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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Pathways to Grow Impact: Philanthropy's Role in the Journey

February 14, 2013

Since 2010, through the "Scaling What Works" initiative, GEO has fostered a conversation about scale that considers a variety of ways nonprofits are creating more value for communities and how funders are supporting their work. GEO's newest publication, "Pathways to Grow Impact", shares new learning about the role grantmakers should play. The publication is the result of a collaborative project with Ashoka, Social Impact Exchange, Taproot Foundation and TCC Group that sought to answer the question: How can grantmakers best support high-performing nonprofits in their efforts to grow their impact? "Pathways to Grow Impact" is for any grantmaker who wants his or her grant dollars to have a greater effect. The publication offers a framework for understanding different approaches to scaling impact, stories from nonprofit leaders who have successfully grown their organizations' impact, and practical recommendations for grantmakers seeking more effective ways to achieve better results.

Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy

October 1, 2020

As a growing number of foundations consider disability inclusion in the context of their internal policies and practices as well as their external-facing work, the need to strengthen the infrastructure and ecosystem that supports those efforts is becoming increasingly important. This working paper, commissioned by the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (NNCG), provides a high-level overview of the current philanthropic landscape—the ways in which foundations are incorporating disability inclusion into their work as well as the ways in which consultants have been supporting their efforts.

Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence Discussion Guide

August 30, 2020

How much should we spend? This is an essential question for foundations, and one of the most complex, particularly in moments of change or turmoil. This Strategy Guide invites you to reflect more deeply on how your foundation chooses to balance four factors—purpose, conditions and trends, time horizons, and assets for mission—especially in times of greater crisis or opportunity. It leaves the final decision to you, without judgment for your payout amount, lifespan, or mission.

Balancing Purpose, Payout, and Permanence: Strategy Guide

August 1, 2020

Private foundations are reexamining questions of why, when, and how to respond to short-term and long-term crises. They are finding new flexibility and creative solutions as they examine the soul of their institutions and their role as stewards. This strategy guide examines options for how private foundations can approach financial stewardship, especially in troubled times.

CIVICAIM CASE STUDY - Preserving a Family Foundation Legacy, Embracing its Future

April 21, 2020

Anticipating its 25th anniversary, the Stanzel Family Foundation, Inc. wanted to honor its legacy and plan for its philanthropic future. In the words of long-time trustee and family member: "We needed to reflect on the past, present, and look at the legacy values we want to pass on. We also wanted to transition our approach from a 'giver of charity' to a true community partner."

A Foot in Both Worlds: Working with Regional Organizations to Advance Equity

April 13, 2020

Within philanthropy, conversations about equity are increasingly taking center stage.Striving for equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to thrive. This requires removing obstacles such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care (Braveman, Arkin, Orleans, Proctor, & Plough, 2017).For national foundations, working through and with regional organizations can advance equity in critical ways. Working with regional organizations can help national funders increase understanding of, relevance to, andconnection with local communities and stakeholders, ground high-level systems change in the reality of people's lives, and create common cause among a set of stakeholders across multiple localities, bringing scale andsustainability to community change initiatives. In the best-case scenario, foundation investments in regionalorganizations can catalyze powerful ripple effects, such as developing local leadership, spurring economic growth, and building a stronger nonprofit infrastructure.This paper seeks to inform national funders interested in more deeply understanding the opportunities to advance equity by working with and supporting regional organizations (as compared to local or national organizations). To do so, we reviewed the literature and conducted 20 interviews with national foundation executives who have workedwith regional organizations as part of their strategy, as well as representatives from organizations working regionally, such as community development finance institutions, regional and community foundations, and community colleges. Based on the insights shared with us, we examine how working with regional organizations can advance equity, how national foundations can work effectively with these organizations, and the potential pitfalls andchallenges of this work.

Leadership in Difficult Times: Guidance for Donors and Giving Families

March 20, 2020

This guide offers an initial compilation of lessons and inspirations to help donors and families act in the near-term, as well as a variety of tips for family philanthropy's long-term response. Included are ideas and resources from giving families, family funders, and philanthropy leadership organizations.

Partnering with Community for Better Philanthropy

January 1, 2020

This paper takes a closer look at how national foundations and large foundations are engaging those directly impacted by inequity, including communities of color and people from low-income communities, in their decision-making.Based on a review of the literature, internal documents shared by foundations, 31 interviews with philanthropic thought leaders, staff from national and/or large foundations, staff from smaller, exemplar foundations, as well as individuals who represent directly impacted communities, this paper examines the unique context of large and national foundations, including the ways in which their size, scale, and orientation pose challenges and create opportunity for meaningful community engagement.This paper also explores the institutional and individual competencies needed to do this work well and offers recommendations for getting started.

CIVICAIM CASE STUDY - Designed to Learn, Evaluating Impact

December 5, 2019

Two years into a new grantmaking strategy, the Sooch Foundation wanted to know what was working, and what wasn't

Social Compact In A Changing World: How Philanthropies are Grappling with Growing Scrutiny and Critique

September 11, 2019

This paper is an expansion of a concept introduced in The Philanthropy Framework, a publication of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Theory of the Foundation initiative, which seeks to enhance the capacity of philanthropies to effectively align their resources for the impact they envision. The Philanthropy Framework is a tool for analyzing how a philanthropy makes decisions, interacts with others and the broader society, and utilizes its capabilities and resources. The Framework is comprised of three elements:Charter, the organization's scope, form of governance and decision-making protocol.Social compact, its implicit or explicit agreement with society about the value it will create.Operating model, the approach to the resources, structures and systems needed to implement strategy.

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.

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