Strategy

What makes a foundation embrace big risks?

November 14, 2014

By at least one measure, the Kresge Foundation has made the biggest bet, among all national foundations, on the future of Detroit. The question is: What led them to accept the risk?

 

Here’s a further thought on my last post, about the Kresge Foundation’s ambitious, high-risk effort to help Detroit come out of bankruptcy as a stronger, more stable city.

 

Incubators of philanthropy

September 5, 2014

A new report shows philanthropy and civil society coming to life in the great emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

 

 

In the United States, when we wonder how the philanthropic urge begins, and how it grows, we tend to seek answers mainly in the realms of philosophy and psychology: what motivates people to give, what values attract their support, and what satisfactions they derive from giving.

 

Climbing toward the finish line

July 29, 2014

The newest installment in our ongoing chronicle tells about the year The Atlantic Philanthropies defined how it was going to end, and what its final goals would be.

 

Several weeks ago, Chris Oechsli, The Atlantic Philanthropies’ CEO, posted an online essay whose headline declared that Atlantic is “NOT spending down.” In no time, a couple of old friends and foundation-watchers wrote me to ask, “What?! When did they change their minds?”

 

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

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.

 

Taking Strategy All The Way to Implementation

January 8, 2014

Discussions of strategic philanthropy, with their emphasis on big ideas and root causes, can sometimes treat the implementation of new policies as essentially a tactical matter — important, maybe, but not really strategic. In this guest post, the former director of Strategic Learning and Evaluation for The Atlantic Philanthropies takes on this bias, citing an example of smart philanthropy in Ireland that involves plenty of big ideas, but that puts effective implementation at the center of its strategic agenda.

 

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