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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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