Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do Better!

"The chance that foundations will be willing to increase,rather than decrease, their grants to the nonprofit community remain slim unless nonprofits themselves are prepared to fight publicly for a bigger share of foundation assets."

Pablo Eisenberg, "Do or Die for Nonprofits," Shelterforce, Winter 2008

"Despite efforts in some foundations to shift to more nonprofit-friendly practices, a pronounced disconnect remains between the ways in which grantmakers are supporting nonprofits and what nonprofits say could contribute most to their success."

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, "Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?"

"President-elect Obama's success suggests that foundations seeking to build movements for social change must remain focused on their goals, yet paradoxically surrender much of their control if they are to gain broader support and deeper commitment within the communities they hope to influence."

Mark Kramer and Amber Johnson, "Foundations Should Step Up As Obama Steps In," Chronicle of Philanthropy, January 12, 2009.

A few thoughts. 1)Fighting to increase foundation payouts at a time when foundation endowments have tanked makes little sense. Also,the issue is not just paying out more, which is possible, but paying out smarter; 2)The economic crisis is an unfortunate context for foundations to learn more about their grantees and the nonprofit sector,their underlying business models, what resources they have or do not have to weather tough times, and what resources could be helpful; and 3) It's a great idea for foundations to join local efforts to make the most effective use of "economic stimulus/recovery' resources -- developing green strategies, building capacity of key organizations to connect people to jobs and benefits, and creating and moving forward advocacy agendas.

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