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The Foundation Review

2019

Bottom-up management

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Balancing The Competing Demands Of Strategic Philanthropy: The Case Of The Delaware River Watershed Initiative, Edward W. Wilson, Carol Bromer, David Laroche Dec 2019

Balancing The Competing Demands Of Strategic Philanthropy: The Case Of The Delaware River Watershed Initiative, Edward W. Wilson, Carol Bromer, David Laroche

The Foundation Review

Strategic philanthropy requires striking a balance between two extremes. On one side is unilateral agenda-setting by the foundation and excessive reliance on its own intellectual frameworks and methods. On the other side is too much deference to competing voices from the field, with the risk that funding will be haphazard and incoherent. This article describes how the Delaware River Watershed Initiative, supported by the William Penn Foundation, has struggled to position itself between these two extremes.

Based on an evaluation conducted during the first four years of the initiative, the article examines four interrelated tensions: upfront planning versus emergent strategy, …