Aaron Lester


Recent Posts

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

By Aaron Lester on 04/20/2017

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


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: Best Practices to Improve Your Foundation’s Unique Grant Process

By Aaron Lester on 04/04/2017

Unfortunately, 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

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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5 Reasons the Future of Grantmaking is Mobile

By Aaron Lester on 02/14/2017

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

By Aaron Lester on 01/24/2017

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

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

By Aaron Lester on 12/23/2016

The 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

We 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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4 Steps to a Strategically Aligned Technology Plan

By Aaron Lester on 12/01/2016

Grantmaking 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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