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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.