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

How to Strengthen Your Family Foundation’s Impact

As with all foundations, family foundations work to have a meaningful and measurable impact on social problems. But they also have a second, unique purpose: to serve as a unifying vehicle for multiple generations, providing opportunities for family members to share philanthropic interests. Establishing this cohesion can be accomplished by Continue reading

One Size Does Not Fit All: Program Management Software Solutions

As today’s leading companies launch and expand corporate citizenship programs, they continue to seek greater social and environmental impact. While they operate at various levels of scale, they all face critical challenges around tracking and reporting data, operational inefficiencies, and nonprofit relations.

For example, some companies have told us about the difficulty they have tracking basic data. Meanwhile, other companies want to expand their data collection to tell stories about their impact. Many strategic changes could facilitate progress for either challenge, but program management software solutions can serve as Continue reading

Why Democratic Grantmaking Cuts Across Party Lines

NCRP’s recent report Families Funding Change: How Social Justice Giving Honors Our Roots and Strengthens Communities highlights the important legacy of family foundations supporting social justice – as well as the relatively scant family philanthropy support for social justice work today. The report rightly points out that the perception that social justice philanthropy is a “political third rail” is the greatest barrier that keeps family foundations from engaging in it. I have heard dozens of family foundation trustees say that, while they personally are interested in increasing their family foundation’s social justice support, they “can’t go there” with the family board. It’s too “political” and “divisive.” They’d “be opening a can of worms.” 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

From “Good” to “Great” (or Better Yet, Impactful)

Does a “good board” really a strong organization make?

Fixing your board…that’s what many of us in leadership positions in the nonprofit sector believe it takes to improve our organizational impact. But how much does developing and educating your board really improve the way your organization does its work? Continue reading

Are Your Trustees Involved Too Much—or Too Little—in Grantmaking?

From her own experience as a family foundation trustee, TCC’s Ashley Blanchard discusses how a board can best determine its role in the grantmaking process. When should trustees dive in head first and when should they step back? How and when can they best strategize to support the growth and stability of the foundation? Continue reading

Game-Changing Philanthropy: Is Sean Parker the Daenerys Targaryen of Philanthropy?

Dany: I’m not going to stop the wheel. I’m going to break the wheel. −Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 8.

In his characteristically splashy way, Sean Parker made headlines recently by coining a new phrase: “philanthropy for hackers.” His Wall Street Journal op-ed (which also marked the unveiling of his new private foundation) outlines some basic ways that “hacker philanthropy” is a departure from the past. Continue reading

Meeting a Family’s Growing Philanthropic Needs

Family foundations are living entities that evolve over time. When a family seeks assistance in managing its philanthropy, it is crucial that the consultant adapts as well to meet the family’s changing needs. The journey to philanthropic impact often has many bends and turns, and a skillful navigator makes the ride smoother. TCC Group’s work with the Ohrstrom Foundation during the past decade exemplifies 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