Most people think of philanthropy as a niche, feel-good space supported by simple donations rather than the massive global market that it is. A market that continues to affect policy and change millions of lives worldwide. The nonprofit space currently encompasses an impressive 2.1 percent of the total U.S. GDP, mobilizing over 1.5 million nonprofit and funder organizations, and $410 billion of investments in the social sector.
Trust is rarely given freely - it’s earned. This is a lesson for-profit organizations often learn the hard way when a PR disaster strikes. Nonprofits, on the other hand, can face an uphill battle from the get-go. Whether we like it or not, the philanthropic industry is judged on measures that don’t always fit their models or reflect their impact. And, when your organization’s entire existence depends on fundraising, trust is even more critical. As new research from GuideStar reaffirms, transparency plays a major role in building trust with donors and constituents: “Donors give more to transparent nonprofits and transparent organizations tend to be stronger organizations.” So exhibiting transparency is a critical way to demonstrate trustworthiness from the start, encourage the donations you need, and keep your mission moving forward.
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:
This 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
Transparency and Foundation Results: In Philanthropy, What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander
The 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.
The way government grantmakers and many philanthropic institutions give out money to solve problems is stuck in the past.
"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.