Wanna know a secret? I once ran my own grant-writing business. I loved focusing on one thing and doing it well — a welcome break from the “many hats” conundrum in which development professionals frequently find themselves. Success in this area, however, requires adherence to a well-defined, logical process. Master this and you, too, can be a grant-writing phenom. Here’s my primer.
Donors often fail to research who else is financing a cause before they dive in to it. That was one of many takeaways from last week's Global Philanthropy Forum, an annual gathering of wealthy individuals, top foundation officials and nonprofit leaders. The gathering also focused on trade-offs required when investing in social businesses and on data that can constrain as well as embolden philanthropy.
Why don't the best social-purpose organizations grow? First off, let me acknowledge that growing any type of organization — for-profit or mission-driven — is tough to do. My work at the Social Innovation Fund and prior experience in venture philanthropy investing, foundation grant making, and strategic consulting taught me that. However, my experience also showed me that there's a critical issue holding back those who want to do good: Lack of evidence.
A GrantCraft publication, Philanthropy and the Social Economy: Blueprint 2013, written by leading philanthropy scholar Lucy Bernholz, captures the changing landscape of what it means to use private resources for the public good. No longer the purview of foundations and nonprofits alone, philanthropy is now defined by an array of increasingly diverse activities, such as impact investing, social businesses, peer networks and crowdfunding. The Blueprint outlines how these and other innovations are transforming the "social economy."
Innovation and technology among nonprofits have long been underfunded with traditional funders often feeling averse to risk and more often seeking to fund specific types of existing programs. Momentum has been building for the past decade for funders pursuing venture philanthropy, said Matt Bannick, managing partner of the Omidyar Network founded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Seeking out ideas to fund, rather than existing projects, turns traditional notions of philanthropy on its head, Bannick said.
The Foundation Center has launched the next generation of IssueLab, a website that provides free and open access to resources that analyze the world's most pressing social, economic and environmental challenges and their potential solutions. The platform contains more than 11,000 documents and represents one of the largest collections of social sector knowledge, spanning 40 issues areas, from agriculture to immigration to welfare.
GuideStar and the the Foundation Center announced the launch of a year-long commitment to support each other's activities and to share information to enhance effectiveness and efficiency across the sector. The partnership kicks off with offers of discounts on specific products to supporters, members and stakeholders.
The Foundation Center has released new reports that examine the payout practices and spending patterns of more than 1,000 larger U.S. independent foundations. Understanding and Benchmarking Foundation Payout explains the concept of payout, which refers to the total amount that a foundation reports as its charitable distribution. Benchmarking Foundation Administrative Expenses: Update on How Operating Characteristics Affect Spending considers how differences in foundations’ infrastructure, operations, and programmatic activities influence their spending patterns.
The Foundation Center and TechSoup Global have announced a strategic alliance that will leverage their expertise in data management, analysis and visualization to unlock the power of information for the social sector worldwide. Together, the two organizations possess sets of nonprofit data that are among the largest in the world. Their complementary networks of individuals and organizations will facilitate efforts to provide knowledge, training and tools to help civil society organizations around the world operate more efficiently and increase their impact.
Last year, China’s 1.3 billion plus people donated roughly $8 billion dollars to charity, down almost 18 percent on the previous year, according to data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
Now, Chinese foundations are tapping American nonprofit organizations for help in whipping Chinese foundations into better shape. As part of an agreement announced last week, U.S.-based nonprofit Give2Asia will donate one million yuan (more than $150,000) to China Foundation Center, a Beijing-based registered public charity.