What Surprises Me about Human Rights Grantmaking

When your job centers on helping funders assess needs, devise strategies, and manage and evaluate their grantmaking, you wish that every field would have a resource like Advancing Human Rights: Update on Global Foundation Grantmaking. Since IHRFG and Foundation Center launched this series four years ago—and added an interactive website three years ago—I have made regular use of these tools to understand levels of foundation engagement within and at the intersection of issues ranging from women’s rights in the Global South to environmental justice in the United States. This research has also been invaluable in helping the foundations I work with to see just how many peers and practitioners have aligned interests and could become partners in realizing their goals.

That is why I was surprised when I sat down to read the 2017 Edition of the Advancing Human Rights report. I realized that in using these resources to answer my very specific, client-focused questions, I had been missing some findings and trends that are beginning to reshape my thinking about foundation support for human rights. Continue reading

4 Predictions for the Future of the Nonprofit Sector

A few years ago, we did a governance study for the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. I interviewed the board chair, who incidentally invented Microsoft Word and Excel, and I asked him if the three board meetings they had each year was the right number. He said, “Well, four is too many and two is not enough, so three is probably right.”

An interesting way to think about almost everything. If six cookies aren’t enough, and eight cookies are too many, have seven.

So, when I thought about my presentation at the BoardSource Leadership Forum, I decided that three predictions weren’t enough and five predictions were too many. So I have four. Continue reading

Coordinated Funding: Lessons from a Place-Based Grantmaking Collaborative

Three grantmakers in Michigan, including Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the United Way of Washtenaw County, and the Joint Office of Community and Economic Development, recently coordinated the leadership and funding of the region’s human service programs in order to maximize community impact. During TCC Group’s evaluation of the initiative, we identified several community assets and early successes that Continue reading

A New Approach to Capacity Building

“What you see is what you get.” This phrase is often used to describe a person who is very straightforward, but it can have another meaning – what you are able to see, what you choose to notice, affects what you can accomplish.

TCC’s Directors make a fundamental distinction between capacity (skills, knowledge and relationships) and capacity building (the process of cultivating those skills, knowledge and relationships), and map out the evolution of capacity building over the last few decades. The “end-result” is Continue reading

10 Key Factors to Help Funders Thrive

In 2004, TCC Group published a briefing paper entitled, “Ten Keys to Successful Strategic Planning for Nonprofit and Foundation Leaders.” The philanthropic landscape has continued to evolve since then, and TCC has benefited from ten years of additional work designing and facilitating funder planning projects.

Drawing on our client work in the intervening decade, TCC Group staff have identified important key factors that help foundations overcome unique challenges, provide strategic clarity, and chart a successful path forward. In our latest briefing paper, “Ten Keys – Ten Years Later: Successful Strategic Planning for Foundation Leaders,” we discuss 10 factors that Continue reading