(Another) Cautionary Tale for School Reformers

May 15, 2014

Ras Baraka, the winner of this week’s special election for mayor of Newark, New Jersey, staked a big part of his campaign on his opposition to the school-reform effort backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Under former mayor Cory Booker, who recently decamped to the U.S. Senate, Mr. Zuckerberg’s foundation had poured $100 million into a sweeping attempt to overhaul the city’s public education system. His gift drew an equal amount from other national donors, all deposited in the newly formed Foundation for Newark’s Future.

A Foundation Initiative Runs Out of Time

May 5, 2014

The announcement, a few weeks ago, that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation would soon end its Nonprofit Marketplace Initiative sent a chill through the young industry that collects and markets data on nonprofit performance. The foundation had been a formidable supporter of such grantees as the data-aggregation sites GuideStar and GiveWell, which try to arm donors with information on how nonprofits are run and what they achieve.

Perpetuity, continued

April 18, 2014

At the recent panel in New York City on the rationale for perpetual foundations, one member of the audience taking careful notes was Bruce Trachtenberg (you can see Bruce’s summary of the session here).  A foundation veteran who for many years led the Communications Network, the trade association for foundation communication officers, Bruce has a knack for viewing issues from unexpected angles.

More on the Frontiers (a Postscript)

April 2, 2014

A few days after writing about the search for breakthrough innovations in philanthropy, I caught up with the cover story in the latest Stanford Social Innovation Review (Spring 2014), by two consultants with the Monitor Institute, a part of Deloitte Consulting that specializes in nonprofit innovation.  I was struck by their opening premise: that the “strategic philanthropy movement” has caused too many funders to box their grantmaking into

Out on the Frontiers

March 18, 2014

In a recent talk at the Foundation Impact Research Group (FIRG), the president of the Commonwealth Fund, David Blumenthal, mentioned that one of the new efforts he has introduced since taking over the Fund in 2013 is “a surveillance process for breakthrough opportunities.” He was quick to point out that this isn’t some kind of philanthropic Skunk Works (Lockheed-Martin’s elite innovation team, famous for both brilli

Inside and Outside Knowledge

February 28, 2014

What does it take to develop a clear foundation strategy?  After observing over a dozen FIRG presentations, I think I have finally put my finger on at least part of the answer: inside and outside knowledge.

 

At this month’s FIRG presentation, Chris Stone, head of the Open Society Foundations, talked about what is necessary for policy change. He described a two-pronged strategy – a strategy to create allies within the government and other elite circles and a second strategy to build a mass of external grassroots supporters who know how to mount a popular movement.

 

How Does Competition Affect Grantmaking, and What Can be Done?

February 11, 2014

Several speakers at the Foundation Impact Research Group (FIRG) have observed, at least in passing, that competition among grantees for foundation grant dollars is increasing. But what are competition’s implications for foundations and grantees? At this fall’s conference of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations (ARNOVA), researchers presented new work that helps illuminate this question.

Pages

Subscribe to Philanthropy Central RSS