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In Conversation: Two Community Foundations In Dialogue About Their Equitable Evaluation Framework™ Practice, Madeline Brandt, Kelly Casey, Jean-Marie Callan, Joel Hicks-Rivera, Kim Leonard, Madeline Nguyen, Elena Tamanas Ragusa, Cierra Stancil, Kimberlee Salmond, Becky Seel, Kate Szczerbacki Sep 2023

In Conversation: Two Community Foundations In Dialogue About Their Equitable Evaluation Framework™ Practice, Madeline Brandt, Kelly Casey, Jean-Marie Callan, Joel Hicks-Rivera, Kim Leonard, Madeline Nguyen, Elena Tamanas Ragusa, Cierra Stancil, Kimberlee Salmond, Becky Seel, Kate Szczerbacki

The Foundation Review

This conversation between staff at the Oregon Community Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving shares how we are infusing the Equitable Evaluation Framework™ into our practice as we aim to be less extractive, shift power, and honor all ways of knowing and being as valid. In sharing this conversation, we want to pull the curtain back and offer a behind-the-scenes view into the conversations, realities, and challenges involved in doing this kind of work.

We sat down together for 90 minutes on a Wednesday afternoon, and the following is a rough transcript of our time together. The intention …


The Field-Building And Grantee Experimentation Role Of Foundations In Impact Investing As Illustrated By A Gender-Lens Investing Case Example, Courtney Bolinson, Laura Allan Dec 2022

The Field-Building And Grantee Experimentation Role Of Foundations In Impact Investing As Illustrated By A Gender-Lens Investing Case Example, Courtney Bolinson, Laura Allan

The Foundation Review

This article argues for foundations to play two critical roles in the impact investing ecosystem: to commission and/or support research that helps build more equitable and socially just impact investing and to fund grantee-specific experimentation in areas of impact investing and social enterprise that are nascent or developing.

To illustrate what this can look like, this article presents action research conducted on gender-lens investing, describing in detail a 2019 Mastercard Foundation grant to Engineers Without Borders Canada. The project involved two main goals: testing and developing gender-lens investing tools and processes with seed-stage investees during pre- or post-investment phases and …


Leveraging Foundation Balance Sheets For Greater Impact: Piloting A Pooled Guarantee Program, Jane Reisman, Jim Baek, David Newsome, Christine Ryan Dec 2022

Leveraging Foundation Balance Sheets For Greater Impact: Piloting A Pooled Guarantee Program, Jane Reisman, Jim Baek, David Newsome, Christine Ryan

The Foundation Review

A guarantee instrument is a credit enhancement tool that can enable philanthropies to unlock millions or billions of dollars for societal impact. The Community Investment Guarantee Pool, created in 2019 by a collaboration of philanthropies and allied impact investors, or guarantors, is a novel initiative that uses guarantees to leverage the balance sheets of foundations and other institutional investors for enhancing the credit of intermediaries in the affordable housing, small-business, and climate markets. As the guarantees are unfunded, foundations continue to keep their endowment invested in the conventional market.

This article describes the Community Investment Guarantee Pool, details its theory …


Grassroots Environmental Justice Work And Philanthropy: Challenges And Opportunities, Jennifer S. Ramirez, Ana I. Baptista, Molly Greenberg, Adrienne Perovich, Anna Yulsman, Antonio Lopez, Andrew Rosenberg Mar 2022

Grassroots Environmental Justice Work And Philanthropy: Challenges And Opportunities, Jennifer S. Ramirez, Ana I. Baptista, Molly Greenberg, Adrienne Perovich, Anna Yulsman, Antonio Lopez, Andrew Rosenberg

The Foundation Review

Across the United States, grassroots groups within the environmental justice movement are leading important work on the front lines of the climate crisis, especially in marginalized communities. Despite the importance of these organizations, the philanthropic sector has devoted the lion’s share of environmental funding to more mainstream nonprofits.

Building Equity and Alignment for Environmental Justice and the Tishman Environment and Design Center at The New School conducted a landscape assessment study of environmental funders and grassroots environmental justice organizations in the Gulf South and the Midwest. The study had four research aims: gain a greater understanding of environmental justice funding, …


(In)Equality Through Unrestricted Grantmaking: Examining Trust And Power In The Collaboration Between The Dutch Charity Lotteries And Their Grantees, Olivier Hunnik, Arjen De Wit, Pamala Wiepking Jun 2021

(In)Equality Through Unrestricted Grantmaking: Examining Trust And Power In The Collaboration Between The Dutch Charity Lotteries And Their Grantees, Olivier Hunnik, Arjen De Wit, Pamala Wiepking

The Foundation Review

Since 1989, the Dutch Charity Lotteries have provided multiyear unrestricted funding, a type of grantmaking that is fairly unique for the Netherlands, to a wide range of nonprofits at home and abroad. This article shares insights into how unrestricted grantmaking influences the relationship between funders and grantees, specifically highlighting how staff at a sample of grantee organizations experience collaboration with this large social enterprise. It discusses hidden and invisible power dynamics that exist in the relationship, even when there are few formal restrictions on grantees’ spending.

Grantee representatives interviewed for this study stated that openness and honesty in communication with …


Scaling Rural Access: One Foundation’S Partnership To Expand Fafsa Completion Across Mississippi, B. Tait Kellogg, Ann Hendrick, Kierstan Dufour, Patricia Steele Sep 2020

Scaling Rural Access: One Foundation’S Partnership To Expand Fafsa Completion Across Mississippi, B. Tait Kellogg, Ann Hendrick, Kierstan Dufour, Patricia Steele

The Foundation Review

This article highlights Get2College, a program by the Woodward Hines Education Foundation that provide financial aid counseling to Mississippi high school students, and outlines a study that assessed efforts to scale the FAFSA completion initiative to increase the number of students statewide who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Get2College’s approach to scaling involved a partnership with the state’s rurally based community colleges and leveraged their established support networks to expand its outreach to the state’s often underserved students and increase FAFSA completion rates among that population.

In rural states like Mississippi, underresourced groups are sometimes left …


Emergent Learning: Increasing The Impact Of Foundation-Driven Strategies To Support College Enrollment And Completion, Kimberly Hanauer, Stacy Sneed, Bill Debaun Sep 2020

Emergent Learning: Increasing The Impact Of Foundation-Driven Strategies To Support College Enrollment And Completion, Kimberly Hanauer, Stacy Sneed, Bill Debaun

The Foundation Review

This article examines lessons learned as part of the continued development of the Get2College Pilot School Program, an initiative of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, designed to test a strategy for increasing college enrollment among Mississippi students through greater college exploration opportunities and application and financial aid supports.

While a review of the first three years of the pilot found it had an impact on college-going culture at its eight participating schools, Get2College found no significant increase in college enrollment over the 2016–2018 academic years and a retrospective analysis revealed flaws in the program’s design and theory of change. In …


A Canary In The Payout-Rate Coal Mine, John C. Alexander Jr. Jun 2020

A Canary In The Payout-Rate Coal Mine, John C. Alexander Jr.

The Foundation Review

In this article, we create a capital markets-based indicator to trigger when a discussion about changing portfolio payout rates may be appropriate. Although the payout rate is often a calendar agenda item for foundations and endowments, volatility in capital markets may cause a deluge of ad hoc payout discussions that may decrease the effectiveness of investment committees.

Recent market performance provides a poor foundation for decisions related to a sustainable payout. The most sustainable portion of the investment return is the portfolio yield. We construct a metric using equity and bond market yields as a quantitative leading indicator of when …


The Experiences Of A Foundation With A Limited Life: Benefits And Challenges, Lynda Mansson Jun 2020

The Experiences Of A Foundation With A Limited Life: Benefits And Challenges, Lynda Mansson

The Foundation Review

This article discusses the benefits and drawbacks of a limited-life foundation’s philanthropy practice. The strengths, including a sharpened strategic focus and sense of urgency, and the challenges, such as ensuring impact and dealing with grantee dependency, are also relevant when closing a program.

Drawing on reflections from the director general of the MAVA Foundation and learnings from foundations that have recently closed, this article also discusses how to prepare for the end date of a limited-life foundation. MAVA, a Swiss-based grantmaking foundation for 25 years, has a planned end date of 2022.

The article features key lessons for foundations considering …


Using Social Network Analysis To Understand The Perceived Role And Influence Of Foundations, Todd L. Ely, Katie Edwards, Rachel Hogg Graham, Danielle Varda Mar 2020

Using Social Network Analysis To Understand The Perceived Role And Influence Of Foundations, Todd L. Ely, Katie Edwards, Rachel Hogg Graham, Danielle Varda

The Foundation Review

Collaboration between foundations and other organizations is critical to the success of foundation-supported initiatives, but the power dynamics among foundations, grantees, and their broader communities can be challenging. Social network analysis is a tool to assess collaboration among organizations and its outcomes. A unique yet often underemphasized benefit of this method of analysis is its focus on dyadic relationships between organizations, which presents an opportunity for foundations to evaluate their role in a network and how they are perceived by the very organizations whose missions they support.

This article leverages a social network analysis of community partners focused on addressing …


Strategic Learning In Practice: A Case Study Of The Kauffman Foundation, Matthew Carr, Brett Hembree, Nathan Madden Mar 2019

Strategic Learning In Practice: A Case Study Of The Kauffman Foundation, Matthew Carr, Brett Hembree, Nathan Madden

The Foundation Review

Increasingly, foundations and nonprofits are seeking to engage their staff in learning and reflection activities that assess successes and challenges, and then generate insights that can improve programs and funding strategies. Yet, despite the intuitive benefits, there are common challenges that often stand in the way of promoting strategic learning for continuous improvement.

For the past year, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has been focused on creating more systematic and intentional strategic learning across our organization. As part of this work we cultivated a select cohort of staff to be “learning champions,” created simple tools and processes that can more …


Knowledge Translation To Enhance Evaluation Use: A Case Example, Alison Rogers, Catherine Malla Mar 2019

Knowledge Translation To Enhance Evaluation Use: A Case Example, Alison Rogers, Catherine Malla

The Foundation Review

Knowledge in the form of information suitable for decision making or advocacy by foundations is not always readily available — a situation unacceptable for those who need such information for accountability, learning, and influencing policy and practice. This article addresses how essential information about monitoring, evaluation, and lessons learned can be made available to foundations.

The Fred Hollows Foundation identified a gap in this area through an evaluation capacity-building readiness assessment, and introduced the concept of participatory, real-time monitoring, evaluation, and learning bulletins grounded in the principles of knowledge translation. This article describes how those bulletins were developed and used …


Resilient Funders: How Funders Are Adapting To The Closing Space For Civil Society, Chris Allan, A. Scott Dupree Jun 2018

Resilient Funders: How Funders Are Adapting To The Closing Space For Civil Society, Chris Allan, A. Scott Dupree

The Foundation Review

The closing space of civil society around the world over the last decades has created profound challenges for funders. Many analyses of how to respond to this reality focus on advocacy and promoting enabling policy environments. Few consider key practices of resilient funders that enable them to continue to operate under shifting political circumstances.

Increased adaptive capacity along three dimensions – varied procedures, multiple strategies, and an adaptive environment – promotes the flexibility to weather the shocks and stresses of tightening restrictions and increasing violence. Within those dimensions, funders are finding that three characteristics of resilience are especially critical: flexibility; …


Philanthropy: Evidence In Favor Of A Profession, Heather L. Carpenter Dec 2017

Philanthropy: Evidence In Favor Of A Profession, Heather L. Carpenter

The Foundation Review

Philanthropic employees have been cautious in implying that they are pursuing a career in philanthropy. Karl Stauber (2010) presented an argument in support of such caution: that philanthropy failed to meet all seven standards posited by Burton J. Bledstein, that when met, define a profession.

This article presents a literature review and findings from a survey of 500 members of the Council on Foundations that offer evidence for the counterargument that philanthropic work requires specialized education and training to master a set of core competencies.

While this article does not argue for or against the question, determining whether philanthropy as …


The Philanthropy As One Big Impact Investment: A Framework For Evaluating A Foundation’S Blended Performance, Rohit T. Aggarwala, Claudine A. Frasch Jun 2017

The Philanthropy As One Big Impact Investment: A Framework For Evaluating A Foundation’S Blended Performance, Rohit T. Aggarwala, Claudine A. Frasch

The Foundation Review

While some foundations have put their entire focus on impact investing, philanthropy still lacks the tools that enable such investments to be made with the same rigor as the best financial investments and philanthropic grants. This reveals a more fundamental problem: We do not currently manage foundations as the integrated portfolios that they are.

This article proposes a framework for evaluating a foundation’s blended performance that enables both grantmaking and endowment investing to be evaluated jointly, and thus also allows a complete evaluation of how impact investments could improve — or fail to improve — overall performance.

The article demonstrates …


How Do You Measure Up? Finding Fit Between Foundations And Their Evaluation Functions, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer Oct 2016

How Do You Measure Up? Finding Fit Between Foundations And Their Evaluation Functions, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer

The Foundation Review

As the number of foundations has grown, the philosophies and ways of working across the sector have diversified. This variance means that there is no one right model for how a foundation’s evaluation function should be designed. It is imperative for a foundation to think carefully about how the structure, position, focus, resources, and practices of its evaluation function can best fit its own needs and aspirations.

This article focuses on questions foundations can ask to assess that fit, and the specific considerations that can inform these decisions. It draws on 2015 benchmarking research conducted by the Center for Evaluation …


Foundations Supporting Research And Innovation In Europe: Results And Lessons From The Eufori Study, Barbara Gouwenberg, Danique Ali, Barry Hoolwerf, Rene Bekkers, Theo Schuyt, Jan Smit Mar 2016

Foundations Supporting Research And Innovation In Europe: Results And Lessons From The Eufori Study, Barbara Gouwenberg, Danique Ali, Barry Hoolwerf, Rene Bekkers, Theo Schuyt, Jan Smit

The Foundation Review

This article presents the most important results of the European Foundation for Research and Innovation Study, the first study to map the roles and collective contributions of Europe’s large, heterogeneous, and fragmented sector of research and innovation foundations.

The study, based on a review of about 1,000 foundations, estimates that they contribute at least $6.4 billion a year to research and innovation in Europe. While this estimate shows that the contribution is quite substantial, its economic weight is modest compared to that of government, the business sector, and other actors in the domain of research and innovation.

European foundations prefer …


Internal Culture, External Impact: How A Change-Making Culture Positions Foundations To Achieve Transformational Change, Amy Celep, Sara Brenner, Rachel Mosher-Williams Mar 2016

Internal Culture, External Impact: How A Change-Making Culture Positions Foundations To Achieve Transformational Change, Amy Celep, Sara Brenner, Rachel Mosher-Williams

The Foundation Review

This article argues that a foundation’s internal culture is critical to achieving large-scale social change, but that efforts to build a change-making culture too often are left out of strategy conversations.

While there is no one culture that suits every foundation, a particular set of characteristics must be present in those that seek large-scale social change: a focus on outcomes, transparency, authenticity, collaboration, racial equity and inclusion, continuous learning, and openness to risk.

This article offers insights into why culture can be challenging for foundations to address and maintain, examines cases of successful culture change at foundations, and offers advice …


Grey Matter(S): Embracing The Publisher Within, Lisa Brooks, Gabriela Fitz Jun 2015

Grey Matter(S): Embracing The Publisher Within, Lisa Brooks, Gabriela Fitz

The Foundation Review

Most foundations don’t think of themselves as publishers, yet many of them act as such – making information available by funding research and publications, or by authoring their own. And failing to think of these activities as publishing efforts has serious consequences for shared learning in the social sector.

The shift toward knowledge-sharing strategies and approaches that embrace new search technologies, the logic of open access and open source, and the realities of the Internet as a largely decentralized and dynamic selfpublishing space offers the possibility of coordinating publishing efforts, and possibly agreeing to the use of shared practices that …


Both Sides Of The Equation, Barbara D. Kibbe Mar 2015

Both Sides Of The Equation, Barbara D. Kibbe

The Foundation Review

Client and consultant can have fundamentally different perspectives on the progress and success of a consulting engagement. This article explores the insights and lessons learned by a dozen professionals who have been on both sides of the equation in consulting to philanthropy.

There are occasions when client and consultant are well matched and value is created. But there are also cases where consultants are delivering a formulaic or hyperrational response into a very human system, or where the idiosyncrasies of foundation work prove barriers to positive results. Consultants have a critical role to play, and clients have a right to …


Effective Consulting Partnerships To Philanthropy, Ellen Irie, Kim Ammann Howard, Ria Sengupta Bhatt, Naomi Orensten Mar 2015

Effective Consulting Partnerships To Philanthropy, Ellen Irie, Kim Ammann Howard, Ria Sengupta Bhatt, Naomi Orensten

The Foundation Review

This article explores the realm of partnerships among consultants who are supporting philanthropy, surfaces the forms those philanthropy-consulting partnerships take, and describes their benefits and inherent challenges. It also describes what foundations most need to know about initiating and supporting philanthropy-consulting partnerships.

Types of consulting partnerships are a function of the needs they address and the contexts in which they were initiated. A useful way of looking at consulting partnerships is according to their structure – whether the relationship with the client is primarily horizontal or vertical in nature. In a vertical structure, a client hires a consultant, who in …


Survey Instruments Used To Evaluate Foundation-Funded Nonprofit Capacity- Building Programs: Considerations For Organized Philanthropy, Catherine H. Brown Jul 2014

Survey Instruments Used To Evaluate Foundation-Funded Nonprofit Capacity- Building Programs: Considerations For Organized Philanthropy, Catherine H. Brown

The Foundation Review

· Alongside a growing interest in nonprofit capacitybuilding programs has come a growing concern with the impact of these programs, especially by organizations that fund them. This article describes how the McKinsey Organizational Capacity and Assessment Tool and, to a lesser extent, the Abt Associates survey have been used to assess changes in nonprofit capacity as part of nonprofit capacity-building programs.

· Drawing on field experience with both survey instruments in the context of a foundationfunded nonprofit capacity-building program, this article compares the respective benefits and costs of these instruments from the perspective of evaluators as well as survey respondents. …


Raising The Bar – Integrating Cultural Competence And Equity: Equitable Evaluation, Jara Dean-Coffey, Jill Casey, Leon D. Caldwell Jul 2014

Raising The Bar – Integrating Cultural Competence And Equity: Equitable Evaluation, Jara Dean-Coffey, Jill Casey, Leon D. Caldwell

The Foundation Review

· Whether implicit or explicit, social justice and human rights are part of the mission of many philanthropies. Evaluation produced, sponsored, or consumed by these philanthropies that doesn’t pay attention to the imperatives of cultural competency may be inconsistent with their missions.

· The American Evaluation Association’s Statement on Cultural Competence provides those who produce, sponsor, and use evaluation an opportunity to examine and align their practices and policies within a context of racial and cultural equity and inclusion. The use of such a lens is paramount when evaluating a program whose goals touch on issues of equity or inclusion. …


Benchmarking Evaluation In Foundations: Do We Know What We Are Doing?, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer, Patricia Patrizi, Elizabeth Heid Thompson Jan 2013

Benchmarking Evaluation In Foundations: Do We Know What We Are Doing?, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer, Patricia Patrizi, Elizabeth Heid Thompson

The Foundation Review

· Evaluation in philanthropy – with staff assigned to evaluation-related responsibilities – began in the 1970s and has evolved, along with philanthropy, in the four decades since. What has not changed, however, is a regular questioning of what foundations are doing on evaluation, especially since the world of philanthropy regularly shifts, and changes in evaluation resourcing and positioning tend to soon follow.

· This article presents new findings about what foundations are doing on evaluation and discusses their implications. It is based on 2012 research that benchmarks the positioning, resourcing, and function of evaluation in foundations, and follows up on …


Eyes Wide Open: Learning As Strategy Under Conditions Of Complexity And Uncertainty, Patricia Patrizi, Elizabeth Heid Thompson, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer Jan 2013

Eyes Wide Open: Learning As Strategy Under Conditions Of Complexity And Uncertainty, Patricia Patrizi, Elizabeth Heid Thompson, Julia Coffman, Tanya Beer

The Foundation Review

· Foundation strategy is hampered by a failure to recognize and engage with the complexity and uncertainty surrounding foundation work. This article identifies three common “traps” that hinder foundation capacity to learn and adapt: 1) linearity and certainty bias; 2) the autopilot effect; and 3) indicator blindness.

· This article urges foundations to alter their mindset, questions, and processes to foster a more committed approach to strategy and adaptation. In essence, it argues for learning as strategy.

· This article draws on literature from systems theory, business strategy, and philanthropic practice as well as data from foundation benchmarking surveys.