Tag Archives: grantmaking

Blog Team Coverage of the Council on Foundations Conference

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, recently covered the 2010 Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a list of all posts published for this event.

  1. Kick off of Council on Foundations Blog Team, posted by Sterling Speirn, President and CEO, WK Kellogg Foundation
  2. Thoughts from the Pre-Conference Institute for Trustees & CEOs: “Insights for Philanthropic Leadership,” posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  3. A Lesson on Managing Risk, posted by Raymond Colmenar, Senior Program Officer, The California Endowment
  4. The New Meditation, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  5. Nits Make Lice, posted by Mike Roberts, President, First Nations Development Institute
  6. Walking Around Philanthropy, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chair of the Tecovas Foundation
  7. 5 Things We Know, But Keep Forgetting, posted by Crystal Hayling, Winner of the 2010 James A Joseph Award from the Association of Black Foundation Executives
  8. Listen, posted by Aleesha Towns-Bain, Program Associate, Rasmuson Foundation
  9. Health, Equity, and Growth, posted by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
  10. On Fire, posted by Rebecca Arno, Vice President of Communications, Denver Foundation
  11. Choices, Choices, posted by Kim St. John-Stevenson, Communications Officer, Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland
  12. So Many Great Sessions, So Little Time to Blog, posted by Sterling Speirn, President and CEO, WK Kellogg Foundation
  13. Thoughts on a Session – Social Justice: From Here to 2030, posted by Teri Behrens, Editor, The Foundation Review
  14. Charity AND Change; Social Innovation AND Social Justice, posted by Paul Connolly, Senior Vice President and Director, TCC Group, and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  15. Grantmaking, Tools, and the Long View, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chai, Tecovas Foundation
  16. Happy Birthday AAPIP!, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  17. Standing Ovation Generation, posted by Jacob Harold, Program Officer in Philanthropy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  18. Social Justice Philanthropy, posted by Mike Shaw, Program Assistant, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  19. The “Yes-And-And” Strategy: Equity as the 21st Century Growth Model, posted by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
  20. Celebrating AAPIP’s 20th Anniversary Year-round, posted by Sokunthea Sa Chhabra, Director of Interactive Communications, Case Foundation
  21. Information and Power – Thoughts on Al Gore’s Speech, posted by Kathleen Reich, Program Officer, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  22. Is Institutional Philanthropy Structured to Support Successful Social Change?, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO of the Draper Consulting Group
  23. Ah-ha Moments and Social Media (aka Why YOU Can and Should Use Social Media!), posted by Kim St. John-Stevenson, Communications Officer, Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland
  24. Wish You Were Here…Al Gore’s Keynote Speech on Climate Change, the Imperative of Civic Engagement, and Philanthropy’s Opportunity to Play a Role in Shaping the Future, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO of the Draper Consulting Group
  25. Blowing Up The Conference Model, posted by Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors
  26. Where Are the Arts?, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO, Draper Consulting Group
  27. Living History: Amanche & Sand Creek, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  28. Learn Essential Skills and Strategies in Philanthropy, posted by Cole Wilbur, Trustee of the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Steering Committee Member, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  29. Memorable Mentions, posted by Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation
  30. Afraid of Losing Control with Social Media? Guess What, You’ve Already Lost it!, posted by Sokunthea Sa Chhabra, Director of Interactive Communications at the Case Foundation
  31. A Foundation’s Freedom – And its Responsibility, posted by Kristin Ivie, Program Manager of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation
  32. What’s Next for Diversity in Philanthropy?, posted by Henry A. J. Ramos, Principal at Mauer Kunst Consulting and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  33. Sitting at the Intersection: Affinity, posted by Colin Lacon, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers
  34. Myth Busting, posted by Rebecca Arno, Vice President of Communications at the Denver Foundation
  35. Becoming Masters of the Brand of Ourselves, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chair of the Tecovas Foundation
  36. Social Justice: Bringing it Home, posted by Henry A. J. Ramos, Principal at Mauer Kunst Consulting and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  37. 5 + 3 Ain’t Small Change, posted by Colin Lacon, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers
  38. Respect & Resolve, posted by Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation
  39. Racial Justice is Everybody’s Issue, posted by Rosetta Thurman, President of Thurman Consulting
  40. In Search of the Mind-Blowing Conference Model, posted by Philanthropy411′s very own Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, and Vice Chair of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  41. Learn Essential Skills and Strategies in Philanthropy, posted by Cole Wilbur, Trustee of the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Steering Committee Member, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers

Special thanks to the Council on Foundations for their support of our Blog Team!  Check out their blog, re: Philanthropy, to read about their blog coverage of the conference and to stay abreast of the field!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

10 Key Attributes of Grantmaking Initiatives

One of our favorite clients, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, recently asked us to define the term “grantmaking initiative”. Simple, I thought. After all, nonprofits and foundations have used this term for ages. Here at Putnam Community Investment Consulting, we’ve spent the last 10 years designing, managing and evaluating foundation initiatives. We all know what an initiative is, but can we actually define the term? Turns out, I couldn’t. So I embarked on a quest. Several hundred Google searches, listserv queries, tweets, and LinkedIn posts later, I was surprised to learn that there is no universally accepted definition of “grantmaking initiative”. I did, however, discover 10 attributes shared by many grantmaking initiatives.

1.    Initiatives are sponsored by at least one foundation. The sponsors of an initiative are ready and able to address a particular issue; commit to a course of action; make a public declaration of their commitment; join together to conceive, develop, and launch the initiative; and leverage foundation assets to ensure its success. Lead sponsors often engage other funding partners such as foundations, corporations, individual donors, or public agencies to co-sponsor the initiative.

2.    Initiatives engage many people and organizations. First, the sponsoring foundation’s board approves the foundation’s role in developing the initiative and the budget. Once foundation leadership agrees on scope, they engage program and administrative staff in research, planning, launching, and managing the initiative. Often, a planning team of key funders, partners, consultants, and other stakeholders help to design the initiative. They may retain an intermediary organization to serve as initiative manager. Once the initiative is launched, grantees receive funding and other types of support such as training, technical assistance, communications resources. Evaluations may be conducted to measure the effectiveness of the initiative. Grantees can also take part in planning, while partner organizations play key roles without receiving funding. Other stakeholders might assume less formal roles. Champions are key stakeholders who actively promote the initiative by reaching out to peers, funders, politicians, and other influencers. Consultants are often retained to carry out various aspects of the initiative such as research, planning, communications, and evaluations.

3.   Initiatives are time-limited by design. Foundation initiatives conform to a general timeframe that is defined by sponsors at the onset. Often, the goal of the initiative helps to define its culmination. While most are described loosely as “multi-year initiatives” or “long-term initiatives” the average lifespan of a foundation initiative is somewhere between four and 10 years.

4.   Initiatives demand significant resources. Initiatives are typically complex, multi-faceted efforts to create long-term impact on important issues. Such impact frequently requires sustained funding and efficient coordination of existing resources and leveraged funds. To ensure effectiveness, initiatives allocate funds to evaluate impact and communicate results at key milestones.

5.   Initiatives advance a foundation’s mission. Just as grantmaking reflects the focus area of each funder, initiatives are crafted to conform to and advance a foundation’s existing mission. As an initiative becomes more successful, it can elevate the standing of a foundation among its peers and stakeholders while creating long-term, positive impact on issues of vital importance to communities.

6.   Initiatives require thoughtful research. Before embarking on the time-intensive process of developing and managing an initiative, foundations may conduct exploratory research to assess its potential for success. Research vehicles include environmental scans, focus groups, stakeholder interviews, literature review, site visits, reviews of existing models and best practices and other processes that can help to guide planning.

7.   Initiatives must be carefully planned. The roadmap established at the onset of an initiative is a touchstone for its success. Planning efforts should engage key stakeholders and others affected by the issue the initiative seeks to address. It is helpful to develop a comprehensive strategic plan or Theory of Change. There must be clear, measurable goals and objectives along with economies of scale. Examples include a single application and reporting form, group monitoring and evaluation, and board approval for the entire cohort of grantees.

8.   Initiatives are built on multiple strategies. Initiatives operate on multiple levels and use various strategies and tools to achieve their goals. Among these are communications, community education and mobilization, convening, direct service, evaluation and monitoring, grantmaking, influence of political and public will, leadership development, organizational capacity building, policy advocacy, and research.
9.   Initiatives seek a desired outcome. The most successful initiatives start by focusing on one specific issue, population, community, or field. As new issues come to light, this focus may evolve and change. The goal of an initiative usually falls into one of the following categories: To impact a problem or condition; to improve a community; to cultivate a field or subfield; to address an urgent need or neglected issue; to improve the performance of a set of organizations; to advance a process, productivity or efficiency; or to reduce costs. Success is often achieved when a new approach or solution developed by the initiative outperforms the current practice, resulting in a new “best practice” for the field.

10.  Initiatives are a unique form of grantmaking. We use the term “unique” lightly, because many initiatives do not lay claim to the following characteristics. However, initiatives are often distinct from programs, projects, and responsive grantmaking because they are: new endeavors; strategic; a discrete, focused undertaking; engage multiple partners, strategies, and levels; designed to set an agenda; time-limited; deliberate and proactive.  Additionally, initiatives leverage all of a foundation’s capacities and assets; convey the foundation’s point of view; seek to meet specific outcomes by maximizing resources and strategies while benefiting from economies of scale.

How do you define “grantmaking initiative”? What other attributes should be included in this list? Please leave a comment.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.