keeping a close eye on philanthropy … NCRP’s blog

NCRP Gives Thanks for Social Justice Allies

posted on: November 25, 2014

November_sunsetIn the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, there has been more than enough to remind us of the tremendous amount of work needed to achieve true equity in this country. Especially with yesterday’s events, and the details still emerging from Ferguson, it can be easy to get discouraged by the sheer size of the challenges we face. We are humbled and honored by those on the ground who are fighting against injustice.

Below, NCRP staff share what we’re grateful for this year, in light of the enormous challenges all those in our field face in promoting the public good.

“I’m thankful for the folks in Ferguson who have been courageously standing up for all that is good and righteous, in

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Philanthropy’s Role in Education Reflects Power Dynamics at Play

posted on: November 20, 2014

chessGrantmakers are able to grow movements by focusing on the entirety of issues, cultivating public support, funding effective nonprofit change-makers and growing political pressure through advocacy. These strategies allow grantmakers to leverage their limited resources to effect lasting change. For this reason, it is important for foundations to listen to the voices of those they serve to ensure that the change they create is in line with the values of the community.

Take the charter school movement in education: What originally began as a model popularized by Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers, to incubate educational innovation has since morphed into a bastion of market-based education reforms based on accountability and choice. Shanker was an early advocate

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Mutual Trust as a Basis for Philanthropic Excellence

posted on: November 17, 2014

skydivingPost first appeared in Nonprofit Quarterly on November 6, 2014.  This is the second in a series of articles based on insights and lessons from Philamplify, NCRP’s new initiative combining expert assessments with stakeholder feedback to help improve the effectiveness and impact of our country’s foundations.

When I was in college, I was intimidated by speaking with professors during their office hours. It wasn’t their personalities that scared me; rather, it was their positions of authority. The thought of having to interact with them one on one and the pressure to sound like I knew what I was talking about was terrifying. Then in graduate school, when I was invited to address my professors by their first name, I came

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Fall Issue of “Responsive Philanthropy” Highlights Value of Collaboration

posted on: November 12, 2014

RP_Fall1_coverThis fall, NCRP has been hard at work expanding our Philamplify initiative, a project to break the “isolation bubble” in philanthropy by offering honest feedback to grantmakers, pairing expert assessments of foundations with unvarnished stakeholder feedback. Launched in May, we’ve already reviewed five foundations, and will evaluate a few more by Spring 2015. Throughout this process, we’ve realized the need to accept honest feedback of our own work in our continuous search for improvement. We highlighted this during our recent Amplifying Philamplify webinar, which many of you attended.

As such, this autumn has been a period of reflection, and the realization that good work takes time, planning, funding and strong relationships. This issue of Responsive Philanthropy shows just

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Funding Systems Change Best Serves Those Who Served

posted on: November 11, 2014

JoiningForces_FirstLadyCurrently there are about 20 million veterans in the United States (about 6 percent of the population), and in the past, they have sometimes been ignored or even blamed for the challenges that accompany a military service career. In recent years, the American population has become slightly better educated about the challenges that veterans and their families face. Recognition of the lack of adequate support for Vietnam War Veterans, more platforms to share personal experiences through social media, and public education efforts such as First Lady Michelle Obama’s Joining Forces have all contributed to increased financial and community support for veterans and their families.

The Office of the First Lady highlighted the formal commitment to veterans she shares with the

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Today’s Movement Leaders Share Lessons from the Freedom Funders

posted on: November 5, 2014

freedomfunderswebinar_10-3-14On October 23, NCRP hosted “Freedom Funders Then and Now: What Lessons Foundations Can Learn from Philanthropy during the Civil Rights Era,” a webinar based on NCRP’s report on the four foundations that helped fund leading civil rights movement organizations in the decade before the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The presentation, moderated by NCRP’s Jeanné Isler (@j_lachapel), featured:


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Diversity and Effectiveness: What Is the Link for Foundations?

posted on: October 30, 2014

Diversity-and-philanthropyThis week Philamplify is introducing a new poll question, our third since we launched in May:

Do you think greater staff and board diversity helps make foundations more effective and impactful? (Yes/No/Maybe)

We were prompted to ask this question in part by the recent announcement that Guidestar and the D5 Coalition have joined together to enhance the Guidestar Exchange as a tool for online tracking of nonprofit and foundation diversity data. In announcing the new initiative, Kelly Brown at D5 and Jacob Harold at Guidestar each made comments linking diversity data to improved effectiveness and impact.

D5 further contends that, “For philanthropy to be effective and relevant in our increasingly diverse society, philanthropic organizations have to bring new

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