though the debate about the incentive's long-term impact will continue, the reality is that Opportunity Zones are here to stay. Whether you are an optimist or skeptic, now is the time for philanthropy to step up and demonstrate how this new source of private capital can shape the evolving market landscape and positively impact communities in need of a boost.

Headshot_rhett_tammy_janeRhett Buttle is founder of Public Private Strategies (PPS) and a former Obama administration official. Tammy Halevy is a senior advisor with PPS and an expert in innovative community development finance with a focus on small business. Jane Campbell is a senior advisor with PPS and the former mayor of Cleveland. The PPS team is advising philanthropies on how to best engage with Opportunity Zones.

Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2019)

March 10, 2019

John-Oliver-picture-1A weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

"We have reached a moment when foundations must face the ways they may be reinforcing inequality," write Brittany Boettcher and Kathleen Kelly Janus in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. But, they add, there are three things funders can do to improve their efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Grantmaking

Candid, PND's parent organization, will be well represented at this year's PEAK Grantmaking conference in Denver. On the GrantCraft blog, Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Candid, previews the sessions she and our colleague Jen Bokoff will be leading.

Health

On the Commonwealth Fund's Tipping Point blog, Billy Wynne, co-founder of Wynne Health Group, and Josh LaRosa, a policy associate at the firm, look at actions taken by the Trump administration and Congress to rein in prescription drug prices — and find little to cheer about. 

Journalism

The sale of the Newseum building in Washington, D.C. to Johns Hopkins University is a cautionary tale — one that the museum’s leadership must take to heart when and if it ever opens its doors again. Kriston Capps reports for CityLab.

Nonprofits

On her Social Velocity blog, Nell Edgington looks at five key traits that separate nonprofits that grow their work and impact from nonprofits that don’t. 

In a new post on his Nonprofit Chronicles blog, Marc Gunther updates readers on the steps taken by the Humane Society of the United States to recover from the charges of sexual harassment levied against Wayne Pacelle, its former chief executive.

Philanthropy

Jeff Polet, a professor of political science at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, argues in a post on the Philanthropy Daily site that that the first rule of philanthropy (and economics and politics) ought always to be "First, do no harm."

In a post on the HistPhil blog, Drummond Pike, the founder and former president of the Tides Foundation, details the fall of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform, better known as ACORN — and, in the words of the site's editors, provides "a new perspective on an important development in the recent past — the tension that arose between grantmaking foundations and more radical grantee organizations." 

How are millennials and Gen Z changing the landscape of philanthropy?

Social Justice

In his latest, Nonprofit AF's Vu Le argues that it is critical that all "communities of color examine [their] relationships with one another, [their] own biases, and how [they] may be benefiting from the oppression of others, especially of the Bback community, without even realizing it." 

Women and Girls

In Fast Company, Eillie Anzilotti examines an unconditional cash transfer program in Kenya which found that when people in a relationship — especially women — received extra money, rates of physical and sexual violence declined.

And on the GuideStar blog, Erica Roberts, a communications coordinator for Candid, shares key findings from the report Encouraging Giving to Women's and Girls' Causes: The Role of Social Norms, which examined survey responses from more than twenty-five hundred people who were asked questions like "How interested do you think others are, or will be in the future, in giving to women's and girls' causes?"

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

4 Questions You Should Consider Before Giving Internationally

March 08, 2019

512x512bbWhether you've traveled to distant parts of the world and were inspired by the inventiveness of the communities you visited, read about an issue in an article, or maybe just feel a kinship with a special place, the desire to help others can quickly move to the top of your priority list. Supporting the efforts of nonprofits working on issues you most care about is a great way to take action. But giving outside the U.S. can be daunting. Luckily, there are lots of resources that can help you achieve what you hope to with your generosity.

Whether you're considering a one-time donation or providing sustained support to a charity somewhere else in the world, there are a few things you should consider before taking the plunge.

1. Where would you like to donate? There are plenty of issues around the world that could use, and are deserving of, your help. But which of those do you feel passionately about? Rainforest conservation in Brazil? Great! Schools for girls in Kenya? Fantastic! The first step is narrowing it down.

Do some research to find out which charities align with your giving goals. A quick glance at most charities' websites will give you a good idea about the impact the charity has had in the past and how it is working toward its mission today.

This kind of research sometimes can be more challenging than a simple Web search. Some foreign organizations have a great online presence with lots of good information translated into English. When this is not the case, donors have some options:

There are a number of 501(c)(3) organizations that facilitate international grantmaking and also provide extensive databases of organizations eligible to receive funding (the CAF America Global Database is one).

Some countries also maintain national registries of charities. The UK Charity Commission and Canadian Revenue Agency List of Charities are both good country-specific resources.

2. How do you make sure you're not breaking any rules? As you might imagine, giving to charity across borders — like any financial transaction — is subject to oversight by both the U.S. and foreign governments, which makes cross-border giving more complex than simply writing a check and dropping it in the mail. In many cases, there's a complicated matrix of regulations related to money laundering, terrorism, and organized crime that donors are required to follow.

While you might think most of these regulations apply to entities on the receiving end of a charitable contribution, they impact the donor — whether it's an individual, corporation, or nonprofit organization. The bottom line? If you're initiating the financial transaction, you are responsible for making sure the funds are used appropriately. This might seem like a bridge too far, but working with an intermediary or other U.S. public charity can take the guesswork out of it. An experienced intermediary organization will be able to conduct the necessary due diligence and protect a donor's reputation, ensure regulatory compliance, and eliminate any risks.

3. Are there tax benefits to giving abroad? When you're looking to support a charity that impressed you with their work on, say, ocean conservancy, getting a tax break is probably the last thing on your mind. But it's not nothing and it's not a bad thing to keep in mind, because being able to claim a deduction for your gift means you'll have more funds available to donate to other causes.

Not all charitable donations are tax deductible, and in fact donations made directly to charitable organizations outside the U.S. do not qualify. That said, there are several ways to receive a tax deduction while supporting charitable work overseas. For example, you can opt to support a U.S. charity that operates programs abroad. Or, if you prefer that your donation go directly to a foreign charity, you can opt to make your gift through a U.S. intermediary organization. Intermediary organizations are U.S. public charities that often assume the risks inherent in making donations to organizations outside the U.S. and make it possible for the donor to receive a tax receipt at the time of their donation. The donation is made to the intermediary, but you'll be able to recommend which foreign charity is supported by your gift.

Donors should check how the intermediary organization they choose to work through operates, as there are differences among intermediaries with respect to the amount of due diligence performed, fees charged, etc.

4. What impact would you like to make with your donation? Whether you'd like to effect change over the long term by paying for a child's education or would like to help in a more immediate way by supporting a community after a disaster, it's important to be clear about your expectations. Clarity about what you'd like to accomplish with your donation is key to establishing reasonable expectations that both you and the charity in question are comfortable with.

Giving outside the U.S. is complicated, but there are a number of organizations that specialize in cross-border giving and have made it relatively simple for Americans to support charitable causes in nearly any country. With the assurances provided by a comprehensive due diligence process and some patience, giving internationally can be a fulfilling experience. By being realistic about the needs on the ground and your own good intentions, anyone can take advantage of the capacity and efforts of charities around the world to do good.

Headshot_ted_hartTed Hart (@cafamerica), ACFRE, CAP®, is the president and CEO of CAF America and has over thirty years' experience in global philanthropy. He is also the editor of Cross-Border Giving: A Legal and Practical Guide, Workbook Edition (Charity Channel Press, 2019).

New Study on the Role of Philanthropy in a Safe, Healthy and Just World

March 07, 2019

Globus-icon-300Candid (Foundation Center + Guidestar) and Centris (Rethinking Poverty) are conducting a study on the role of philanthropy in producing safe, healthy, and just societies.

At a time when many people are questioning the value of philanthropy, the study aims to clarify its role in creating peaceful and inclusive societies that provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable, and responsive institutions.

A survey designed to identify stakeholders, strategies, and outcomes across a variety of dimensions of social progress is the first component of the study.

Initial results of the survey will be published in the June 2019 issue of Alliance magazine, a leading source of comment and analysis on global philanthropy that is read by over 24,000 philanthropy practitioners around the world.

The June edition will include an in-depth feature exploring the role of philanthropy in peace building — thirty pages that illuminate philanthropy practice around the world, explore the merit and value of community-based approaches to conflict resolution, and profile some of the pioneering people and networks in the field. The issue is being guest edited by a new generation of practitioners working at the intersection of philanthropy and peace — Hope Lyons of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Lauren Bradford of Candid, and the Dalia Association's Rasha Sansour. (For examples of the magazine's recent special features, see https://www.alliancemagazine.org/magazine/.)

A full report on the survey will be produced for discussion by the field at a variety of venues. All those who take part in the study will receive a copy of the report.

The survey has twenty questions and only takes seven to eight minutes to complete. Click here to take the survey now: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Candid_Centris

Barry_knightThe survey closes on Wednesday, March 27, and all answers will be treated in confidence.

Please take part. Your views are important to us.

Barry Knight (barryknight@cranehouse.eu)

What Is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Thinking?

March 06, 2019

Untitled_1960After more than forty-five years in the museum field as a curator, director, consultant, museum studies professor, writer, and trustee, I have observed that in spite of an abiding concern for the integrity of their collections, and despite the sincere anguish expressed whenever a collection is destroyed by a natural disaster or is sacrificed to human impulse, museums too often are willing to compromise that integrity.  

What? 

Museums are willing to violate the public trust?  

Yes. And they do it when they sell objects from their collections on the open market. 

By now, most of you have read or heard that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is planning to sell Mark Rothko's Untitled, 1960, which it has not exhibited since 2002The picture has an enviable provenance, and Sotheby's will auction it this spring in New York City. Reports in the media say that proceeds from the sale will be used by SFMOMA to acquire art by people of color and women, as well as to establish an endowment for future acquisitions. Estimates of what the painting might fetch range from $30 million to $50 million — an amount, it would seem, SFMOMA trustees could raise among themselves if they were truly interested in keeping an important example of the work of one of the world's foremost abstract expressionists in the museum's collection.  

Why does it matter?

Museums are more than just repositories of stuff. They long ago evolved beyond their origins as cabinets of curiosities and today function as social hubs, conveyors of cultural status, catalysts for economic development, and retail trade operations, as well as places for object-based learning, contemplation, and enjoyment.

Notwithstanding the cumulative impact of these changes, the core precept of museums as thing-centered operations is what makes them unique. The museum was invented as a place where the tangible is used to explain the intangible. Collections are assembled for their evidentiary value, the objects in them providing direct proof of the topic at hand. And once they've been selected, those objects should be preserved and protected. The obligation to preserve and honor objects that have been acquired plays out most obviously in the areas of safe and secure storage, scholarly access, and public exhibitions. Indeed, museums have been so successful in making this point that the response to selling a work, as SFMOMA has decided to do with one of its Rothkos, is almost always calamitous.

Except for loss of life, the tragedy museum officials fear most is the destruction of an institution's collections. Museums are stewards of our shared cultural patrimony, and those who curate the collections they hold recoil at the thought of losing objects to chance, negligence, or something more insidious. Notable museum losses that continue to reverberate include the unsolved theft in 1990 of thirteen pieces of art from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, the looting in 2003 of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad in 2003, the ransacking in 2015 of the Mosul Museum by ISIS, and the recent horrific destruction by fire of the National Museum of Brazil

Museums devote considerable resources to protecting the art, artifacts, and specimens in their collections. Tens of thousands of skilled professionals — curators, conservators, directors, collection managers, security and maintenance staff — are employed by museums around the country to collect and safekeep these objects. One must assume that SFMOMA has many such professionals on staff. One could be forgiven, however, for thinking that the museum's decision to sell the Rothko suggests that some of these folks see themselves as temporary custodians of highly profitable and expendable goods.

Selling objects from a museum collection is nothing new. The practice even has a name: deaccessioning. Unless there are preexisting ownership restrictions, it is legal for museums in the United States to deaccession unwanted items. In fact, it is accepted (if not condoned) by museum membership organizations such as the American Alliance of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History. But one doesn't have to look far to learn that the practice contravenes generally accepted views regarding the preservation of objects entrusted to a museum's care.

In the United States, most museums are privately owned and operated and are classified as tax-exempt entities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. They are governed by boards of trustees on behalf of the public; those trustees usually are volunteers and often have no previous museum experience, relying instead on professional staff to run the institutions they oversee.

In their capacity as fiduciaries, museum trustees may do as they wish with the collections under their care. But the controversy around commercial deaccessioning oddly sidesteps the too-common reality that, unless another museum purchases the object for sale, the object usually ends up the hands of a private collector and is "lost" to the public. How does that align with the public benefit imperative required of museums as tax-exempt entities and that most museums embrace in their actions? It doesn't.

Sothebys_catalogues

If you get a chance, try and figure out what happened to the objects sold at auction in the catalogues pictured above. Don't count on the museums that made the decision to deaccession the objects being able to tell you; as far as they're concerned, the objects may as well have been vaporized. And, no surprise, auction houses do not divulge their buyers. In fact, deaccessioning works to the advantage of private buyers. One interesting theory going around about the Rothko deaccession has it that a friend of an SFMOMA board member desired a stellar example of the painter's work for his or her collection. These days, Rothkos on the open market are as scarce as hen's teeth. One soon will be available, however.

Occasionally, a museum will make the case that selling a piece of art is necessary to assure its survival. This does not seem to be the case with SFMOMA. 

So, what is the "right" answer? What can we — those of us in the museum community and the public more generally — do to prevent such deaccessionings in the future? First, recognize the practice for what it is and acknowledge how it contravenes a museum's fundamental commitment to protect and care for the items in its care. Second, hold parties to the decision accountable when their actions violate sustainable collection care mandates. Third, understand that such actions put all museums in a bad light. And fourth, rectify the practice. 

Mitigating the unfortunate results of deaccessioning isn't difficult. An item can be deaccessioned and kept by the museum for educational purposes. Or it can be sold or gifted to another museum — a win-win-win arrangement. The museum moving the item no longer has the expense of caring for it. The museum taking the object can agree to assure its future and, if it cannot, can agree to transfer it a later date to another museum with the same restrictions. In either case, the public will still have access to it. And the object and its provenance will stay intact.     

Inter-museum transfer of "unwanted" pieces can be of immense value, ethically and practically, to the museum field. It aligns with the preservation obligation museums embrace 24/7. It would put an end to the hypocrisy of voicing concern for a collection's integrity while at the same time selling pieces of the collection into oblivion. And it need not rule out profit. If the sale is to another museum, museum deaccessions can continue to be commercial propositions.

We hear a lot about museum failings these days, including their lack of inclusion, diversity, and social access. These criticisms are valid and are being addressed by museums across the country. In the case of SFMOMA, steps to address shortcomings can be taken that do not involve the sacrifice of an important painting by a twentieth-century master. That would be the right thing to do.

(Image credit: Auction house catalog covers for sales featuring items officially deaccessioned by museums. Photo by Steven Miller, 2017; p. 17, Deaccessioning Today: Theory and Practice, Steven Miller, Rowland & Littlefield, 2018 c. Steven Miller 2018.)

Headshot_steven_millerSteven Miller has worked in the museum field since 1971 as a trustee, director, curator, consultant, writer, educator, lecturer, and media commentator. For sixteen years he was an adjunct professor at the Seton Hall University MA Program in Museum Professions, and he continues to be affiliated with the Museum Accreditation Program of the American Alliance of Museums. He is, in addition, the author of The Anatomy of a Museum: An Insider's Text (Wiley) and Deaccessioning Today: Theory and Practice (Rowman & Littlefield).

Weekend Link Roundup (March 2-3, 2019)

March 03, 2019

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

Criminal Justice

There's a gender imbalance in many African-American neighborhoods, and mass incarceration is largely to blame. Mike Maciag reports for Governing magazine.

Economy

"Much has been written about the massive changes that are underway in the nature and future of work, but we still have more questions than answers," writes Ritse Erumi on the Ford Foundation's Equals Change blog. "But the fact remains that the scale of this challenge requires new ideas, frameworks...experimentation" — and, not least, "the participation of workers."

Giving

When is giving $100 million not necessarily a brilliant act of generosity? When the giver is a Wall Street hedge fund manager and the recipient is...Harvard University. Larry Edelman reports for the Boston Globe.

Could the next big thing in philanthropy be the use of donor-advised funds to support marginalized groups and causes such as women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and climate funding? Gender lens expert Katherine Pease, managing director and head of impact strategies for Cornerstone Capital, thinks it could be, and tells Philanthropy Women's Kiersten Marek how it might work.

Leadership

The "default assumption" in the social sector "that people with for-profit or academic backgrounds are somehow better leaders in general, even in fields where they have no experience or knowledge," is, well, a questionable assumption. Nonprofit AF's Vu Le explains.

Nonprofits

What will nonprofit organizations look like in 2025? Nine members of the Forbes Nonprofit Council share their thoughts.

Can the experience of one San Francisco nonprofit tell us anything about why nonprofits, generally speaking, have short lives? Courtney E. Martin, the author most recently of The New Better Off: Reinventing the American Dream, reports for the New York Times

Philanthropy

On the HistPhil blog, Sarah Reckhow (co-author, with Jeffrey Henig and Rebecca Jacobsen, of Outside Money in School Board Elections: The Nationalization of Education Politics) argues that the emerging practice among mega-donors of coordinating their giving and political contributions "is not only problematic for democracy" but also might be "a sub-optimal strategy for mega donors hoping to achieve their policy objectives."

In his latest, Fast Company columnist Ben Paynter explains why "later" is one of the most counter-productive terms in philanthropy.

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Naomi Orensten, the organization's director of research, and Matthew H Leiwant, a former associate manager of research at the organization, wrap up their six-part series on what nonprofit leaders think foundation funders could improve on in their work with a look at the funder-grantee relationship.

Kate Frykberg, a philanthropy advisor based in New Zealand and trustee of the Te Muka Rau Trust, which works to strengthen social cohesion, respectful relationships, and the central place of Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) in that island nation, shares a post on Transparency Talk (the Glasspockets blog) about funder relationships with indigenous communities and the ways in which funders often get them wrong (and right).

Philanthropy 411's Kris Putnam-Walkerly has some good advice for newly minted foundation trustees looking to get off on the right foot.

Productivity/Work-Life Balance

And now that we've taken the plunge, we can declare Bullet Journaling a thing. Beth Kanter refers to it as "a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system." In a guest post on Beth's blog, nonprofit professional Ma’ayan Alexander shares some of the ways the practice has helped her, and how it can benefit any nonprofit professional.

(Photo credit: AP)

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Five Elements for Success in Capacity Building

February 28, 2019

Capacity-buildingAsk any nonprofit leader and you're likely to hear that investments in capacity make a meaningful difference to organizations. Research backs this up. A study of Meyer Foundation grants found that investments in capacity produced positive, long-term financial results for grantees, regardless of the type of capacity-building grants provided.

Recent research from Candid and the Council on Foundations shows that from 2011 to 2015, U.S. foundation funding for capacity building and technical assistance targeting beneficiaries outside the U.S. jumped from $555.4 million to $900.1 million — a sizable increase but still less than ten percent of total international giving.

There are certain barriers that may help explain why foundations aren't devoting more funding to capacity building. Nonprofits may be reluctant to share information about their capacity-building needs with funders because they're not sure whether such sharing will have repercussions on future funding decisions. We're also learning that because organizations have unique needs, tailored approaches to capacity building tend to be the most effective, but they also make supporting capacity building more resource-intensive for foundations.

While there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to capacity building, there are commonalities in the approaches that have proven to be successful. Over the years, Community Wealth Partners, a social sector consulting firm, has worked with several foundations and their nonprofit grantees to design, deliver, and evaluate capacity-building programs. Now we're partnering with GrantCraft to publish a series of case studies that provide an in-depth look at five foundations' approaches to supporting nonprofit capacity.

Looking across our work over the years, we have identified five elements we think should be part of any capacity-building effort. We share these recommendations with the hope that foundations factor them into their capacity-building plans and that nonprofits seek out and request this type of partnership from their funders.

1. Commit for the long term. The ability to be successful over the long haul requires ongoing attention to organizational capacity — think of it as a sort of personal healthcare plan for nonprofits.

The Wells Fargo Regional Foundation is one funder that provides long-term support to community development organizations leading neighborhood revitalization initiatives — often involving commitments of eleven years or more. The foundation knows that the work grantees are doing to bring about change at the local level can take decades, and it is committed to ensuring that organizations leading the charge have the skills and financial resources they need to see that change through. To that end, the foundation begins by listening to grantees to understand their needs and then designs and delivers programs to meet those needs as they emerge, including training, coaching, and assistance designed to help grantees build financial sustainability and collaborative capacity.

2. Co-create solutions with stakeholders. A common criticism of capacity building is that it can feel paternalistic. And this is more likely to happen when foundations make assumptions about what grantees need and design services without their input. Capacity building should be grounded in two-way conversation between foundations and nonprofits. Nonprofit leaders know best the context of their work and what types of support are likely to make the biggest difference. Grantmakers should seek out these insights and engage grantees in the design of capacity-building approaches.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation is one funder that has embraced capacity building as a key strategy for strengthening its target communities. As a limited-lifespan foundation committed to spending down its $1.2 billion endowment over twenty years, the foundation initiated its grantmaking activities with a year-long process of listening to nonprofits to understand their needs and work. A key outcome of this outreach was the decision to fund the creation of a center — Co.act Detroit — in southeast Michigan that will provide technical assistance to and foster collaboration among nonprofits in the region. The center opened in November, and as additional programs and services are created, it will work to infuse the same spirit of collaboration in everything from the physical design of the space to the center's services and offerings.

3. Strengthen the ecosystem. Ask any nonprofit or foundation leader about the challenges they encounter in efforts to strengthen capacity, and chances they'll tell you how difficult it can be to find the right service provider. Ideally, all nonprofits should operate in an ecosystem with a diverse network of support available, including consultants and technical assistance providers. Through our work, we are finding that a growing number of foundations, the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund among them, are considering how they can best support such an ecosystem as part of their capacity-building strategy.

For more than a decade, the Haas Jr. Fund has invested in supporting nonprofit leadership. When the foundation learned that fundraising challenges were a significant driver of burnout among nonprofit leaders, they convened a range of fundraising, strategy, and financial management consultants to explore what they could do to help build a culture of philanthropy within the nonprofit sector. One outcome of that convening has been increased coordination and collaboration among the service providers who participated — all with an eye to providing better support to the nonprofits with which they work.

4. Support both technical and adaptive capacities. When nonprofits are working to address a complex problem, some of the capacities they need are adaptive. Adaptive capacities are things like the ability to collaborate, to influence others, and to share leadership. At the same time, research from the Center for Effective Philanthropy shows that the areas in which nonprofit leaders say they need the most support are technical capacities — things like fundraising, staffing, and communications. While an organization may not necessarily need to be strong in every aspect of capacity, healthy organizations need a mix of both technical and adaptive capacities, and funders should investigate approaches that take into consideration both types.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore has been working with a network of grantees to build capacities that strengthen their ability to advocate effectively, including capacity in the area of racial equity and inclusion. That network, KIDS COUNT, comprises fifty-three state-based child advocacy organizations dedicated to ensuring that all children are raised in stable families, supportive communities, and economically secure environments.

Casey's engagement with grantees starts with a capacity assessment. Data from the assessment show the extent to which technical and adaptive capacities are linked across the network. For example, the data may show that strategic leadership capacity is a predictor of whether organizations are strong in other areas, such as advocacy capacity and racial equity and inclusion capacity. The data also show that when investing in advocacy capacity, it's important to invest in their communications capacity as well.

5. Ground capacity building in equity. The Kresge Foundation delivers capacity-building programs focusing specifically on leadership development through a racial-equity lens. For the foundation, a key strategy for achieving equitable outcomes in communities across America is investing in the talent and leadership capacity of its grantees.

Kresge has long recognized that many grantees working to advance equitable outcomes in their communities were not receiving support targeted on strengthening their own racial equity capacity. In response, the foundation launched a pilot program, Fostering Urban Equitable Leader (FUEL), through which it formed partnerships with six service providers and tasked them with providing a range of services to grantees that were critical to advancing racial equity inside organizations and, at the same time, aligned with their individual needs.

Building a strong foundation for successful capacity-building partnerships

As the case study series demonstrates, nonprofits have diverse needs when it comes to capacity building, and there can be as many approaches to building capacity as there are foundations supporting it. Our experience shows that paying attention to these five elements will help ensure that nonprofits and foundations are forming capacity-building partnerships that achieve the desired results.

Headshot_taylor_bartcszakCarla Taylor is director of strategic capacity-building services at Community Wealth Partners (@WeDreamForward). Taylor has twenty years of experience developing and managing capacity-building initiatives that help accelerate results for social sector organizations. With a focus on advancing equity, her core areas of expertise include multi-sector collaboration, place-based strategies, results-based leadership, strategic learning, meeting design and facilitation, program design and management, and stakeholder engagement.

Lori Bartczak (@lbartczak) serves as Community Wealth Partners’ (@WeDreamForward) senior director of knowledge and content, overseeing the firm’s content strategy, development, and distribution. In that role, Bartczak identifies compelling topics and themes, designs original research and learning experiences to advance them, and creates and disseminates content that assists CWP clients and the sector more broadly in advancing their missions. 

Board Diversity: Moving From Awareness to Action

February 26, 2019

Board-diversity-bubbleThe lack of board diversity in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors is hardly news. And a growing body of reports, articles, and data clearly shows that boards not only are not diverse, they're not even moving in that direction. Indeed, an annual survey of boards of directors of nonprofit organizations published by BoardSource found that 84 percent of board members are white, while 27 percent of boards surveyed reported not having a single member of color.

The survey conducted by my own firm, Koya Leadership Partners, affirms these trends. Of the hundred-plus boards we surveyed, 68 percent of all board members identified as white, while just 24 percent identified as a person of color. We wanted to understand why boards aren't changing, so we decided to ask.

Here's what we learned: 96 percent of boards believe that diversifying the board or executive committee is a key objective, but only 24 percent have taken steps to increase diversity. Clearly, there is a serious gap between intention and action.

Alarmingly, our survey found that most boards aren't even taking simple steps to increase inclusion and advance diversity such as developing a written diversity and inclusion statement, with only 11 percent of the boards we surveyed saying they had done so. Another key finding was related to board recruitment, with effective recruitment strategies emerging as a serious challenge for boards, which often struggle to fill board seats with candidates who contribute to the overall board diversity.

The good news? Closing the diversity gap is far from impossible. In fact, there are a number of steps any board can take, starting now, that will help move it toward real diversity and inclusion. Here are four:

1. Assess your own board through the lens of diversity. If your board has never ordered up a self-assessment, now is the time. Board assessments are an excellent first step to understanding the various talents, skills, perspectives, and experiences board members bring to table and are invaluable in helping board and senior leadership identify what is missing. You can find useful examples of a board matrix online, or you can make one of your own that lists each board member next to their demographic characteristics, experience, skills, and relevant attributes. Many boards find this to be a useful exercise that helps everyone better understand who and what is represented on the board, as well as who and what is not.

2. Recognize that becoming more diverse and inclusive requires culture change. Adding new board members who bring diverse backgrounds and perspectives is critical. But it's not enough. Many boards will also need to undergo a more holistic cultural change process that includes honest assessment, education, and a commitment to changing every aspect of board culture so that it truly embraces inclusivity.

3. Commit to action and create accountability. Many boards talk about diversity and take some steps in that direction, but then lose steam. If diversity is truly important to your board, make sure it is an articulated goal, and put people in charge of delivering results. Keep the goal front and center through regular progress reports, just as you would any other board activity. Some boards even create a diversity and inclusion committee and task it with formulating and achieving key objectives. As management guru Peter Drucker famously said: "You can't manage what you can't measure" — meaning you're unlikely to achieve your goals if you're not defining what success looks like and measuring progress toward it.

4. Expand your recruiting circle. Board recruiting is an area ripe for improvement. Most boards recruit through the social networks of their members, which means new board members are likely to be a lot like current your board members in terms of race, socioeconomic status, and other demographic characteristics. If boards are really serious about diversity, they need to look beyond the personal networks of their members. The good news? There are a number of ways to do this, including leveraging the knowledge and networks of your staff. Local and regional resources such as community foundations, Chambers of Commerce, and faith communities also present opportunities for expanded networks and contacts.

There's no doubt that a diverse board of directors can bring real and significant benefits to an organization and its stakeholders. But good intentions aren't enough. When it comes to diversity, boards must move from intention to measurable action. The suggestions above will help you get moving.

Headshot_Molly Brennan_KoyaMolly Brennan is a founding partner at executive search firm Koya Leadership Partners, where her areas of focus include leadership, retention, and equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. Widely quoted and published in leading publications, Brennan recently authored a white paper, "The Governance Gap: Examining Diversity and Equity on Nonprofit Boards of Directors." For more tips from Molly, check out MyCareer@PND.

Weekend Link Roundup (February 23-24, 2019)

February 24, 2019

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

Democracy

"The key to improving the voting process," writes Adam Ambrogi, irector of the Elections Program at the Democracy Fund, "is straightforward: expand accessibility while also prioritizing security."

Giving

Have women's motivations for giving changed over time? Andrea Pactor, interim director of the Women's Philanthropy Institute at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy; Hillary Person, a former development director at the Pensacola State College Foundation; and Dyan Sublett, president of the MLK Community Health Foundation, take a look at the data.

Governance

On the NCRP blog, Rick Moyers, former vice president of programs and communications at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation and a board member at BoardSource, reminds readers that while "[d]iversity is only one aspect of a larger conversation about equity and power," many boards aren’t ready to have that conversation. With that in mind, there are four things senior leadership should look for to determine whether their board is ready for deeper work in pursuit of equity.

International Affairs/Development

GiveWell has announced a call fro proposals from outstanding organizations operating in Southeast Asia and, in partnership with Affinity Impact, a social impact initiative founded by the children of a Taiwanese entrepreneur, will  provide three grants — one of $250,000, and two $25,000 grants — to organizations that are operating programs in global health and development in any of the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam. More details here.

Philanthropy

In an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Allison Powell, Willa Seldon, and Nidhi Sahni argue that "historic growth in wealth globally and the rise of new philanthropists threaten the relevance of institutional philanthropy — while creating new opportunities for impact and influence."

On the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Naomi Orenstein, CEP's director of research, and Matthew H Leiwant, a former associate manager of research at the organization, share some suggestions for funders interested in helping their grantees, beyond the grant, with non-financial support.

Then again, says Nonprofit AF's Vu Le, sometimes the best thing donors can do to advance social justice is to just write a check.

In a piece on the foundation's website, MacArthur Foundation president Julia Stasch, who will be stepping down from her position later this year, reflects on the Foundation’s approach to work in our hometown, the nonprofit organizations we support, and their creative and effective efforts make the Chicago region a better place to live, work, and learn for everyone.

In a post on his blog, veteran philanthropy advisor Richard Marker explains the thinking behind the (modest) re-branding of his firm.

Social Change

Reflecting on Jo Freeman's 1970 essay "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," Rhodri Davies, head of policy at the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) argues on the HistPhil blog that the "power" imbalance between participants in a group is a helpful reminder for today's social movement organizers and their funders. And while "the offline power dynamics between members of a group may still have a determinate impact on their position in the online network...in the context of digitally networked movements, another dimension of power also emerges: namely, control of the platform on which the network operates." 

Transparency

On the Glasspockets blog, our colleague Janet Camarena chats with Maya Winkelstein, executive director of the Open Road Alliance, about the critical role transparency play in the initiative's philanthropic efforts.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Insights for U.S. Nonprofits From the Russia Donors Forum Conference

February 17, 2019

Russia_donors_forumLast fall, I was invited to speak about collaboration for social impact and corporate volunteerism at the annual Russia Donors Forum conference in Moscow. The conference brings together philanthropy and corporate social responsibility professionals from foundations, corporations, and nonprofits to share insights and lessons about how non-financial resources can support philanthropic activity. The invitation stemmed from my work with Global Impact, a U.S.-based nonprofit focused on growing global philanthropy to help the world's most vulnerable people, and my experience there helped broaden my perspective on the international philanthropic sector and the work we do.

My stay in Moscow was eye-opening. Not only did I gain valuable insights into current trends in Russian philanthropy, I also learned how U.S.-based nonprofits can engage with individuals and nonprofits operating within the ever-evolving international philanthropic space. In advance of my trip, I reviewed recent research and reporting on the state of Russian philanthropy, including the 2018 Giving Global Matrix: Tax, Fiduciary and Philanthropic Requirements developed by my organization in partnership with KPMG. The report highlights the complex and varied tax laws that incentivize or disincentivize philanthropic giving in sixty countries around the world, including Russia, and also addresses ten questions designed to shed light on the philanthropic climate in a particular country. Many of the insights from my time in Russia confirmed the findings captured in the report — namely, that a generally supportive climate for philanthropy does, in fact, exist there. Moreover, my conversations and interactions with professionals at the conference deepened my understanding of the international philanthropic sector, as well as how nonprofit organizations and corporations are addressing areas of critical importance through the commitment of both financial and non-financial resources.

In Moscow, I was greeted by a vibrant network of social sector professionals working to achieve greater impact, improve platforms and methods of measurement and evaluation, and address causes and focus areas relevant to their specific country context. And I was reminded repeatedly how important it is for us to follow the lead of country-specific philanthropic communities in providing support and sharing best practices.

There are people more qualified than I am who can speak to the state of philanthropy in Russia, and my intention here is not to offer sweeping or prescriptive statements; rather, it's to offer the perspective of a U.S.-based nonprofit professional who believes in the work we do and would like to see it achieve greater reach and impact. Recognizing the importance of locally defined philanthropic efforts are a key aspect of that. The international philanthropic community can support its peers in other countries by lifting up and providing resources in support of their objectives, as well as sharing best practices — whether they relate to building an effective case for support, effectively communicating to senior corporate leaders the return on investment of volunteerism, or developing useful and efficient processes for measurement and evaluation.

Some of that can be done through training materials or initiatives, such as IMPACT2030, which defines itself as "a private sector-led initiative that, in collaboration with the United Nations, civil society, academia and other stakeholders, is leveraging human capital investments through employee volunteer programs to advance the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)." At conferences and in one-on-one meetings, we often talk about breaking down silos and how that can help make us more efficient and effective. It's a concept I believe needs to be applied more broadly in terms of breaking out of our regional silos. There are learnings from the philanthropic and social sectors in the U.S. that could be replicated in Russia (and other countries); and there are learnings from Russia (and other countries) that would be of interest to those of us in the U.S. As funding streams are further disrupted, the global philanthropic community needs to be better informed about global trends — who is investing, how donors worldwide are identifying and approaching opportunities, where nonprofits are operating, and where synergies may lie.

As we look to the future, I encourage U.S.-based nonprofits to consider how they are already connected to nonprofits in other countries and regions of the globe, as well as how they might connect more often — and in more meaningful ways. The SDGs are one mechanism for doing so. Events and conferences that attract increasingly diverse audiences are another and afford the opportunity to make or deepen authentic connections with others doing similar work in different contexts.

More broadly, we need to think creatively about how we partner and maintain an open dialogue with our peers in other countries; explore less-obvious connections and recognize that while we all work within our own unique context, there is transferable knowledge, including successes and failures, to be shared; and adopt a more global perspective in terms of sourcing ideas and research. There are lessons to be learned from the philanthropic efforts of communities in other countries and regions of the world, and not to take advantage of them fully would be a disservice to us all.

Headshot_samantha_duceySamantha Ducey is director of partner solutions at Global Impact, a leading U.S.-based nonprofit working to build resources and partnerships for the world’s most vulnerable people

What's New at Candid (formerly Foundation Center and GuideStar) — February 2019

February 13, 2019

Candid logoHave you heard? Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to become a single nonprofit organization, Candid. Together, we are dedicated to sharing information and insights that can fuel deeper impact. Candid will allow us to combine our knowledge and passions, and to do more than we could ever do apart. And the work continues! Here are some highlights of what we have been working on to start the new year.

Projects/Training Launched

  • New research supports: (1) donors give more to transparent nonprofits, and (2) transparent organizations tend to be stronger organizations. The research, recently published in the Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance, analyzed more than 6,300 nonprofits in the GuideStar database. They found that, as a group, nonprofits that earned a GuideStar Seal of Transparency averaged 53 percent more in contributions the following year compared to organizations that didn’t earn a Seal.
  • In partnership with the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, we've officially launched Funding for Early Childhood Care and Education, a joint effort to map the last ten years of philanthropic giving around family engagement and professional development. Foundation Center Midwest is partnering with the United Black Fund and the Cleveland History Center at the Western Reserve Historical Society to present The Soul of Philanthropy: Reframed & Exhibited.
  • We launched a new CF Insights research brief that looks at which community foundations are accepting donations of cryptocurrency, the challenges they've faced, and the platforms they use.
  • Glasspockets has unveiled a new transparency indicator that highlights whether foundations are publicly sharing their values or have policies that commit them to working transparently. The new "Transparency Values/Policy" indicator can be found on the Who Has Glass Pockets? page.
  • We've added a new infographic to the Foundation Funding for U.S. Democracy site. Learn more on voting districts and the bipartisan divide on immigration issues.
  • In January, Foundation Center Midwest hosted an event in partnership with local arts stakeholders at which Foundation Center Midwest director Teleangé Thomas presented to a soldout room of young and emerging creative professionals on how Foundation Center can help them find funding with Foundation Directory Online and Foundation Grants to Individuals Online.
  • Also in January, Foundation Center Midwest hosted the Neighborhood Leadership Development Program's fundraising workshop, a full-day contract training for twenty-five "dreamers" working in the social justice and entrepreneurship space.
  • Foundation Center West successfully completed its contract training with the Creative Work Fund (CWF), a program of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund that is generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The training included a series of informational webinars and a convening around Mastering Collaboration featuring successful past CWF grantees and their grant award-winning artist + nonprofit collaborations.
  • Foundation Center West also completed two fund development workshop series for the San Francisco City and County Department of Children, Youth and their Families (DCYF). The series consists of three workshops each: fundraising planning; crafting a competitive letter of intent; and project budgets.

Content Published

In the News

What We're Excited About

  • Our offices in DC, Cleveland, New York, and San Francisco will host three-day proposal writing boot camps for the public in March and April. On average, Proposal Writing Boot Camp participants reported a 75 percent increase in their confidence after the session.
  • March 26: The "All Together Now: Conversations in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” series continues. During a program titled "Skills for Overcoming Burnout – Refueling the Fire," our partners at Rhiza Collective will share proven methods of self- and collective care. Learn how stress and trauma impact individuals and teams, and get strategies to address conflicts and resolve tensions.
  • We will travel to Miami in March to facilitate a funding panel, "Funding Collaborations and Building Ecosystems: A Grantmaker Meets the Changemaker Panel Discussion," in partnership with the Miami Children's Trust and Miami Dade Public Library System.
  • We've updated our self-paced e-learning courses, including "How to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships with Funders," "How to Use Data to Raise More Money from Corporations," and "How to Start a Major Gifts Program."
  • February 15: Foundation Center Midwest will be moderating a program in partnership with AFP Greater Cleveland, "Donor-Advised Funds: How to Find and Secure Support," featuring representatives from the Cleveland Foundation, Glenmede, and Fidelity. The program is a shared-cost contract program and, with a hundred attendees, is sold out.
  • The second webinar and watch party presented as part of Foundation Center West's California Wellness: Strengthening California Nonprofits grant will happen on February 27: 7 Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Leaders with Sean Kosofsky. In addition, five California Funding Information Network partners — Cal State University - Chico; the Sanford Institute of Philanthropy at John F. Kennedy University; Santa Barbara Public Library; Santa Monica Public Library; Pasadena Public Library — and one lapsed FIN, Cal State University - Fresno, have signed up to host watch parties and engage in a facilitated community discussion post-webinar.
  • GuideStar is providing nonprofit data to more people than ever before and in the last year recorded its 10 millionth unique visitor at GuideStar.org!
  • We're thrilled to announce that more than 66,000 nonprofit organizations have added information to their GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles, thereby earning a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum GuideStar Seal of Transparency.
  • More than 70,000 university students and faculty in California now have access to GuideStar Pro resources for academic purposes thanks to UC Irvine and UC Berkley. Both colleges signed on to become GuideStar Library Services clients, providing institution-wide IP access to the GuideStar database.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Our staff will be attending these upcoming events:

Services Spotlight

  • 458,072 new grants added to Foundation Maps in January, of which 2,960 grants were made to 1,836 organizations outside the U.S.
  • Foundation Directory Online now includes more than 14 million grants. In the new My FDO, new tools can help you manage your prospects like a pro.
  • New data sharing partners: Alaska Children's Trust, Alaska Community Foundation, Apex Foundation, Community Foundation of Snohomish County, Delta Dental Plan of Colorado Foundation, Inc., The Funding Network, George Alexander Foundation, John & Denise Graves Foundation, JRS Biodiversity Foundation, Kitsap Community Foundation, Sheng-Yen Lu Foundation, Melbourne Women's Fund, Montana Healthcare Foundation, Raynier Institute and Foundation, Satterberg Foundation, Thrivent Foundation, United Way of Pierce County, Westpac Foundation, and Sherman and Marjorie Zeigler Foundation. Tell your story through data and help us communicate philanthropy's contribution to creating a better world — learn more about our eReporting program.

Data Spotlight

  • Since 2006, private foundations in the U.S. have made grants of more than $7 billion to improve early childhood care and education, reflecting a deep commitment to the importance of supporting children and their families during a critical developmental period in their lives.
  • Total GrantSpace sessions for January 2019 exceeded 195,000.
  • As of November 2018, our Online Librarian service had reached its 2018 goal of serving more than 130,000 people.
  • We recorded nearly 30,000 registrations for our online programming in 2018.
  • We exceeded our goal for in-person attendance to our classes, with more than 16,000 attendees in 2018.
  • A five-year trends analysis of the largest 1,000 U.S. foundations demonstrates that foundations contributed an average $150.4 million a year specifically for disasters. Funding spiked in 2014 due to large grants for the Ebola outbreak, then declined over the next two years. Learn more about these trends at foundationcenter.org.
  • We completed custom data searches for Grantmakers in the Arts, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, McKinsey, the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers, the City of Phoenix,the City and County of San Francisco, Skidmore College, TCC Group, the University of San Diego, and GiveWell.

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 Candid.

Weekend Link Roundup (February 9-10, 2019)

February 10, 2019

Homepage-large-fc-and-gs-are-candid_tilemediumA weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the social sector. For more links to great content, follow us on Twitter at @pndblog....

Climate Change

"Someday, perhaps, an entire nation could be powered by renewable energy, but that day is too far off to deal with the climate threat," say Joshua S. Goldstein and Staffan A. Qvist in a new book called called A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow. Instead, Goldstein and Qvist tell Marc Gunther, countries should be looking to nuclear as the short-term answer to the problem. For many in the environmental community, that is a non-starter. Gunther explores the dilemma.

Governance

Writing on the Center for Effective Philanthropy blog, Kim Williams-Pulfer, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, shares some thoughts on nonprofit boards and the diversity imperative.

International Affairs/Development

On the OECD Development Matters site, Benjamin Bellegy, executive director of the Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support (WINGS), shares his thoughts on how philanthropy can best contribute to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Journalism/Media

Journalism and the news media in the U.S. are in trouble, the traditional business model for news threatened with extinction by the consolidation of eyeballs and ad dollars on a few mega-platforms. Forbes contributor Michael Posner looks at the conclusions of a new report funded by the Knight Commission on Trust, Media, and Democracy and finds that while the report diagnoses the problem well, "its recommendations do not go far enough."

Nonprofits

A new report from the Building Movement Project, a nonprofit research group, finds that women of color in the nonprofit sector face are twice as likely to be discriminated against than white men, more likely to be overlooked for advancement than any other demographic group, and, come review time, are more often ignored or subject to scrutiny in ways that appear directly related their minority status. Ben Paynter reports for Fast Company.

Social good organizations that don't gather and pay attention to feedback from their constituents are passing up a golden opportunity to improve their services and offerings, write Fay Twersky, director of effective philanthropy at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and Fred Reichheld, a fellow at Bain & Company and creator of the Net Promoter System®, in the Harvard Business Review. Fortunately, there are a growing number of tools out there, including something called Listen for Good (L4G), which is based on Reichheld's Net Promoter System, that make it easier than ever to do so.

In an era in which data is "revered," Paul Jolly, a fundraiser, creativity coach, and poet, reminds us on the GuideStar blog that "data does not guarantee good strategy. Data simply answers questions. And asking the right questions requires wisdom and curiosity."

Philanthropy

Amanda L. Gordon, who reports on wealth and philanthropy for Bloomberg, asks: What does it mean to be a billionaire in an age when there have never been so many? The answer is entirely unclear. 

On the Project Syndicate site, Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University and founder of the nonprofit organization The Life You Can Save, suggests that the Sackler family, the family behind the pharmaceutical company that has fueled America's opioid crisis, should stop using its wealth to promote the arts and start supporting, on the same scale as their arts philanthropy, groups that reduce suffering anywhere in the world.

In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fidelity Charitable's Pam Norley and Elaine Martyn argue that donors with donor-advised funds "are poised to advance an emerging practice in philanthropy: listening to the organizations and people they are trying to help." But, they add, to "listen well, they will need the help of nonprofits they fund."

Science/Technology

Privacy in the twenty-first century is a complicated and often contested issue, writes Wilneida Negrón, a technology fellow in the Gender, Racial and Ethic Justice program at the Ford Foundation. Is it a human right? How much of it are we willing to give up in exchange for convenience or public safety? Should we expect the tech industry to self-regulate, or should government step in? All good questions, with no easy answers in sight. But there are things, says Negrón, that each of us can do "to build public support for laws, regulations, and interventions to promote privacy — and to ensure that the voices of the people and communities most affected are taken into account."

Social Good

As you're probably heard, Foundation Center and GuideStar have joined forces to become Candid. In this post, Brad Smith and Jacob Harold, president and executive vice president of the new entity, explain why it makes sense at this moment in time for the two organizations to combine their talent, technology, data, and leadership teams to help transform the work of social good. And in this post, Jen Bokoff, director of stakeholder engagement at Candid, and Gabe Cohen, senior director of marketing and communications, explain what the change means for users of GuideStar and Foundation Center products and services — over the next few months and in the years to come. 

Tax Policy

For Democrats, taxing the wealthy seems like a good first step to addressing  the urgent social and environmental challenges we face as a country. But it's not as easy as it might seem and, as always, the devil is in the details. Paul Sullivan reports for the New York Times.

That's it for this week. Got something you'd like to share? Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Newsmaker: Cathy Cha, President, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

February 07, 2019

Cathy Cha, who officially stepped into the role of president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in January, has long worked to advance new models for how foundations can collaborate with advocates, communities, and government to achieve greater impact. Cha joined the Haas, Jr. Fund in 2003 as a program officer. From 2009 to 2016, she managed its immigrant rights >portfolio, leading efforts to bring together funders and local leaders to strengthen the immigration movement in California. For the past two years, Cha served as vice president of programs at the Fund.

Cha co-created and led the California Civic Participation Funders, an innovative funder collaborative that is supporting grassroots efforts across California to increase civic participation and voting among immigrants, African Americans, and other underrepresented populations. She also worked with legal service providers and funder partners to launch the New Americans Campaign, which has helped more than 370,000 legal permanent residents in eighteen cities become U.S. citizens, and helped jumpstart efforts to create the African American Civic Engagement Project, an alliance of community leaders, funders, and local groups working to empower African-American communities.

PND asked Cha about new efforts at the fund, its priorities for 2019, and the evolving role of philanthropy in bringing about a more just and equal society.

Headshot_Cathy_ChaPhilanthropy News Digest: Your appointment to the top job at the fund was announced in January 2017, and you're stepping into the shoes of Ira S. Hirschfield, who led the fund for twenty-eight years. What did you do to prepare during the two-year transition period? And what was the most important thing you learned from Ira?

Cathy Cha: One of Ira's greatest contributions was the way he encouraged the fund's board, staff, and grantees to really dream about how to have more impact in the world. That dare-to-dream philosophy has allowed us and our partners to reach ambitious goals — from achieving marriage equality to making California the most immigrant-affirming state in the country.

Today, the fund remains committed to supporting people's best aspirations of what's possible for their communities. In 2018, we co-launched the California Campus Catalyst Fund with a group of undocumented student advocates and community experts. With investment from thirteen funders, we're now supporting thirty-two urban, suburban, and rural public college and university campuses across the state to significantly expand legal and other support services for undocumented students and their families at a time of incredible need. It's a great example of how philanthropy can work with community partners to catalyze and support solutions that make a real difference.

PND: Over the last two years, the fund managed an organizational transition that included the expansion of the board to include members of the next generation of the Haas family and the hiring of new staff at both the program and senior leadership levels. What was the overarching strategy behind those moves, and what kind of changes do you hope they lead to?

CC: During this transition, we were intentional about addressing a couple of key questions. How can we keep this organization relevant and responsive in a volatile and changing environment? And how can we set ourselves up to write a bold new chapter in the Haas, Jr. Fund's work? We want to be positioned for bigger impact to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges. We're building a leadership and staff team that represents and affirms the fund's enduring values. Our new board members are committed to building on their grandparents' legacy, and they bring new and valuable perspectives to the fund's work. We have staff members who have lived the immigrant experience, people who are LGBT, and individuals who are the first in their families to go to college. Whether I'm working with our board or the staff, I see a team with deep connections to the communities and the issues we care about, a profound belief in civil rights values and leveling the playing field, and an abiding commitment to excellence and progress. That gives me real hope and confidence for the future.

PND: In January you said you would "be launching a process in the weeks ahead to explore how the fund and our partners can strengthen our impact." What can you tell us about that process?

CC: These are extremely trying times for our country. Many communities we care about are feeling threatened and vulnerable. Given the challenges of this moment, as well as the opportunities that come with the changes we've experienced at the fund, it's an opportune time for us to think creatively about how we can have more impact.

Like any other foundation, we are always evaluating how we can do a better job. But in the coming months, we want to take some time to think in new ways about how to make sure we're doing everything we can to make a positive difference and up our game. That's going to mean reflecting on some of the lessons from our recent work, weighing where we've made mistakes and why, and understanding how we can maximize the huge potential of our staff and our nonprofit, government, and business partners to make the world a better, fairer place.

PND: What is your top priority in 2019?

CC: I'll share two key priorities. The first is to work with our board and staff so that we're clearer on how the fund will have continued impact. The second is to make sure we're moving full speed ahead with our work at a time when fundamental rights and opportunities hang in the balance. That's why we're investing in the drive for equal civil rights protections for LGBT Americans. It's why we're working with the San Francisco Unified School District to help all children reach their potential. And it's why we're supporting new racial equity work and helping movement nonprofits strengthen their leadership and their ability to raise the resources they need to make a difference. We want to make sure we are doing everything we can in 2019 to stand up for the idea that this is a better nation when everyone has a chance to thrive.

PND: In addition to leading the fund's immigrant rights grantmaking, you served on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) for seven years, including two years as co-chair. Are grantmakers in the field of immigrant rights more open to collaboration today than they were, say, a decade ago, and if so, why? Do you think that's the case in other fields as well?

CC: GCIR has been at the leading edge in facilitating funder collaboration to get better results. It's part of a sea change over the last decade in philanthropy's approach to working together. No matter the size of our grantmaking budgets, there's a growing understanding that we can't solve big, intractable problems alone. We're more effective when we form strategic partnerships and check our institutional egos at the door.

You only need to look at the incredible surge in voter turnout in Orange County last November, particularly in communities of color, to see how funder collaboration pays off. We've been working with other funders and local partners for years — in Orange County and other parts of California — to build power and voice in low-income communities. Those partnerships are starting to deliver real results. The Haas, Jr. Fund could have invested in this work on our own, but we're achieving so much more by teaming up with our funder partners.

PND: In July 2017, you wrote in a blog post, "Why I am Hopeful," that "[t]he bottom line is that 'We the People' need to stand up and use our voices — and our votes — to make a difference...and it will require deep investments in community organizing, civic participation, movement-building, and leadership development." Are you more hopeful today? Are you seeing those kinds of philanthropic investments at the levels needed?

CC: The results of the November 2018 elections make me more hopeful. We had record numbers of women, LGBT candidates, and people of color running for office in California and nationally. We had millennials voting in record numbers. And in many communities, it was low-income voters and voters of color who put their favored candidates or issues over the top. A lot of that is the result of local groups doing the hard work of organizing, lifting up community leaders, and educating people about important policy issues.

We have a long way to go, but we're finally starting to see the electorate and our elected leadership moving in the direction where they resemble the larger population, and that's great for our democracy. But it's never a given that this kind of progress will continue or that we won't backtrack. There are real barriers in the way of broader participation for many communities, and voter disenfranchisement is real. No matter what issues our foundations are focused on, we can go a long way to achieving the goal of a fairer, more equal, more representative society if we invest in the work of organizing and voting.

PND: Before joining the fund, you worked on issues such as affordable housing, homelessness, workforce development, and community development. From your perspective, what, if we're able to achieve it, would "a society that supports, respects, and values the contributions of all people" look like?

CC: When I drop off my six-year-old daughter at school in the morning, I see all these beautiful kids of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and talents. I look at those little faces and I wish every one of those kids, along with every other child across this country, got a fair shot at reaching their full potential. That's one way to measure how we're doing when it comes to creating a more just and equal society. What would it look like to give every child and every person an equitable chance at opportunity?

Looking at it that way can take us out of our silos and help us see how our work connects across issues and communities. In California's K-12 public schools, more than half of all students are Latino. So you can't really look at education in California without looking simultaneously at immigration. And what about those students who are African American, or LGBT, or from homes where parents are struggling to get by? It's hard to separate what's happening in our schools from all the other things happening in kids' lives. All these issues are interconnected, and we will have greater impact to the extent that we think holistically about how to solve problems and spur real change.

PND: The lack of diversity in leadership positions within the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors is a continuing topic of discussion. What needs to happen for that to change?

CC: On my first day in my new role at the fund, a colleague told me that only 1.3 percent of foundations are led by API (Asian Pacific Islander) women. That really surprised me. So did the fact that only around 10 percent of foundation CEOs are people of color. Philanthropy clearly has a ways to go before we can say our field is truly representative of our society.

That said, I am starting to see some positive movement. I think the path to continued progress lies in changing how philanthropy values talent and experience. Traditionally, the philanthropic field has valued academics with PhDs and those from elite educational backgrounds. But increasingly, I think philanthropy is recognizing what leaders bring to a foundation when they are closer to communities and community issues. There is a trend toward valuing lived experience. At the Haas, Jr. Fund and other foundations, you increasingly see staff who have experienced firsthand some of the fundamental inequities in our society. And you see foundations placing a real value on their staff's ability to connect and partner with people across races and cultures, whether in our local communities or around our interconnected world. Philanthropy is more effective when leaders and staff reflect — and deeply understand — the communities at the heart of our work.

Kyoko Uchida

Facing the Future Together

February 05, 2019

Candid_yellowThe social sector is big. It's essential. It's complex. For a combined 85 years, Foundation Center and GuideStar have helped people make sense of that complexity.

But the world faces growing challenges: polarization, climate change, technological revolution, and poverty and inequality. Foundation Center and GuideStar must do more to support the social sector.

That's why we are combining our talent, technology, data, and leadership to become a new organization, Candid. There is so much more we can do together:

  • We can offer a 360-degree view of the work of social good — who's doing what, where, on the issues that matter to people around the world.
  • We can bring the nonprofit sector closer to having common profiles for every organization and in doing so promote more efficient systems for raising funds, managing grants and donations, and measuring impact
  • We can offer insights that were never before possible and share those insights in clear and actionable ways.
  • We can link the learning of changemakers around the world so they can work smarter, together.

Combining two historic organizations — with tools used by millions of people across hundreds of platforms — will be challenging, to say the least. Over the next several years, we will be weaving together technology systems, petabytes of data and content, dozens of products and services, and, most importantly, the deep knowledge and experience of more than 200 staff. But we are confident we can do it.

Candid_illustration_philantopic-large
To guide this transition, we will aspire to the ideal embodied in our new name. The word candid speaks to the roots of Foundation Center and GuideStar, organizations born out of the need to provide fair, accurate, and objective information about foundations and nonprofits. It also informs how we will work, speaking to our future imperative of continuing to earn our stakeholders' trust in an information-wary world. To succeed, we will need to be honest about what works, what doesn't, what we know, and what we still need to figure out. In this vein, as Candid, we will use transparency as a guiding value in our communication with you.

Brad_jacob_compTomorrow two of our colleagues will discuss how we became Candid and what this change means for you. But now we turn to you. Tell us what you'd like to see in a stronger social sector: how can information transform the work of social good?

Bradford Smith is president and Jacob Harold is executive vice president of Candid.

Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (January 2019)

February 01, 2019

The weather outside is frightful, but we've got some January reads that are downright insightful. So grab a throw, a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and enjoy.

Interested in contributing to PND or PhilanTopic? We'd love to hear from you. Drop us a note at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

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  • "Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary...."

    — Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

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