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Philanthropy Resource Library

Getting Started | Setting Strategy | Measuring Success | Collaboration | Researching Nonprofits | Philanthropist Spotlights



Getting Started

Starting Your Philanthropic Journey
Becoming a more effective philanthropist is a journey. Our guide helps you diagnose where you are on this path, offers targeted questions to answer, and practical steps to take for each stage, using real-life examples.

Finding Your Philanthropy Compass
With so many deserving causes in the world, getting clarity on how to translate your beliefs and values into philanthropic goals and strategies can feel impossible. This toolkit—complete with worksheets and checklists—can help.

Getting Started Resource Library
Looking for a guide on how to create more effective philanthropy today? Use this short document to find key resources for getting started.

Give Smart: The Book
Giving away money is easy. Getting ever-improving results for your money is a lot harder. Confronting six essential questions can help you achieve the success you want.

Philanthropy, a Labor of Love: Nine Donors Share Inspirational Wisdom
For many philanthropists, tackling society's toughest problems instills a profound sense of meaning and satisfaction. Here's what that means for nine donors.

Five Common Traps Philanthropists Should Avoid
Want to get further with your philanthropy faster? Leapfrog over five traps that philanthropists often fall into.

How Do I Work with My Family to Achieve High-Impact Philanthropy?
Getting the best possible results with your philanthropy and preserving important social bonds can sometimes require trade-offs. This guide helps you balance strategy while honoring your family relationships.

Crafting Your Legacy: A Cautionary Tale
Being clear about your values will make it much easier to achieve alignment with family, friends, advisors, and others around you. It will force differences of opinion to the surface and perhaps head off trouble down the road.

Videos

A Key Moment
After visiting Afghanistan, Connie Duckworth knew she had to do something.

Philanthropy Influence
A young Stanley Druckenmiller was inspired by the example of George Soros.

Deciding to Focus on Philanthropy
Darren Walker traded success on Wall Street for a career in philanthropy.

Nontraditional Philanthropy
Pierre Omidyar discusses his move away from a traditional foundation.

Setting Strategy

Six Questions That Can Guide You to Philanthropy Success
Philanthropy is truly complex, and you will likely face difficult choices and obstacles along the way. Getting clear on your answers to these six questions can help.

Six Pathways to Enduring Results: Lessons from Spend-Down Foundations
If you've decided to sunset your philanthropy, you'll still want to create lasting effects. Here are six paths to doing so and advice on choosing which works best for your goals.

Pam Omidyar and the Science of Giving
Pam Omidyar's philanthropic work—including founding or co-founding the Omidyar Network, HopeLab, and Humanity United—demonstrates how she has turned her passions into social change.

Defining What Philanthropic Success Means to You
A personal definition of success will provide a focus for your work, convey the boundaries of your giving, guide those supporting you, and determine the path forward. Here's how to develop yours.

Which Legal Structure or Structures Should I Use to Give My Money Away?
This guide lays out the range of options for structuring your philanthropy, and offers the pros and cons of each option.

Impact Investing: Should Philanthropists Consider It?
Impact investing offers donors the option to invest for profit while also supporting a social cause. This guide will help you think about whether impact investing might be for you.

Five Traits of Adaptive Philanthropists
In today's uncertain and constantly changing world, many philanthropists find that embracing a more flexible, responsive approach yields greater results.

Should I Give Anonymously or Publicly?
Whether or not you "go public" is a matter of strategy and personal style. Ask yourself, given the change you want to see in the world, what’s the right approach?

Decision-making in Family Foundations
Achieving results demands clarity about how decisions are made, and the discipline to make them within the context of your theory of change—even when family relationships are involved.

How to Think About Your First Hire
Your first hire represents a new stage in your philanthropy, and sets it in a new direction. It is, simply, the most important staffing decision you will make. What can help you get it right?

More than Money: Executive Summary (The Center for Effective Philanthropy)
As a donor, you have more than just a check to offer the organizations you fund. But how do you decide what that "more" should be?


Videos

Addressing Childhood Obesity
Risa Lavizzo-Mourey discusses her approach to a complicated problem.

Breakthroughs in Education Reform
Barbara and Pitt Hyde worked for years to create “overnight success.”

Provide Tools to Grow
Neeru Khosla believes in providing opportunity, not enabling dependency.

Impact in Social Entrepreneurship
Bill Draper invests in the best social entrepreneurs, not a particular cause.

Measuring Success

How Philanthropists Can Measure Performance
What is the best way to evaluate grantee performance—and your own—when the clear markers of success can be a moving target? Our guide offers important considerations and helpful advice.

Steve Hilton on Measuring Philanthropic Impact
Don't just look at the surface—such as the provision of wells for clean water—says Hilton. If a woman pours her clean water into a dirty jar, then impact is lost. You need to “try to understand what's happening further down.”

Geek Cities: How Smarter Use of Data and Evidence Can Improve Lives
More and more forward-thinking cities are using hard data and evidence to steer funding decisions and set priorities. The result is innovation and delivery of better services to their residents.

How Metrics Can Encourage Innovation
Co-founder of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Jenny Shilling Stein discusses how a learning agenda can help funders and grantees adjust metrics to foster experimentation, learning, and adaptation.

Philanthropist Padmini Somani on Changing a Social Norm
Padmini Somani, head of two different foundations, discusses the nuances of using data and measurement to determine strategy.

The GreenLight Fund: Proudly Not Invented Here
What is the best way to help proven nonprofit models spread to new cities? John Simon tried several tactics—and then invented a new approach.

Mario Morino on Why Philanthropists Should Help Nonprofits Focus on Outcomes
Venture Philanthropy Partner's Founding Chairman believes that excellence must be self-imposed and that donors should help their grantees create a results-focused culture.

Getting Better Over Time
To be a successful philanthropist, you’ll need to make good decisions about how to spend your money, time and influence. But you also need a means for constantly getting better over time.

Videos

“Be Fearless”
Jean and Steve Case risk failure for the sake of transformative change.

When to Redefine Success
Emmett Carson prefers adaptive strategies to all-or-nothing stands.

Proven Results
Michael Steinhardt gives Jewish kids the experience of a lifetime.

Making a Difference
How Herb Sandler’s ProPublica drove Governor Schwarzenegger to action.

Collaboration

Collaborating with Government and Communities
Government funding and policy affect virtually all ambitious philanthropic pursuits. That's why we've created resources to help guide you when working with and around government to achieve your goals.

Collaborating with Other Philanthropists
Our resources offer guidance on when to consider collaborating with other philanthropists and how to create effective partnerships, as well as real-life examples of how other donors managed this tricky process.

Collaborating with Nonprofits
Every stage in the philanthropic process affects the donor-grantee relationship. Our resources can help you forge strong partnerships with your grantees to encourage greater philanthropic success.

Transformative Scale: The Future of Growing What Works
How can we massively expand proven programs to deliver impact that truly meets needs? These nine strategies offer ideas on how to create such transformative change.

The Donor-Grantee Trap
We assess why ineffective collaboration undermines philanthropic results for society, and offer advice on creating true partnerships.

High Stakes Donor Collaborations
Although few funders take full advantage of collaboration's benefits, partnering with others can help stretch limited resources for maximum results. Here's how to know if collaboration is for you—and how to make it work.

Philanthropy in the New Age of Government Austerity
How should philanthropy work with government to address social sector problems? This article offers three promising approaches to consider.

Saying Goodbye: Exiting Grantee Relationships With Care
Regardless of why you are saying goodbye, here are three good reasons to invest in managing transitions carefully.

Partnering for Results
Don’t assume you have to go it alone when investing your time, money, and talents to get results with your philanthropy.

How Strong Are Your Relationships with Your Grantees?
Are you and your current grantees functioning as true partners—or train wrecks? These strategies for building successful partnerships will help you and your grantees boost each other’s ability to get results.

How Do I Build Strong Relationships with Grantees?
As a donor, your grantees' results are your results—they are creating change for the people and causes you care most passionately about. So collaborating effectively with your grantees is a critical step on your journey from aspirations to real results.

How Can a Philanthropist Support Nonprofits Beyond Money?
Supporting grantee organizations well requires two primary approaches. First, think broadly about how you can help an organization reach its goals. Second, communicate your own goals and strategy clearly and consistently to grantees, and make sure that your interactions are characterized by fairness, responsiveness, and approachability.

Components of an Effective Donor-Grantee Relationship
Developing an effective relationship with your grantees, one that each of you might honestly characterize as a partnership, is not all that different from developing any other healthy human relationship.

Videos

Bring an Open Mind
Desh Deshpande says solutions come from collaborating with beneficiaries.

Brokering Partnerships
How Kelvin Taketa helped the Omidyars jumpstart Hawaii’s IT.

Donor-Grantee Partnership
Josh Bekenstein says grantees help him achieve his goals.

Ensuring Growth for Grantees
Why Nancy Roob and the EMCF raised an additional $90 million for grantees.

Collaborating with Other Philanthropists

Transformative Scale: The Future of Growing What Works
How can we massively expand proven programs to deliver impact that truly meets needs? These nine strategies offer ideas on how to create such transformative change.

How Philanthropists Can Collaborate for Better Results
If you're a philanthropist who hopes to tackle society's most pressing problems, collaboration is essential to success. Here’s how to create effective partnerships that create impact.

High Stakes Donor Collaborations
Although few funders take full advantage of collaboratio's benefits, partnering with others can help stretch limited resources for maximum results. Here's how to know if collaboration is for you—and how to make it work.

Collaborating with Government and Communities
Government funding and policy affect virtually all ambitious philanthropic pursuits. That's why we've created resources to help guide you when working with and around government to achieve your goals.

How Jeff Walker and NPower Teamed Up
Walker began with a desire to help nonprofits that were struggling with technology. Then he discovered that a nonprofit with a similar mission already existed.

Edna McConnell Clark Foundation CEO Nancy Roob Discusses Donor Collaboration
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation unveiled a new approach to fuel the growth of three of its high-performing grantees—and in turn is helping more youth.

Collaboration's Payoff
Thanks to Charles Bronfman's and Michael Steinhardt's partnership, Taglit-Birthright Israel was created, enabling thousands of Jewish young people to experience the birthplace of their religion and culture.

Videos

Resources, Knowledge, “Credibility”
Ken Levit discusses the benefits of collaboration.

Changes in Collaboration
Melinda Gates says partnering “has grown exponentially.”

Power in Numbers
Geoff Boisi says philanthropists can increase impact by working together.

What Makes a True Collaboration?
Emmett Carson says collaboration needs shared targets, decision-making.

Collaborating with Government and Communities

Needle–Moving Community Collaboratives: A Promising Approach to Change
Description

A Philanthropist's Guide to Working with Government and Local Communities
No matter what your philanthropic quest is, government funding and policy is bound to affect your philanthropy. Here's how to work with and around government.

Philanthropy in the New Age of Government Austerity
How should philanthropy work with government to address social sector problems? This article offers three promising approaches to consider.

Geek Cities: How Smarter Use of Data and Evidence Can Improve Lives
More and more forward-thinking cities are using hard data and evidence to steer funding decisions and set priorities. The result is innovation and delivery of better services to their residents.

12 Case Studies of Community Collaboratives
Community collaboratives have tackled a range of problems with promising results. Here's a look at 12 of the most effective.

Geek Cities: Overview of City Innovations
From a pre-K evidence-based initiative to a new way of budgeting that changes the way funding decisions are made, here's a look at some noteworthy uses of data and evidence happening in cities today.

The Broad Foundation: Transforming Urban Public Education Through Leadership
Eli Broad used the business principles of focusing on effective leadership and results to help transform America's public school systems.

Videos

Reforming Education
Pitt Hyde discusses SCORE and Tennessee's education reform.

Going Beyond Government
Carrie Avery says philanthropy should do what government can't.

Good Versus Bad Collaboration
Emmett Carson of the SVCF describes the differences.

How to Scale
Desh Deshpande discusses the roles of government and philanthropy.

Collaborating with Nonprofits

The Donor-Grantee Trap
We assess why ineffective collaboration undermines philanthropic results for society, and offer advice on creating true partnerships.

A Philanthropist's Guide to Partnering with Nonprofits for Success
As a philanthropist, your results depend on choosing the right nonprofits to fund and on your ability to build effective partnerships with them.

Donor Decision Tool: Your Guide to Nonprofit Due Diligence
Should you fund a particular nonprofit? Our step-by-step guides on researching a potential grantee will lead you through the entire nonprofit due diligence process.

Nonprofit Starvation Cycle
Lack of funding for good overhead leaves nonprofits so hungry for decent infrastructure that they can barely function—let alone serve their beneficiaries. To break this vicious cycle, funders must take the lead.

Business Planning for Nonprofits: What It Is and Why It Matters
The business-planning process offers a time to connect the dots between mission and programs, to specify the resources needed, and to establish performance measures to track results.

Building Strong Relationships with Grantees
As a donor, your grantees’ results are your results. Our guide offers ideas on how to create shared goals and a productive working relationship.

Finding Your Funding Model: A Practical Approach to Nonprofit Sustainability
Our toolkit provides guidance on identifying and developing funding models that can best position nonprofits for success.

Videos

The Power of Collaboration
Darren Walker discusses how low-income housing was increased.

How to Strengthen Nonprofits
Nancy Roob and EMCF provide comprehensive support to grantees.

Long-Term Commitments
David Rubenstein commits to making organizations better.

Ask First
Richard Atlas gets grantees to identify what they need.

Researching Nonprofits

Your Guide to Nonprofit Due Diligence
Should you fund a particular nonprofit? Our step-by-step guides on researching a potential grantee will lead you through the entire nonprofit due diligence process.

Four Tips for Maximizing Your Nonprofit Research
Whether you’re considering making a small or large grant, these four tips can help guide your nonprofit due diligence.

Worksheet to Guide and Track Your Nonprofit Due Diligence
Our at-a-glance guide presents questions you'll want to ask when researching a

Guide to Interviewing a Nonprofit's Leader
Talking with the executive director of a potential grantee can provide insight into how he or she thinks about challenges and whether there’s potential to build a strong working relationship. Here’s how to make the most of your meeting.

Why Philanthropists Should Focus on Outcomes, Not Overhead
Overhead is a poor measure of a nonprofit’s performance, says Ann Goggins Gregory. Instead, consider focusing on transparency, governance, leadership, and results.

The In-Depth Guide to Researching a Nonprofit's Financial Strength
Delving into a potential grantee’s financial situation helps uncover its long-term prospects, its ability to put additional funds to good use, and the areas it needs support.

Resources on Philanthropist-Nonprofit Collaboration
Every stage in the philanthropic process affects the donor-grantee relationship. Our resources can help you forge strong partnerships with your grantees for greater success.

Videos

Finding the Right Grantees
How Mario Morino and VPP went from 3,400 options to 34.

Firsthand Lessons on Due Diligence
Carolyn Lynch shares ”two of the most important lessons” she’s learned.

One Donor's Due Diligence
David Weekley discusses how he screens potential grantees.

Questions for Potential Grantees
Eli Broad’s philanthropic investments must pass three tests.

Philanthropist Spotlights

Spotlights on Philanthropic Strategies
We delve into the philanthropy strategy of remarkable philanthropists such as Melinda Gates, Darren Walker, Pierre Omidyar, and a host of others, to provide important philanthropic lessons for all funders.

The New Breed of Philanthropist: Younger, Innovative, and Involved
More philanthropists are getting serious about giving at a younger age, and they bring with them an innovative mindset to solving social problems that they're using to forge new paths.

How Four Philanthropists Are Innovating Medical Research
Philanthropists provide only a small percentage of medical research funding, yet they may well prove crucial to the future of medical research. Four donors show how.

Video Interviews with Remarkable Givers
In frank and candid conversations, leading philanthropists share how they include family, choose causes to champion, work with grantees to implement their vision, define success, and measure results.

Carrie Avery on Getting Dramatic Results with Relatively Small Grants
The Durfee Sabbatical Program highlights how one foundation gets the most out of philanthropic dollars.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein Recommends Giving More Than Money
David Rubenstein says, “I tell everybody if you want to be a good philanthropist you don't just have to give away money: Give away your time, your energy, your ideas.”

The Bold Philanthropy of Laura and John Arnold Embraces Risks and Bets Big
The LJAF's founders seek transformational change in their philanthropy. To achieve the results they seek, they take a portfolio approach that includes a high tolerance for risk.

Videos

A Collaborative Philanthropy
Michael J. Fox and Deborah W. Brooks believe in involving patients.

Engaging in Philanthropy Today
Bernie Marcus explains why he gives while he lives.

Keep Support General
Paul Brest and the Hewlett Foundation help pay nonprofits' heating bills.

The Case for Family Planning
Melinda Gates says empowering mothers to plan their families is crucial.

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