Earlier this month, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) held its National Conference in Minneapolis – bringing together nearly 900 foundation professionals, executives of nonprofit organizations, consultants, and other stakeholders for a stimulating and inspiring two days. The organization promoted the conference as “an event that offers participants the opportunity to explore the most relevant topics in the philanthropic field and hear new ideas for smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and achieve better results.” Note the emphasis on “grow stronger and achieve better results.”
I had the privilege of attending along with four of my TCC colleagues, two of whom were leading sessions that reinforced the focus on achieving greater impact. Continue reading
The strategic planning process conjures up a number of sentiments among nonprofit professionals: stress about the time intensiveness of the process and balancing other priorities; fear about the potential implications of a change in direction for the organization; and excitement about the opportunity to deepen the organization’s impact and further its mission. No matter how strategic planning makes you feel, objectively, strategic planning is critical to nonprofit functioning. If done well, it is a data-driven and inclusive process through which an organization will improve its understanding of:
- The need for its services;
- Its unique abilities and positioning compared to others with similar offerings;
- Ways in which it can potentially leverage its strengths by partnering with others; and
- The potential obstacles and opportunities that stand to impact the organization (whether positively or negatively) in the future.
A strategic plan with clear metrics of success serves as a tool for assessment, discussion, and correction. Continue reading
On a cold, rainy day in February, all seven members of TCC Group’s evaluation team came together for a retreat. With our team spread across the country, this retreat was a unique opportunity for in-person team building and reflection. Most interestingly, we completed an exercise to classify the types of work we are talking about when we say “evaluation.”
The end result? Clarity around the nine types of evaluation work we do. Continue reading
I’ve been an evaluator for over 25 years and, over the last several years, have done a deep dive into the world of media, its role in communities, and how it can contribute to social and community change. This is the first of a series of posts I’ll be leading in the area of media – some driven by my own questions, but many driven by Continue reading
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
With the rhetoric around impact investing reaching new heights, foundations and
nonprofits would do well to keep the following in mind: Similar to grants, or different forms of non-grantmaking support, impact investing is but one tool in the social impact toolbox.
Just as there are ineffective grants and poorly chosen traditional investments, there are poorly conceived and executed impact investments. On the other hand, when they are planned strategically and executed competently, impact investments can have enormous value and deliver a scale of social impact that may be difficult to achieve, or sustain, with other tools. Continue reading
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
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
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
Each nonprofit has a unique mission that drives their efforts to make the world a better place. While their organizational missions may be unique, many nonprofits face similar challenges and capacity needs. Though they exist independently, there is no reason for each to be on their own when it comes to identifying relevant and useful tools and resources. Continue reading