Someone once told us that a software implementation was akin to building a house. Sure, anyone can put up four walls, a few doors, and a roof and call it a house, but then it’s no more than just a shell. Building a house requires planning, layout, experts in multiple areas, and feng shui (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Pillar leverages Fluxx grants management solution to scale their operation while improving communication and collaboration
Fluxx’s Community Manager Shawn Garrison met with Tiffany Ramos, Director of Operations at Pillar to discuss their mission, and how Fluxx has been an integral part of their operation.
Pillar was conceived out of the hardships realized by business from the COVID pandemic. Pillar saw a need to help small businesses survive during the tumultuous economic times by providing grants and loans to the small businesses within the Rainier Valley and Greater Seattle area in Washington state. As a result of their work, hundreds of small businesses are thriving today and continue to be a vital part of their communities.
The Need for Efficiency and Transparency
As the pandemic continued to impact small businesses, Pillar saw an increase in their grantmaking to ensure they kept to their mission within the community. They wanted to find a solution to help fill in some process gaps and be more efficient in their grantmaking. Additionally, they wanted to have greater visibility and control into how they were collaborating on grants and ensuring the right people reviewed the grants at the right time in the process. These needs ultimately led them to Fluxx.
The grants management process can vary depending on the size and scope of your organization. It is not uncommon to start with a simple approach involving simple tools, a combination of systems that are either stitched together or siloed (or for some, no system at all).
It’s impossible to discuss the giving landscape in India today without acknowledging the drastic economic reforms that made it possible. In 1991, India adopted a new industrial policy to liberalize the economy, increase employment opportunities, boost production and productivity, and encourage foreign investments. The policy substantially deregulated the industrial sector. Today, India’s economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. And the profitability of the last 30 years has led to immense new wealth creation. Now, much of that new wealth is looking to give back, and India has seen a sharp rise in new philanthropists and donors. One organization looking to support these donors (and communities across the country) is Dasra.
Dasra is an intermediary and strategic philanthropy foundation in India's multi-stakeholder development ecosystem. Its goal is to help India achieve its sustainable development goals by 2023 by helping funders give more strategically to vulnerable communities. When the pandemic struck India, the team led by this week’s podcast guest and Dasra co-founder and Partner, Deval Sanghavi, sprang into action and employed swift and effective trust-based philanthropy practices to support communities throughout India.
Most of us working in tech are familiar with the term ‘fail fast.’ It’s a philosophy that values extensive testing and incremental development of an idea or process. Those who are told to fail fast are also instructed to cut losses the second testing reveals something isn't working, keep working, and pivot to a new idea.
The core belief is that if you’re willing to fail, you are willing to learn. Why? Because, in many instances, we learn more from our failures than our successes. Startups have committed to this philosophy fully. This process has propelled many companies to unicorn status far faster than previous incumbents. But can the same concept apply to philanthropy — an industry rife with multi-year studies, detailed reporting, and methodical approaches?
Have you recently wondered how to scale to support a new infusion of funding? Started issuing new types of grants or investments? Onboarding more people or new departments to collaborate on your grantmaking process?
Feminist movements are under immense pressure. On June 24th, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending the right to an abortion that had been upheld for decades.
Many advocates and feminist leaders weren’t surprised by the decision and have warned that additional restrictive policies and laws will likely be passed. These restrictive laws threatening the health and safety of birthing people correspond with a spike in misogynistic content distributed across TikTok and other social platforms. The superior algorithms of these platforms compiled with a younger, more digitally savvy audience has made it possible for these videos to spread (billions of views within days) at an alarmingly fast rate.
But this rise in hateful vitriol has led to pushback and progress as well. Self-proclaimed misogynist Andrew Tate was recently banned from Meta platforms, Twitter, and TikTok. Scotland became the first country to offer feminine sanitary products for free nationwide. According to NPR, “New Zealand and Kenya distribute products for free in public schools” as well.
What’s #FixtheForm? And why did this international Grant Advisor campaign gain so much traction in a few short months? All this and more is revealed in this month's Untapped Philanthropy episode!
Untapped Philanthropy Season 2, Episode 6: What can we do to Fix the Form?
It’s no secret that millions of mission-related hours are lost every year navigating cumbersome grant application processes. To identify the needed top changes, a survey was launched by Laura Solomons, a fundraiser for a social mobility charity and former Trustee and Chair of a grant-giving foundation, and Kari Aanestad, the Co-Director of GrantAdvisor.org and the Associate Director at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. In less than four weeks it received 500 responses from grantseekers across nine countries, “representing every shape, size, and activity area of the nonprofit sector.”
The Human Genome Project was an international scientific research project working to determine the base pairs that make up human DNA in order to sequence all of the human genome. And no, Untapped Philanthropy hasn’t suddenly pivoted from discussions on philanthropy to science. But we thought it might be helpful to remind you of the famous Human Genome Project because this week’s philanthropy guest is taking a similarly scientific approach to philanthropy.
The Impact Genome Project has taken a similar approach to philanthropy by analyzing the DNA of impact programs to determine what is and isn't working.
This week we are thrilled to have the Executive Director of the Center of Impact Sciences at the University of Chicago and the co-founder of the Impact Genome Project, Jason Saul on the podcast to tell us about his work, and most importantly — share more about the Project’s integration with Fluxx!
More than a decade into helping philanthropic organizations improve their operations, build mutually beneficial relationships with grantees, drive social impact, we, at Fluxx, recognize that we are a part of an ecosystem of communities and technologies.
As such we strive to support and honor initiatives that further the collective endeavors to connect efforts, amplify outcomes, and forge new ways of collaborating.
To collaborate effectively, we have to create common denominators across our programs, organizations, and industry --- Impact Genome is the most interesting example of how this can happen for impact tracking.
We listened to the building groundswell of interest from our customer to tie into these efforts. Today we are honored to announce a new partnership between Fluxx the team at Mission Measurement and Impact Genome.
The Trust-Based Philanthropy Project is a five-year peer-to-peer funder initiative designed to address the inherent power imbalances between foundations and nonprofits. It’s an initiative built around action and immediacy. A quick perusal of the team’s website will immediately bring you to the six practices of trust-based grantmaking which the team hopes will not only break down the buzz-y term of trust-based philanthropy into actionable steps, but also encourage funders to make immediate equitable changes.
The work of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project is aligned with our work and mission here at Fluxx. We believe that it’s not only possible — but also essential — for technologists to partner with philanthropists in order to build pathways to deeper and more trusting partnerships between funders and grantees.
That’s why we are especially thrilled to share more about this week’s Untapped Philanthropy podcast featuring a conversation between Fluxx co-founder, Kerrin Mitchell, and Executive Director, Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, Shaady Salehi.
Imagine a world in which the toughest multi-decade long problems; whether it's racial injustice, poverty, or the preservation of democracy, were resourced in the same manner as a legacy institution. It’s a radical idea that would rely on what many would consider a “stodgy” grantmaking practice. We’re talking about endowments.
Untapped Philanthropy Season 2, Episode 3: Which nonprofits would benefit from endowments?
“You think about endowments as something that happens for the biggest established organizations like universities, art museums, or medical research,” said this week’s Untapped Philanthropy guest, The Bridgespan Group's Managing Partner William Foster. “But it's radical because there is nothing more clean and complete in the trust-based philanthropy world than creating endowments, right? It's the ultimate shift. Dollars and assets are power.”
It’s not often that you hear cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, or Ethereum uttered in the same sentence as philanthropy. Most nonprofits (and funders for that matter) aren’t equipped to accept or distribute a crypto donation. And let’s be honest, the philanthropic sector isn’t known for its early tech adopters, and certainly not crypto geeks.
Mentioning DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) and technology in the same sentence can go one of two ways:
“Well, turns out the recruiting software we used to hire at our multi-national nonprofit is showing signs of unconscious bias.”
“Our new grantmaking technology has allowed us to implement trust-based philanthropy and fairly distribute funds out to the communities that need it most. We’re now able to prioritize more diverse needs and initiatives.”
One year and 12 episodes later, season one of Untapped Philanthropy is a wrap! And this week, our season finale of Untapped Philanthropy is extra special. CEO of Fluxx, Kristy Gannon, guest hosts and interviews Kerrin Mitchell about her time hosting season one of Untapped Philanthropy, and what she hopes to accomplish in the new year.
And as a bonus for our listeners, we shared a special Fluxx announcement at the end of the episode!
Untapped Season Finale, Episode 12: Special Guest Host and a Big Announcement!
SunTrust Bank and BB&T Corporation (one of the largest banking corporations in the United States) completed a massive merger to form Truist on Dec. 9, 2019. This merger brought with it the need to meld both philanthropic agendas of the two banks, and within the same month, the Truist Foundation was born. Then came the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“The financial inequities that faced historically excluded communities were laid bare by the pandemic. We knew that it was crucial for us as an institution to be part of the catalyst to help build that generational wealth and do the hard work of advancing an economy that better serves everyone,” said Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation. “So as the philanthropic arm of a financial services institution, we recognized that it was our responsibility to take part in that difficult work – and we wanted to sharpen our grantmaking in that process.”
Despite being a worldwide trillion-dollar industry, philanthropy doesn't garner the same media coverage as say, the technology sector. But with so many new billionaires entering the funding space, and billionaires renewing their focus on environmental and societal causes, you’d think we’d be seeing more mass media news coverage. So where are the hard-hitting, deep-dive industry articles and why might they be difficult to come by outside of trusted philanthropy trade publications?
Enter Teddy Schleifer, Founding Partner of the new media company, Puck. Prior to Puck, Teddy covered money, influence, and billionaire philanthropy for Recode, which is owned by Vox. At Recode Teddy delved into crypto giving, Elon Musk’s charity sending sprees, Jeff Bezos philanthropic, and everything in between. But more importantly, his coverage isn’t just about the gifts, but the motive behind it, and the quiet power that drives one of the world’s largest economic powerhouses.
“The most useful and influential people… are those who take the deepest interest in institutions that exist for the purpose of making the world better.”
Booker T. Washington
It’s autumn. Change is in the air. Thus, no better time to announce the evolving nature of our own path here at Fluxx!
In Fluxx’s journey to innovate as a company and platform, our North Star must always be to support our community’s evolution in grantmaking practices, paving the (technology) path to bring scale and visibility to their impact. We see a world where funders and grantees build collectives, collaborating in real time over an open structure of knowledge. To make this a reality, it has been - and always will be - critical to partner with people and organizations of like mind in both our mission and values.
We are therefore excited to make an investment announcement, in line with exactly those objectives: Fluxx has been acquired by private equity investor Metamorph Partners.
We know that Grants Management Systems (GMS) help grantmakers accelerate their impact, improve relationships with grantees, and unlock the power of data for reporting and decision making.
We also know that many organizations are stuck in outdated systems—or are manually tracking everything through an ad hoc process using email and spreadsheets—which means that too many grants professionals are spending countless hours tracking down information, searching through disparate documents, and manually moving the work forward.
To help Grants Administrators and Grants Managers advocate for new technology, we teamed up with our friends at Grantbook to build a simple guide.
Today, there are a lot of ways to approach philanthropy. You have the traditional models: your generational family foundations, private funders, and nonprofits. Then you have the newer models of giving circles, social impact groups, corporate giving, and crowdfunding. And somewhere between all that sits B1G1: Business for Good.
B1G1 is the brainchild of Masami Sato. It’s a global giving movement centered around the buy one give one model. The organization connects purpose driven businesses that want to make a difference with meaningful giving activities around the world. So that every time consumers make a purchase in their day-to-day lives, a brand donates a product or portion of proceeds to important world causes. The membership community currently comprises of +2,500 businesses who have collectively donated over $240 million to date.
Philanthropy is chalked full of legacy institutions, historic processes, and more than its fair share of bureaucracy. So it’s no surprise that the industry as a whole is considered to be a slow adopter of technology, even though improved SaaS processes are known to lead to sector growth. In fairness, the slow adoption often isn’t due to the lack of interest, but rather a lack of funds. A nonprofit attempting to operate under an unrealistic overhead ratio isn’t going to push for expensive new products and platforms, and neither will smaller funders.
But this isn’t the case for industry giant, the MacArthur Foundation. The innovative Chicago funder and Fluxx client we know and love has spent years carving space for technologists to have a seat at the table so the Fund could in turn work as a collective to answer questions including: how can we improve the grantee process for all? How can we save our team time? And how can we leverage technology to solve the problems faced by our communities?
All of the above questions and much more are answered on this week’s Untapped Philanthropy podcast as Fluxx co-founder Kerrin Mitchel sits down with a friend of the podcast and CIO of the MacArthur Foundation, John Mohr, to learn more about his role at MacArthur, his work toward a universal common application, and his advice for current and aspiring technologists and CIOs in philanthropy.
At Untapped Philanthropy we spend a lot of time analyzing the Tech for Good industry, the funder experience, and exploring how funders can democratize philanthropy in order to build a philanthropic collective that better serves our communities. For this special episode of the podcast, we turn our gaze to nonprofits and one of its industry experts.
Most people think of philanthropy as a niche, feel-good space supported by simple donations rather than the massive global market that it is. A market that continues to affect policy and change millions of lives worldwide. The nonprofit space currently encompasses an impressive 2.1 percent of the total U.S. GDP, mobilizing over 1.5 million nonprofit and funder organizations, and $410 billion of investments in the social sector.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic led to an outpouring of funder support. Major funders worldwide quickly loosened their grant restrictions, eased reporting requirements, and leveraged new technology tools and platforms to give more freely in the hopes of sparing their grantees from impending financial catastrophe.
This week Fluxx co-founder and host of the Untapped Philanthropy podcast, Kerrin Mitchell, sits down with funder technologist, futurist, (and former Fluxxer) Sam Caplan, to explore the accelerated change of funders and technology. Together they examine the role technology must play in building more equitable giving communities and discuss the role technologists play in driving change.
Fluxx is back with another scintillating episode of Untapped Philanthropy! This week we’re thrilled to feature an author, advisor, consultant, and philanthropy coach who is just as obsessed with the future of philanthropy as we are, and works to help funders make future-forward decisions for their work.
Keep reading for more information about the episode, or give it a listen now using the link above.
At Fluxx we’re in the business of building technology that serves the social sector, which means we’re always having critical conversations about social sector strategies. Which is why we’re thrilled to focus this month’s Untapped Philanthropy podcast episode on how we as a community can leverage technology to facilitate strategic thinking and in turn – a better grantee experience. So let’s dive in.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day hits home; and we’re thrilled to get the opportunity to weigh in on its theme – #ChoosetoChallenge. As an organization, Fluxx is proud to choose to challenge the Silicon Valley status quo (as of 2020, only 11% of executives in Silicon Valley were women) through our leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
For those of us in information security (InfoSec for short) "CIA" doesn't just mean the Central Intelligence Agency. But rather, CIA is an acronym referring to the foundational pillars of Information Security. And understanding the CIA triad is key to understanding how an organization can protect the data it uses, stores, and or processes.
We’re living through a time of unprecedented worldwide change, coupled with ongoing feelings of isolation and separation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time the Fluxx team worked round-the-clock to forge even deeper connections with funders, government organizations, and our partners, in order to help our community of philanthropists give more freely, provide additional support to communities in need, and do more – faster. And we’ve collected some pretty impressive stories along the way.
That’s why we are thrilled to announce Untapped Philanthropy – a Fluxx podcast that explores funding, technology, and policy through the lens of visionary thought leaders who are at the forefront of change in our field. We’ve packaged these stories into podcast episodes because we believe that philanthropists need more ways to feel connected and learn from one another. A podcast allows listeners to tune in to powerful stories while taking a walk, cooking, or doing anything else that allows for movement. Let’s be honest, we all deserve an excuse to walk away from our home offices for a well-deserved break!
This podcast is hosted by Fluxx co-founder Kerrin Mitchell. Each episode will consist of 30-minute conversations between Kerrin and philanthropy (or technology) thought leaders who are innovating within their field. We hope this series leaves you inspired and eager to learn more about the collective action taking place in our industry.
Untapped Philanthropy has released two episodes thus far. Check out this blog for information on episode two, and keep reading to learn about our first-ever episode.
Untapped Philanthropy Episode 1: Who determines technology innovations for philanthropy?
For our first episode, Kerrin Mitchell sits down with veteran philanthropy technologist and CEO and Founder of threshold.world, Dan Lammot.
Dan is both a philanthropist and technologist. He is a board member of the Surfrider Foundation, a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Technology Partner Network, and is an expert technologist whose organization, threshold.world, is committed to providing nonprofits worldwide with impact and data-fueled insights.
Together they unpack the “Tech for Good” industry exploring how technology and data can support crucial philanthropic industry initiatives and trends. Most importantly, they sit down to answer the philosophical question: Who determines technology innovations for philanthropy? Philanthropists or technologists?
You can learn more about Dan’s work through the podcast episode embedded above.
You can subscribe to the Untapped Philanthropy podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. If you enjoyed episode one of Untapped Philanthropy, please take a moment to share our episode on social media so others may have the opportunity to learn about Dan’s story.
Episodes of Untapped Philanthropy will be released once a month, and will always be shared via the Fluxx blog. We encourage you to subscribe to the Fluxx blog in order to stay up to date on new episode releases.
The common application isn’t exactly a new concept for philanthropy. Different common applications have been used for years, but the adoption has been inconsistent across the industry as a whole. That’s changing thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. If nonprofits are to survive this crisis while also being able to serve their communities, then funders will need to act fast to ease grantee burden and build capacity for those they fund.
For many of us, late December offers the first moment to reflect on one of the busiest years in philanthropy’s recent history. It’s a moment of reprieve that invites us to slow down and reflect upon our challenges and experiences, and envision what we hope to achieve next year.
At the risk of sounding cliche, 2020 was an unprecedented year for all of us. For Fluxx, 2020 was a year spent working round-the-clock to further collaborate and support our clients and team while also adjusting to a fully-remote work environment. We also found new ways to support our community, volunteer, and give back throughout this ongoing crisis. It’s safe to say our team is closing out the year feeling a renewed appreciation for our work, one another, and our impact.
For many, December is a month for reflection. A time to look back and assess, and use those learnings to plan for the upcoming year. That’s exactly what we aimed to do with our latest Fluxx Community Insights survey. And during a time of reflection, what better topic to survey than the one consistent that dominated this year – the COVID-19 pandemic.
If there’s one topic we love (and need) to revisit at Fluxx, it’s security. During her tenure as CEO, Madeline Duva penned a piece for Forbes on the importance of good security measures, and last Halloween we shared 5 tried and true tips for those of you who are spooked by cybercrime.
Fluxx is pleased to announce that Kristy Gannon will be assuming the role of Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. The role was previously championed by Madeline Duva, who will remain at Fluxx as an active board member.
The COVID-19 pandemic sidelined more than a few well-thought-out grantmaking plans. All year, grantmakers have been forced to pivot to tackle urgent health and safety concerns while also assessing their own diversity, equity and inclusion practices and funding for systemic social justice problems. Couple that with the sharp rise in climate-related disasters we’re experiencing across the world, and it’s starting to look like the only thing we can expect is the unexpected.
Your Grants Management Solution Needs Administrator Control + Data Organization to be Most Valuable. Here’s Why
So much has to go into a robust grants management solution in order for teams to successfully understand and leverage their data, and streamline their work. One of the most important factors is if platform administrators can control who sees what, and when. Why? Because grantmaking “takes a village.” It’s a team effort that relies heavily on each player, and when process confusion exists in your workflow, grantees have to wait longer for funds or basic information. Here’s what you want to do:
COVID-19 has been an incredibly challenging experience worldwide, and society will likely be dealing with the ramifications of this pandemic for years to come. But one positive we’ve witnessed in philanthropy is the amount of grantmakers who’ve leveraged their connections, community, and their grants management solutions to spring into collective action to support their grantees and missions.
The killing of George Floyd ignited an immediate resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, worldwide protests, and grassroots activism and donations. According to the New York Times, $90 million was donated to bail funds alone. Within philanthropy, the events of this summer added jet fuel to the urgent prioritization of diversity equity and inclusion (DEI). In this first-ever Fluxx Community Insights blog, we will share how our clients are prioritizing DEI within their organization, and with their grantees.
Consider this your friendly reminder – the new FASB accounting standards go into effect this December 15th! If that sentence gave you a wave of anxiety, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Earlier this year we released a webinar about what the new standards mean for foundations and their grantees, along with a few examples of how you might interpret and implement the changes in your grants management system.
Fluxx is a community-focused organization. In fact, one of the reasons many funders come to Fluxx for their grants management solution needs is that our thriving community site acts as a meeting place where hundreds of funders worldwide can convene and share their tips and tricks for streamlining their work.
If you’re constantly manually moving data across systems you know how time-consuming it is. Even worse, it is the perfect recipe for errors, meaning you will be spending extra time cross-referencing your own data across whatever myriad of systems you’re using. The most obvious solution to this problem? Integrations. At Fluxx, we love them. Why? Because they allow our funders to leverage multiple systems in one place and to do more directly within Fluxx Grantmaker. And most importantly, they help ensure that the data we’re using to make strategic decisions is accurate.
There’s never been a better time to employ trust-based philanthropy practices. The effects of COVID-19 are long-lasting and far-reaching, and for the good of our industry, we hope to see a tectonic shift in philanthropy practices and approaches. The public outcry to further support grantees during this difficult time is reaching a crescendo, and that’s why we’re so proud to feature the following story:
They say two heads are better than one, and that’s certainly true when it comes to grants management systems and integrations! That’s why our May 2020 webinar is all about a key integration we’re really excited to tell you more about – Fluxx Grantmaker and DocuSign.
COVID-19 has brought much of our society to a screeching halt, and within philanthropy it has disrupted volunteering plans across the world and re-focused countless funding initiatives. But as for our work here at Fluxx? We’re busier than ever. We’re rallying around funders old and new to help them tackle COVID-19 in a multitude of ways.
Giving Tuesday is different this year – there are two events and more opportunities to assist than ever before. The first is #GivingTuesdayNow, taking place this May 5 – it’s an emergency response to the unprecedented need for help caused by COVID-19.
It’s happening this year. Accounting standards are changing and your foundation will be expected to adhere to the new FASB updates this winter. But what do they mean and how should you implement them? What are the most seamless and straightforward approaches for your team and your grantees? Our webinar is here to help.
The sharp rise of coronavirus has thrown our world into unprecedented new territory. Cities have enacted shelter in place regulations – including San Francisco where our Fluxx headquarters are housed. Many of us are currently working from home and therefore adjusting to a new normal. We’re defining new boundaries for ourselves, new dedicated workspaces, and tweaking our schedules. For all you work from home warriors looking for something to brighten your day, I have something new to share.
We’re sad to report that PEAK 2020 has been canceled. Nothing is more important than the health and wellness of our community, and we appreciate that PEAK conference officials are committed to the safety of all attendees and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak.
An important philanthropic project was just announced. It’s an extension of a movement that’s been discussed for years, bandied about with varying degrees of success, and is now implemented by some foundations, including the Day One Families Fund – Jeff Bezos official entry into philanthropy. This movement plays a key part in the Fluxx mission, and we hope to see this employed more often. We’re talking of course about the recently announced Trust-Based Philanthropy Project.
At Fluxx, we’re consistently inspired by great content. This can be served in the form of exciting client updates, blog posts, or industry news and trends. Last week, The Ford Foundation published “The hard work of hope” on their Equals Change blog. The piece, authored by friend of Fluxx, Darren Walker, left us so inspired we had to share our own take on it as well.
The collective action approach was developed because funders knew they needed to do more. They needed to better support grantees, collaborate with the private sector, and assist with local and national government initiatives (like getting the world’s youth to stop smoking). Today we see philanthropy stepping up to the plate (collaboratively) to support a myriad of different initiatives across the social, private, and government sectors.
Delivering Infinite Book Shelves (DIBS) for Kids is a dynamic nonprofit providing software that helps teachers find age-appropriate books and send them home with their students.
And just like that, 2020 is here and so is a brand-new decade. We’ve spent time examining the major philanthropy trends and shifts that we witnessed in the last decade, and now, it’s time to look forward. Our CEO, Madeline Duva, recently shared with Forbes the key trends that will shape philanthropy in 2020 and on. We want to share these same insights directly with our Fluxx readers. See below for the top trends that will shape philanthropy in the coming years and help foundations and nonprofits alike as they work to plan for the future of their organizations.
We’ve always considered ourselves more than a tech company. Sure, we provide the best in class software that powers giving and impact – helping foundations grant easier, collaborate better with their grantees and drive more change – but Fluxx also believes in building a strong community of purpose-driven individuals. In the past, we’ve gathered this community once a year for Fluxxcon, our user conference held in San Francisco. But a single conference isn’t always convenient or accessible for all of our users; especially our international clients.
Maybe it’s just us, but 2020 is ushering in a sense of excitement and finality. Another decade is coming to a close, leaving many of us to reflect upon the last 10 years, marvel at the changes we’ve seen, and ponder what’s to come. In the last decade we’ve witnessed everything from the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement, increasing concern for climate change and increasing natural disasters, and on a lighter note: iPhones four through 11. Philanthropy has experienced sweeping changes as well. The buzzwords of the early 2010s are long gone, replaced by the priorities we see today.
2019 was a busy year at Fluxx. We announced new partnerships, unveiled new products, volunteered (a lot), moved offices, and sponsored some killer events. Throughout all the hard work, there was play and a feeling of renewed vigor and appreciation for our work. We’re proud to contribute to the growing Tech For Good space and to support increased collaboration for our funders and grantees.
Say it with us, Giving Tuesday is the best thing to happen to Thanksgiving since the Thanksgiving Day Parade became televised. And this year, we’re planning to pay it forward in three major ways. So keep reading to learn more about where you can find our team this Giving Tuesday!
Next year is fast approaching and with it, some major political and social movements. In the same year, U.S. citizens will hit the polls to choose our next president we will all be asked to opt into the 24th census. Even without it being an election year, the census would have been politically charged. We all remember the controversy and back and forth that ensued when the administration tried to slip a citizenship question into the census.
If you needed another reason to value our industry, know this: Philanthropy is one of the largest economic engines in the U.S. – employing millions of citizens, about one in 10 in the private workforce. And like any other titan, it takes the right tools and resources to drive change and propel impact at a competitive pace.
Recently, there’s been a lot of discussion of gender and women’s issues in society and in philanthropy. In fact many foundations are working earnestly to support gender, equity, and inclusion practices and causes – both internally and with their grantmaking. But as a recent study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Women & Girls Index: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes shows, there is still more opportunity for us to work to champion these causes.
Philanthropy continues to evolve and expand each day. As funder and nonprofit technology rapidly advances to further connect and enable change, so are new industries pushing increasing amounts of funds towards diverse causes across the globe. In fact, aspects of our society that previously rarely felt the positive effects of grantmaking are now experiencing the benefits for themselves.
The philanthropy industry isn’t touted as fast-paced. It’s a fractured network that’s existed for thousands of years – supporting various societies throughout history. But philanthropy is changing as a swell of funding collaboratives knit together worldwide. As we continue to make strides towards improving industry collaboration, foundations are walking the talk and collaborating more deeply with each other to affect years-long (sometimes even permanent) change. They’re joining forces, pooling funds, forming important relationships throughout the sector – all in the name of wider and more immediate impact.
We are thrilled to announce the creation of our Preferred Partner Program! These partners of Fluxx are highly trained and ready to help bring success to your organization by making sure you get the most out of your Fluxx solution.
The Pinkerton Foundation does things a little differently than your average grantmaker. Because the foundation localizes their work and is dedicated to – “improving the lives of young people in poor neighborhoods throughout New York City by helping them develop the skills, self-reliance and strong values necessary to live up to their full potential” – they prioritize interacting with their grantees with regular site visits, and needed a platform that would free up valuable time for these face-to-face interactions.
Communication is the backbone of philanthropy. The philanthropy industry depends on trustworthy relationships in order to accomplish bigs asks and far-reaching goals that often involve community input, public support, and teamwork. It’s no secret that foundations often fund the same nonprofits and causes again and again – especially if you have years-long initiatives planned with an organization. It’s natural to turn to what’s familiar and foster already harmonious relationships.
At Fluxx, we’re fortunate to have some truly amazing organizations as clients. The Blue Shield of California Foundation is one of them. Its mission is to “build lasting and equitable solutions that make California the healthiest state and end domestic violence.” The Foundation does this through countless initiatives; some short and timely, some far-reaching such as the first ever Gender Justice Fund – a $10 million collaborative launched with the aim to change culture and advance gender justice. Their work serves a shining example of what 21st Century philanthropy can (and should) look like.
August 17th is National Nonprofit Day – a day of acknowledgment established so that people may take a moment to appreciate the incredible impact that nonprofits have around the world. Not only are nonprofits the premier drivers of social good, but they’re also a huge benefit to our economy, accounting for millions of employees and volunteers, and countless funds being poured back into communities.
Many of you know all about it but for those of you who don’t, I’d like to introduce you to a fantastic asset for Fluxx Grantmaker clients… the Fluxx Grantmaker Community. The community is an online resource where Fluxx Grantmaker users can interact and share, explore ideas, learn best practices and more from one another. The Grantmaker Community is an important part of our commitment to building not just great grants management solutions, but also a community of philanthropists that connect with and learn from each other on multiple levels.
Philanthropy (like any industry) can get swept up in movements and trends. Some trends are buzzy but quickly flow through our cultural rivers, leaving little trace of their impact or original intent. But we’re here to talk about a growing movement that we hope wholeheartedly is here to stay. It’s the practice of bringing diversity, equity, and inclusion practices and trainings into the office, and ingraining them into the work culture. It’s a practice we see our clients (both foundations and nonprofits) doing more each year and something we see far less often in the tech industry. This needs to change.
The Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) isn’t your typical grantmaking organization. They’re an organization with close government affiliations that supports the FDA by providing grants to local health departments and other agencies, so that those teams can provide up-to-date food safety training, education, and local food safety checks. The program gives grants ranging from $500 to $50,000 towards food safety jurisdictions across the country.
Giving USA may have said it best in their press release for the latest 2019 report: it was a “complex year for charitable giving.” Philanthropists across the country immediately pounced on that language (and the data that followed), and soon the think pieces began to spread. Individual giving was down, other giving was up. And most importantly, the need for giving certainly hasn't diminished but influences like tax law changes and political and economic uncertainty are reshaping giving trends.
Summer break is here for the Supreme Court, but just before the nine justices hung up their robes they passed the hotly contested and anticipated 2020 census ruling. The Supreme Court ruled that requiring a citizenship question on the 2020 census does, in fact, violate minority rights, and therefore rejected the lawsuit – punting it back to a federal court in Maryland. Arguments in favor of this ruling stated that requiring individuals to mark whether or not they were a U.S. citizen, could potentially deter many from filling in the census, and leave countless communities without proper funding and political representation.
We’ve written about this before but it bears repeating: collaboration is critical to the success of philanthropy. Not only is collaboration a core pillar of the philanthropic space – but true collaboration – the kind we see when our clients pool their grants to tackle a growing and serious issue, can result in life-changing impact.
There’s no daily grind quite like that of nonprofit fundraising. While working at a nonprofit is intrinsically rewarding in countless ways, most industry veterans can recount horror stories of months (or even years) where their nonprofit was barely hanging on and that next grant or big donation meant the difference between keeping the lights on or closing down.
Partnerships are the backbone of philanthropy. Working together as a collaborative community to facilitate connection and streamline operations makes the entire philanthropic ecosystem thrive. That’s why we’re so pleased to announce we are partnering with Neon One to combine the benefits of our tech for good offerings and provide unparalleled services for all our valued clients.
They say admitting you have a problem is the first step. But once your foundation admits that your current grants management system is more hindrance than help, you’re suddenly left with the overwhelming project of figuring out how to choose the right system that will not only meet your needs today, but also scale with you into the future.
After eight gripping seasons Game of Thrones is officially over. It concluded with plenty of fanfare, internet grumblings, and dismay. And whether or not you’re a superfan of the show, or only watched a single episode, a key truth stood out in one of the final scenes that – believe it or not – applies directly to our work in philanthropy. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Better together – that’s what makes philanthropy work. This rallying cry rings true across our industry, wherein collaboration and the collective mindset can help us to overcome the challenges that arise in your daily work. This can take the form of capacity issues, scale and sustainability, knowledge sharing... or likely the (very) complex nature of the issue area you’re tackling.
Trust is rarely given freely - it’s earned. This is a lesson for-profit organizations often learn the hard way when a PR disaster strikes. Nonprofits, on the other hand, can face an uphill battle from the get-go. Whether we like it or not, the philanthropic industry is judged on measures that don’t always fit their models or reflect their impact. And, when your organization’s entire existence depends on fundraising, trust is even more critical. As new research from GuideStar reaffirms, transparency plays a major role in building trust with donors and constituents: “Donors give more to transparent nonprofits and transparent organizations tend to be stronger organizations.” So exhibiting transparency is a critical way to demonstrate trustworthiness from the start, encourage the donations you need, and keep your mission moving forward.
Earth Day is a double-edged sword in the philanthropy space. On the one hand, it’s a time to celebrate and honor our planet and the incredible ecosystems it houses. On the other hand, it’s a sobering time to reflect on the continuously mounting work we all need to do – collectively – to save our environment. Each one of us has a unique role to play and we may find ourselves drawn to one struggle (renewable energy, clean water, endangered species, etc.) more than another. At Fluxx, we enable a variety of giving strategies through our Grantmaker solution, two of which we will examine today. But no matter what the focus, Earth Day is about coming together to spread awareness and help save our planet!
The key to lasting impact is the ability to scale and adapt. When you’re able to share, reproduce, and generate impact beyond your original reach – everyone benefits! A key way to truly scale is with technology. A robust grants management platform brings with it automation and efficiency – saving foundations from having to overhire in order to meet their needs or overburden their current employees. Not to mention how much easier tax season becomes when data is centralized, safe, and easily referenceable.
There’s a bottoms-up practice that can greatly improve our philanthropic ecosystem. It’s the practice of building capacity from the ground up, starting with nonprofits. When grantees are equipped with the kind of tools and technologies that foundations can access and have the budget for, their important work can become easier, more collaborative, data-driven, and transparent.
A good story takes on many forms in the digital age. It can be an iconic image (worth 1,000 words they say), a catchy tagline, video, article, and more. Regardless of where you get your content – everything boils down to a good hook and powerful storytelling. For nonprofits this is especially important. The campaigns and movements that have skyrocketed to viral fame in recent years have also led to major funding and serious impact.
It’s no secret that the tech industry has a diversity issue. As CNET’s Erin Carson reports, “the number of women and minorities at technology firms has changed little. Sometimes the numbers stay flat: From 2016 to 2017 Apple stayed at 32 percent women. Sometimes they fall backward: In 2016, Microsoft lost a percentage point.”
There’s an indisputable link between charitable giving and the social norms that guide our behavior. People are more likely to engage in giving when others do so as well.
The PEAK 2019 Annual Conference is next week, and so is the 2019 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTEN)! We’re thrilled to be exhibiting at both events this year and there's plenty of exciting ways for you to connect with us. See below for details about each event, the solutions we plan to show you, and the fun giveaways we will be offering!
For the past 110 years, March 8th has been a time to assemble and work toward equality on International Women’s Day (IWD). And while IWD is historically a time for women to make their voices heard and encourage a worldwide dialogue – this year’s #BalanceforBetter theme is a rallying cry for all people and organizations to focus on equality rather than inequality.
We’re thrilled to announce that Fluxx is ranked fifth on Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019, in the data science category!
The list honors the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture, showcasing a variety of ways to thrive in today’s volatile world. This is our second year taking home a Fast Company award. Last year we ranked in the nonprofit category for our innovative approach to redesigning the grantseekeing process with Fluxx Grantseeker.
2018 was a landmark year for Fluxx. We’re pleased to announce that over the previous 12 months, we increased the number of grants funded on our platform by 124 percent, facilitated $7.2 billion in total funding, and partnered with 52 new foundation clients for grants management, including leaders such as Forefront, The G. Harold & Leila Y. Mathers Foundation, Jewish Voice Ministries International, and many more.
Philanthropy is a cooperative market. Its constituents work to unite funds and policies in order to meet common economic, social, and cultural needs in our ever-changing social sector. If armed with an equal voice, both the givers and doers can inform the collective and create the most sustainable and impactful solutions to solve human problems.
Charity Navigator ranks nonprofits based on their overhead ratio (as in the amount of money spent on operations versus the mission), but as a recent study from North Carolina State University shows, a low overhead ratio is not always an effective way to measure a nonprofit's efficiency. Accordingly, funders, volunteers, and the general public often have the pervasive idea that all of a nonprofits funds should flow directly to the cause. This can lead to the dreaded Starvation Cycle: A state in which a nonprofit consistently keeps overhead costs so low that it impedes their current and future impact potential.
We know vital missions require the best tools. We also know that measuring and sharing impact can be challenging, yet it’s the most important barometer that foundations and nonprofits have for their work. Impact is why we launched the Fluxx Grantseeker platform back in 2017. We believe that nonprofits should have access to the same quality platform as foundations, so they too can streamline operations, truly “see” their data, lessen administrative burden, deepen connections and increase impact.
There’s no denying that the digital era has dramatically changed giving. It’s never been easier for individuals to donate (now at the click of a button), crowdfund for a good cause, and even contribute a dollar or two on their way through a grocery store checkout. And while it’s critical that your charity is set up to make giving easy, that doesn’t solve for the most nagging problem nonprofits face: discoverability.
This blog is part one of a four-part series that describes how we see the philanthropic industry evolving into a more connected and effective ecosystem – and how Fluxx is supporting and encouraging that evolution with our platform for democratizing philanthropy.
The year is officially coming to a close. To commemorate 2018, we wanted to aggregate some of our top blog posts! These pieces sparked conversations, shone a light on impactful work from our clients, and discussed the key trends and technology that stand to shape philanthropy in the coming years.
Nonprofits (along with the foundations that fund them) make up a significant portion of the U.S. economy. In fact, in 2014, nonprofits contributed $937.7 billion to the U.S. economy, the equivalent of 5.4 percent of our nation’s GDP. Yet some foundations and nonprofits still face pushback when looking to invest in operations to provide their essential services.
But like any for-profit organization, foundations and nonprofits will greatly benefit from developing the right technology plan in order to forecast for the new year. The same mechanisms that significantly improve the efficiency and mobility of for-profit giants are just as important for a foundation looking to better measure impact, streamline grants processes, and efficiently communicate with stakeholders. The right technology provides operational improvements that enables your team to elevate their grantmaking – freeing up time to further develop grantee relationships.
So looking ahead into the new year, how is your 2019 technology plan coming along? If sitting down to assess your current strategy and plan for the future sounds daunting, then our technology guide can help. After all, having a plan is the best way to demonstrate why an investment in the right technology (that aligns with your foundation’s mission) is critical.
The Foundation’s Guide to a Must Have Technology Plan was designed to help you develop an ideal strategic technology plan for your foundation. Read this guide to learn:
How to define a technology strategy that is suitable for your organization
How to choose the right technology
How to train and implement your strategy
Examples from other foundations who have implemented robust technology strategies
We know December is a busy month for foundations, but it’s also a perfect time to reflect on organizational successes and potential inefficiencies. Let us help you prepare for the future.
Program-related investments (PRIs) are THE hot topic right now. Foundations from coast to coast are deploying PRI programs – enabling their teams to expand beyond traditional grantmaking, and ultimately empowering nonprofits and for-profits to work with these foundations in new ways.
Not only does the Technology Affinity Group (TAG) throw a great conference, but their annual survey continuously provides insightful data into the growing importance of technology in the philanthropic space. This year approximately 200 foundations responded to the 2018 State of Philanthropy Tech – weighing in on everything from the perception of technology, diversity equity and inclusion practices, security breaches, and the tools foundations are coming to rely upon to protect their information and grow their communities. Naturally as a SaaS provider ourselves, we’re deeply curious about how foundations perceive technology and IT, especially as they relate to securing sensitive data – and three key statistics stood out the most.
Pledge 1% is a movement, a commitment, and a promise – and we are humbled to be a part of it. It allows us to expand on what we’ve already been doing: donating our time, our equity, and our product. The community is made up of incredible companies all working toward “building a movement in corporate philanthropy.” The likes of Salesforce, Box, Atlassian, Splunk, Twilio, Yelp, TechCrunch, and many more have joined.
Last month we shared our evolving vision for Fluxx: A philanthropy platform enabling funding and impact for organizations who fund change, and those who carry it out on the ground. Today we’re proud to take a step closer towards that vision through a collaboration with Microsoft’s Tech for Social Impact initiative.
Today we are thrilled to announce that Jill Richards joined Fluxx as our new Chief Marketing Officer. Richards has a proven track record for growing dynamic technology startups. At Fluxx, she plans to support our vision for connected philanthropy – expanding our grant management software platform into a global network.
At Fluxxcon this year we were again inspired by how incredibly powerful it is to have so many of our customers gathered in one place. We’re thankful to be part of a community that helps so many, and is committed enough to fly grants managers from all over the U.S., and from as far away as India and New Zealand to attend our conference in San Francisco to share ideas. We’re lucky to have clients that are visionaries in their spaces too – people who are forever committed to finding new ways to innovate and improve the work they do.
Each year we look forward to the annual TAG conference – it truly is the top event to explore philanthropic trends and technology. Previous years have focused on data and the impact of giving. This year, the theme is technology innovation – a perfect theme for us! We are excited to have two speaking sessions where we’ll share our vision for connecting givers and doers, the innovations we built, and what we have planned for the future. And, of course we’ll be giving product peeks and sponsoring a happy hour!
Today at Fluxxcon we announced some exciting new product features which enhance Fluxx’s ability to facilitate true collaboration between givers and doers.
Today, I for the future at Fluxxcon: A platform for connected philanthropy, through which those who fund change, and those who carry it out on the ground, can find each other and work together. Connected philanthropy will get the right money to the right people at the right time.
Grant management and grant approval processes vary depending on a foundation's focus (think government, medical research, or social and societal needs) and their grantees. But one thing is certain: everyone wants to ease the burden of the grants process – making a once arduous task quick and efficient for both grantees and employees alike. After all, the faster a grant is dispersed to enact real change, the better for everyone.
Fluxx’s Vice President of Strategic Development, Dan Schoenfeld, (formerly the Director of Grants and Impact Administration at the Knight Foundation) knows only too well that when foundations invest in the right technology they achieve drastically improved: collaboration, capacity building, and efficiency. Yet investing in new technology can often be an intimidating task even for the most experienced tech buyers.
In 2015, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund was wrestling with the same issues many foundations still struggle with today: how to maximize their impact and improve operational efficiency without further burdening grantees. The Fund – which in 2017 granted 146 grants totaling nearly $5.4 million – was searching for a cloud-based, feature-rich management platform that enabled the grants management team to streamline their day-to-day work.
Promoting diversity within your industry or workforce is an important step towards creating opportunities for your community. Yet teams often forget these efforts are more than just the right thing to do, but provide definitive, quantifiable improvements. The data is in: diverse teams also deliver better results. And nowhere is this more important than the giving space, a space that aims to support disenfranchised communities, and therefore should be representing said communities on their own teams.
Our user conference, Fluxxcon, is fast approaching. Taking place on October 9th - 11th, at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio neighborhood, tickets for Fluxxcon are nearly sold out, so act now if you want to join us!
Photo by Ingrid Damiani for the Jesse Ball duPont Center
Here at Fluxx we work with both funders and grantees, giving us a unique insight into just how much money is invested in the philanthropic sector. Last year alone, $5.2 billion moved through our platform in the form of grants. This money went from foundations straight to the trusted nonprofits they fund, who then affected meaningful change across communities worldwide.
This year’s BoxWorks conference is sure to be impactful and we’re excited to share that Fluxx CEO, Madeline Duva, is appearing on a panel on August 30th, 2pm, at the Moscone Center.
A new generation is redefining social sector leadership with a work style that maximizes efficiency through collaboration. And you don’t have to be a millennial to harness the power of information sharing.
Here are three ways to access your foundation's valuable internal resources by simply communicating with colleagues:
Recently, Fluxx Co-founder and Chief Development Officer, Kerrin Mitchell, and Fluxx Chief Evangelist, Dan Schoenfeld, delivered an illuminating webinar: 4 Ways in Which Technology is Changing Grantmaking. The webinar brought context to key trends we’re seeing in philanthropy—specifically how improved technology has resulted in optimization and success for both foundations and nonprofits.
As I look back on the growth and changes we’ve experienced to date in 2018 here at Fluxx, I’m reminded that it’s happened against the backdrop of exciting changes in philanthropy overall. It’s a remarkable time for anyone focused on giving and change-making. There was a record-breaking $410 billion in giving in the US last year, with an important shift in contribution sources, as contributions to DAFs (donor-advised funds) exploded.
The Giving USA annual report on the state of philanthropy, which was released last month, reveals that Americans are giving more than ever (including when measured using inflation-adjusted dollars): $410 billion in 2017. (From 2007 through 2017, giving went up $99 billion in current dollars.) As in previous years, the types of organizations that received that money were mostly religious ($127 billion) and educational ($59 billion). Meanwhile, donations to foundations were up 15.5% and, of all types of recipient, foundations saw the highest growth rate over two years.
Seeing the positive impact of your organization’s grants can be deeply rewarding, yet we all know that the processes involved in grantmaking itself are often downright tedious and cumbersome—for both the grantmakers and the nonprofits they serve. There is a major role for technology to play in order to break down common administrative boundaries as well as increase capacity and collaboration.
Grantee reports are essential for foundations, helping determine disbursements and grants. Reporting is also a vital part of making grants and a fantastic opportunity for grantees to share advancement with grantmakers. But done inefficiently, it can be a tedious task that contributes little to grantmaker or grantee.
Done right, reporting can be a meaningful exchange of data and stories as well as a tremendous opportunity for growth for both grantees and grant makers.
Popular online magazine Slate recently released a new series about philanthropy. With The Slate 90, the journal will start ranking the largest American nonprofits by revenue, organized according to nine categories ranging from the arts to health. Its goal is to increase scrutiny of the growing philanthropic sector and provide what it calls “a more robust and useful portrait of the tax-free economy” and “the nonprofit-industrial complex” in particular. This snapshot of US philanthropy, based on 2015 data, shows the contemporary giving landscape.
|Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation|
The latest wave of donors is changing philanthropy as we know it. Along the way, younger philanthropists are also transforming how foundations work, and specifically creating a need for collaboration through technology.
That was the perspective of the panelists at Fluxx’s sixth annual philanthropic speaker series, A New Age in Philanthropic Giving, held earlier this year at the Ford Foundation in Manhattan. The panel, led by Sam Caplan, now CIO of the Walton Family Foundation, included Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation; Nick Tedesco, senior philanthropic advisor at J.P. Morgan; and David Callahan, founder and editor of Inside Philanthropy and author of The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age.
Over the past couple of years, we've seen a number of major trends that are shifting the traditional models of giving and philanthropy, not least of which is greater interest in giving, and increasing overall value in the amount of dollar amounts being donated.
The 2018 Peak Grantmaking conference just wrapped up, and what a fantastic time we had connecting with old friends and making new `any members of the Fluxx family come to Peak every year in search of new skills, ideas, and fellowship, and this year was highly successful on all fronts.
The Fluxx Support team is on a mission. Simply put, we want to make as many Fluxx customers as possible, as happy as possible. This uncomplicated premise drives everything team members strive for on a daily basis.
That’s why I’m so proud to announce that our team has been named a finalist for the 12th annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. We could not be more excited.
For foundations big and small, grants management software not only streamlines your operations, but can also give you a new perspective on your organization's work. From revealing insights through data to automating processes to improving operational transparency, the right software can be a critical component to achieving your mission.
Lately it feels like we’re living in a golden era of technology and innovation. In the past few years we’ve seen several technologies emerge to make a major impact in our lives: the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and now blockchain.
The most basic job description of a CFO is to manage an organization’s finances. But the simplicity of this description belies the complexity of the role, especially when it comes to understanding day-to-day responsibilities or big-picture goals at a charitable foundation.
Despite – or perhaps, because of – the unexpected results of the 2016 presidential election, giving trends for last year were overwhelmingly positive. According to Giving USA, charitable donations increased yet again, topping $390 billion in 2016.
This post was originally published on the PEAK Grantmaking blog in November, 2017.
It’s inevitable: at the end of every grant cycle, a final report provides a record of grantee successes, challenges, and monies spent. But how often does the final report become a meaningful mechanism for further reflection or change?
As a program manager and subject expert, you’ve always believed in the importance of capturing information and stories that articulate the impact of your work. Until recently, however, you may not have had the time, resources, or expertise to take your data practices to the next level.
Chances are, if you began your career as a grants manager 10 or 15 years ago, you didn’t consider yourself a tech pro, or a data wizard. You probably used a computer every day. And you became adept at office applications like Excel and Word. But still, there probably was a whole lot of paper in your life.
How times have changed.
The past few months have been horrific for so many, from the hurricanes in Florida, Houston, Puerto Rico, and across the Caribbean, to the earthquakes in Mexico and the recent North Bay fires right here in California. The devastation is widespread but has also hit very close to home, and the need to respond – to give what we can – grows daily.
Although the environmental sector only accounts for 3 percent of total giving in the U.S., environmental issues, particularly climate change, remain among the most pressing and intractable problems of our time.
For foundations, cloud-based grants management software has evolved rapidly since its relatively recent introduction. Cloud-based systems have quickly become more common than local server systems, providing both casual and tech-savvy users with increased access to the data they need.
During every fundraising event I helped to organize for 826 Boston, a literacy nonprofit based in Roxbury, MA, the lights dimmed and we hit play on our latest video.
Despite budget constraints, investing in multimedia storytelling is more important than ever for nonprofit success – and we can help you make the case for allocating more resources to communications strategies that work.
It's vitally important that foundations and nonprofits engage and collaborate in a healthy two-way relationship to bring about the change they both seek. But there is often a wide disconnect between how funders and grantees go about their work.
As a grants manager, you’ve always understood the importance of data, even if you don’t always consider yourself a tech guru. As the quarterback of the grantmaking process, you regularly collect critical pieces of information and synthesize it for future use. You’ve always known you needed data. But until recently, deep dives into the world of data were rarely expected from you due to a perceived lack of expertise, time, or mandate from leadership.
Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 storm when it made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas Friday night, has paralyzed much of the state and left thousands displaced. One hundred and thirty mile-per-hour-winds knocked down trees and power lines, generally wreaking havoc across the region.
Successful grantseeking operations are as much about managing a wealth of information as they are about writing a stand-out proposal. From prospective funders to grant cycle deadlines, there’s plenty to track as you move grants through the pipeline.
Measuring impact is challenging. There’s no two ways about it. Some funders skip important steps in development while others fail to pay enough attention to their grantees’ capacity or preferences when designing and implementing evaluations. What’s more, the variety of approaches to the work across the sector constrains the way organizations assess and even define impact.
This post first appeared in the Blue Shield of California Foundation blog. Thank you to Gywyneth for sharing her puppies (pictured above) with us!
As any good grant writer knows, our job involves far more than writing proposals. There’s program staff to interview, data to track, and plenty of deadlines to organize – smack dab in the middle of a busy nonprofit fundraising year.
Americans gave nearly $400 billion to charitable organizations and individuals last year – to make education work better for our children, put food on the tables of our most vulnerable, and to create safer and healthier neighborhoods and communities for everyone, to name only a few of the causes supported by philanthropic giving in 2016.
Brand ambassadorship is the new wave taking over marketing. Let's face it, the media-savvy among us harbor a healthy skepticism of marketing pitches. But we're much more receptive to the opinions of our own friends, or friends of friends. When we see the passion in others, it's contagious. It drives us to action.
Depending on the requirements of your funder, you’ll most likely have to file a detailed report about your financials, along with an evaluation of the funded program. Although grant reporting can be a valuable tool for growth, this crucial component of the funding cycle often causes sticking points for both nonprofits and funders.
You spent hours upon hours researching, preparing, and writing what your team knows is the perfect grant proposal — a proposal that meets each one of the foundation’s guidelines. Why wouldn’t it accept your proposal after all your hard work? But when you read on, your heart sinks.
Fundraising and donations are key components of any nonprofit’s development plan, but those strategies alone often won’t cover everything your organization wants to accomplish. That’s where grants come in.
Whether you’re a brand new nonprofit or your development team is growing fast, the pressures of grant writing mean development staff members nearly always feel the pinch of their deadlines.
By establishing best practices for proposal writing, you’ll not only improve the success rate of your grant proposals, but you’ll also establish teamwork norms that positively impact your entire staff. Think better prospecting, healthier relationships with donors and board members, and open communication between program and development staff. (Sounds nice, right?)
While it’s true that some grants come with strings attached, diversifying your nonprofit income with awards from private, corporate, or government-funded foundations can help you build a more sustainable fundraising strategy for your organization.
By joining forces in a coordinated effort, grantmakers, grantees, communities, and other stakeholders passionate about similar issues have the potential to create meaningful and lasting impact. This kind of collective action approach has the potential to address the most pressing and complex societal challenges of our time.
But what exactly is collective action? And why should you care? First: the why.
Undoubtedly, your foundation is equipped with the staff, tools, and expertise to make strategic grants, and maximize your impact. However, sometimes it really helps to bring in some outside assistance – especially when it comes to technology. Maybe you need help with selection and implementation, cloud computing and security, or CRM customization. Hiring a tech consultant allows you to get ahead of your tech to-do list and free up your time to work toward your mission.
We are right in the middle of the 2017 Ignite! Grantmaker Summit and I couldn’t be more energized and inspired. It is great to see so many good people gathered in one place, learning new skills and gaining a renewed focus on their missions.
Nonprofits are often forced into a “grantseekers dilemma.” For example, sometimes an organization applies for a grant that requires a certain kind of capacity, knowing they don’t have it, but hoping that with funding they can obtain it. It’s a lose-lose, for both funder and grantseeker, and reveals the critical importance of capacity building grants for effective nonprofits.
Although reporting can be a great opportunity to share the advancement of an organization’s work, the grantee report is at risk of becoming nothing more than a tedious task that contributes little value to you or your grantee.
Instead of being used as a launching pad for iteration and improvement, these reports too often go unread or underutilized.
It’s time to reframe the future of grantee reporting.
Dear Fluxx Community,
In 2011, we founded Fluxx based on the belief that if we could make philanthropy’s job easier we could do immense good in the world. And based on the work you do, day in and day out, I think we’re well on our way to making that happen. We're ready to do more.
When Give OUT Day was founded in 2013, it rose out of a sense of urgency and acute need. Its mission – to bring the LGBTQ community’s nonprofits and allies together across the country on a single day dedicated to giving – remains as critical today as it was five years ago.
Foundations and other nonprofit organizations are a powerful force of good in the world, but without a steady backbone of leadership and guidance from high-quality board members, they risk losing focus and becoming far less effective.
Unfortunately, there’s no definitive game plan for grantmakers. “The how of grantmaking,” as PEAK Grantmaking calls it, is many times a learn-on-the-fly endeavor, with systems, processes, and best practices handed down from one grants manager or program officer to the next. But sometimes best practices get lost in translation or dropped altogether.
That’s why we’ve gathered what we feel represents the best practices that are common among all effective grantmakers. And while it is true that your foundation has a unique way of managing the grantmaking process, we’ve uncovered tribal knowledge – broken down into three key steps – that you can employ to improve your efficiency and effectiveness.
America is more generous than ever before, according to the 2016 Giving USA report. Specifically, corporate giving exceeded $18 billion, a 3.9 percent increase from 2014. And as giving continues to grow as a personal value, more people are seeking out employers that share the desire to give back. The question becomes, what corporate giving strategy is right for your company?
As we finish up yet another informative and exciting GMN ... err … PEAK Grantmaking conference in Hollywood and head back to our day jobs, I’m left reflecting on my experiences talking to and learning from a crowd of really smart people, committed to solving some really important issues in society.
It’s no secret that grantmakers continue to struggle with how to approach evaluation and create a path towards more meaningful and informative impact measurement. With good reason! This is tough work.
International Women’s Day is not only a celebration of our collective progress and powerful voices as women, but it is also a call to “be bold for change.” It inspires us to continue open and honest dialogues about our vision for a truly global community, to honor where divisions require mending, and to be vigilant to the opportunities ahead.
Perhaps more than ever before, philanthropy has a critical role to play to make this vision a reality.
There are many misconceptions that obfuscate the impact evaluation landscape, leaving many foundations feeling disempowered and paralyzed. By busting a few of these myths, we hope to clear the way for grantmakers to shake that paralysis and take the first steps on a meaningful impact evaluation journey.
Last week, two powerhouse philanthropic data conferences merged under the Stanford University’s Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS) and Social Innovation Review (SSIR) umbrella. The two-day Data on Purpose / Do Good Data conference brought together academics, practitioners, and data experts from across the for- and nonprofit sectors to discuss data issues in a civil society, including various sessions on the effective and ethical use of data, creating a data culture, and collaborations around data. I came away with a new understanding of philanthropy's newest dilemma.
Before the age of computers, grantmakers pored over scads of paper applications during a review process that required a legion of folders and file cabinets. Countless hours were spent using brainpower on mundane but critical tasks.
Foundations are understandably tight-lipped about cyberattacks. Because of the sensitive nature of the breached data and fear that broadcasting a hack might invite more attacks, it’s not often that we hear about cybersecurity threats in philanthropy. But it can happen to anyone, anywhere — and it happens more than you might think.
The ultimate goal of any foundation is to create change. And program officers play a critical role in making that happen. But the program officer’s job is challenging. Not only must they be experts in their funding areas, but they also serve as relationship builders and key decision makers within their foundations.
This post first appeared on The Center for Effective Philanthropy blog.
The central paradox of The Future of Foundation Philanthropy can be found in one fact: while two out of three foundation CEOs think it’s possible for foundations to make a significant difference in the world, only about one out of every eight of us feel we actually are making such a difference. What’s behind this “aspiration gap,” as it has been called by The Bridgespan Group? I think it is because we are squandering the biggest advantage foundation executives have: we are free to fail.
The only way to get where you want to go is to know where you’ve been. Many of the prominent themes in philanthropy from 2016 — some perennial “evergreens,” others born of a new political landscape — demand our attention now more than ever.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the five most critical ideas of 2016 and how they’ll influence philanthropy in the coming year and beyond.
We get it. It’s hard not to treat organizational culture as an afterthought. The nuts and bolts of grantmaking come first at your foundation. Grantmaking, after all, is the primary way foundations create positive change in the world.
But we think culture matters. And here’s why.
More Than Words: Key Takeaways from J.P. Morgan and the “How” of Measurement and Impact in Philanthropy
That’s why a recent event hosted by The Philanthropy Centre at J.P Morgan in San Francisco was such a breath of fresh air. The gathering, How to Maximize Philanthropic Impact, was squarely focused on ensuring that the ideas presented there moved beyond just “talk.”
Grantmaking organizations manage billions of dollars of funding every year. The importance of maximizing the power of technology can’t be underestimated. Remarkably, most foundations lack a strategic technology plan that aligns with their mission, initiatives, and foundationwide strategy — even though it’s vital to reaching their goals.
In fact, according to a 2014 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) survey, a mere 23 percent of respondents said they have a technology plan that has been updated within the past two years. An additional 15 percent said they have a plan, but it hasn’t been updated, which means it isn’t keeping up with rapidly advancing technology. The most troubling statistic is the 62 percent of respondents who don't have a technology plan at all.
What does it mean to give?
For such a small word, it is incredibly powerful. It’s a word we put a lot of thought into around here.
That’s why we’re thrilled to participate this year in the unifying day of giving that is #GivingTuesday – a day that unites charities, corporations, small businesses, and individuals from across the globe to show that collectively we can leave the world a better place than we found it.
A day of unity is just what we need right now.
There is a story about Arkansas that is widely known by those who live and work there. It’s the story of failure and acceptance of failure. The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation (WRF) believes the time has come to switch that narrative.
But telling a new story of Arkansas hasn’t come without its challenges.
David Goodman participated on the Vendor Plenary Panel at the 2016 Technology Affinity Group (TAG) annual conference, where he first discussed his views on data, evaluation, and the sometimes over-emphasis on "impact" in philanthropy.
While my background is in research and evaluation, I’ve spent a great deal of time working with foundations and nonprofits to build their capacity to understand and use research and evaluation. I’m very excited to be able to bring my experience to the philanthropic sector at a time when there is a growing realization that it can benefit from the expertise of researchers and evaluators from other fields or disciplines.
This is a good thing. It gets me out of bed in the morning.
Yet, as much as I am excited about the emphasis on data, measurement, and impact, there is also a part of me that wants to pause – just for a moment – to talk about the disproportionate emphasis on “impact” alone.
Philanthropy is more than just a charitable donation, with no expectation of returns. It is a desire to give in the hopes of improving the lives of all beings on earth. It is action prompted by a love for humanity. And now, more than ever, it is a source of hope.
Any time the philanthropic sector has an opportunity to learn more about each other and the work that we do, we all benefit. A perfect example is the latest report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Benchmarking Foundation Evaluation Practices.
The key takeaway: The sector has limited capacity to take on meaningful evaluation. And foundations bypass developmental or formative evaluation at their own risk. Without undertaking this important work up front, capacity for evaluation practices will remain woefully inadequate.
There’s no denying it. The way we work has fundamentally changed. Our cloud-based, bring-your-own-device, collaborative workspaces – virtual and brick-and-mortar – bear very little resemblance to the foundations of even a decade ago. The technology that makes all this possible is also generating new ways for grantmakers to do their work — specifically, the ability to access and leverage data like never before.
To make the most out of this new work environment, foundations are opting into a culture of data-sharing and transparency.
Many nonprofits struggle under the weight of grantee burden. Any unnecessary hoops that grantees are forced to jump through only serve to stifle the impact that they (and their funders) seek to achieve. As a funder, any time you can minimize the amount of time, effort, and money that nonprofits spend seeking and receiving grants, you increase their capacity to focus on what they do best – their mission-related work.
First off, what does it really mean to be data-driven? And secondly, how do you get there? Two great questions I’ve thought a lot about. In fact, I asked folks from more than 100 foundations the same questions.
Several themes developed and a roadmap of proven strategies emerged.
This post first appeared on The Center for Effective Philanthropy blog.
At effective foundations, the how of grantmaking is everyone’s business.
When grantmakers think about their funding strategy, we often focus on where we will give, to what, and to whom. We think about the results we want our funding to spark or enable. But strategy is supported (or not) by operations: the way in which grantmaking programs are structured and how grants are introduced, applied for, screened, decided, made, monitored, reported upon, assessed, and learned from. These funder practices are what we call “the how.”
Philanthropy is changing. A new guard of social sector leadership is establishing a new way of working that maximizes impact and efficiency by promoting technology, transparency, and willingness to learn.
The key to this new way of thinking is collaboration — and this goes beyond the ease with which technology allows us to convene, share, and work together. And it transcends age: You don’t have to be a Millennial to understand the power of information sharing.
The role of grants manager has evolved in recent years from primarily executing the foundation’s overall grant efforts to managing critical data that have the power to make a much broader impact across the organization.
But are you – a grants manager – ready to be your foundation’s data expert?