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Topic Effective Grantmaking and Philanthropy

history of philanthropy in the US: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philanthropy#Philanthropy_in_America:


giving trends and new directions for funders


For funders- effective philanthropy is the pursuit of making giving more impactful, better leveraged, and results-oriented.




Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, time, or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective. - Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philanthropy

+resources and best practices

On the Money: the Key Financial Challenges Facing Nonprofits Today

by Nancy Burd, 2009 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Featured Publication*, http://www.geofunders.org/publications.aspx

This publication highlights the financial challenges nonprofits face and the ways in which grantmakers are both improving the situation as well as perpetuating the problem.
+ download PDF: http://www.geofunders.org/document.aspx?oid=a0660000004dLaT
+ executive summary: http://www.geofunders.org/document.aspx?oid=a0660000004dgr9
+ discussion guide: http://www.geofunders.org/document.aspx?oid=a0660000004dgqu


Learning for Results
A GEO Action Guide December 2007 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Featured Publication*, http://www.geofunders.org/publications.aspx
A report on learning organizations, including strategies to embed learning in day-to-day grantmaking work.
+ download PDF
+ executive summary PDF


*About GEO's Publications:

Downloads of GEO publications are free to members. Nonmembers may access executive summaries at no charge, and may purchase hard copies for a fee.  Standard UPS Ground charges apply for all shipments. Please indicate if you would like your publications shipped through a diffierent carrier.


Foundation Center's Giving Trends Reports: funding trends reports provide the latest data available on every aspect of U.S. foundation philanthropy. Our team of research experts analyzes and interprets the data on foundations that we collect — providing a national data source unique for its scope, depth, and historical value. http://foundationcenter.org/gainknowledge/research/nationaltrends.html

Cathie Glennon


The Philanthropic Initiative Library Series: The Venturesome Donor

Raising Children with Philanthropic Values -An excellent primer produced by TPI.



Making a Difference: Evaluating Your Philanthropy- A TPI primer on evaluation.



Passion: Discovering the Meaning in Your Philanthropy- An insightful primer on meaningful giving.



The Strategic Corporate Citizen: Smart Philanthropy and Community Involvement- A working primer written by Ther Senior Advisor and Senior Vice President of TPI.



Effective Philanthropy: The Importance of Focus

The Conservation Company

A briefing paper that outlines how "for small foundations, a smaller field of vision can mean greater effectiveness", written by Richard A. Mittenthal.



Principles and Practices for Effective Grantmaking

The Council on Foundations




Foundation Effectivness: A Report on a Meeting of Foundation CEOs, Senior Executives, and Trustees (PDF)

The report that resulted from the Center for Effective Philanthropy's seminar.



Assessing Foundation Performance: Current Practices, Future Possibilities (PDF)

Lessons Learned from a Gathering of Foundation Leaders

The report that resulted from the Center for Effective Philanthropy's 2002 Seminar



Kate Cassidy


For Additional Resources, please see the Effectiveness section of the Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington website:



Investing in Change: Why Supporting Advocacy Makes Sense for Foundations (PDF)

From The Atlantic Philanthropies, “Why Supporting Advocacy Makes Sense for Foundations” explores the experiences of a growing number of funders around the world who are committed to supporting advocacy as a strategy to advance social change. We selected it as the first topic of the series because funding advocacy too often is the philanthropic road not taken, yet it is a road most likely to lead to the kind of lasting change that philanthropy has long sought through other kinds of grants."

Download PDF



Giving Beyond Grantmaking

Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
Philanthropy in Action: Achieving Impact Without Giving Cash
Council on Foundations
This article highlights some of the key resources other than money that grantmakers can offer to help nonprofits.

Giving More Than Grants
Association of Small Foundations
This essay describes how the Three Guineas Fund provides assistance to its grantees beyond grant dollars by also offering local knowledge, board and staff expertise, and connections to other funders.

Extending Reach Through Funding Partnerships
Association of Small Foundations
This essay describes how two small foundations discovered that collaborating helped them better serve their grantees and their missions.

Philanthropies Working Together: Myths and Realities (PDF)
The Foundation Center
This paper provides an overview of foundation collaboration, and examines the gap between the rhetoric and real incentives of collaboration in the philanthropy field.

When Community Foundations and Private & Corporate Funders Collaborate
Council on Foundations
This book provides tools and ideas on how community foundations, private foundations and corporate funders can collaborate.  Available for purchase.

Capacity Building Strategies (PDF)
Council on Foundations
This “Family Matters” newsletter reprint includes articles on how a foundation can help build nonprofit capacity beyond giving grants, including through convening, training and connecting to other funders.

Megan Wentworth



2010 Census & Foundations

Getting an accurate census count is important for a couple of reasons:

  • $300 billion in federal dollars, as well as billions of additional state dollars, are apportioned to local communities for health, education, transportation and other programs, based on census data.
  • The reapportionment of legislative seats at the federal, state, and local levels are determined based on census data.
  • Census data can be used for planning purposes, to understand population distribution and needs.

Population Resource Center


Making the 2010 Census Count: A Quick Guide for Foundations
Local and community foundations can play a vital role in promoting a full and accurate census count in the communities they serve.

(word document):


Megan Wentworth


Foundation Self-Dealing Resources

Foundation News & Commentary

That's the Ticket by Jane C. Nober

"Accepting and using tickets and other tangible benefits of more than minimal value raises questions for foundation managers." This article looks at what the tax code rules say is acceptable. From the May/June 1998 edition.



Council Columns

That's Still the Ticket by Andrew C. Shulz

This was written in the summer of 2004 as a follow-up to the article "That's the Ticket" (link above).



Foundation Self-Dealing: What Every Grantmaker Should Know

Minnesota Council on Foundations

From the April/May 2004 edition of MCF Notes, addressing the basics of self-dealing.



Focus on Foundations (PDF)

A Primer on the Self-Dealing Rules for Private Foundations

In the fall 1997 edition of Focus on Foundations, the article reviews the basic rules regarding self-dealing.



Kate Cassidy


Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers

Self-Dealing: A Concise Guide for Foundation Board and Staff
This guide covers the basics of foundation self-dealing, including key definitions, common problem areas, exceptions and penalties, and recommended steps for handling self-dealing issues.

Taxes on Self-Dealing
Internal Revenue Service

Tread Carefully When Sharing Board Members With Grantseekers
Council on Foundations
A summary of self-dealing issues that may arise when foundation board members also serve on the boards or staffs of grantseeking charities.

Should Your Foundation Cover Travel Expenses of Family Members?
Council on Foundations
Guidance on the legal and ethical considerations regarding a foundation paying travel and related expenses for children and other family members who are not currently board members or staff.

Megan Wentworth


For Additional Resources, please see the Self-Dealing section of the Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington website:




Caring to Change

A project in collaboration with the Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation

"Searching for new grantmaking strategies for foundations."

aring to Change is now in the process of suggesting additional grantmaking strategies based on the interviews and a subsequent critique of these notions by senior and mid-level foundation officials, and others in the nonprofit sector.  C2C soon will issue a Working Paper offering a vision of grantmaking that would yield more profound and enduring benefits, promote greater change, a vision of foundations ever more solidly grounded in American values, and which if fully embraced would have each foundation embody and recapitulate the comprehensive role of organized philanthropy in advancing both its mission and the Common Good.



Findings from the 2009 Member Survey
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Featured Publication*, http://www.geofunders.org/publications.aspx
The 2009 member survey reveals that participation in GEO leads to important changes in grantmaker practice that contribute to nonprofit success.
+ download full report PDF: http://www.geofunders.org/document.aspx?oid=a0660000004cmZm
+ executive summary: http://www.geofunders.org/document.aspx?oid=a0660000004cmaB


Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Featured Publication*, http://www.geofunders.org/publications.aspx

Survey finds persistent gap between nonprofit needs and grantmaker practices. A comprehensive study of the attitudes and practices of staffed grantmaking foundations in the United States.

+ download PDF


+ executive summary PDF


+ full data download PDF

Lessons Learned from 18+ Years of Grantmaking to Support the Organizational Effectiveness of Grantees

Barbara Kibbe of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

This article, which was adapted from comments made at the Pacific Northwest Grantmakers Forum in Seattle, can be accessed on the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations 



*About GEO's Publications:
Downloads of GEO publications are free to members. Nonmembers may access executive summaries at no charge, and may purchase hard copies for a fee.


Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities: Impacts of Advocacy, Organizing and Civic Engagement in the Northwest Region

A report on that looks at how 20 nonprofits and their allies helped improved their communities and amplified the voices of vulnerable residents in the democratic process through advocacy and community organizing efforts. These nonprofits leveraged foundation grants that generated a $150 return for every dollar invested in their policy engagement efforts.



Glasspockets Initiative

The Foundation Center recently launched Glasspockets, a free Web portal designed to encourage greater transparency in the world of philanthropy.



Grantmaking Guidelines

Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers

Developing a Mission and Guidelines (PDF)
Association of Small Foundations
An overview of the basic steps for developing a foundation mission and grantmaking guidelines (reprinted from “Grantmaking with a Purpose,” National Center for Family Philanthropy).

Grantmaking Basics Q&A

Association of Small Foundations
Answers to basic questions about the grantmaking process, including how and why to develop a mission and guidelines and when to do a site visit.

Grantmaking Basics: A Field Guide for Funders

Council on Foundations
This book covers the basic good practices for grantmaking, including how to review grant proposals, conduct site visits and interviews, and involve the board. Available for purchase.

Grantmaking Basics II: A Field Guide for Funders

Council on Foundations
This book aims to help grantmakers benefit from the experience of their peers as they pursue their continuing professional education on good grantmaking practice. Available for purchase.

How to Review Grant Proposals and Conduct Site Visits & Interviews (PDF)

Association of Small Foundations
A summary of the key steps and processes for reviewing grant proposals and conducting effective site visits (reprinted from “Grantmaking Basics, A Field Guide for Funders,” Council on Foundations).

Primer on Grantmaking
Association of Small Foundations
This online primer covers some basic tools needed to assess a grant proposal effectively.

Basics of Proposal Review
Association of Small Foundations
This primer provides guidance on how a board can focus its time on the proposals most relevant to the foundation’s interests. Available for purchase.

Ten Tips to a Wise Grantmaker
Council on Foundations
What nonprofits say about how a foundation can get the most for each dollar it invests through them.

Sample Grantmaking Guidelines (PDF)
Association of Small Foundations

Sample Grantmaking Guidelines
Council on Foundations

Sample Proposal Review Worksheet (PDF)
Council on Foundations

Megan Wentworth


The Project's Theory of Change (PDF)

The Vivid Picture Project

Presented by Ecotrust

December 20, 2005

An excerpt from The New Mainstream: A Sustainable Food Agenda for California for Review by the Roots of Change Council and the Roots of Change Fund The section starts on page 3, but a link to the entire document is provided.


Theory of Change



A report published by GEo on the theory of change. Must login to see full report.



Kate Cassidy


For Additional Resources, please see the Theory of Change section of the Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington website: