keeping a close eye on philanthropy … NCRP’s blog

Lessons in Foundation Transparency from Philamplify

posted on: September 17, 2014

Philamplify-Logos-Color-VerticalThis post originally appeared on the GrantCraft blog on September 16, 2014.

If a foundation sees itself as accountable to the communities it serves, how can it be as transparent as possible about key decisions that affect those communities? While voluntary disclosure of financial information online is commendable and sorely needed in philanthropy, funders must expand their mindset of openness. There is a need for a comprehensive approach to transparency that goes beyond figures on a website; foundation leadership, from board members to staff, need to think critically about how to communicate their approaches and solicit feedback.

At the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), the complex relationship between transparency and accountability is at the center of Philamplify.

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Amplifying Philamplify: Sector Reactions and Visions for Impact

posted on: September 12, 2014

Philamplify_WebinarNCRP will be kicking off its fall webinar series with a lively discussion about Philamplify, NCRP’s new initiative to burst the isolation bubble in philanthropy. Philamplify is all about helping grantmakers get honest feedback from the very communities and constituencies they seek to benefit – whether or not they have asked for that feedback. We do this by conducting comprehensive foundation assessments, sharing them with the public and inviting discussion and debate on Philamplify.org.

We at NCRP value honest feedback about our own work too, which is why we recently assigned a third party to carry out our organizational evaluation, and why we want to use this webinar to get outside perspectives on how we’re doing with Philamplify.

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Should Nonprofits Be Foundations’ “Middlemen”?

posted on: September 9, 2014

tugofwarHow many times have we heard the quip that “cutting out the middleman” would be easier, cheaper and more efficient? This idea hasn’t quite taken hold in philanthropy. Because of the distance between foundations and the communities they serve, nonprofit staff often must serve as “gatekeepers” for foundations, taking away needed time from their work to impact systemic, long-term social change.

Take for example Ron,* the director of a small nonprofit that organizes tenants in a city with one of the largest wealth gaps in the nation. Ron has worked with a particular group of disadvantaged residents for years, spending countless hours building trust with people who are weary of outsiders. Together, they have started a resident council, held city

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The “Ice Bucket” Challenge for the Nonprofit Sector

posted on: September 5, 2014

AnthonyQuintano_icebucketThe ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has recently taken off on social media, with 2.4 million videos since it began on June 1. The challenge asks you to either donate to the ALS Association, which fights Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, or dump a bucket of ice on your head. Many participants do both. Newsfeeds have been virtually doused in ice, with video after video peppering the social media-sphere. Numerous celebrities have joined in, from Matt Lauer completing the challenge on live television to Shakira nominating Pope Francis to soak his papal vestments.

Despite its popularity, there has been no shortage of concerns about the Ice Bucket Challenge, from questioning the merits of raising awareness versus

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Summer Issue of “Responsive Philanthropy” Shares New Ideas from the Sector

posted on: August 28, 2014

Today, NCRP is excited to announce the release of our summer issue of “Responsive Philanthropy,” featuring pieces by top voices in the philanthropic sector and their efforts to improve their communities. This edition of the journal offers tools and tips for grantmakers who are interested in learning how they, too, can have greater, positive impact on their issues and the world today.

Now, more than ever, is the time for philanthropy to prioritize and empower those with the least wealth and opportunity. If we do, together we will build a more fair and just society. Our writers share stories from their organizations’ challenges and successes to build a picture of a thriving philanthropic community that prioritizes giving help to those

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Philamplify Users Overwhelmingly Agree that Foundations Should Get Honest Feedback

posted on: August 22, 2014

PhilamplifyPoll_8-14-14In May, NCRP launched Philamplify to tackle a pervasive problem in philanthropy: the isolation bubble that prevents grantmakers from getting honest opinions about how they operate. Grantees and other stakeholders’ appreciation for foundation support tends to hinder their willingness to offer critical feedback, for fear of alienating or offending a valued benefactor. Philamplify seeks to change this culture of philanthropy – to make honest feedback the new standard in philanthropy – allowing all involved to reach their best potential in serving the public.

So far, one of the most popular features on the Philamplify website has been the poll section, garnering well over 450 votes from visitors. This week, Philamplify closed its first poll, which asked, “Is it important for

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Which Executive Director Would You Fund?

posted on: August 21, 2014

If you were a foundation president with one $50,000 grant left to give before your fiscal year ended, which of these three nonprofit executive directors would you fund?

Executive Director #1 wants to end human trafficking, establish safe houses for victims and help survivors start new lives.

Since childhood, she has been a victim of violence and human trafficking, which some conjecture resulted in her mental delay. She has a history of breaking the law, but she was never convicted. She married a violent man and left him. She is illiterate. For years, she has been unable to keep a domestic service job. Chronically nervous, she never stays in one town for more than a few months.

Executive Director #2

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