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?

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

How Foundations Can Empower Grantseekers and Reduce Grantee Burden

By Aaron Lester on 10/24/2016

grantee_burden_blog 2.jpg

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.

Continue Reading

Grants Management and the Foundation of the Future

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

future_foundation_blog.jpg

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.”

Continue Reading

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

By Eliza Smith on 05/20/2016

capacity_building.jpg

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.

Continue Reading

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all