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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Leveraging Effective Consulting to Advance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Philanthropy

September 1, 2019

In 2018, the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers launched an initiative to sharpen the impact of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work in grantmaking by increasing the capacity of consultants and grantmakers engaged in these efforts. Network researchers used a systematic protocol to interview consultant members about their most effective partnerships with grantmakers. Case studies drawn from those interviews yielded valuable lessons for advancing DEI in philanthropy.In sharing some of these lessons, this article advises consultants to be prepared to help grantmakers define or refine the meaning of DEI and understand where equity fits into their values and mission. It also explores how a good DEI consulting process helps to distinguish technical and complex dimensions of a DEI commitment, and how the scope of work should encompass both development of internal leadership skills and investment in grantee, community, and issue leaders.This article concludes with tips on how smart DEI consultant/grantmaker partnerships can understand and honor emergent strategy and help the funder follow opportunities without overwhelming the size and scale of the funder's capacity.

Cricket Island Foundation: A Case Study of a Small Foundation’s Impact Assessment

June 1, 2018

In 2015, the Cricket Island Foundation conducted a multimethod assessment of its grantmaking portfolio to examine its impact and inform future decision-making and strategy. The foundation, which supports youth-led social change using a cohort-based model, focuses on emerging and medium-sized organizations and provides capacity-building supports to help organizations achieve greater organizational sustainability. The assessment focused on two of the foundation's three cohorts and found positive trends in five key areas of desired impact: organizational capacity, youth leadership, nonprofit executive leadership, grantee collaboration and learning, and funder policy and practice. The assessment also identified areas for improvement to strengthen future impact, and prompted a review and update of the foundation's ongoing protocols for tracking its progress. This article will explore what was learned from a model of providing long-term capacity-building investments to grassroots organizations, and discuss the ways in which even small foundations can implement meaningful assessment protocols while minimizing data-collection burdens on grantee partners.

The Missing Link for Maximizing Impact: Foundations Assessing Their Capacity

June 30, 2017

A rapidly changing, global sociopolitical environment requires foundations to be nimble in maximizing opportunities to advance their agendas. At the same time, grantmakers are establishing ever more ambitious goals that often require grantees to function at peak capacity. Why, then, have more foundations not assessed their own institutional capacity? This article discusses an assessment of 54 foundations that participated in taking a new tool, developed for funders by TCC Group, to explore five core capacity areas shown to be central to organizational effectiveness. The Foundation Core Capacity Assessment Tool's findings should not be seen as a report card, but rather a data-driven prompt for reflection and collective learning. While a diverse set of funders participated in this assessment, a larger pool will be needed to make broader statements about sectorwide trends. Nonetheless, the preliminary findings shared in this article do offer an unprecedented first look at how foundations are holistically assessing their institutional capacity as part of their efforts to maximize impact at a critical point in history.

Grey Matter(s): Embracing the Publisher Within

June 30, 2015

Most foundations don't think of themselves as publishers, yet many of them act as such -- making information available by funding research and publications, or by authoring their own. And failing to think of these activities as publishing efforts has serious consequences for shared learning in the social sector. The shift toward knowledge-sharing strategies and approaches that embrace new search technologies, the logic of open access and open source, and the realities of the Internet as a largely decentralized and dynamic selfpublishing space offers the possibility of coordinating publishing efforts, and possibly agreeing to the use of shared practices that can facilitate shared learning while acknowledging the independence of individual organizations. While there are some common obstacles preventing foundations from moving toward shared systems and practices, there are also a number of publishing practices being widely adopted that together address most of those obstacles and represent a set of shared practices around which the social sector might coalesce and coordinate.

How to Implement a Funder-Supported Advocacy Effort and the Integral Role of Policy Consultants

March 31, 2015

There has been growing recognition in the philanthropic field that public-policy engagement and advocacy are critical strategic investments to support social change. For those foundations that are new to advocacy or are contemplating adding this type of work to their portfolio, however, this can be a significant shift in how they do business. Before a foundation engages in this type of work, it is critical that leadership and staff understand the role and potential impact of foundations in the advocacy and policy arenas, the practical considerations of how best to engage in advocacy and policy work, and the role of policy consultants in enhancing a foundation and/or nonprofit grantees' capacity and impact in this arena. This article details the key considerations for preparing and launching a successful advocacy effort, as well as specific tools that can help foundations and their grantees make the best use of an external policy consultant.

Going Beyond Grantmaking: Using External Help to Extend a Foundation's Core Competencies and Increase Its Impact

March 1, 2015

The drive to achieve impact beyond grantmaking represents a paradigm shift in the way foundations seek to make social change. By bringing to bear new resources and thinking, this shift has the potential to amplify the impact of the philanthropic sector. Consultants and other intermediaries have critical roles to play in extending and enhancing this impact.This article explores the opportunities and challenges inherent in foundations' efforts to go beyond grantmaking and examines how they can - and cannot - effectively use consultants and other intermediaries to enhance such efforts. It presents three cases: incubating and launching a new organization, effectively deploying impact investments, and collaborating to advocate for policy change.Using these cases and other experience as a reference base, the article then identifies five ways funders can use consultants and other intermediaries to pursue impact beyond grantmaking, and explores several common pitfalls.

Raising the Bar - Integrating Cultural Competence and Equity: Equitable Evaluation

July 1, 2014

Whether implicit or explicit, social justice and human rights are part of the mission of many philanthropies. Evaluation produced, sponsored, or consumed by these philanthropies that doesn't pay attention to the imperatives of cultural competency may be inconsistent with their missions.The American Evaluation Association's Statement on Cultural Competence provides those who produce, sponsor, and use evaluation an opportunity to examine and align their practices and policies within a context of racial and cultural equity and inclusion. The use of such a lens is paramount when evaluating a program whose goals touch on issues of equity or inclusion.This article seeks to open a discussion of how philanthropy can use an equitable-evaluation approach to apply the principles of the AEA statement, present the concept of equitable evaluation alongside an approach for building equitable-evaluation capacity, and apply equitableevaluation capacity building to philanthropy.

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