Monthly Archives: November 2012

LearnPhilanthropy Announces Bookshelf Project

LearnPhilanthropy is creating a virtual  bookshelf, and filling it up with some of the best books, articles and monographs out there to support grantmaker learning and development.

The LearnPhilanthropy Bookshelf is intended to be a dynamic list of books, articles and reports suggested by practicing grantmakers and those committed to effective philanthropy. The LP Team  started off thinking just about books for those wanting to ground themselves in philanthropy, but many of the suggestions we received caused us to expand this idea to include seminal articles, frequently mentioned monographs and reports and a few recommended subscriptions. Find out more!


Highlights from RA Blogging

There are currently 15 regional associations blogging.  A highlight of recent activity is below.

Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers: Adventures in Philanthropy

Council of Michigan Foundations: Rob Collier Video Blog

Donors Forum

Florida Philanthropic Network: The Florida Philanthropy Blog

Minnesota Council on Foundations: Philanthropy Potluck

Northern California Grantmakers

North Carolina Network of Grantmakers: Philanthropy NC

Ohio Grantmakers Forum: Let’s Talk Philanthropy

Philanthropy New York: Smart Assets

Philanthropy Northwest

Southeastern Council of Foundations: Philanthropy South

Other regionals blogging include Arizona Grantmakers Forum, Colorado Association of Funders, Gateway Center for Giving, and Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers.

Latest RA Characteristics Data is Now Available

Data from this year’s Regional Association Characteristics Survey is now available.  Data from the most recent survey represents activities in 2011.  The Regional Association Characteristics Survey is an annual benchmarking tool for the regional association network on topics like membership, finances, programming, services, and governance.

We’d like to thank the regional associations who updated their information to include 2011 data.  This is a comprehensive and time intensive survey to complete and we appreciate the time and effort you take to provide this information each year.

Stay tuned for an analysis and comparison report will be available later in the year!

If you have a question about the data or would like to update your regional’s information, please contact Courtney Moore (703-879-0809).

When Disaster Philanthropy Hits Home

Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey (Photo: REUTERS/Les Stone/American Red Cross)

The clean-up and relief effort will be going on for weeks if not months, while the recovery and rebuilding will take years. There will come a point in the weeks to come when the work will transition from first response to recovery, when the American Red Cross will move on, and the long road to rebuilding will start.  If things in New Jersey unfold the way they have in other communities devastated by catastrophic events like this, we know that the philanthropic community will be deeply involved.

The challenges created by Sandy will be with us for a very long time, and yet we aren’t even sure what all of these challenges will be.  Additionally, there will be great opportunities to bring innovative ideas and practices to some of our longstanding problems. This is what philanthropy can do quite well.

—Nina Stack, CEO of the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers and President of the Forum’s Board in a new blog post at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation‘s site.

Read the full post here.

Foundation Center and 15 Foundations Partner on Reporting Commitment Initiative

Foundation Center LogoA group of the largest U.S. foundations have formally committed to release their grant information in a consistent, open, and frequent manner, in an effort to more effectively address the issues facing our communities and our world. To date, 15 foundations have partnered with the Foundation Center and agreed to open up their grantmaking data as a part of a new initiative, Reporting Commitment. Continue reading

ABAG Board Creates the Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund

In honor of Betsy Nelson’s extraordinary tenure as President of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, the ABAG Board of Directors has announced the establishment of the Betsy Nelson Legacy Fund to support the organization’s efforts to promote charitable giving and involvement in addressing community issues and challenges.

The Fund aims to share philanthropy’s message beyond the ABAG membership and to build connections between charitably-minded people, organizations, and institutions to strengthen our community.

PolicyWorks Spotlight: Kathleen Pierce, Kirkpatrick Family Foundation

Kathleen Pierce is the managing trustee of the Kirkpatrick Family Foundation, a small family Foundation based in Seattle, WA. She’s also the vice chair of the Philanthropy Northwest public policy committee.

Mindie Reule, Public Policy Program Manager at Philanthropy Northwest, conducted this interview with Kathleen over email as part of our new PolicyWorks for Philanthropy interview series.

What does working with Philanthropy Northwest allow you to do in the public policy area that you couldn’t do yourself? What does working with Philanthropy Northwest make possible?

First, Philanthropy Northwest gives our foundation some tools, such as information on IRS rules and evaluation approaches, that have helped our small family foundation fund advocacy work more effectively. Perhaps more important for our foundation, however, are the many ways that Philanthropy Northwest has “greased the wheels” to enable us to work collaboratively with other foundations, and with government. I have found over the years that policy work is best done collaboratively. I have also found that while foundations sometimes expressly set out to work together to achieve a specific policy change, such as creating a portal to public benefits, more frequently, foundations start tackling a problem together and end up realizing that policy work is an essential systems-level change for solving that problem. That said, it is very hard to get the right collaborative partners to the table and harder still to keep them there, and this is where Philanthropy Northwest has often played a big role. Staff members have helped to identify and invite the right folks, arrange and facilitate meetings, do policy and community research, support collaborative planning, and now Philanthropy Northwest has the specific skills and relationships to do even more to support collaborative efforts—through the talents of the Giving Practice, Philanthropy Northwest’s consulting service. People are more likely to come to the table and stay there if they know there will be high level, trusted support for their efforts.

How did you come to realize working with Philanthropy Northwest on policy would work for you? Or did you encourage Philanthropy Northwest?

I started working on public policy at Philanthropy Northwest in the early 1990s, soon after our foundation was created. I was a member of early committees formed primarily to do government relations work. In the mid-90s, Philanthropy Northwest worked with the Washington State Department of Revenue to prevent the state from taxing foundation grants to nonprofits (as contracts for services subject to business and occupation (B&O) tax). That effort increased interest in the membership to do more policy work. However, we missed some opportunities for many years, I think, since we focused on our association role as representing our members interests on policy issues, not on building members’ capacity to do policy work—on their own or by working collectively. Thanks to Daniel Kemmis’ leadership (Daniel is the former board chair of the Northwest Area Foundation), this member support role is now central to our policy work, and it has made a huge difference. Our members now understand the importance of public policy work—their own and Philanthropy Northwest—and support this work financially.

What is an interesting public policy issue you are engaged in through Philanthropy Northwest right now or a recent success you are particularly proud of?

Currently, I am working with more than 20 private and public funders to form a partnership focused directly on policy work—making smart public and private infrastructure investments in housing, transportation, jobs, green space and other assets that will enable communities to develop in ways that advance equity, the environment, and the economy. In the near term, we are working together to ensure that all benefit and prosper as communities change and develop along our existing and proposed light rail lines. We are still in the early stages of our work, but are beginning to implement strategies focused on fostering community engagement, enhancing regional leadership around equity and the environment, creating a risk capital fund, and investing in good data and research. Philanthropy Northwest has played a major role in convening and supporting this complex collaborative undertaking.

In advocacy, speaking with one voice as an industry can have a powerful affect. How does Philanthropy Northwest work on behalf of all its members on policy issues?

At Philanthropy Northwest, we have not often advocated on behalf of our members on issues affecting them. Generally, we have educated our members on policy issues and focused on building strong relationships with policy makers and administrators. We have an intentional strategy of establishing our regional association as a resource for government—a first stop to learn about what philanthropy is doing in the region. I think there is growing understanding among public officials that philanthropy can play a major role in helping to solve tough public problems, and we are seeing more federal and state agencies coming to Philanthropy Northwest for information, advice, and potential partners. We are currently thinking about how Philanthropy Northwest can play a more potent role in forming and supporting public-private partnerships, which appear to be catching on in both sectors. One promising tactic may be to better engage government officials as members and co-learners at conferences, workshops, and other sessions.