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August Must-Reads

Each month, we gather five new resources that can help us work smarter, think more deeply, and more effectively contribute to the change we seek. This month’s reads include initial results from the Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative, how Democracy Fund is adapting its strategies in changing times, the Meyer Foundation’s data showing the importance of …

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Each month, we gather five new resources that can help us work smarter, think more deeply, and more effectively contribute to the change we seek. This month’s reads include initial results from the Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative, how Democracy Fund is adapting its strategies in changing times, the Meyer Foundation’s data showing the importance of leadership development, reasons that Native American organizations and causes are chronically underfunded, and economists’ arguments against randomized control trials.


 

1. One of the Country’s Largest Foundations is Trying to Change How Philanthropy Works

STRATEGY | Inside Philanthropy | 13-minute read

The Ford Foundation’s BUILD initiative is changing how the foundation works by providing social justice nonprofits with long-term grants for general operating support and organizational strengthening. Two years in, BUILD is starting to see positive results: organizations are planning and collaborating in ways they never could before. This blog post shares some early results and the BUILD director Kathy Reich’s hope to make this type of grantmaking the status quo not just for the foundation but for the whole philanthropic sector.

2. Adapting Long-term Strategies in Times of Profound Change

STRATEGY | Stanford Social Innovation Review | 6-minute read

Imagine you carefully crafted a set of long-term strategies, and then something happens to change the context in which you’re working. How can you shift your approach to this new context? After the U.S. presidential election, Democracy Fund—like many organizations—grappled with this situation. The foundation had just completed a two-year planning process when the election brought upheaval around the very issues they chose to focus on (elections, governance and the public square). In this blog post, Democracy Fund shares what they’ve learned and three ways other foundations can equip themselves to better respond to changing contexts.

3. How Investing in People Directly Supports Programs

CAPACITY BUILDING | Fund the People | 4-minute read

It may seem wise to prioritize capacity building for fundraising over leadership development, especially for organizations with tight budgets. And yet, data from the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation’s capacity-building investments show that non-financial related capacity building had a greater positive impact on organizations’ revenue. The Meyer Foundation president and CEO Nicky Goren shares why professional and leadership development is core to an organization’s ability to produce better and bigger results.

4. New First Nations Report Explores Why Philanthropy Continues to Underfund Native American Causes

EQUITY | Business Insider | 4-minute read

Large foundations’ giving to Native American organizations and causes is declining. This report by First Nations Development Institute shares what might be leading to the chronic underfunding of Native American communities and causes. In addition to elevating several underlying reasons and addressing common misconceptions about Native American communities, the report also includes recommendations for both foundations and nonprofits, including the importance of making site visits and supporting Native Americans’ careers in philanthropy.

5. The Foreign Aid System Is Broken. Randomized Control Trials Won’t Fix It.

EVALUATION | Bright Magazine | 8-minute read

Evaluating impact through randomized control trials may work well in medicine, but not in social change, argues Barbara Harriss-White, one of 15 leading economists—including three Nobel Prize winners—who wrote a letter speaking out against “aid effectiveness.” In this interview, she shares why the group thinks randomized control trials won’t help us address systemic root problems and might cause more harm than good.

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