Awesomesauce

This is the fun part. Here are the initial grants we’ve made in Ford’s rebooted Philanthropy portfolio. We have a primary goal of promoting greater uptake of open and inclusive practices in US foundations, and a secondary goal of mobilizing more philanthropic support for social justice from individuals and institutions. In addition, we’re especially interested in promoting greater alignment within the philanthropic infrastructure, and so have made a couple of meaningful grants for that.

Very excited to talk about the great work these organizations are doing! And also to share information about some groups that weren’t quite on strategy for us but are doing important work that’s worth taking notice of. I’m proud to say that 77% of the grant dollars referenced here are unrestricted support.

Please click the headings below to read more about the individual organizations, with links to their websites, which I encourage you to check out.

Uptake of Open and Inclusive Practices in U.S. Foundations

We’re particularly excited about a cluster of efforts that are seeking to go within the black box of how foundations operate internally, so that we might get better at promoting greater openness and inclusion.

The throughline of these grants is that different groups are working on different levers to move foundations toward greater openness and inclusion. Some are focusing on the board, some on the CEO, some on the program officer, and some on the organizational structure or design. We look forward to fostering a conversation that brings together these different efforts and helps define the state of the field and where we go next.

Engaging More Donors for Social Justice

Most of our work in this area will be knowledge curation about what types of individual and institutional donors are most receptive to social justice, and what kinds of approaches do and do not work to reach them. We’ll make a limited number of grants to learn more about these topics.

Alignment in the Philanthropy Infrastructure

Other Noteworthy Efforts

I’ll have more to say in future posts about the strategy behind these grants, and next steps for the program, but for now, please enjoy the awesomeness that is these groups and their great work.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uptake of Open and Inclusive Practices in U.S. Foundations

We’re particularly excited about a cluster of efforts that are seeking to go within the black box of how foundations operate internally, so that we might get better at promoting greater openness and inclusion.

  • The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) is, among many other things, working on the role of the program officer in shaping grantee satisfaction, benchmarking how foundation boards operate, and studying how foundation CEOs view the importance of transparency.
  • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) is, among many other things, working on “decoding” foundation organizational culture, as well as on a change incubator initiative in which four foundations go on a year-long exploration together of how to advance institutional change within their own organizations.
  • The Giving Practice of Philanthropy Northwest is working on a project about “philanthropy’s second discipline,” all the relational skills foundation program officers need to do their jobs well.
  • Talent Philanthropy Project is helping foundations understand how to invest in nonprofit talent, and to manage their own talent practices.
  • TCC Group is refining and disseminating the Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool (FCCAT), which measures the adaptive, leadership, management, and technical capacities foundations need to do their work. (I was not involved in the negotiation of this grant since I used to work there until earlier this year.)
  • The Bay Area Justice Funders Network (BAJFN) is piloting the Harmony Initiative, a year-long cohort of foundation program officers who are learning how to incorporate social-justice values into the day-to-day mechanics of the grantmaking cycle, based on an original framework for social justice philanthropy called the “Choir Book” (because before we worry about preaching to the choir, let’s make sure they’re singing off the same hymnal).
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is disseminating and deepening findings from its “Theory of the Foundation” project, which seeks to translate Peter Drucker’s “Theory of the Firm” to the foundation world, as a means of grounding discussion of the competencies needed to be effective.
  • National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (NNCG) is shining a light on the role of consultants in effective philanthropic practice, including by hosting a directory of vetted consultants (five references are checked for each individual listed).
  • The USC Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy is developing research and programming that will examine the relationship between foundation boards and CEOs.
  • The Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) is planning for the development of a Digital Civil Society Lab, which will help funders and nonprofits grapple with how to address digital policy and practice more effectively in their planning and operations.
  • The Fund for Shared Insight is a donor collaborative that promotes greater use of constituent feedback among nonprofits and greater openness among foundations. We participate in it along with the Moore, Packard, Hewlett, Kellogg, Rita Allen, and JPB foundations, as well as Liquidnet for Good.
  • BoardSource is increasing dissemination of its foundation board self-assessment tool.
  • ABFE (Association of Black Foundation Executives), in addition to supporting responsive philanthropy in Black communities, is providing consulting services to foundations and infrastructure groups that want to engage with racial equity in their grantmaking and/or internal operations.

The throughline of these grants is that different groups are working on different levers to move foundations toward greater openness and inclusion. Some are focusing on the board, some on the CEO, some on the program officer, and some on the organizational structure or design. We look forward to fostering a conversation that brings together these and other efforts and helps define the state of the field and where we go next.

Engaging More Donors for Social Justice

Most of our work in this area will be knowledge curation about what types of individual and institutional donors are most receptive to social justice, and what kinds of approaches do and do not work to reach them. We’ll make a limited number of grants to learn more about these topics.

  • Resource Generation organizes young people with wealth and class privilege to be transformative leaders working towards equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power. [Edited 11/18 to reflect feedback from RG about how to correctly frame their work – thanks!]
  • Social Venture Partners, which has engaged more than 3,500 individual donors across the U.S. and in a handful of cities globally, is systematizing its donor education curriculum, and building into it an equity lens
  • ioby is a crowd-resourcing platform that helps neighborhood leaders mobilize resources for block-level neighborhood revitalization projects, which give leaders the experience of directly changing their circumstances of their lives, and give donors the experience of seeing the impact of their giving.
  • “Philanthropication thru Privatization” is a project to identify new sources of philanthropic capital in the developing world in transactions in which essentially public or quasi-public assets are transformed into charitable endowments in the course of transferring their ownership into for-profit hands. You know health conversion foundations, like the California Endowment, that result when a non-profit health entity goes for-profit, and the proceeds of the transaction are used to create a foundation? Turns out there’s a whole class of entities like that worldwide, more than 500 so far.
  • The Global Alliance for Community Philanthropy is a donor collaborative that seeks to advance the practice of community philanthropy worldwide and to influence international development actors to engage more with community foundations.
  • AAPIP (Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy) has sought to democratize philanthropy by seeding a network of 50 giving circles across the country.
  • Funders for LGBTQ Issues has launched a three-year campaign to move the amount of philanthropic dollars targeted to LGBTQ communities from $129 million to $200 million.
  • NAP (Native Americans in Philanthropy) seeks to bring together foundations, tribal governments, and Native nonprofits to pursue sustainable and equitable development in Indian country. NAP is helping these diverse actors understand better how to collaborate.
  • HIP (Hispanics in Philanthropy) has developed a crowdfunding platform to allow donors of all types to support grassroots Latino-led, Latino-serving nonprofits, and has multiple initiatives for national foundations to reach Latino nonprofits in areas ranging from aging to education to LGBTQ issues.
  • The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has been a longtime champion of and advocate for greater investment by institutional philanthropy in social justice, community organizing, policy advocacy, and racial equity. They help keep the field honest, and exert pressure on foundations to live up to their potential.
  • We also sponsored the Fall Forum of CFLeads, which brought together community foundation CEOs and board members from across the country to discuss racial equity, climate change, and criminal justice reform.

Alignment in the Philanthropy Infrastructure

  • The Forum of RAGs (Regional Associations of Grantmakers) is exploring an ambitious new vision to be the space that organizes all ~80 infrastructure organizations, and not just the 33 regional associations. I’m persuaded that their approach and the people they’ve assembled to help guide the exploration make it worth supporting this effort. They’re building upon a solid track record of promoting collaboration on back-office infrastructure among the regional associations over the past few years, have pulled together a top-notch advisory group, and have just hired a strong new CEO. I’m excited to see how their new vision develops.
  • The Joint Affinity Groups, a coalition of seven identity-based philanthropy affinity groups, are building toward their next Unity Summit in 2017, preparing an upcoming re-branding, and exploring how they can leverage their 3,000+ aggregate members to build a more meaningful pipeline for executive and trustee positions in philanthropy.

Other Noteworthy Efforts

  • The National Council of Nonprofits and its indomitable leader Tim Delaney are kicking butt and taking names. NCN is holding it down advocating for the essential role of state-level advocacy for nonprofits, and are driving a campaign for nonprofit boards to “Stand For Your Mission” by embracing advocacy. They scored a key policy victory by ensuring that nonprofits get a fairer shake in government contracts through the OMB Uniform Guidance. [Edited 1/8 for clarity.]
  • The Nonprofit Finance Fund provides essential intelligence for foundations about how to support nonprofits in developing and enhancing more sustainable funding models. Their annual State of the Sector survey is an invaluable resource for understanding the real needs of nonprofits in the sector.
  • Nexus Global Youth Summit is a network that brings together young inheritors of wealth from across the world and engages them as thoughtful and intentional givers. Nexus has developed a community that is growing rapidly, and has really captured something meaningful about how young people want to engage to help create a better world.
  • GuideStar has evolved from its roots as a search engine for information about nonprofit finances into a sophisticated information provider and market maker that is moving the field toward a more integrated platform for learning about and supporting nonprofit impact. The Green 2.0 initiative that it developed with the D5 Coalition is a leap forward for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the environmental field.
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9 Responses to “Awesomesauce”

  1. Jon Stahl Says:

    Awesome indeed. A thoughtful, strategic and dare I say exceptionally charismatic portfolio. It is a pleasure to be a small cog in this big, exciting vision. :-)

  2. CardonaC Says:

    LOL. Thanks Jon!

  3. Janine Lee Says:

    Bravo and standing ovation on this extraordinary portfolio of key actors in the philanthropic sector! As one leader who has committed myself to Board service on some, and who is a beneficiary of training and development of many others; I want to say thank you for your vision!

    Exceptional!

    Peace and light,
    Janine

  4. CardonaC Says:

    Thanks Janine, your own leadership in the sector is inspirational!

  5. Meredith Jones Says:

    As a board member of CFLeads, recently retired CEO of the Maine Community Foundation, and fellow blogger, I was pleased to see CFLeads included in your list, Chris.

    We’re honored that our growing network of community foundations is part of an inspiring group of colleagues in philanthropy working to further social justice and equity in communities across the country.

    Thank you to Ford for being such an important partner in this critical work.

  6. CardonaC Says:

    Thanks for your kind words Meredith!

  7. Noelle Melchizedek Says:

    Hello!

    So glad I found this blog! I saw you speak at Grassroots Grantmakers in Brooklyn, have been following the Ford Foundation’s work, and am hoping to connect with you. The Colorado Trust has been working to shift our grant-making to be community-centered and also is investing in an organizational field-building approach to health equity advocacy in Colorado. We’ve been working to shift our relationships with grantees from transactional to relational as well. I’ve been a grantee for much of my career and am excited to be a part of our process – which includes connecting to other folks out there in the world working in similar spaces. If you have a chance, drop me an email at noelle (at) coloradotrust dot org. Thanks so much!

    Noelle

  8. CardonaC Says:

    Thanks Noelle – will do! Sound like some really great changes you all have cooking, congrats.

  9. The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » There’s a Place for Us Says:

    […] in the Ford Foundation’s rebooted Philanthropy portfolio. One of the categories was “Engaging More Donors for Social Justice.” What do we mean by […]

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