Monthly Archives: April 2010

Grantmakers in the Arts: 2010 Web Conference Series

Grantmakers in the Arts, a national association of private and public funders making grants to artists and arts organizations, presents a new series of Web Conferences designed for emerging leaders in the grantmaking field and veteran grantmakers who want to revisit the information and discussions that inform their day-to-day practices. They have an assembled a team of philanthropy leaders and innovators, as well as experts in nonprofit finance and law, to address key topics of interest to grantmakers.

Each dynamic, 50-minute presentation includes audience interactive features that enable all participants to directly engage the presenters. And as an added perk, following the presentations, participants will have access to a dedicated page on the Grantmakers in the Arts website where they can pose questions, submit information, and interact with the presenters and other Web Conference participants. Continue reading


Latest Resources in the Guide to Streamlining Series

Project Streamline has released three more resources to help grantmakers streamline their practices as a part of the Guide to Streamling Series. Making Streamlining Stick, Right-Sizing the Grantmaking Process and Streamlining Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors, help grantmakers begin a streamlining effort, increase the net impact of their grants by right-sizing and choose online systems that truly streamline their applications. They are the latest in a series of tools and resources that already includes Grant Budgets and Financial Reporting, Online Applications and Reporting and Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors.

Making Streamlining Stick
While many components of the series provide technical solutions to technical problems, this guide helps grantmakers work through the changes in mindset, organizational culture and behavior that streamlining requires- the complex issues that have no ready-made answers. The guide illustrates the four basic phases of a streamlining effort and suggests activities and questions that can propel the process forward.

Right-Sizing the Grantmaking Process
Right-sizing is the concept that one size might not fit all when it comes to application and reporting. When grantmaking is right-sized, the information requirements are proportionate to the size of the grant, are appropriate to the type of grant and take into consideration prior relationships with grantees. Right-Sizing the Grantmaking Process lays out the case for right-sizing and provides concrete recommendations to funders on how to right-size their requirements.

Streamlining Online Grant Applications: A Review of Vendors
Online grant application systems can be a timesaver for all involved or they can cause grantseekers and grantmakers hours of unnecessary frustration. Project Streamline commissioned Idealware to develop a companion piece to the Guide to Streamlining Online Applications and Reportingreleased last month. It evaluates seven different vendors against Project Streamline’s Essential and Gold Standard features for online applications and reporting to help grantmakers identify the best systems to support their grantmaking.

All of the reports are available for download at Project Streamline, a collaborative initiative of eight organizations including the Forum led by the Grants Managers Network, is working to improve grant application and reporting in ways that reduce costs for both grantmakers and grantseekers.

Look out for the next two resources in the series, Take a Fresh Look at Information Requirements: Due Diligence Guide and Communications Guide scheduled for release by May 15.

10 Questions or Less for Sue Bennett

10 Questions or Less is a new feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Sue Bennett, Learning Manager at Philanthropy Northwest.

1. You’ve put in a lot of work on the development of the Essential Skills and Strategies for New Grantmakers materials. Can you tell me a little about your involvement?

Credit goes mostly to those who created the ESS curriculum (Judie Donaldson, Vicki Rosenberg, Bea Boccalandro, and others).  I got involved early on, but at the vastly easier stage of improving on already-existing materials.  Since my professional background is in adult education, I viewed the curriculum with the lens of an adult learner and made revisions to make the program as engaging and robust as possible. Credit also goes to my amazing local trainers who walked though each page with me, adding their own flavor, perspective and experience, so that it became “ours”, specific to the Northwest.  The skeleton is very good; we dressed it up to suit our region, members, and interests.  We still change it a bit every time, to keep it relevant and timely, and because we are also continually learning.

2. Walk me through a typical day in the office at PNW.

There is no typical day! This week I had a program for family foundations featuring Bill Gates Sr. and Ginny Esposito (from National Center for Family Philanthropy), discussing “Legacy”.   Two days later, I held our “Philanthropic Thought Leaders Speakers Series” featuring our own thought leader, Carol Lewis (PNW’s  CEO) outlining what we’ve learned about giving in the Northwest from our Trends report.  In between, I met with a potential member, created several zoomerang surveys, began planning for a Capacity Building Learning Circle event that will be video teleconferenced to 9 locations in 5 states, and reviewed a website tutorial that we are piloting next week.  I forgot to water my plant.  Oh, and I’m part-time. Continue reading


The Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers jointly announced today the launch of, as a platform to spearhead wide engagement from leaders and practitioners in philanthropy around the issue of grantmaker learning and professional development.

The public portal is the latest feature in the grantmaker education initiative sparked by the Forum and Council and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The initiative, now involving many other national and regional groups in the field of philanthropy, seeks to engage all the stakeholders of grantmaker learning in what could amount to a recreation of the grantmaker education marketplace.  The initiative includes an invitational leadership Symposium on Grantmaker Education this summer as well as the public portal.

“We’re building on the good work in professional development done by many organizations in our field over the past few years. The idea is to keep working together to create a stronger, more rational, and less fragmented system for grantmaker learning than we have today — one that builds a new culture of professional development in the field and works better for the individual learners involved in philanthropy and the many groups and organizations that provide learning programs and resources to them.” — Michael Litz, President and CEO of the Forum

Continue reading

New Staff at MCF and PNW

With Chuck Peterson’s promotion to VP of Member Relations (Congrats, Chuck!), Minnesota Council on Foundations welcomes a new team member: Lori Miller-Shiell, Director of Operations & Finance.

Lori Miller-Shiell, Director of Operations & Finance, MCF

Lori has worked in the field of operations and finance for over 20 years in both the independent and private sectors. She has a wealth of skills and experience in the areas of strategic planning, transition planning, and motivational team building. At MCF Lori will be responsible for managing human resources, IT, finance and operations.

Read more about Lori and the work she’ll be doing at MCF’s Philanthropy Potluck.

Philanthropy Northwest has also announced the addition of Mindie Reule to their team. Mindie will serve as PNW’s first public policy program manager, a position created to reflect our members’ growing interest in understanding and partnering with the public sector.

Mindie will lead PNW’s member services and programs involving public policy and government relations throughout our six-state region. Most recently, Mindie was the field director for the successful “No on I-1033” campaign in Washington state, and has experience designing and implementing a variety of issue advocacy, outreach and education programs across the country.

Welcome Lori and Mindie!


This just in from Philanthropy New York:

Philanthropy New York is delighted to announce staff additions as well! We’ve recently welcomed two new colleagues, who we know will benefit from connecting with our broader RA community.

Imani Crawford joined us a few weeks ago as our new Director of Communications. In that role, she will work closely with Ronna and the Board to design and implement the full range of Philanthropy New York’s communications strategies, including our comprehensive branding, recruitment, and policy communications.  Imani comes to us most recently from Oxfam GB in Bogota, Colombia where she served as an Atlas Service Corps Communications Fellow. Prior to her time in Colombia, she held the position of Senior Writer at the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation‘s Clinton Global Initiative.  A graduate of Georgetown University, she is fluent in Spanish and Russian.

Nadia Lagani-Montiel’s started on Monday in the new role of Member Serviced Assistant. Nadia will be a great utility player for the Member Services Department and will also take on direct responsibility for our database, so she will quickly come to know and work with our System Partner colleagues.  Nadia graduated last summer from Pace University, where she majored political science.  She worked most recently for Grameen America, Inc., where she helped to build and educate a strong micro-loan client base in East Harlem’s Mexican immigrant community.  Nadia was born in Mexico City and immigrated to the U.S. at age two with her parents.  She grew up in New Rochelle, just north of New York City.

Imani and Nadia, we look forward to working with you!

A Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association: Ten Principles and Practices

The Forum’s Grantmaker Education Task Force, chaired by Lucille DiDomenico of the Conference of Southwest Foundations and Vicki Rosenberg of the Council of Michigan Foundations, is excited to share with you its culminating document, “A Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association: Ten Principles and Practices” (PDF).

This Framework represents a synthesis of recommendations made by more than 60 practitioners and thought leaders in the field. It describes ten principles and corresponding practices that contribute to a grantmaking organization’s effectiveness and that can be used to strengthen philanthropy education across the sector.  It is meant to serve as a touchstone for reflecting on our individual and collective educational work and as a catalyst for explorations of how we can best serve current members, attract new ones, and contribute to strengthening philanthropic practice in our role as educators and knowledge brokers.

Our goal is to establish the Framework as the standard organizing structure for grantmaker education within the Forum network and to serve as a mechanism for network-wide conversations, experimentation, and initiatives that contribute to a more effective philanthropic sector.  We realize, however, that this cannot be accomplished if the Framework is viewed as a static document.  In order to make it a useful tool that will continue to develop and adapt to changes in the field, we seek your active participation in the following:

  • Framework Wiki:  In next week’s Forum Bits we will introduce you to the Grantmaker Education Framework Wiki, an interactive tool that will allow you to provide comments on the principles and practices and add examples from your own educational programming.
  • Network Conference Call: On Thursday, May 13 at 3:00 ET there will be a conference call to review the Framework and discuss how it can be used to plan your educational programming.  RA staff can register here.
  • Forum Conference Session:  At the Forum’s Annual Conference this July in Chicago, there will be a session about the Framework that will feature examples of its implementation and ideas for future use.

The Framework was completed as part of a Forum initiative to build regional association capacity to provide grantmaker education, funded by a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.  Although we are wrapping up this project, the Framework serves as a foundation for a new grantmaker education initiative sparked by the Forum and Council on Foundations and now involving many other leaders in the field.  Later this week we will announce the launch of, a platform to spearhead wide engagement from leaders and practitioners in philanthropy around the issue of grantmaker learning and professional development.  The initiative also includes an invitational leadership Symposium on Grantmaker Education this summer.

National Conference for Regional Associations Coming to Chicago

The Forum network will have its annual conference July 26-28 in Chicago, IL at the Sofitel Chicago Water Tower. The conference will start with lunch on Monday, July 26 and go through lunch on Wednesday, July 28.

We have negotiated with the hotel to offer rooms at $160 a night. To make a reservation call 877-813-7700, ask for group reservations and identify yourself as a part of the Forum Annual Meeting. The discounted room rate will be available through Thursday, June 24.

The conference planning team and Forum staff have been working over the past couple of months to plan an exciting program. Check out the preliminary agenda to learn more about what has been scheduled. So far, we have confirmed John Graham, President of ASAE, to open the conference with a discussion of the “new normal;” Marianne Hughes, Executive Director of the Interaction Institute for Social Change, to lead a session about building networks at the regional level; and Dr. Byron Harrell, President of Baptist Community Ministries and author of SuperCharged Giving, to close the conference by discussing the role of regional associations in the future of philanthropy.

There are additional events scheduled to take place around this year’s conference including the PolicyWorks initiative and the Grantmaker Education Symposium. A full event calendar is now available to view. More information about the symposium and how you can be involved with the work will be available in the next couple of weeks.