NNCG Knowledge Center

Inform Your Practice. Increase Your Impact.

Welcome to NNCG's Knowledge Center -- a searchable, online database of resources for and about grantmaking, produced by highly qualified and experienced philanthropy consultants. NNCG's Knowledge Center contains a wealth of reports, case studies, infographics, issue briefs, videos and more that offer ideas, research and helpful information about almost every aspect of philanthropy. Each item was authored or published by an NNCG member. NNCG constructed the Knowledge Center in partnership with Candid -- one of the most respected and trusted sources of information in the philanthropic field.
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Better Outcomes, Lower Costs: How Community-Based Funders Can Transform U.S. Health Care

June 1, 2012

Mark Kramer and Dr. Atul Gawande discuss the untapped potential for community-based funders to transform the cost and quality of health care in the United States. Individually, these funders have the opportunity to make a profound and lasting impact on the health of their communities; together, they have the opportunity to create a national movement to achieve better outcomes at lower cost.

Channeling Change: Making Collective Impact Work

January 20, 2012

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations. Substantially greater progress could be made in alleviating many of our most serious and complex social problems if nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public were brought together around a common agenda to create collective impact. Published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011.

Collective Impact

January 1, 2011

Large-scale social change requires broad cross-sector coordination, yet the social sector remains focused on the isolated intervention of individual organizations. Substantially greater progress could be made in alleviating many of our most serious and complex social problems if nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public were brought together around a common agenda to create collective impact. Published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Winter 2011.

Maximizing Impact: An Integrated Strategy for Grantmaking and Mission Investing in Climate Change

May 15, 2010

With funding from The Surdna Foundation, FSG has developed this report to help foundations identify how various mission investing instruments and opportunities can help them create greater impact. Guided by an expert Advisory Board and based on interviews with more than 50 practitioners from the field, the report provides a framework for foundations to think about how mission investments can create the greatest impact when combined with grants in an integrated program portfolio, with a specific focus on climate change.

Catalytic Philanthropy

September 1, 2009

Despite spending vast amounts of money and helping to create the world's largest nonprofit sector, philanthropists have fallen far short of solving America's most pressing problems. What the nation needs is Catalytic Philanthropy -- a new approach that is already being practiced by some of the most innovative donors.

Breakthroughs in Shared Measurement and Social Impact

July 23, 2009

A surprising new breakthrough is emerging in the social sector: A handful of innovative organizations have developed web-based systems for reporting the performance, measuring the outcomes, and coordinating the efforts of hundreds or even thousands of social enterprises within a field. These nascent efforts carry implications well beyond performance measurement, foreshadowing the possibility of profound changes in the vision and effectiveness of the entire nonprofit sector. This paper, based on six months of interviews and research by FSG Social Impact Advisors, examines twenty efforts to develop shared approaches to performance, outcome, or impact measurement across multiple organizations. The accompanying appendices include a short description of each system and four more in-depth case studies.

What's the Difference? How Foundation Trustees View Evaluation

May 1, 2009

Trustee Evaluation ToolkitTrustees care deeply about impact. Understanding results is part of their fiduciary duty. As foundations strive to improve performance, advance accountability and share knowledge, their desire for evaluation -- reliable data on organizational effectiveness -- grows. Based on discussions with trustees, we've heard that current evaluation approaches don't always generate useful information. In too many cases, foundation evaluation practices don't align with trustee needs. Trustees across the United States believe there are ways to improve how we determine the effectiveness of social investments. FSG Social Impact Advisors, with funding from the James Irvine Foundation, interviewed dozens of foundation trustees, CEOs and evaluation experts to uncover critical issues and exciting ideas related to evaluation. This "toolkit" shares highlights from these interviews, and explores innovative new approaches.

Risk, Return and Social Impact: Demystifying the Law of Mission Investing by U.S. Foundations

October 1, 2008

Discusses in detail the legal aspects of mission-related investing, including federal and state fiduciary laws, foundations' fiduciary responsibility, and emerging practices, and makes recommendations. Includes examples of investments and case studies.

A Brief Guide to the Law of Mission Investing for U.S. Foundations

October 1, 2008

U.S foundations have considerable freedom to invest their assets in ways that further their missions, even at greater risk or lower financial return. The legal framework that governs the investment of foundation assets is both complex and ambiguous, however, with the result that many foundation leaders and investment advisors are unclear about what is legally permissible. Anne Stetson and Mark Kramer of FSG have prepared two reports, in consultation with nationally-recognized legal experts and senior foundation officers, analyzing the federal tax and state fiduciary laws as they apply to US foundations. In addition to legal analysis, the reports provide practical recommendations as to how foundations can best navigate these laws in making mission-related or program-related investments. A Brief Guide to the Law of Mission Investing for U.S. Foundations is a short 18 page booklet, suitable for foundation staff and boards, as well as their advisors, explaining in non-technical language the factors foundations must consider in making mission investments.

Aggregating Impact: A Funder's Guide to Mission Investment Intermediaries

November 1, 2007

This report provides a guide to mission investment intermediaries, organizations that collect capital from multiple sources and reinvest it in people and enterprises, whether nonprofit or for-profit, that deliver both social impact and financial returns. A growing number of foundations and other funders are beginning to use such intermediaries versus making mission investments directly. This is due to a number of advantages that intermediaries can provide, such as ease of investment, reduced risk, lower transaction costs, specialized expertise, performance reporting, and an expanded deal flow. Yet research disclosed that many funders are unaware of the wide range of mission investment intermediaries that are available and of the advantages they can offer. The authors provide an overview of mission investment intermediaries and how foundations use them, the benefits and challenges of investing in intermediaries, and an analysis of available intermediaries that address economic development, housing and the environment.

The Power of Strategic Mission Investing

October 1, 2007

A growing number of foundations are offering low-interest loans, buying into green business ventures, and investing in other asset classes to advance their missions. Yet most mission investing remains haphazard and inconsequential. To bring about real change, foundations need to take a fundamentally different approach, making strategic mission investments that complement their grantmaking. Authors Mark Kramer and Sarah Cooch talk about strategic mission investing in the Fall 2007 issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review.

From Insight to Action: New Directions in Foundation Evaluation

April 15, 2007

The field of philanthropy is undergoing a fundamental transition toward more performance-centered and forward-looking evaluation approaches that provide foundations and their grantees with timely information and actionable insights. Our report highlights emerging evaluation practices and identifies major trends in the field related to increasing effectiveness for both foundations and grantees. Based on nearly 100 interviews with foundation leaders and evaluators, this report represents the first step in a multi-year action initiative to develop pragmatic evaluation approaches that enable foundations, large or small, to achieve greater social impact.

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