How Foundations Can Maximize Impact and Efficiency With Fluxx

By Newsroom on 09/19/2018

Jessie Ball duPont Center

In 2015, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund was wrestling with the same issues many foundations still struggle with today: how to maximize their impact and improve operational efficiency without further burdening grantees. The Fund – which in 2017 granted 146 grants totaling nearly $5.4 million – was searching for a cloud-based, feature-rich management platform that enabled the grants management team to streamline their day-to-day work.

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How Technology Helps Nonprofits Increase Diversity

By Madeline Duva on 09/14/2018

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Promoting diversity within your industry or workforce is an important step towards creating opportunities for your community. Yet teams often forget these efforts are more than just “feel good” add ons, but provide definitive, quantifiable improvements. The data is in: diverse teams also deliver better results. And nowhere is this more important than the giving space, a space that aims to support disenfranchised communities, and therefore should be representing said communities on their own teams.

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Fluxxcon is Fast Approaching

By Newsroom on 09/04/2018

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Our user conference, Fluxxcon, is fast approaching. Taking place on October 9th - 11th, at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio neighborhood, tickets for Fluxxcon are nearly sold out, so act now if you want to join us!

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Four Essential Tools for Success in Philanthropy

By Madeline Duva on 08/30/2018

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Photo by Ingrid Damiani for the Jesse Ball duPont Center

Here at Fluxx we work with both funders and grantees, giving us a unique insight into just how much money is invested in the philanthropic sector. Last year alone, $5.2 billion moved through our platform in the form of grants. This money went from foundations straight to the trusted nonprofits they fund, who then affected meaningful change across communities worldwide.

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Attending BoxWorks? Be sure to catch our CEO Madeline Duva

By Newsroom on 08/23/2018

BoxWorks

This year’s BoxWorks conference is sure to be impactful and we’re excited to share that Fluxx CEO, Madeline Duva, is appearing on a panel on August 30th, 2pm, at the Moscone Center.

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Breaking Down Silos: Three Ways to Collaborate at Your Foundation

By Newsroom on 08/14/2018

 Democratizing philanthropy

A new generation is redefining social sector leadership with a work style that maximizes efficiency through collaboration. And you don’t have to be a millennial to harness the power of information sharing.

Here are three ways to access your foundation's valuable internal resources by simply communicating with colleagues:

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Watch Now: Four Ways in Which Technology is Changing Grantmaking

By Newsroom on 08/07/2018

PEAK Webinar

Recently, Fluxx Co-founder and Chief Development Officer, Kerrin Mitchell, and Fluxx Chief Evangelist, Dan Schoenfeld, delivered an illuminating webinar: 4 Ways in Which Technology is Changing Grantmaking. The webinar brought context to key trends we’re seeing in philanthropy—specifically how improved technology has resulted in optimization and success for both foundations and nonprofits.

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Fluxx on the Rise: Kristy Gannon Named COO; Dan Schoenfeld Joins as Chief Evangelist

By Madeline Duva on 08/02/2018

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As I look back on the growth and changes we’ve experienced to date in 2018 here at Fluxx, I’m reminded that it’s happened against the backdrop of exciting changes in philanthropy overall. It’s a remarkable time for anyone focused on giving and change-making. There was a record-breaking $410 billion in giving in the US last year, with an important shift in contribution sources, as contributions to DAFs (donor-advised funds) exploded.

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What the Giving USA Report Means for Foundations

By Dawn Lauter on 07/19/2018

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The Giving USA annual report on the state of philanthropy, which was released last month, reveals that Americans are giving more than ever (including when measured using inflation-adjusted dollars): $410 billion in 2017. (From 2007 through 2017, giving went up $99 billion in current dollars.) As in previous years, the types of organizations that received that money were mostly religious ($127 billion) and educational ($59 billion). Meanwhile, donations to foundations were up 15.5% and, of all types of recipient, foundations saw the highest growth rate over two years.

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4 Ways Technology is Changing Grantmaking (And Why This is Exciting for Philanthropy)

By Newsroom on 07/18/2018

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Seeing the positive impact of your organization’s grants can be deeply rewarding, yet we all know that the processes involved in grantmaking itself are often downright tedious and cumbersome—for both the grantmakers and the nonprofits they serve. There is a major role for technology to play in order to break down common administrative boundaries as well as increase capacity and collaboration.

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How to Make a Grantee Report a Valuable Asset for Your Foundation

By Dawn Lauter on 07/11/2018

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Grantee reports are essential for foundations, helping determine disbursements and grants. Reporting is also a vital part of making grants and a fantastic opportunity for grantees to share advancement with grantmakers. But done inefficiently, it can be a tedious task that contributes little to grantmaker or grantee.

Done right, reporting can be a meaningful exchange of data and stories as well as a tremendous opportunity for growth for both grantees and grant makers.

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Are Nonprofits Ready for The Slate 90 - and Does It Matter?

By Madeline Duva on 07/02/2018

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Popular online magazine Slate recently released a new series about philanthropy. With The Slate 90, the journal will start ranking the largest American nonprofits by revenue, organized according to nine categories ranging from the arts to health. Its goal is to increase scrutiny of the growing philanthropic sector and provide what it calls “a more robust and useful portrait of the tax-free economy” and “the nonprofit-industrial complex” in particular. This snapshot of US philanthropy, based on 2015 data, shows the contemporary giving landscape.

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Foundation Leaders Weigh In On the Changing Donor Landscape

By Madeline Duva on 06/25/2018

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Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation

The latest wave of donors is changing philanthropy as we know it. Along the way, younger philanthropists are also transforming how foundations work, and specifically creating a need for collaboration through technology.

That was the perspective of the panelists at Fluxx’s sixth annual philanthropic speaker series, A New Age in Philanthropic Giving, held earlier this year at the Ford Foundation in Manhattan. The panel, led by Sam Caplan, now CIO of the Walton Family Foundation, included Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation; Nick Tedesco, senior philanthropic advisor at J.P. Morgan; and David Callahan, founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy and author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.

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Three Trends Shaping the Future of Philanthropy

By Madeline Duva on 05/30/2018

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Over the past couple of years, we've seen a number of major trends that are shifting the traditional models of giving and philanthropy, not least of which is greater interest in giving, and increasing overall value in the amount of dollar amounts being donated.

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Peak Conference Recap and Five Key Takeaways

By Sam Caplan, Senior Director of Insights & Engagement on 03/26/2018

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The
2018 Peak Grantmaking conference just wrapped up, and what a fantastic time we had connecting with old friends and making new ones. So many members of the Fluxx family come to Peak every year in search of new skills, ideas, and fellowship, and this year was highly successful on all fronts.

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Corporate Foundations: Are You Ready for ESG?

By Sam Caplan, Senior Director of Insights & Engagement on 02/08/2018

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ESG, or "Environmental, Social, and Governance," is quickly emerging as the de facto dataset for assessing a corporation's sustainable and ethical business practices.

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The Award-Winning Fluxx Support Team Is On A Mission

By Kenji Hayward, Director of Support on 01/23/2018

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The Fluxx Support team is on a mission. Simply put, we want to make as many Fluxx customers  as possible, as happy as possible. This uncomplicated premise drives everything team members strive for on a daily basis.

That’s why I’m so proud to announce that our team has been named a finalist for the 12th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. We could not be more excited.

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Grants Management Software: How To Get Buy-In Before You Buy

By Aaron Lester on 01/18/2018

iStock-825151062-494407-edited.jpgFor foundations big and small, grants management software not only streamlines your operations, but can also give you a new perspective on your organization's work. From revealing insights through data to automating processes to improving operational transparency, the right software can be a critical component to achieving your mission.

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Is Blockchain the Future of Philanthropy?

By Sam Caplan, Senior Director of Insights & Engagement on 01/09/2018

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Lately it feels like we’re living in a golden era of technology and innovation. In the past few years we’ve seen several technologies emerge to make a major impact in our lives: the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and now blockchain.

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5 Ways To Be An Even More Effective Foundation CFO

By Aaron Lester on 01/03/2018

More Effective CFO.jpgThe most basic job description of a CFO is to manage an organization’s finances. But the simplicity of this description belies the complexity of the role, especially when it comes to understanding day-to-day responsibilities or big-picture goals at a charitable foundation.

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Tackling a Political Sea Change: 2017 Signals the Importance of Faster, More Flexible Philanthropy

By Aaron Lester on 12/18/2017

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Despite – or perhaps, because of – the unexpected results of the 2016 presidential election, giving trends for last year were overwhelmingly positive. According to Giving USA, charitable donations increased yet again, topping $390 billion in 2016. 

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It’s Time to Rethink the Final Report: How to Create a More Meaningful Feedback Loop

By Aaron Lester on 12/05/2017

iStock-629296802-595212-edited.jpgThis post was originally published on the PEAK Grantmaking blog in November, 2017.

It’s inevitable: at the end of every grant cycle, a final report provides a record of grantee successes, challenges, and monies spent. But how often does the final report become a meaningful mechanism for further reflection or change?

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Program Managers: Do You Have a Love/Hate Relationship With Data? It's time to fix that.

By Aaron Lester on 11/22/2017

iStock-629960008-816889-edited.jpgAs a program manager and subject expert, you’ve always believed in the importance of capturing information and stories that articulate the impact of your work. Until recently, however, you may not have had the time, resources, or expertise to take your data practices to the next level.

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Grants Managers: How to Think Like a Data Scientist

By Aaron Lester on 11/10/2017

Think Like a Data Scientist Blog.jpgChances are, if you began your career as a grants manager 10 or 15 years ago, you didn’t consider yourself a tech pro, or a data wizard. You probably used a computer every day. And you became adept at office applications like Excel and Word. But still, there probably was a whole lot of paper in your life.

How times have changed.

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Join Fluxx in Giving Back on #GivingTuesday 2017

By Kerrin Mitchell on 10/24/2017

Snip20171020_11-662508-edited.pngThe past few months have been horrific for so many, from the hurricanes in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, and across the Caribbean, to the earthquakes in Mexico and the recent North Bay fires right here in California. The devastation is widespread but has also hit very close to home, and the need to respond – to give what we can – grows daily.

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Why Foundations Should Play a Collaborative, Connecting Role in Environmental Funding

By Aaron Lester on 10/19/2017

environmental_funding_blog_edited.jpgAlthough the environmental sector only accounts for 3 percent of total giving in the U.S., environmental issues, particularly climate change, remain among the most pressing and intractable problems of our time.

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4 Big Myths About Cloud-Based Grants Management Software, Debunked

By Aaron Lester on 10/12/2017

iStock-646860750-588132-edited.jpgFor foundations, cloud-based grants management software has evolved rapidly since its relatively recent introduction. Cloud-based systems have quickly become more common than local server systems, providing both casual and tech-savvy users with increased access to the data they need.

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Why Compelling Video Storytelling Should Be a Priority at Your Nonprofit

By Kristen Evans on 10/06/2017

iStock-629200894-487758-edited.jpgDuring every fundraising event I helped to organize for 826 Boston, a literacy nonprofit based in Roxbury, MA, the lights dimmed and we hit play on our latest video.

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Why Multimedia Storytelling Matters for Nonprofits

By Kristen Evans on 09/22/2017

grantseeker_blog_image_multimedia.jpgDespite budget constraints, investing in multimedia storytelling is more important than ever for nonprofit success – and we can help you make the case for allocating more resources to communications strategies that work.

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Foundations: Your Impact Depends on How You Collaborate With Your Grantees

By Aaron Lester on 09/14/2017

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It's vitally important that foundations and nonprofits engage and collaborate in a healthy two-way relationship to bring about the change they both seek. But there is often a wide disconnect between how funders and grantees go about their work.

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4 Tips To Becoming A Data-First Grants Manager

By Aaron Lester on 09/07/2017

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As a grants manager, you’ve always understood the importance of data, even if you don’t always consider yourself a tech guru. As the quarterback of the grantmaking process, you regularly collect critical pieces of information and synthesize it for future use. You’ve always known you needed data. But until recently, deep dives into the world of data were rarely expected from you due to a perceived lack of expertise, time, or mandate from leadership.

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How Can I Help People Affected By Hurricane Harvey?

By Aaron Lester on 08/30/2017

texas-hurricane-harvey (1).jpg   People making their way down a flooded street in Houston, Texas. Joe Raedle/Getty

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm when it made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas Friday night, has paralyzed much of the state and left thousands displaced. One hundred and thirty mile-per-hour-winds knocked down trees and power lines, generally wreaking havoc across the region.

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How to Track and Manage Your Grantseeking Operations

By Kristen Evans on 08/24/2017

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Successful grantseeking operations are as much about managing a wealth of information as they are about writing a stand-out proposal. From prospective funders to grant cycle deadlines, there’s plenty to track as you move grants through the pipeline.

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How To Value Grantee Voices For More Meaningful Impact Assessment

By Aaron Lester on 08/17/2017

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Measuring impact is challenging. There’s no two ways about it. Some funders skip important steps in development while others fail to pay enough attention to their grantees’ capacity or preferences when designing and implementing evaluations. What’s more, the variety of approaches to the work across the sector constrains the way organizations assess and even define impact.

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Grantmakers: What Do Puppies and Organizational Change Have to Do With Each Other?

By Gwyneth Tripp, Blue Shield of California Foundation on 08/14/2017

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This post first appeared in the Blue Shield of California Foundation blog. Thank you to Gywyneth for sharing her puppies (pictured above) with us!

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How to Embody the 5 Characteristics of an Effective Grant Writer

By Kristen Evans on 08/10/2017

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As any good grant writer knows, our job involves far more than writing proposals. There’s program staff to interview, data to track, and plenty of deadlines to organize – smack dab in the middle of a busy nonprofit fundraising year.

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That Nagging Question: Is Philanthropy As Effective As It Can Be?

By Jason Ricci on 08/07/2017

panel_picker_blog.jpgAmericans gave nearly $400 billion to charitable organizations and individuals last year – to make education work better for our children, put food on the tables of our most vulnerable, and to create safer and healthier neighborhoods and communities for everyone, to name only a few of the causes supported by philanthropic giving in 2016.

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How Mission Ambassadors Are Changing the Way Nonprofits Tell Their Stories

By Aaron Lester on 08/03/2017

ambassador_blog_image.jpgBrand ambassadorship is the new wave taking over marketing. Let's face it, the media-savvy among us harbor a healthy skepticism of marketing pitches. But we're much more receptive to the opinions of our own friends, or friends of friends. When we see the passion in others, it's contagious. It drives us to action.

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No More ‘Necessary Evil’: Create Grantee Reports with Indispensable Value

By Kristen Evans on 07/27/2017

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Depending on the requirements of your funder, you’ll most likely have to file a detailed report about your financials, along with an evaluation of the funded program. Although grant reporting can be a valuable tool for growth, this crucial component of the funding cycle often causes sticking points for both nonprofits and funders.

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Want to Secure More Grant Money? Tell a Good Story.

By Aaron Lester on 07/20/2017

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Grant Writers: How to Lean Into Rejection and Turn ‘Thanks, But No Thanks’ Into an Opportunity

By Aaron Lester on 07/13/2017

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You spent hours upon hours researching, preparing, and writing what your team knows is the perfect grant proposal — a proposal that meets each one of the foundation’s guidelines. Why wouldn’t it accept your proposal after all your hard work? But when you read on, your heart sinks.

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Understanding These 4 Common Grants Will Make You a Better Grant Writer

By Aaron Lester on 07/06/2017

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Fundraising and donations are key components of any nonprofit’s development plan, but those strategies alone often won’t cover everything your organization wants to accomplish. That’s where grants come in. 

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4 Best Practices That Will Make You Be a Better Grant Writer

By Kristen Evans on 06/29/2017

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Whether you’re a brand new nonprofit or your development team is growing fast, the pressures of grant writing mean development staff members nearly always feel the pinch of their deadlines.

By establishing best practices for proposal writing, you’ll not only improve the success rate of your grant proposals, but you’ll also establish teamwork norms that positively impact your entire staff. Think better prospecting, healthier relationships with donors and board members, and open communication between program and development staff. (Sounds nice, right?)

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5 Tips for a Seamless Grants Management Software Implementation

By Aaron Lester on 06/27/2017

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Keeping the Pipeline Full: Why Grants are a Critical Part of Your Fundraising Strategy for Growth

By Kristen Evans on 06/22/2017

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While it’s true that some grants come with strings attached, diversifying your nonprofit income with awards from private, corporate, or government-funded foundations can help you build a more sustainable fundraising strategy for your organization.

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What Is Collective Action in Philanthropy? And Why You Need to Care.

By Aaron Lester on 06/20/2017

iStock-627728226 (1).jpgBy joining forces in a coordinated effort, grantmakers, grantees, communities, and other stakeholders passionate about similar issues have the potential to create meaningful and lasting impact. This kind of collective action approach has the potential to address the most pressing and complex societal challenges of our time.

But what exactly is collective action? And why should you care? First: the why.

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Today We Launch Grantseeker to Unite Nonprofits with Funders

By Jason Ricci on 06/13/2017

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Foundations: 5 Ways To Get the Most Out of Your Tech Consultant

By Eliza Smith on 05/24/2017

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Undoubtedly, your foundation is equipped with the staff, tools, and expertise to make strategic grants, and maximize your impact. However, sometimes it really helps to bring in some outside assistance – especially when it comes to technology. Maybe you need help with selection and implementation, cloud computing and security, or CRM customization. Hiring a tech consultant allows you to get ahead of your tech to-do list and free up your time to work toward your mission.

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Ignite! 2017: The Fluxx Community Inspires for 2 Days in San Francisco

By Aaron Lester on 05/17/2017

community_blog1.jpgWe are right in the middle of the 2017 Ignite! Grantmaker Summit and I couldn’t be more energized and inspired. It is great to see so many good people gathered in one place, learning new skills and gaining a renewed focus on their missions. 

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3 Ways to Ensure Capacity Building Grants Help Nonprofits Become More Tech Savvy

By Eliza Smith on 05/10/2017

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Nonprofits are often forced into a “grantseekers dilemma.” For example, sometimes an organization applies for a grant that requires a certain kind of capacity, knowing they don’t have it, but hoping that with funding they can obtain it. It’s a lose-lose, for both funder and grantseeker, and reveals the critical importance of capacity building grants for effective nonprofits.

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How to Blow Up Grantee Reporting and Create a More Valuable Feedback Loop

By Aaron Lester on 04/27/2017

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Although reporting can be a great opportunity to share the advancement of an organization’s work, the grantee report is at risk of becoming nothing more than a tedious task that contributes little value to you or your grantee.

Instead of being used as a launching pad for iteration and improvement, these reports too often go unread or underutilized.

It’s time to reframe the future of grantee reporting.

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Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

By Jason Ricci on 04/25/2017

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Dear Fluxx Community,

In 2011, we founded Fluxx based on the belief that if we could make philanthropy’s job easier we could do immense good in the world. And based on the work you do, day in and day out, I think we’re well on our way to making that happen. We're ready to do more.

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#GiveOUTDay 2017: Funding Equality and Justice for the LGBTQ Community

By Aaron Lester on 04/20/2017

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When Give OUT Day was founded in 2013, it rose out of a sense of urgency and acute need. Its mission – to bring the LGBTQ community’s nonprofits and allies together across the country on a single day dedicated to giving – remains as critical today as it was five years ago.

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3 Ways to Become an Exceptional Foundation Board Member

By Aaron Lester on 04/11/2017

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Foundations and other nonprofit organizations are a powerful force of good in the world, but without a steady backbone of leadership and guidance from high-quality board members, they risk losing focus and becoming far less effective.

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The 'How' of Grantmaking: Leveraging Best Practices to Improve Your Foundation’s Unique Process

By Aaron Lester on 04/04/2017

How_of_grantmaking.pngUnfortunately, there’s no definitive game plan for grantmakers. “The how of grantmaking,” as PEAK Grantmaking calls it, is many times a learn-on-the-fly endeavor, with systems, processes, and best practices handed down from one grants manager or program officer to the next. But sometimes best practices get lost in translation or dropped altogether.

That’s why we’ve gathered what we feel represents the best practices that are common among all effective grantmakers. And while it is true that your foundation has a unique way of managing the grantmaking process, we’ve uncovered tribal knowledge – broken down into three key steps –  that you can employ to improve your efficiency and effectiveness.

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How to Build a Corporate Giving Strategy that Empowers Your Employees

By Aaron Lester on 03/30/2017

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America is more generous than ever before,  according to the 2016 Giving USA report. Specifically, corporate giving exceeded $18 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from 2014. And as giving continues to grow as a personal value, more people are seeking out employers that share the desire to give back. The question becomes, what corporate giving strategy is right for your company?

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Not Ready for Impact Evaluation? Here Are 4 Steps to Help You Begin.

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 03/23/2017

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As we finish up yet another informative and exciting GMN ... err … PEAK Grantmaking conference in Hollywood and head back to our day jobs, I’m left reflecting on my experiences talking to and learning from a crowd of really smart people, committed to solving some really important issues in society.

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#PEAKGrantmaking2017: Measuring Impact in Philanthropy

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 03/15/2017

PEAK_Blog_2017.jpgIt’s no secret that grantmakers continue to struggle with how to approach evaluation and create a path towards more meaningful and informative  impact measurement. With good reason! This is tough work.

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International Women's Day Amplifies Philanthropy's Critical Role

By Kerrin Mitchell, Co-founder, Fluxx on 03/08/2017

womens_day_blog.jpgInternational Women’s Day is not only a celebration of our collective progress and powerful voices as women, but it is also a call to “be bold for change.”  It inspires us to continue open and honest dialogues about our vision for a truly global community, to honor where divisions require mending, and to be vigilant to the opportunities ahead.

Perhaps more than ever before, philanthropy has a critical role to play to make this vision a reality.

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Debunking the 5 Myths of Impact Evaluation

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 03/01/2017

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There are many misconceptions that obfuscate the impact evaluation landscape, leaving many foundations feeling disempowered and paralyzed. By busting a few of these myths, we hope to clear the way for grantmakers to shake that paralysis and take the first steps on a meaningful impact evaluation journey.

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Philanthropy's Balancing Act: How to Embrace the Power of Data without Ignoring Cybersecurity

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 02/16/2017

DGD responsible_data_blog.jpgLast week, two powerhouse philanthropic data conferences merged under the Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) and Social Innovation Review (SSIR) umbrella. The two-day Data on Purpose / Do Good Data conference brought together academics, practitioners, and data experts from across the for- and nonprofit sectors to discuss data issues in a civil society, including various sessions on the effective and ethical use of data, creating a data culture, and collaborations around data. I came away with a new understanding of philanthropy's newest dilemma. 

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5 Reasons the Future of Grantmaking is Mobile

By Aaron Lester on 02/14/2017

Mobility.jpgBefore the age of computers, grantmakers pored over scads of paper applications during a review process that required a legion of folders and file cabinets. Countless hours were spent using brainpower on mundane but critical tasks.

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How Do You Know You Have the Right Data for Meaningful Storytelling?

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 02/07/2017

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Top 7 Cybersecurity Terms You Need to Know To Protect Your Foundation’s Data

By Aaron Lester on 01/24/2017

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Foundations are understandably tight-lipped about cyberattacks. Because of the sensitive nature of the breached data and fear that broadcasting a hack might invite more attacks, it’s not often that we hear about cybersecurity threats in philanthropy. But it can happen to anyone, anywhere — and it happens more than you might think.  

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Program Officers: Four Ways To Create Stronger Grantee Relationships for Greater Impact

By Aaron Lester on 01/18/2017

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The ultimate goal of any foundation is to create change. And program officers play a critical role in making that happen. But the program officer’s job is challenging. Not only must they be experts in their funding areas, but they also serve as relationship builders and key decision makers within their foundations.

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Free to Fail: Foundation Philanthropy's Game-Changing Advantage

By Kevin Jennings, Executive Director, Arcus Foundation on 01/10/2017

Free to Fail_blog.jpgThis post first appeared on The Center for Effective Philanthropy blog.

The central paradox of The Future of Foundation Philanthropy can be found in one fact: while two out of three foundation CEOs think it’s possible for foundations to make a significant difference in the world, only about one out of every eight of us feel we actually are making such a difference. What’s behind this “aspiration gap,” as it has been called by The Bridgespan Group? I think it is because we are squandering the biggest advantage foundation executives have: we are free to fail.

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2016 Year In Philanthropy: The Challenges Ahead And Reasons For Optimism

By Aaron Lester on 12/23/2016

year in review_blog.jpgThe only way to get where you want to go is to know where you’ve been. Many of the prominent themes in philanthropy from 2016 — some perennial “evergreens,” others born of a new political landscape — demand our attention now more than ever.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the five most critical ideas of 2016 and how they’ll influence philanthropy in the coming year and beyond.

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Why Your Foundation’s Culture Matters More Than You Think

By Aaron Lester on 12/20/2016

Org_Culture_blog.jpgWe get it. It’s hard not to treat organizational culture as an afterthought. The nuts and bolts of grantmaking come first at your foundation. Grantmaking, after all, is the primary way foundations create positive change in the world.

But we think culture matters. And here’s why.

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More Than Words: Key Takeaways from J.P. Morgan and the “How” of Measurement and Impact in Philanthropy

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 12/19/2016

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If there is one thing the philanthropic sector doesn’t need is another “conversation” about data, measurement, and impact. We are already really good at discussing these things and identifying the challenges, convening a group to address them, or attributing blame for why we continue to struggle with them.

That’s why a recent event hosted by The Philanthropy Centre at J.P Morgan in San Francisco was such a breath of fresh air. The gathering, How to Maximize Philanthropic Impact, was squarely focused on ensuring that the ideas presented there moved beyond just “talk.”

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4 Steps to a Strategically Aligned Technology Plan

By Aaron Lester on 12/01/2016

tech_planning_blog.jpgGrantmaking organizations manage billions of dollars of funding every year. The importance of maximizing the power of technology can’t be underestimated. Remarkably, most foundations lack a strategic technology plan that aligns with their mission, initiatives, and foundationwide strategy — even though it’s vital to reaching their goals.

In fact, according to a 2014 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) survey, a mere 23 percent of respondents said they have a technology plan that has been updated within the past two years. An additional 15 percent said they have a plan, but it hasn’t been updated, which means it isn’t keeping up with rapidly advancing technology. The most troubling statistic is the 62 percent of respondents who don't have a technology plan at all.

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What It Means To Give On #GivingTuesday

By Jason Ricci on 11/23/2016

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What does it mean to give?

For such a small word, it is incredibly powerful. It’s a word we put a lot of thought into around here.

That’s why we’re thrilled to participate this year in the unifying day of giving that is #GivingTuesday – a day that unites charities, corporations, small businesses, and individuals from across the globe to show that collectively we can leave the world a better place than we found it.

A day of unity is just what we need right now.

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Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Tells A Story of Hope in Arkansas

By Aaron Lester on 11/22/2016

Fluxx Live Webinar 4 Key_typo_fixed.pngThere is a story about Arkansas that is widely known by those who live and work there. It’s the story of failure and acceptance of failure. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) believes the time has come to switch that narrative.

But telling a new story of Arkansas hasn’t come without its challenges.

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Philanthropy Has an Impact Problem That Technology Can Help Solve

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 11/17/2016

tag_blog_2016.jpgDavid Goodman participated on the Vendor Plenary Panel at the 2016 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) annual conference, where he first discussed his views on data, evaluation, and the sometimes over-emphasis on "impact" in philanthropy.

While my background is in research and evaluation, I’ve spent a great deal of time working with foundations and nonprofits to build their capacity to understand and use research and evaluation. I’m very excited to be able to bring my experience to the philanthropic sector at a time when there is a growing realization that it can benefit from the expertise of researchers and evaluators from other fields or disciplines.

This is a good thing. It gets me out of bed in the morning.

Yet, as much as I am excited about the emphasis on data, measurement, and impact, there is also a part of me that wants to pause – just for a moment – to talk about the disproportionate emphasis on “impact” alone.

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#Nationalphilanthropyday: Reflections on the Formidable Power of Philanthropy

By Chloe Rowshani on 11/15/2016

Philanthropy_Day_blog.jpgPhilanthropy is more than just a charitable donation, with no expectation of returns. It is a desire to give in the hopes of improving the lives of all beings on earth. It is action prompted by a love for humanity. And now, more than ever, it is a source of hope.

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Building Capacity for Evaluation: We’re Bypassing Critical First Steps

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 11/03/2016

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This post also appears on blog for the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Any time the philanthropic sector has an opportunity to learn more about each other and the work that we do, we all benefit. A perfect example is the latest report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices.

The key takeaway: The sector has limited capacity to take on meaningful evaluation. And foundations bypass developmental or formative evaluation at their own risk. Without undertaking this important work up front, capacity for evaluation practices will remain woefully inadequate.

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The 3 Most Important Ways to Share Data for Greater Impact

By Aaron Lester on 10/27/2016

data_sharing_blogv2.jpgThere’s no denying it. The way we work has fundamentally changed. Our cloud-based, bring-your-own-device, collaborative workspaces – virtual and brick-and-mortar –  bear very little resemblance to the foundations of even a decade ago. The technology that makes all this possible is also generating new ways for grantmakers to do their work — specifically, the ability to access and leverage data like never before.

To make the most out of this new work environment, foundations are opting into a culture of data-sharing and transparency.

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How Foundations Can Empower Grantseekers and Reduce Grantee Burden

By Aaron Lester on 10/24/2016

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Many nonprofits struggle under the weight of grantee burden. Any unnecessary hoops that grantees are forced to jump through only serve to stifle the impact that they (and their funders) seek to achieve. As a funder, any time you can minimize the  amount of time, effort, and money that nonprofits spend seeking and receiving grants, you increase their capacity to focus on what they do best – their mission-related work.

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For Foundations, Becoming Data-Driven is a Journey Not a Destination

By David Goodman, Director of Impact at Fluxx on 10/20/2016

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First off, what does it really mean to be data-driven? And secondly, how do you get there? Two great questions I’ve thought a lot about. In fact, I asked folks from more than 100 foundations the same questions.

Several themes developed and a roadmap of proven strategies emerged.

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Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

By Jessica Bearman, Bearman Consulting and Michelle Greanias, Grants Managers Network on 10/06/2016

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This post first appeared on The Center for Effective Philanthropy blog.

At effective foundations, the how of grantmaking is everyone’s business.

When grantmakers think about their funding strategy, we often focus on where we will give, to what, and to whom. We think about the results we want our funding to spark or enable. But strategy is supported (or not) by operations: the way in which grantmaking programs are structured and how grants are introduced, applied for, screened, decided, made, monitored, reported upon, assessed, and learned from. These funder practices are what we call “the how.”

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Foundations: Create Broader Impact With a Culture of Collaboration

By Aaron Lester on 09/21/2016

Silos_1.jpgPhilanthropy is changing. A new guard of social sector leadership is establishing a new way of working that maximizes impact and efficiency by promoting technology, transparency, and willingness to learn.

The key to this new way of thinking is collaboration — and this goes beyond the ease with which technology allows us to convene, share, and work together. And it transcends age: You don’t have to be a Millennial to understand the power of information sharing.

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How To Become Your Foundation's Data Expert

By Aaron Lester on 09/19/2016

data_expert_blog.jpgThe role of grants manager has evolved in recent years from primarily executing the foundation’s overall grant efforts to managing critical data that have the power to make a much broader impact across the organization.

But are you – a grants manager – ready to be your foundation’s data expert?

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The Future of Impact: How Technology is Changing the Game

By Jason Ricci on 09/14/2016

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Whether you call it “all hands on deck” or “all oars in the water,” it has always made sense to me that we employ all the tools at our disposal to stanch the flow of intractable problems we face as a society.

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Philanthropy's Biggest Bets Must Embrace Risk. And Transparency.

By Adriana Jimenez, ASPCA on 08/25/2016

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Adriana Jimenez is grants manager at the Surdna Foundation and also serves on the board of directors of the Grants Managers Network This post was first published on Transparency Talk, a project of the Foundation Center

The Panama Canal expansion project opened last June following several delays and controversies. It was a risky bet with promising outcomes.

While the expansion aimed to improve global trade by doubling the canal’s capacity, it now runs the risk of failure from faulty design. The project was wrought with conflicts of interest, imprecise data, and dubious processes; its stakeholders consider critiques of the canal “unpatriotic,” reluctant to learn from mistakes.

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3 Reasons Your Foundation is Not Too Small for Grants Management Software

By Aaron Lester on 08/24/2016

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If you think your foundation is too small to warrant a grants management solution, think again.

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Why Are Grantmakers Rushing to Adopt Grants Management Software?

By Aaron Lester on 07/27/2016

GM_Software_Guide_Blog_2016.jpgMore grantmakers are using grants management software than ever before. In fact, the number of users has grown 66 percent since 2013, according to Idealware’s 2016 Consumer’s Guide to Grants Management Systems.

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Using Strategic Storytelling to Increase Impact: The Grants Manager’s Role

By RJ Bee on 06/15/2016

storytelling_blog.jpgThis post originally appeared on GMNsight, the journal of Grants Managers Network.

There are few topics and ideas that have generated as much buzz in philanthropy over the past few years as storytelling. It’s all with good reason, of course. Storytelling can help foundations and their grantees increase reach and resources—and, by extension, impact.

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Foundation Transparency and Machine Readable IRS 990s: Is the Game Over?

By Brad Smith, Foundation Center on 06/03/2016

Open_Data_blog-1.jpgThe tranquil world of America's foundations is about to be shaken, but if you read the Center for Effective Philanthropy's (CEP) recent study – Sharing What Matters, Foundation Transparency – you would never know it.

Don't get me wrong. That study, like everything CEP produces, is carefully researched, insightful and thoroughly professional. But it misses the single biggest change in foundation transparency in decades: the imminent release by the Internal Revenue Service of foundation 990-PF (and 990) tax returns as machine-readable open data.

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What Are Capacity-Building Grants and Why Are They Game Changers?

By Eliza Smith on 05/20/2016

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I am all for the most recent developments in philanthropy. For example, I like data: It helps us measure things like program quality and even overall impact. It helps the social sector do better work. And I think transparency is critical: Sharing what we learn from our successes and failures creates a much stronger sector. And no, I’m not just a fairweather fan of these trends, I have witnessed the long-term benefits of transparency and data-driven grantmaking. They’re here to stay – and for good reason.

One other development in philanthropy I love? Capacity-building grants. More and more foundations are offering this game-changing support, and I believe the social sector is stronger for it.

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Surdna Foundation Has a Plan To Build Strong Local Economies

By Mitch Nauffts, Foundation Center on 05/17/2016

Surdna_strong_economy.jpgYou don't need a political scientist to tell you something is amiss in America. It's there, lurking, in the presidential primary campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, in our social media feeds, in between the lines of recent reports detailing falling mortality rates and rising rates of opioid addiction among working-class Americans.

It's part frustration, part anger, but mostly anxiety about the economy and our economic future. Where have good jobs for average Americans gone? Are technology and globalization benefiting or hurting the economy? And where will new good jobs — the kind that make it possible for young Americans to pay off their student loans, buy a home, raise a family — come from?

Mitch Nauffts of the Foundation Center's Philanthropy News Digest recently spoke with Surdna Foundation's José García about philanthropy's role in building a stronger economy.

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What is the Return on Investment for Grants Management Software?

By Aaron Lester on 05/12/2016

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Grants management software is an investment, no doubt about it. But like all good investments, you should expect positive returns.

And we’re here to tell you: Adopting grants management software is one of the smartest investments you’ll make for your foundation.

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Grants Management Software Implementation? Don't Stress. You've got this!

By Aaron Lester on 05/10/2016

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When you bring up the idea of implementing new technology at your organization, you can be met with skepticism from your team. They might say, “Yes, the technology sounds great, but the implementation will take too long and is difficult," or, "We simply aren’t ready for the change.”

This is a normal response, if not based on myth. Don’t worry. We can help get your team on board, and we can help you prepare for your implementation.

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Transparency and Foundation Results: In Philanthropy, What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

By Nell Edgington, Social Velociy on 05/05/2016

Transparency_blog_Nell.jpgThe Center for Effective Philanthropy’s recent research report, Sharing What Matters: Perspectives on Foundation Transparency, released earlier this year, provides some startling data about the state of transparency in the foundation world.

While for the most part, foundation leaders recognize the importance of transparency and are trying to be more transparent, the report shows there is still much work to do.

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Grants Managers Ask: Do I Even Need Grants Management Software?

By Aaron Lester on 05/03/2016

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Do I really need grants management software? When you get right down to it, what can grants management software do for me and my foundation?

These are great questions – questions every grantmaker who wants to make a greater impact should be asking. To be sure, you may find that new grants management software isn't a priority on your foundation's technology roadmap. That's a call only you and your team can make. But before you make that decision, make sure you know the lay of the land and explore your options.

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Can Grants Management Software Really Alleviate Grantee Burden?

By Aaron Lester on 04/27/2016

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Foundation leaders have told us that before they implemented new grants management software, they worried that a new system, including an online grants application, would be a hassle  for prospective and existing grantees.

It turns out that their personal experience with grants management software has proven otherwise. It busted that myth wide open. These same foundation leaders ultimately found that grants management software didn’t just benefit their own teams – it was also a major win for their grantees.

So, how does good grants management software alleviate the burden from your grantees?

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How The New York Women’s Foundation Changes Women's Lives With Participatory Grantmaking

By Aaron Lester on 04/22/2016

NYWF_blog_image.jpgThe year the New York Women’s Foundation (NYWF) opened shop in a church basement in Manhattan, it dispersed $50,000 to four local groups dedicated to women’s needs. Now, almost 30 years later, NYWF’s funding tops out at $6 million a year, the largest women’s fund in the country and the third largest in the world.

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From Cardboard to the Cloud: The Evolution of Grants Management Systems in an Era of Learning and Collaboration

By Adriana Jimenez on 04/13/2016

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Adriana Jimenez is Director of Grants Management at the ASPCA (formerly grants manager at the Surdna Foundation) and also serves on the board of directors of the Grants Managers Network.  This post was first published on Transparency Talk, a project of the Foundation Center

The Surdna Foundation’s first grants management system was made of cardboard: it was a shoebox filled with index cards. (Next there was a custom-built system, followed by an off-the-shelf installed one). For decades this box served the foundation’s basic record-keeping needs, but technology – and transparency – eventually took precedence.

Now in its 99th year, the foundation has since ditched the cardboard for the cloud. In 2015 Surdna transferred its grantmaking database to the cloud-based grants management system, Fluxx.

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Grants Managing Up: How to Get Your Team to Say Yes to a New Grants Management System

By Eliza Smith on 04/08/2016

say_yes_blog_post.jpgSo, you’ve decided to start using grants management software or switch to a new grants management system at your foundation. Great! Your life is about to get a lot easier. But there’s a hurdle you need to clear before you take take the plunge: You need to convince your team that it’s the right move to make at the right time for your foundation. Pitching new technology can be daunting. We’ve been there. And making the case for implementing a new grants management system can be especially intimidating to those of us who don’t come from a tech background. That’s why we created this three-step plan to get your team to say “yes” to grants management software.

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10 Ways Government Grantmakers Can Improve the Grantmaking Process

By Beth Simone Noveck and Andrew Young on 04/05/2016

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The way government grantmakers and many philanthropic institutions give out money to solve problems is stuck in the past.

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Grants Management Software Fluxx Announces Strategy Pivot, Releases Groundbreaking Product

By Aaron Lester on 04/01/2016

April_1_blog_banner2.jpgSan Francisco – (April 1, 2016) - After six years of developing leading edge, state-of-the-art grants management software, Fluxx Labs announces today that it will be pivoting its strategy to focus all of its resources on locally sourced, handcrafted grantmaking-as-a-service (GaaS) solutions.

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Impact and Evaluation in Philanthropy: The Journey Beyond Quick Fixes

By The Fluxx Impact Team on 03/31/2016

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Like many of you, we have been hearing more and more about the need for evaluating grant outcomes and assessing the impact of philanthropic work. In fact, you cannot attend a conference, read an article, or follow a blog or anyone on Twitter these days without hearing the drumbeat for "Impact! Impact! Impact!"

At Fluxx, we are in full agreement on the need for evaluation as a means to inform funding decisions, to improve the development and implementation of grant services, and to sustain impact over time. The problem that we see, however, is that most of the guidance around assessing impact, and evaluations more generally, are "quick fixes" that lack a meaningful evaluative framework, and neglect to understand that the success and appropriateness of any evaluation are heavily influenced by the program being implemented and the capacity of the organization conducting the evaluation.

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Grantmakers: 3 Reasons Foundations Should Adopt New Technology Now

By Eliza Smith on 03/15/2016

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Measurement and Evaluation: How Do You Know You’re Making an Impact?

By Jason Ricci on 03/11/2016

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How do you know you’re making an impact?

This has become one of the most frequently asked questions by philanthropic leaders in recent years. Perhaps the question gets asked so often because a simple answer is elusive. There is no silver bullet. But answer the question we must.

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Big Ideas in Philanthropy for 2016 and Beyond

By Kerrin Mitchell on 03/02/2016

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Now that we’ve had some time to settle into 2016, it’s time to look ahead ­– to the big ideas and trends that are likely to dominate the conversation in the philanthropic sector for the next 12 months and beyond. From billionaire tech tycoon philanthropy to the smallest crowdfunded community initiative, the year in philanthropy promises to test big ideas and, as always, refine the everyday hard work of grantmaking. Here is our, by no means exhaustive, list. Enjoy.

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4 Reasons Grants Managers Should Never Fear The Cloud

By Eliza Smith on 02/23/2016

Dont_Fear_the_Cloud.jpgCloud computing is everywhere, and it’s here to stay. “[Cloud] technology is no longer novel. In fact it has become the dominant paradigm in IT,” says Jim Lynch, of TechSoup. But despite its pervasive use, 39 percent of all foundations maintain their software and infrastructure in-house, according to a 2014 report co-written by the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and the Grants Managers Network (GMN).

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The Arcus Foundation Transforms How It Makes Grants, And Finds a Single Truth

By Aaron Lester on 02/16/2016

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When Ericka Novotny started at the Arcus Foundation three and a half years ago, part of her job entailed finding a new grants management system for the foundation. At the time, the foundation's system wasn't web-based, and as a result Novotny and her team were having challenges around managing information, including grant data that could be used to tell important stories about the foundation's grantmaking.

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Serving the Public Good, By Invitation Only

By Brad Smith, Foundation Center on 02/11/2016

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Brad Smith is president of Foundation Center.

America's foundations are not particularly interested in receiving your proposal. Earlier this year I did a quick search on Foundation Directory Online (FDO) of the 96,042 independent, company-sponsored, and community foundations based in the U.S. The results were pretty shocking: only 26,663 are willing to accept unsolicited proposals. That's right, 28 percent.

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Foundations: Are You Truly Listening or Just Hearing?

By Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy on 02/09/2016

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Henry Berman is the CEO of Exponent Philanthropy

We live in a non-stop world of communications where we are constantly bombarded with messages. It can be difficult to sort through it all, to understand, to listen. Yet, I wonder if the challenge is in listening or hearing?

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The Christensen Fund Finds Grants Management Software That Grows As the Funder Grows

By Aaron Lester on 02/03/2016

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The San Francisco-based Christensen Fund focuses its philanthropic efforts in regions of the world chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. Most of the foundation’s program officers are located in these regions, including the African Rift Valley, Northwestern Mexico, Melanesia, and Central Asia. 

To fulfill its mission of helping create a more biodiverse world, the Christensen Fund realized it needed a more flexible and forward thinking grants management solution. By early 2013, the foundation knew there was a smarter, more efficient way to award its $15 million of grants a year, and that it was time for a change. 

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Grantmaker Awareness: Essential for Building Sector-Wide Capacity

By Eliza Smith on 01/14/2016

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Philanthropy leaders are at their most strategic and are empowered to build capacity when they have a strong awareness of themselves, their partners, and the field. I'll explain:

Awareness is pretty much the name of our game at the Foundation Center. The organization collects, analyzes, and distributes data about philanthropy, providing various audiences – from foundations to budding nonprofits to established grants managers – a firm understanding of what’s going on in the social sector.

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What My Two-Year-Old Taught Me About Grants Management

By Patrick Taylor on 01/12/2016

 2015-07-06-patrick-taylor-and-rose-610x330.pngThe author, Patrick Taylor of the Zellerbach Family Foundation, and his daughter, Rose.

I am the lucky father of a wonderful two-year-old girl, Rose. She is silly, inquisitive, sweet, curious, playful, cuddly, and a lot of fun. She is also a tough cookie. Anyone who has dealt with a two-year-old knows what irrational balls of anger they can sometimes be. Being a father has taught me a lot of lessons that apply to the world of grants management. After all, in our role as grants managers, we are often in a compliance position, telling people what they can and cannot do, and trying to get sometimes reluctant people to go along with your program.

Here are some of the lessons that being a parent has taught me about  grants management.

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Grantseeking 101: 6 Tips to Find Grants and Smash Your Fundraising Goals

By Aaron Lester on 12/23/2015

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For many nonprofit organizations, the grantseeking process is overwhelming. Every foundation asks for something a little different from their applicants – and after all the hard work, funding is never guaranteed. Maybe you find yourself wondering how you’re ever going to streamline (let alone master) the grantseeking process at your nonprofit. Don't worry. We've got five tips to get you started.

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Your Grants Management Software Buyer's Guide Checklist

By Aaron Lester on 12/21/2015

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Grantmaking can be a complex and time consuming venture, even for relatively small or mid-sized grantmakers, to say nothing of the foundations paying out grants in the millions or even billions of dollars. Managing the entire process – tracking scores of applications, reviewers, requirements, and payments all simultaneously – takes serious planning, foresight, and a good grants management software solution.

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Children's Investment Fund Foundation Uses Data To Change Children's Lives

By Kristy Gannon on 12/18/2015

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Matthew Maguire takes data to heart.

“It’s how we track all of our progress,” says Maguire, a finance business partner at the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation. “Data is what holds us accountable. It’s one of our core values and is driven through everything that we do.”

Maguire and his London-based team have committed to using data to drive decision-making to achieve their mission of creating a world where every child can not only survive, but also thrive.

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Strong Grantee Relationships Enable Critical Impact on Food Safety

By Aaron Lester on 12/15/2015

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Do you endure sleepless nights fretting about the safety of the food you eat at restaurants? Me neither. That’s because we don’t have to.

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Death of Watchdog, Writer Rick Cohen Leaves Void in Nonprofit Community

By Aaron Lester on 11/19/2015

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The nonprofit and philanthropic community lost one of its giants Tuesday. Rick Cohen, the indomitable watchdog, muckraker, and indefatigable journalist, died after he collapsed at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 64 years old.

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ECMC Foundation: A Brand New Grantmaker Hits the Ground Running

By Aaron Lester on 11/18/2015

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ECMC Foundation was founded in 2002, but the foundation took a substantial change in direction in late 2014 to rebuild itself as a grantmaking foundation focused on improving the educational outcomes of underserved populations through evidenced-based innovation.

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Grantmaker Transparency: The Dawn of a New Age in Philanthropy

By Aaron Lester on 11/17/2015

"People tend to be private about love and money, and in philanthropy, it's both," says Janet Camarena, director of transparency initiatives at Foundation Center.

It's only natural that, traditionally, philanthropy has unfolded behind closed doors. On the one hand, the freedom to make personal funding choices gives grantmakers the ability to stay above the fray, uninfluenced by both market and political pressures. On the other hand, it doesn't allow the public to understand, learn from, or think critically about philanthropy.

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The Mitchell Foundation Prepares for Rapid Growth with Fluxx

By Michelle Wohl on 11/13/2015

“Instilling best practices is easier when you’re still small,” says Marilu Hastings, vice president of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation’s Sustainability Program. “That’s why I recommended to the foundation’s president, Katherine Lorenz, that we move to Fluxx now, before the foundation’s programs grow significantly in the next few years.”

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[Infographic] What Do You Know About the Top 5 Grantmaking Foundations in the U.S.?

By Aaron Lester on 11/11/2015

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Select Equity Group Foundation: Building Better Grantee Relationships

By Jaime Morocco on 10/29/2015

 

Rob Wilson was excited to take on the role of the executive director of the Select Equity Group Foundation, but he soon found that the process to get things done was not so simple.

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Blue Shield of California Foundation Focuses On Mission With New Grants Management Software

By Michelle Wohl on 10/27/2015

Blue_Shield_BlogAs Blue Shield of California Foundation began to grow and learn from and interact more with their grantmaking data, Grants and Contracts Manager Gwyneth Tripp recognized the need to move to a grants management solution that would grow with them and, more importantly, evolve with the industry.

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Central Valley Community Foundation Empowered by Greater Efficiency and Quality Data

By Jaime Morocco on 10/22/2015

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Kelvin Alfaro, program officer at the Central Valley Community Foundation (formerly the Fresno Regional Foundation) knew there had to be a way to manage the grantmaking process more efficiently and effectively. Prior to 2013 the foundation was creating their own system of forms which made it tedious and time consuming to manage different grant cycles.   

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Peery Foundation Dives into Data and Brings New Value to Grantees

By Aaron Lester on 10/15/2015

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When the Peery Foundation decided it was time to look for a new grants management solution, the foundation was using three separate tools for their grants management and project management needs. "We were duplicating our efforts when it came to recording our grant information and it was not an efficient use of the team's time," says Jocelyn Rheem, program associate and project lead on the foundation’s search for a new grants management platform.

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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation: Best Practices for a Successful Grants Management Software Implementation

By Michelle Wohl on 10/13/2015

Sloan_Implement_blogAnne McKissick, the director of grants management and information services at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is well-known in the philanthropic community, having spent decades successfully managing grant operations and information services for private foundations. She inherited GIFTS, the grants management platform, when she joined Sloan but she knew that it wouldn’t provide the features that she needed.

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The Best Practices for Improving Grantmaking

By Aaron Lester on 10/08/2015

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Committed grantmakers are always looking to update, revise, and perfect their practices. Ask any grantmaker what they think about the state of their work (or any grantee for that matter), and they’ll probably give you a laundry list of ways they think the grantmaking process could be improved to ultimately make advancements in the issues they care about most.

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Data, Freeing Your Mind, and Philanthropy’s Moral Obligation, A Conversation With Suki O'Kane of the Haas Fund

By Aaron Lester on 10/06/2015

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Access to data has given grantmakers the ability to make informed decisions, understand their progress, and find deeper meaning in their funding choices.  But data collection, data analysis, and finding this deeper meaning don’t always come easy. Many philanthropy professionals probably didn’t envision data wrangling as part of their job description when they decided to enter the field.

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The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Finds Community in a 21st Century Grants Management Solution

By Michelle Wohl on 10/01/2015

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By 2013 Anne McKissick, the director of grants management and information services at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, knew she needed a platform that would automate the grant workflow, provide dashboards upon which to base decisions, allow easy remote access for traveling program directors, facilitate internal and external review of grant proposals, track budgets, and make it easier to communicate with grantees.

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Out-of-the-box or Enterprise: Choosing the Right Grants Management Software

By Michelle Wohl on 09/29/2015

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Are you excited about Fluxx but left wondering which Fluxx Grantmaker platform – Streamline or Enterprise – is right for you?

Whether you are a foundation, corporate giving entity, government, medical research foundation, or nonprofit, we want to help you better understand what each version of our grants management solution brings to the table so that you can make an informed decision that will most benefit your organization’s needs and processes.

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Knight Brings Unprecedented Value to Smaller Grantees

By Aaron Lester on 09/28/2015

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Since early 2013 Knight Foundation has been using Fluxx to optimize its grantmaking processes to fund more grantees in a shorter amount of time, allowing the foundation to concentrate more on portfolio-level strategy.

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Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Finds Insights Through Data

By Jaime Morocco on 09/23/2015

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For 16 years, the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation had been using a widely respected software solution to help keep track of the grantmaking process, but Andrea Dobson, Chief Operating & Financial Officer at the foundation found it tedious and inefficient.

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The DG Murray Trust: Grantmaking that Realizes South Africa’s Potential

By Aaron Lester on 09/21/2015

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In 2011, the South African-based DG Murray Trust began the process of looking for a replacement for its existing grants management solution. The team was feeling constrained by the rigid workflows and lack of an online application. Knowing that a more modern solution was likely available, Sandra Ngwena, the director of operations at DGMT began exploring options.

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Venture Capital and Philanthropic Communities Join Together for Fluxx's Next Stage of Growth

By Jason Ricci on 08/26/2015

 

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As you may have read in Forbes, Fluxx is entering an exciting new phase of growth. We recently raised what we think is the perfect Series A round of funding, with backing from Felicis Ventures and Kresge Foundation.

That the investment comes from both the Silicon Valley venture community and the foundation world is not accidental. Fluxx aims to bring modern, cloud-based technology to the sector, working hand in hand with the philanthropic community to reinvent the way grants management works – empowering both grantmakers and grantseekers to think differently about how they accomplish and report on their missions.

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Nonprofits: How Data Helps You Get Better at What You Do

By Eliza Smith on 08/14/2015

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I’m just going to come right out and say it: data is here to stay. Whether you can’t wait to crunch numbers, or you avoid metrics like the plague, you can’t deny that data helps your nonprofit do better work.

  • Data measures progress: It tells you if you’re working in line with your mission; if you’re providing all you can for your beneficiaries; if you’re making the most of your grant dollars.

  • Data tells you what’s working and what’s not: Do the students in your afterschool programs learn anything? Are they more successful in the classroom?

  • Data helps you scale up (or down): It tells you whether you can offer more programs in a different city, or if you’re trying to tackle too much too soon.

Some nonprofits are already harnessing the power of data, and are pushing its boundaries everyday. Take the Crisis Text Line (CTL), a New York City-based  nonprofit, founded in 2013 by Do Something’s CEO, Nancy Lublin, which provides counseling services via text to individuals in crisis.

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Knight Foundation: Poised to Revolutionize Grantmaking

By Aaron Lester on 08/11/2015

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The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation makes 450 to 500 grants a year worth some $125 million. The foundation is considered one of the premier grantmakers in the country. But that didn’t stop the folks at Knight from wanting to be even more impactful.

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What Should My Grants Management Solution Do for Me?

By Aaron Lester on 08/03/2015

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Grantmaking can be a complex and time consuming venture, even for relatively small or mid-sized grantmakers, to say nothing of the foundations paying out grants in the millions or even billions of dollars. Managing the entire process – tracking scores of applications, reviewers, requirements, and payments all simultaneously – takes serious planning, foresight, and a good grants management software solution.

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What is Grantmaking Data and Why is it Important?

By Aaron Lester on 07/22/2015

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The world is a complex place. No one knows this better than the people who make it their mission to help solve today’s most urgent problems.

Increasingly, foundations and other grantmakers are turning to the power of data – and technology that makes access to that data possible – to help navigate the complexities of making change in a hyper-connected, interdependent world.

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Beyond the Numbers: The Future of Measuring Impact

By Kristy Gannon on 06/27/2015

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Philanthropy, Big Data, and the Evolution of the Grants Manager

By Aaron Lester on 06/22/2015

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The world is a complex place. No one knows this better than the people who make it their mission to help solve today’s most urgent problems.

Increasingly, foundations and other grantmakers are turning to the power of data – and technology that now makes access to that data possible – to help navigate the complexities of making change in a hyper-connected, interdependent world.

Topics: Philanthropy
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The Future of Grantmaking: 3 Principles

By Aaron Lester on 06/11/2015

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I believe the future of philanthropy is a transparent, accessible and ultimately more connected space, which will allow more vital resources to flow to the people and organizations working to make the world better.

Topics: Philanthropy
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How to Plan A Conference That Doesn't Suck

By Aaron Lester on 06/08/2015

unconference_collage_4Scenes from the 2015 Fluxx (Un)Conference

From the moment we decided to bring the entire Fluxx community together to learn, share, and collaborate in an urban winery in San Francisco for two days, we knew the folks who use Fluxx everyday to manage their grants had to play the starring role.

And that’s exactly what they did. In fact, they were super stars.

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10 Ways Foundations Roadblock Grantee Access

By Kris Putnam-Walkerly on 05/07/2015

10 Barriers for Grantees

Topics: Philanthropy
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Infographic: Foundations Lag in Funding Nonprofit Evaluation

By Aaron Lester on 04/17/2015

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Report: Foundations Lag in Funding Nonprofit Evaluation

By Aaron Lester on 04/15/2015

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Philanthropy and Transparency: Ford Foundation Sheds Light on Grantees' Work

By Eliza Smith on 03/09/2015

Philanthropy and the Digital Commons
This blog post first appeard on Transparency Talk, the Glasspockets blog. Glasspockets is a Foundation Center initiative that champions philanthropic transparency in an online world.

On February 1, The Ford Foundation adopted an open licensing policy via Creative Commons so that it can share its grantees’ innovative work, from research reports and evaluation findings, to white papers and websites. Creative Commons is a nonprofit “that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.” Many foundations produce knowledge in the form of publications and reports, but few take the time to think beyond their own use of that knowledge. By embracing open licensing, the Ford Foundation is encouraging others to build on its work, which has great potential to increase its impact and reach.

Topics: Philanthropy
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Grants Managers: Blurring the Lines Inside Philanthropy

By Sara Davis on 01/26/2015

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Philanthropy and Collaboration: Where Do We Stand Now?

By Aaron Lester on 01/12/2015

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Grantmaker Tools: Why Foundations Shouldn't Fear Implementing New Technology

By Aaron Lester on 12/08/2014

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Foundations and the Transparency Mindset: What's in it for Philanthropy?

By Jason Ricci on 11/13/2014

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Welcome to the Fluxx Blog: The Unexpected Journey

By Jason Ricci on 11/12/2014

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Topics: Who We Are
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Why Are Foundation Leaders Slow to Adopt New Technology?

By Aaron Lester on 10/08/2014

Philanthropy and Tech

Foundation executives are behind the times when it comes to adopting new technology, according to the results of a recent survey. The report may leave you wondering if there isn't a missed opportunity for grantmakers to amplify their work – and in turn, their grantees' work – through the smart use of new technology.

“Grantmakers are not keeping up with the pace of technology,” said Michelle Greanias, executive director of the Grants Managers Network (GMN). “This can lead to a host of issues that affect not only funders but their grantees, who have to work within the technology constraints of foundations.”

Only 23 percent of foundations indicated that their executives totally understand the benefits of technology and 66 percent said their executives were “supportive but not very knowledgeable,” according to the report, produced jointly by the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) and GMN.

The majority of foundations report that technology is causing some change within their organizations, but less than 20 percent describe that change as “transformative.” And almost half of survey respondents described their technology adoption as “lags behind,” according to the report.

To be sure, technology does not cure all. And it makes good sense for foundations to place the utmost priority on program-related business. It may be time for some foundations to look more closely at how technology can support their programs.

“While many foundations are very progressive with respect to their grantmaking programs, they are not nearly as forward-thinking with respect to the strategic use of technology in their business practices,” said Lisa Pool, executive director of TAG.

Take grants management software: Foundations are gradually becoming paperless operations as they continue to implement online grant applications, electronic workflow, and document management software. Twenty percent of foundations reported they have an entirely paperless grants process, up 6 percent from 2012.

But with a less than enthusiastic embrace of new technology, are foundations getting the most out of their grants management systems? Not likely, according to Pool.

There have never been as many grants management tools available, said Pool, but it’s hard for staff to take full advantage of the software’s potential given the lack of strategic vision and comfort with technology reported for most foundation leaders.

Underscoring the point, it seems that the majority of foundations don’t see the value in technology planning for the future.

Only 23 percent of respondents said they have a technology plan that has been updated within the last two years, while an additional 15 percent reported they have a plan but it has not been updated, according to the report. “A Total of 62 percent of respondents reported they did not have a technology plan at all.”

All these results point to foundation leaders – and foundations themselves – not being ready for newer technologies that are replacing familiar but outdated systems, the authors conclude.

A side note: There has been a huge increase of foundations using dashboards and other tools to track outcomes. The use of operational dashboards increased from 16 percent in 2012 to 67 percent in 2014. Interestingly there has been a small decrease in the use of programmatic dashboards. Forty-two percent of respondents said they used a business intelligence or analytics tool.

But why aren’t foundations more foreword thinking when it comes to adopting new technology on a broader scale?

Though cost and staffing concerns play a significant role in foundations’ resistance to new technology, there are other factors to consider.

Foundations have limited external accountability, which in many ways, is a great strength. It gives foundations the independence and freedom to do something bold, unpopular, unconventional, according to the PhilanthropyRoundtable. But this also can leave foundation leaders in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” stance when it comes to new technology. They may not feel the urgency the same way a bottom-line driven business does. Or they believe every minute spent focusing on technology is a minute spent away from achieving their core mission.

It's clear, though, that how foundations view new technology is beginning to change to some degree, as the survey results show. For example, 68 percent of foundations will have replaced their grants management software between 2007 and 2015. That’s a lot of new technology implementation going on.

If the corporate and consumer markets are any indication, the rate of adoption will only grow exponentially. And the products to serve them will only improve.

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Data Philanthropy: How the Private Sector Can Use Its Data for Good

By Matt Stempeck on 09/03/2014

 
This post originally appeared on Harvard Business Review's HBR Blog Network with the title, "Sharing Data Is a Form of Corporate Philanthropy," on July 24, 2014.

Ever since the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was signed in 1999, satellite companies like DMC International Imaging have had a clear protocol with which to provide valuable imagery to public actors in times of crisis. In a single week this February, DMCii tasked its fleet of satellites on flooding in the United Kingdom, fires in India, floods in Zimbabwe, and snow in South Korea. Official crisis response departments and relevant UN departments can request on-demand access to the visuals captured by these “eyes in the sky” to better assess damage and coordinate relief efforts.

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Lessons from Knight Foundation: How to Beef Up Your Data Game

By Jon Sotsky on 08/21/2014

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Funder Collaboration: Can Philanthropy Really Join Hands and Sing in Harmony?

By Aaron Lester on 08/11/2014

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Foundations Are From Mars, Nonprofits Are From Venus

By Aaron Lester on 07/24/2014

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Can Cash End Poverty?

By Aaron Lester on 06/30/2014

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Topics: Philanthropy
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Why Are So Many Black Grantmakers Leaving Philanthropy?

By Aaron Lester on 06/17/2014

On the Move

Despite recent efforts by the philanthropic community to increase diversity within the sector, little progress has been made, according to a recent study conducted by the Association of Black Foundation Executives.

Only 3 percent of philanthropic institutions are led by black chief executives, according to the study. And the percent of black individuals holding trustee positions remains stagnant at 7 percent, reports ABFE.

Topics: Philanthropy
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Strategic Philanthropy's Growing Pains

By Aaron Lester on 06/12/2014

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Topics: Philanthropy
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