Tag Archives: Philanthropy

8 Longer-Term Ideas for Funding Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery can take years, and there are many opportunities for grantmakers to have a meaningful impact long after other resources have moved on. Yesterday we share 6 Things Grantmakers Can Do Right Now To Help Hurricane Sandy Relief. Today we want to share 8 longer-term ideas for supporting disaster recovery, recommended by our colleagues at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy in a recent National Center for Family Philanthropy newsletter:

  1. Recognize that there are places private philanthropy can help that government agencies might not. Situations that arise during and immediately after disasters (such as the hospital generator failure in New York or levee failure in New Orleans) can offer prime opportunities for funding academic research on causes and best practices related to those situations. Careful analysis now can make all the difference in preparation for the future.
  2. Those not in the particular geographic area affected by the storm might connect on a different level. Look for ways to tie disaster funding into existing mission, and to leverage in-house expertise. In terms of Sandy, for example, there are opportunities to support vulnerable populations such as the elderly and infirm, as well as those who don’t speak English and may have greater needs when it comes to recovery. Mental health issues are also important to address over the long term following a disaster. Consider support for those still coping with losses from Hurricane Irene in 2011, or even those impacted by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, now seeing the memorial flooded by Sandy’s waters.
  3. Even while focusing on immediate needs, remember that it will take some time for the full range of needs to emerge. Power loss, transportation outages, and flood-damaged homes may be top of mind, but we have yet to truly understand the impact that this storm has had on people’s lives. Be patient in planning for disaster funding. Recovery will take a long time, and funding will be needed throughout.
  4. Recognize that the storm may expose needs not typically seen on this scale in the United States-and this will open up possibilities for future disaster planning. Plans could be developed for the more effective distribution of food during massive power outages. In addition, as sewage and standing water covers portions of communities, the risks of disease and environmental damage increase.
  5. Support the sharing of best practices. Florida, for example, has developed stringent building codes to mitigate destruction from hurricanes. Interested donors could help support the transfer of expertise from one region to another before the next disaster occurs.
  6. Be willing to consider long-term, multi-year commitments. Remember that New Orleans still hasn’t fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago, and New York still hasn’t fully rebuilt from damage sustained on Sept. 11, 2001.
  7. Remember that Sandy’s effects were felt well beyond U.S. borders. Still crippled by the 2010 earthquake and affected by Hurricane Isaac just a few months ago, Haiti saw 52 deaths related to Sandy and now faces a potential cholera epidemic and food shortages.
  8. Connect with other funders across the affected region and the nation. Collaborative philanthropic response to the disaster leverages combined expertise and maximizes the value of the human, financial, and technical resources donated. Use the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, your regional association, or other networks to plan and leverage your support.

Tomorrow’s blog post will share best practices and lessons learned in disaster philanthropy. To learn more check out our recent newsletter, What Funders Can Do to Aid Hurricane Recovery (in your community or elsewhere).

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

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2012.


Do Your Homework

How one foundation used research to help support young, black men

In the wake of substantial public funding cuts across the board, many foundations are struggling to find the most meaningful ways to step up and strategically fill the void. Let’s not kid ourselves: there is no way for private philanthropy to close that public funding gap. The struggle for foundations, then, is how to achieve the most impact for the investments they can make, and choosing meaningful areas in which to invest.

In that regard, it pays to do your homework by conducting a little research to find the intersections between public cuts and public needs. For example, take a look at the new BLOOM Initiative launched earlier this year by the California Community Foundation, with funding support from Weingart Foundation, The Carl and Roberta Deutsch Foundation, Union Bank Foundation, and many others.

The initiative targets Black male youth who have had a brush with the law and ended up in Los Angeles County’s probation system. Through a series of community supports, BLOOM (Building a Lifetime of Options and Opportunities for Black Men) aims to steer Black male teens away from the path of incarceration and toward a path of education and employment. According to the California Community Foundation, a mere 10% decrease in the number of Black male youth in the county probation system over the next five years will save taxpayers about $48.8 million annually.

That’s a huge impact for hundreds of Black male youth and for the county’s public funding budget — but the Community Foundation did not set out with this particular impact in mind. Instead, they started by doing their homework.

At the beginning of 2011, the California Community Foundation contracted with our consulting firm, Putnam Community Investment Consulting to perform a high-level analysis of California’s budget as it related to Black men and boys in Los Angeles County. We specifically looked at the areas of education, economic opportunity, youth involved in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. Where were the cuts? What populations and programs would be affected most? Which were least likely to have other sources of support?

In our research, we found that “realignment” of the state’s department of juvenile justice would place the burden for serving juvenile offenders completely on counties. The impact on Los Angeles County, where Black youth account for 10 percent of the county youth population but 33 percent of all youth under probation supervision, was especially significant. So significant, in fact, that the California Community Foundation ended up investing $2.5 million in the BLOOM initiative over five years. The Foundation is actively seeking a 1:1 match from external partners to bring BLOOM to scale at $1 million per year over the next five years.

Without conducting this research, the Community Foundation would not have realized the new juvenile justice need — and opportunity — that was emerging in Los Angeles County, and would not have been able to weigh it against the many other needs in education and workforce development that were also of interest to them.

Lesson learned? Do your homework — and if you need some assistance, Putnam Community Investment Consulting is happy to help.



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

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2012.

Social Pioneers? We Think So, Too.

This is a guest post by Daniel Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation.  This post was originally published on the blog “LS&Co. Unzipped” on July 13, 2011.  It is re-posted here with Mr. Lee’s permission.

When you’re in this line of work, pushing for equality for all, you know a pioneer when you see one.

The Levi Strauss Foundation started its Pioneers in Justice initiative last year, setting out to support five of the most dynamic, next-generation leaders in the social justice field — a field advocating for equal rights and opportunities for women, immigrants and other marginalized groups in the United States.

Now, the largest newspaper in Northern California, the San Francisco Chronicle, has featured three of our Pioneers as leaders who are taking on “some of the most challenging issues facing our society” today. The newspaper named Abdi Soltani, Arcelia Hurtado and Vincent Pan among its Changemaker class of 2011.

We applaud our hometown paper for shining the spotlight on the committed and courageous work of Abdi, Arcelia and Vincent and the organizations they lead: American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Equal Rights Advocates and Chinese for Affirmative Action, respectively.

Check out what the Chronicle has to say about them here, or take a moment to see them in action below.

To learn more about how Pioneers in Justice supports these leaders as they retool social justice movements and use the power of networks and social media to advance justice click here.

It’s your loyalty to the Levi’s®, Dockers®, and Denizen™ brands that allows the Levi Strauss Foundation to support pioneering leaders who take on the issues and events of our time and foster access to justice for all. For that, we thank you.


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

Philanthropy411 List of Foundations and Funder Networks on Twitter

Since publishing my first list of “90 Foundations That Tweet” in July 2009, I’ve been sporadically keeping track of foundations, foundation staff, and funder networks that are joining Twitter.  I’ve created the Philanthropy411 List of Foundations and Funder Networks on Twitter (Part 1 and Part 2), which at the time of this post publication has 607 Twitter users. I’ve kept this list private and am now making it public for anyone to follow.

There are other resources for finding foundations on Twitter that you should definitely check out. This includes:

  • The Foundation Center’s fabulous Glass Pockets site, which provides links to foundations that seek to be transparent using social media and other tools, such as their Facebook pages, blogs, Twitter accounts, etc.  It is continually updated by the foundations themselves.
  • @OnlyFoundations, which is a twitter feed from Cindy Bailie, Director of the Foundation Center Cleveland. It is a continuous stream of content from foundations and corporate grantmakers.
  • 17 More Foundation Resources on Twitter is another post I authored which provides links to Twitter accounts of some useful philanthropy resources, such as the Foundation Centers, media outlets covering philanthropy, and organizations such as Charity Navigator and Guidestar that help donors find excellent nonprofits to support.
  • The Foundation Center’s report “Are Foundation Leaders Using Social Media?” which highlights the social media activities of over 650 foundations.

I will continue to add to this list, and will occasionally update this blog post with the latest number of list members.  It includes the “official” twitter feeds of grantmaking foundations; foundation staff who identify themselves as working at a foundation or tweet a lot about their grantmaking, grantees and causes; staff at funder networks (e.g., national and regional associations of grantmakers, funders who come together to address a particular issue); and the occasional foundation board member such as myself. One caveat: since this list was started in 2009, there are likely people who have changed jobs and no longer work for a foundation. Unfortunately, I don’t know of an efficient way to continually review the list and remove those who no longer fit the criteria.

It is my intention that this list only includes foundations and other organizations that give grants (or affinity groups and networks of such organizations). However, this list does not include United Ways. I have much respect for United Way organizations and their contributions to communities, but there are so many of them on Twitter that it makes more sense for someone else to create a separate United Way Twitter list. I have also excluded foundations that raise money for only one particular organization, such as the foundations of hospitals and universities.

If you think you should be on this list, or if you know of a foundation who should be, please contact me with the name and link to the Twitter profile. And if you see an organization that should not be on this list, let me know too!

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

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2011.

15 Tips for Effective Communications Planning

I’ve helped dozens of foundations to develop and launch new grantmaking initiatives. One of the lessons I’ve learned is the importance of communications planning – early and often. As one colleague advised me, “Communications begins the moment you open your mouth and start talking about the idea of your initiative.”  Yet communications planning often gets overlooked.

To help one of our clients prepare for communications planning for a new initiative, I conducted brief research to identify recommended components of a communications plan, and approaches to communications planning. I wanted to share some of the key findings with you, in hopes that it helps you with communications planning for your philanthropic initiatives and programs.

A Strategic Communications Plan Should Have Internal And External Components

An internal communications plan is for everyone who has ever been involved in the planning of your initiative. This includes people such as all of your foundation staff and board members who have been involved conceptualizing and developing the initiative, planning team members, advisory council members, the community members who have ever participated in planning meetings, and other involved stakeholders.  Internal communications strategies for those most closely involved in current planning efforts, such as an e-newsletter to keep all the planning team members appraised of what each other is doing, will be very different from strategies to connect with broader stakeholders who don’t yet know about your efforts, such as policymakers, media, and community members.

The external communications plan is for anyone who hasn’t been involved, but who needs to be.  This might be the people who will benefit from your initiative, business, schools, policymakers, other funders who have not yet committed funds, community providers who have not yet been involved, the media, etc.  It also includes those who might be opposed to your efforts.

13 Components of a Communications Plan

A strategic communications plan should include the following:

1. Measurable goals and strategies – The communications plan should include clear and measurable goals and strategies. These goals should be as specific as possible. Avoid generic goals such as “raise awareness”, and make sure communications goals are realistic and can be accomplished with the human and financial resources available.

2. Target audiences

  • You will want to have agreement about who are the key internal and external audiences, what they key messages are for each audience, and what you want each audience to do as a result of hearing those messages.
  • Be as specific as possible about what you want to accomplish with each audience, and how communications can help. For example, communications with state policymakers will differ if you are trying to create policy change, or if you are trying to get a new line item in the state budget.
  • Think about audiences in two groups: those who will support your effort, and those who will be against it. Be sure to have strategies that address those who will be barriers to success (e.g., to see if you can turn some of them into supporters, or “frame the debate” to prevent their negative messages from taking hold)
  • Delineate the different sectors of audience (public, private, nonprofit, etc) as well as the different levels (local, regional, state)
  • News media is both an audience and a vehicle, so you should be clear on the role of media for each.
  • The “general public” is not a target audience.  You need to be more specific.

3. Identification of the message “frame” – The plan should describe how the initiative should be framed (e.g., “education will lead neighborhood residents to economic opportunity”). It should also identify what people’s current frame is (e.g., “schools in this neighborhood are horrible and students are getting a terrible education”), how you can communicate with them within their current frame, and how you will move them to the new frame.

4. Key messages and persuasive strategies – As mentioned above, while there might be one overarching message, different audiences will need different key messages. You will also want to identify the readiness of each audience to hear and act upon these messages, their core concerns so that you can ensure your messages are meaningful to them, and the messenger to share your message.  Additionally, there are different types of persuasion, and the plan should address how each persuasive strategy will be used to gain support. For example, rational persuasion uses technical data and logical arguments, while emotional persuasion uses values and emotion, such as photographs of happy children, to convey messages.

5. Opportunities and barriers for reaching key audiences – The plan should identify different strategies for and opportunities to reach key audiences with your messages. It should also identify barriers and how those barriers can be overcome.

6. Communications activitiesFor each goal and strategy, there will be a series of communications activities, or tactics, identified. Each activity/tactic should have a clear timeline, communications vehicles, people assigned to them, and a budget.

7. Communications vehiclesWithin each goal, strategy and tactic there will be different communications vehicles to use to carry your message to your audience.  This includes face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, e-newsletters, blogs, grassroots mobilization, policy reports, op-eds, community meetings, etc.

8. Crisis communicationsThe communications plan should include how to manage and communicate about any crises that might arise.

9. Implementation planThe communications plan should be accompanied by an implementation plan. This should be a very clear road map that lays out specific timelines, deadlines, activities, who is responsible, etc.

10. Monitoring and evaluationYou will want to track and measure success, so each communication goal and strategy should be measurable and evaluated. That way you can also make adjustments if certain strategies and tactics aren’t working.

11. Timing considerationsA realistic time horizon for a strategic communications plan is three years.  However, the communications plan should include immediate-, short-, and long-term goals and strategies. The implementation plan should help in determining how to prioritize and roll out the different communication components, strategies and tactics. Since your initiative will have immediate communications needs, you should identify what needs to happen immediately and what are some “low-hanging fruit” tactics that could be implemented to meet those needs, even before a full communications plan is developed. Some ideas include:

  • Initial materials
    • Fact sheet – This would be a simple document outlining the aim of your initiative, the timeframe, and who is involved.
    • PowerPoint deck that describes your initiative and conveys key messages. This can be used for both larger presentations, and also to “talk through” the initiative during one-on-one meetings. There might be slightly different versions of this for different audiences.
    • Talking points to ensure internal stakeholder leaders are conveying the same, clear messages.
  • E-newsletters or email updates to key stakeholders (brief)
  • Conducting a series of individual meetings with key stakeholders who have not yet been engaged to inform them about and begin to involve them in your initiative.
  • Identifying “ambassadors” who can help tell the story about your imitative. This can be helpful when many one-on-one meetings or group presentations are needed (so one person is not burdened with conducting them all).

12. Staffing – If a foundation has internal communications staff, it is very helpful for them to begin participating early in planning conversations. This enables them to understand the initiative so that they know how to communicate about it, and also ensures that planning happens with a communications lens. You might need to retain a communications consultant.  It will be helpful to have one person/firm responsible for creating a communications plan, and that this could be in-house staff or a consultant.  Whoever creates the plan should be someone with experience conducting strategic communications planning, preferably with complex, community-based initiatives.

One communications consultant is unlikely be have the skills, experience and capacity to meet all of your communications needs. The foundation could hire a consultant to develop the plan, and that consultant will likely be able to implement some parts of the plan but not all of them. That consultant should be able to help the foundation identify other vendors to help with specific pieces, such as media relations, advertising, community outreach, etc. That consultant could even serve as a coordinator/implementation manager of all the communications-related work.  Someone needs to be identified to manage the implementation of  the communications plan. You can find communications consultants who specialize in philanthropy and nonprofits through the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and the Communications Network.

13. BudgetThere should be a detailed communications budget developed as part of the plan. This way, choices can be made regarding where to focus limited resources.  Like anything, communications can get very expensive, and the plan needs to match the resources available.

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.

36 Terrific Blog Posts Covering the 2011 Council on Foundations Conference

The Philanthropy411 Blog Team recently covered the Council on Foundations Annual Conference, as well as some of the pre-conference affinity group events such as Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy Annual Meeting and the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy National Conference. Below please find a list of and links to all posts published for this event.  The Council on Foundations also had a blog team, and you should definitely check out their blog coverage too.

1. Your Blog Team at Council on Foundations 2011
By: Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting

2. EPIP Provides Support and Opportunity for Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy
by Rusty Stahl, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.

3. Mutual Frontiers: Social Change, Storytelling and the Blogosphere
by Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation

4. Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 1
by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation

5. Fountain of Youth
by Richard Woo, CEO, of The Russell Family Foundation

6. Letter to COF Conference Attendees
by Holly Wolfe, Environmental Sustainability Program Associate at The Russell Family Foundation

7. Three Examples and a Prize
by Daniel Silverman, Communications Director at the James Irvine Foundation

8. Promoting Intergenerational Leadership & Racial Justice in Philanthropy
by Sterling Speirn, President and CEO of the WK Kellogg Foundation

9. How AAPIP is Building Democratic Philanthropy
by Danielle M. Reyes, Senior Program Officer at The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

10. Advancing the Next Generation: EPIP’s Impact on Philanthropy
by Rusty Stahl, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.

11. What Gives?
by Richard Woo, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation

12. The Multiplier Effect: Invest in Fundraising
by Roger Doughty, Executive Director of the Horizons Foundation

13. Gratitude and Wonder in Philly
by Rob Collier, CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations.

14. Get Some Sleep!
by Ash McNeely, Executive Director of the Sand Hill Foundation

15. Nonprofits, Social Media, and ROI
by Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and co-founder and partner of Zoetica.

16. Go See the Murals!
by Daniel Silverman, Communications Director at the James Irvine Foundation

17. Committee Orientation
by Mark E. Neithercut, founder and principal at Neithercut Philanthropy Advisors

18. Trust is Cheaper than Control: Social Media Adoption Challenges
by Beth Kanter, author of The Networked Nonprofit and co-founder and partner of Zoetica

19. Caught in the Headlights
by Christi Tran, Program Officer for Blue Shield Against Violence at the Blue Shield of California Foundation

20. Gardens Inspire “Roots to Reentry”
by Danielle M. Reyes, Senior Program Officer at The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation

21. D5 Initiative – Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
by Roger Doughty, Executive Director of the Horizons Foundation

22. Be at the Policy Table (or be on the Menu)
by Robert Eckardt, Executive Vice President of The Cleveland Foundation

23. Grits Ain’t Groceries. They’re Hope.
by Vincent Robinson, Managing Partner of The 360 Group

24. Spending Up, Spending Down, Spending Out: Alternatives To Perpetuity
by Lee Draper, President of the Draper Consulting Group

25.  Another Multiplier Effect: Invest in Talent Development – Part One
by Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation

26. Another Multiplier Effect: Invest in Talent Development – Part Two
by Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation

27. Philanthropy and Pluralism: Diversity That Does Not Divide
by Lee Draper, President of the Draper Consulting Group

28. Conference Theme Should Unify and Call Us To Action
by Lee Draper, President of the Draper Consulting Group

29. Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 2
by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation

30. Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 3
by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation

31. Fabulous Plenaries at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference
by Lee Draper, President of the Draper Consulting Group

32. Law and Dis-Order
by Richard Woo, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation

33. The Experiences of An Emerging Leader at National Philanthropy Conferences
by Maisha Simmons, Program Associate at The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

34. Reflections from a Millennial
by Chanelle Gandy, Program Associate at The Funders’ Network

35. Leadership Under Duress
by Richard Woo, CEO of The Russell Family Foundation

36. 3 Lessons on Evaluation in Foundations
by Mayur Patel, Vice President of Strategy and Assessment at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

3 Lessons on Evaluation in Foundations

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Mayur Patel, Vice President of Strategy and Assessment at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

by Mayur Patel

On Sunday afternoon at the conference, I had the chance to participate in a panel discussion on the intersection between strategy and evaluation. The conversations that followed with participants from private foundations, corporate philanthropy and local community foundations was fascinating. Here are three key themes that emerged:

  • Where you sit matters: Over the past few years, new foundation titles have increasingly emerged to describe the position of individuals involved in evaluation. We now have strategic assessment officers, performance managers, knowledge management officers, and even learning and listening directors! The list goes on. Aside from being an amusing word game, the trend speaks to a larger recognition in the field that how you label and house the roles and responsibilities of evaluation affects its use. Many participants shared the organizational efforts they’ve made to link their evaluation teams directly to program development, strategy and planning.
  • Creating Demand for Learning and Evaluation: Integrating an evaluation function into a foundation, invariably results in more work for program officers and staff, regardless of how you structure it. The challenge then is how to create demand for this function and how to demonstrate that it helps make a foundation’s work smarter and more effective. Participants shared their practical advice on approaches they’ve used to highlight the value of evaluation, including dedicating evaluation resources to support grantee capacity, leveraging assessment findings to enhance a program’s leadership through external publications and providing support for landscape studies that provide program teams with the broader context to inform their work.
  • Indicators versus Conversations: Evaluation discussions can often become singularly focused on metrics. However, unlocking the intersection between strategy and evaluation is much less about indicators and data, than it is about using insights to support conversations and decision making. Participants shared the view that if one of the primary reasons we engage in evaluation is to support course corrections and adaptation, then greater focus is needed on how we use evaluation to help facilitate conversations about learning and program improvement.

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.