Posts filed under ‘Grantmaking’

Understanding and responding to the needs of Ohio’s local LGBTQ communities post-Orlando

This week’s column is excerpted from a briefing paper written by Kristi Andrasik (program officer at the Cleveland Foundation) and Brian Schultz (community outreach manager at Foundation Center Midwest).

orlando graphic shapeEarly this summer, LGBTQ communities across the nation were painfully reminded of the many challenges that remain. On June 12, Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub, was attacked on Latin night during Pride Month. The massacre claimed 49 lives and wounded 53 others, nearly all of them LGBTQ and Latinx young adults. Many in the philanthropic sector have sought information about opportunities to support Orlando. The national philanthropy affinity group, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, released both a statement and resource guide with recommendations for grantmakers interested in supporting the Orlando community. A number of funders across the country have since directed funds to Orlando, launched community fundraising efforts and made statements in support of the Orlando LGBTQ community and LGBTQ people generally.

In March of this year, Funders for LGBTQ Issues announced a new targeted, place-based effort to increase the dialogue about foundation funding for LGBTQ people living in Ohio, naming Kristi Andrasik of the Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz of Foundation Center Midwest as the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Kristi and brian posing

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S, Program Officer for Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz, Community Outreach Manager for Foundation Center Midwest are the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Less than three months into our new role as Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors, we found ourselves working to maintain focus on the needs of Ohio’s LGBTQ community while grappling to comprehend the horrific crime committed against our community in Orlando. Since June 12, we have been in communication with LGBTQ colleagues, LGBTQ-serving organizations, and local funders to understand the impact of Orlando and offer support; yet we know there are still many with whom we have not yet connected, and many who may not yet know that we exist as a local resource.

After convening Northeast Ohio LGBTQ nonprofit leaders to gain a deeper insight into the local impact of Orlando, the issues most important for local funders to be aware of, and the opportunities for local funders to respond, we have compiled a briefing for Ohio’s philanthropic community, which is available on Philanthropy Ohio’s website.

The briefing paper discusses how Orlando has impacted LGBTQ Ohioans and LGBTQ organizations as well as suggesting ways that funders can support their local communities.

To learn more, read the briefing and reach out to Kristi or Brian.

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S
Program Officer, The Cleveland Foundation
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador

Brian Schultz
Community Outreach Manager, Foundation Center Midwest
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador
216.861.1933  x326


August 15, 2016 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Good grantmaking and good intentions

Heather-Peeler-headshotPhilanthropy Ohio is pleased to welcome Heather Peeler, vice president of member and partner engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, as our guest blogger this week. You’ll have a chance to meet and learn from Heather at the Philanthropy Forward ’15 conference, where she’s leading two sessions to help increase your effectiveness as a grantmaker.

Now that summer is in full swing, I convinced my husband that we should have an informal backyard barbecue with some good friends. Given busy schedules, I wanted to host a casual gathering where everyone could relax and enjoy one another’s company.

plate of food at BBQHowever, if you had seen me the days before and after the event, you would have thought I was planning something for the Queen of England, not a casual party with friends. There was extensive menu planning (simple burgers and dogs wouldn’t do), a signature cocktail and an excursion to the home goods store for fancy patio lights and new planters. I was so stressed by my “casual” barbecue, that I’m not even sure if anyone actually had a fun and relaxing time. I certainly didn’t.

This is a perfect example of how our intentions and our behaviors are often out of alignment. It happens in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. And sadly it happens in grantmaking, too. As grantmakers, we have the best of intentions to collaborate with others, help our grantees become stronger and to learn from our failures and mistakes. Yet our behaviors and practices often get in the way of making those intentions a reality.

GEO-LogoGrantmakers for Effective Organizations has long studied the types of grantmaker practices that support grantee success. We know that nonprofit resilience is based on the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and that restricted funding hamstrings this flexibility. We know that evaluation provides a powerful way to garner insights into what’s working and why, but few grantmakers share evaluation results with grantees and others who can benefit. We know that collaborative efforts to pool resources and align strategies can yield faster progress, yet we struggle to give up control and let go of our unique ways of doing business. Finally, we know that we make better decisions when we engage with the community and deepen our understanding, but we struggle to prioritize the time that’s needed to build relationships.

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. GEO’s recent field study of more than 600 foundations found that 93 percent of respondents think it is important or very important to provide support that will strengthen grantee organizations, yet 45 percent rarely or never support capacity-building activities. Eighty-one percent provide some level of general operating support, but most dedicate only 25 percent or less of their grantmaking budgets to it.

taking notes at meetingOver the years of working with grantmakers to help boost their and their grantees effectiveness, we’ve come to realize that knowledge of effective practice is not enough. Many smarter grantmaking practices are easier said than done. One doesn’t become a master collaborator or learning organization overnight. As part of the process, we should give careful consideration to our practices as well as our values. In particular, reflecting on current culture and values and how they align with practice can yield insights about why our organizations may not be making the progress we desire.

We have discovered many great ways that GEO members are shaping productive cultures through their actions, big and small. Here are a few that stuck with me:

  • The Cleveland Foundation nurtures a culture of learning by hosting “Fred Talks” (named after its founder) to better connect and learn with members of the community. The grantmaker convenes residents and community leaders for in-depth conversations in order to tap ideas about how the grantmaker can best pursue its mission. You can read more in Learning Together.
  • symphony concertIn GEO’s Smarter Grantmaking Playbook, we highlighted the work of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and its commitment to strengthening the arts sector in Cleveland. It has made general operating support a key part of its strategy. By devoting a large proportion of its grantmaking to flexible support, the grantmaker has seen its grantees grow sustainably and have a larger impact in the communities they serve.
  • Jim Canales, one of GEO’s founders and the CEO of the Barr Foundation, talks about how important it is to mind the small things – like making sure program officers keep their phones tucked away when they are meeting with grantees or others in the community as a sign of respect.

Our desire for strong and effective grantees is within our reach. To achieve it, we must build our knowledge about and practice smarter grantmaking. And, we must give careful consideration to where our values, intentions and practice diverge.

I’m looking forward to my time in Ohio next month, hope to see you there!

Heather Peeler

August 3, 2015 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Re-construct philanthropy for greater impact

headshot of claudiaPaul Shoemaker, executive connector at Social Venture Partners (SVP) in Seattle, recently published an essay exhorting funders to “fundamentally change the underlying practices we use to construct our philanthropy.” He has five philanthropic practices that – when used together – can help funders “make quantum leaps in achieving greater impact” in their communities. These practices are:

  1. Provide 100% unrestricted grants
  2. Fund long-term, at least over 10 years
  3. Connect to peers as the rule, not the exception
  4. Build strong boards
  5. Listen to customers much more closely
Paul Shoemaker, executive connector at Social Venture Partners Seattle

Paul Shoemaker, executive connector at Social Venture Partners Seattle

Paul has worked for more than 17 years as a funder and at SVP, so his insights are gleaned from on-the-ground experience as well as thoughtful analysis of results from those years. He is the founding president of Social Venture Partners International, has served on numerous nonprofit boards since leaving Microsoft in 1998 for SVP Seattle. I interviewed Paul to find out more about his essay and the practices. Read the full essay.

Q: What prompted you to write the essay?

A: Having spent 17 years in the sector and SVP’s work and the way that we do it with nonprofits, I was able to see the ramifications of funding first-hand, so that accumulation of experiences led me to write the essay. And, I think the other part of that is I feel so strongly about the practices, particularly the first thing I mentioned in regards to funding, my call for unrestricted grants. So, it’s a combination of both long-time experience and perspectives on funding and I decided to shove it all together into one document.

Q: How long did it take you to write this essay?

A: I should say probably 3 – 4 months. I got input from lots of people. No one agrees with everything but everybody agrees with some part of it. I got people to send input of what I wrote and then I thought about their reactions. I was certainly trying to write a personal point of view and have a voice, and be willing to put an opinion out there but I also wanted it to be well- rounded and have some other ideas in it.

image of essayQ: You said that funding was sort of the flashpoint for you, but how did you come to identify these five critical practices?

A: Like I said, the first practice was sort of always the flag I waved while the rest were from accumulated experiences and from talking to all those other folks. I had a lot longer list, but you can’t just throw the kitchen sink at it. I had hunch about a lot of things and used the conversations that I had with people who were helping me to prioritize and focus on what really mattered the most. So I sort of had a menu, and those folks helped me pick the things that mattered the most from the menu.

Q: Providing unrestricted funding is not the same thing as building capacity, which you didn’t include; why not?

A: Capacity building has been a part of our DNA for a long time. I guess what I would say is, I feel like capacity building is not really in the same category as these five things. The thing about building strong boards is sort of like the pear and the rest are the oranges. Capacity is like a different level of concept. And honestly, if you did those five things, that would go a long, long way to building a strong organization. So, capacity building is sort of inherent within those five things.

I tried to be clear that I didn’t mean that “unrestricted” (funding) meant “unaccountable.” I didn’t mean you throw money over the wall and burn it. They have to be accountable. There are some things nonprofits need to get better at if they want that kind of funding. But, that being said, I was trying to write a letter early on to funders, so for the purpose of this one essay, I wasn’t really writing for nonprofits. If they get it, great! But I was really writing for funders. I wasn’t trying to suggest practices for nonprofits. That would be a different paper—someday.


Let’s talk, philanthropy.

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

June 30, 2015 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

5 practices to change philanthropy from the outside-in

headshot of claudiaPaul Shoemaker, executive connector at Social Venture Partners (SVP) Seattle, shared insights gleaned from 17 years of working in philanthropy in a recent essay titled Re-Constructing Philanthropy from the Outside-In.

In line with SVP’s “philanthropic architecture,” Paul approaches his re-construction argument from the broad context of using human, social and financial capital to help nonprofits build capacity and achieve significant change.

empire state buildingThe basic re-construction that philanthropy needs is akin to the fundamental changes contractors made when building the Empire State Building, one of the seven modern wonders of the world.

For about 40 years, it was the world’s tallest building, and, standing 102 floors above Manhattan streets, the first to have more than 100 floors. Completed in 1931 (adapting the design that had been used to build the Carew Tower in Cincinnati), the building was an incredible breakthrough in many ways, including in the practices invented to construct sections of it offsite and then place them on Fifth Avenue.

block quote A similar breakthrough is needed in philanthropy and comes, Paul suggests, through implementing a set of five practices. These practices, he admits, are both familiar and already used by some funders. Alone, they are incrementally helpful: it’s putting them all into practice together that will bring about change from the outside-in.

The five practices are:

  1. Give unrestricted grants: calling funds that are limited as to purpose or time Quite Damaging Dollars (QDDs), Paul says that funders should instead provide 100 percent unrestricted funding to grantees.
  2. Fund long-term: and he doesn’t mean fund for two or three years; the timeframe for investment should be at least 10 years.
  3. Connect with peers: instead of acting collectively as the exceptional practice, make it the norm; philanthropy needs sustained relationships among funders to be a core practice.
  4. Build great boards: foundation boards, he says, must “impose excellence” upon themselves, acting more as stewards and less as overseers.staff meeting with papers and coffee mugs
  5. Listen to beneficiaries: funders can’t “fix communities” without having the recipients of services be participants, so they need to re-frame how they engage in communities to co-create programs and services.

What do you think? How do these ideas resonate with you? Use the comment box to continue the discussion.


claudia signature

Claudia Y. W. Herrold

April 13, 2015 at 3:47 pm 1 comment

Get on the map and get savvier with your grantmaking

headshot of JessicaAs one of Philanthropy Ohio’s membership services associates, it is my job to make sure our members (you) have access to the information and resources you need to be the most effective and successful at your job.

We all know that foundations, United Ways and funders play a very important role and do great work for our communities, but what if it you could do good, better?

That is why I’m so excited about the launch of the Get on the Map campaign.

Beginning this week, 20 regional associations, including Philanthropy Ohio, representing over 2,700 organizations and more than $38 billion in grantmaking will work with funders across the country to harness the data that supports our individual and collective work and enables all of us to tell a more accurate version of the story of philanthropy. Twenty Philanthropy Ohio members are already on the map, and now it’s your chance to get on the map, too!

Foundation Center data mapsThe Get on the Map campaign encourages funders to share grants data using  Foundation Center’s eReporting standard. Organizations that participate by submitting their data electronically will receive a free interactive map of their own grants to use as they wish. Delivered via Foundation Center’s Foundation Maps platform, the maps will provide funders with anytime access to timely information about the activities of their peers, regional funding gaps, potential collaborations and more.get on the map logo

Just imagine: rather than making dozens of calls, you’ll be able to sit at your desk and in just a few clicks, access an interactive mapping tool that gives you current information on who is funding what and where in your community. Now imagine being able to target populations and key elements of the actual grant — not just a list of recipient institutions and organizations.

Best of all, it’s free to participate and access the maps, as part of your Philanthropy Ohio membership.

So what are you waiting for? Visit our website for more information, and get on the map! If you have any questions about the Foundation Maps member benefit, please let me know!

Happy Mapping!

jessica signature

Jessica Howard

February 10, 2015 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

Let’s Talk (Corporate) Philanthropy with Bea Boccalandro

ImageThis week Philanthropy Ohio interviews Bea Boccalandro, president of VeraWorks, who is presenting a webinar series on high impact corporate community involvement.

Philanthropy Ohio: The objective of this webinar series is to explore and implement high impact corporate community involvement. You begin by asking participants to try to imagine their company tripling the impact of the “good” they did last year to address societal causes without raising their charitable giving. Not surprisingly, most of the participants thought this outcome was infeasible. But, by the end of the session most changed their minds and thought this outcome was feasible. How did you get them to change?

Bea Boccalandro: Capitalism is fantastically productive. Even a modestly-sized company might inform thousands of a sale or deliver product across hundreds of miles in a single day.

The typical corporate giving program, however, does not benefit from the corporate might of its own organization. Rarely is corporate advertising used to inform teenagers of the risk of driving drunk. Rarely are corporate logistics repurposed to deliver food or books to underprivileged families. The overwhelming majority of corporate giving is limited to issuing checks amounting, on average, to no more than 1 percent of profit.

Webinar participants were able to see the feasibility of tripling the number of teenagers reached or food delivered or other societal impact after only one hour because they spent that hour thinking “outside the grant.” Specifically, they discovered best practices from other companies and explored how competencies – and other assets – that make their own business commercially successful can “turbo-charge” their community involvement.

people_projectPhilanthropy Ohio: While you don’t dismiss the value of experiences related to traditional “extra-hands” volunteering—for example service days at the food bank or community clean up—you advocate that companies focus on skills-based volunteer opportunities. It seems that moving your focus to skills-based work would be difficult, is it really worth it to try to make this transition?

Bea Boccalandro: Pursuing the innovative is always harder than repeating the customary. However, when a corporate marketing manager helps a nonprofit develop a social media campaign on the dangers of driving drunk or a sales team helps craft a sustainability plan, they make contributions the nonprofit might never be able to afford. To a leanly-staffed community organization, such infusion of skilled expertise might be the difference between succeeding long term and withering to extinction. Indeed, CECP and the Taproot Foundation estimate that every hour of skills-based volunteering results in a contribution to nonprofits valued six times higher than an hour of extra-hands volunteering (approximately $120, versus $20, per hour).

Skills-based volunteering has another advantage. For employees, it seems to “click” better than conducting service that is completely disassociated from work. At Hewlett Packard, for example, skills-based volunteer experiences are both more satisfying to employees and more effective at boosting their workplace morale than extra-hands volunteering.

In summary, embarking down the path of skills-based service might initially add complexity to a corporate community involvement program. Yet, the results – for both societal causes and workplace culture – merit that practitioners seriously consider skills-based employee volunteering.

Philanthropy Ohio: Is it best to integrate employee service into the everyday work experience?

Bea Boccalandro: Yes, I consider work-integrated employee volunteering the new frontier in employee volunteering. FedEx, for example, offers drivers in Florida the opportunity to learn how to recognize invasive species of snakes that the Nature Conservancy is working hard to find and remove from the Everglades. Drivers, then, support the Nature Conservancy as they drive their delivery routes. Their service to a societal cause is so integrated into the everyday work experience that it’s hard to distinguish when they are working and when they are volunteering.

Integrating service into the workplace experience has two key advantages. First, in many cases it makes it easier for employees to find the time to volunteer and it, therefore, can generate many more hours of service. These FedEx employees no longer have to choose between a daughter’s soccer game and attending the Nature Conservancy’s environmental project on Thursday evenings. Second, infusing jobs with a societal contribution appears to positively transform employees’ workplace experience. Employee engagement, teamwork, sense of belonging, pride and connection to mission appear to improve. Again, HP has data showing that, while participation in any HP-organized volunteer activity is associated with an uptick in employee morale, the uptick is higher in volunteering closely linked to their work and workday.

Philanthropy Ohio: Our next webinar in this series will focus on implementing this new strategy. Can you preview one of the success stories we’ll explore on May 13?

Bea Boccalandro: The second webinar will focus on making high-impact corporate philanthropy reality. Thankfully, a number of companies are lighting the path forward. IBM, for example, has repurposed for nonprofit application many of the tools it uses commercially. Any employee (or retiree) can enhance the effectiveness of their volunteering with an IBM Activity Kit targeting that nonprofit’s need, be it marketing, project management or website design. Kits are designed to have everything the volunteer needs to deliver that service to the nonprofit, such as questionnaires, checklists, slide decks or templates.

save the date graphic bannerAn IBM employee who helped a soup kitchen with a fundraiser, for example, might be interested in measuring impact. She can download an IBM-produced Activity Kit on impact evaluation and work with the soup kitchen to apply it. What’s more, the portal provides shared user-provided rankings of the Activity Kits based on a five-star system and helpful user comments.

Other companies, like Aetna and Caesars Entertainment, have taken completely different approaches in their high impact corporate community involvement. But to hear their stories, however, you will need to attend the webinar!

Register for the next webinar in the series on May 13 at 9 a.m.

April 28, 2014 at 10:31 am Leave a comment

Funders & Advocacy

Karen Gahl-MillsThis week we welcome guest blogger, Karen Gahl-Mills, executive director, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture

Grantmakers have often been on the leading edge of advocacy work at the national, state and local levels, working with elected officials to bring positive change to our communities.

But let me also suggest that, beyond advocacy for issues large and small, we as grantmakers can make a significant impact in our communities by extending our definition of advocacy to include directly connecting elected officials with the nonprofit organizations that we fund, those organizations who are doing the work of positive change every day. And we should consider making those connections at times when we aren’t advocating for a specific issue or piece of legislation, as a service to our elected officials and our nonprofit partners alike.

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture is primarily a grantmaking organization, but we, like many funders, know that we have talents to share that extend beyond money. And one way that we’ve learned that we can help our cultural partners – our name for those nonprofit organizations that we fund – beyond our grantmaking work is through this sort of targeted advocacy.

Of course, we have a vested interest in telling our own story and building support from elected officials for the continued existence of the dedicated, local public arts and culture funds that we benefit from here in our community. However, we have found that it is most effective to tell our story – how public funds help strengthen our community through our investments in arts and culture organizations – through the work of our cultural partners. And what better way to do that than to bring an elected official on a site visit, so that s/he can see the work of our partner in action, and see how CAC funds make a difference.

So here’s the story of one such site visit, with the hope that you might take away some lessons that you can use to help your partners (grantees) in your communities.

Cuyahoga County is lucky to be represented in Washington by a great group of legislators who really understand how arts and culture helps to drive our regional economy. One of our area’s newest representatives is Marcy Kaptur (D – Ohio), a seasoned legislator who has a new district that now includes a slice of our county.

On a warm summer Friday this past July, we had the privilege of meeting Rep. Kaptur and members of her team at Baldwin Wallace University’s Conservatory of Music. Bryan Bowser, assistant director of the conservatory for external affairs and director of BW’s Arts Management Program, took us on a tour of BW’s Summer Music Program, a program that draws more than 600 middle- and high-school students each year from Northeast Ohio and beyond.

The BW Conservatory has a proud tradition of community outreach programs which serve more than 3,000 participants and more than 35,000 audience members each year. In summer 2013, the Summer Music Program included camp programs focused on strings, piano, band and musical theater, which included student performances and opportunities to attend interactive performances such as a professional theater or orchestral performance in the community and talk back session with the artists.

Choosing a venue for a site visit is always, key, and BW is a visually pleasing, high-quality institution perfectly suited for the task. We had the opportunity to observe a choral group, the high school orchestra, and students in the musical theater program. But as we walked and talked through BWs storied halls, Rep. Kaptur’s inquisitive nature drew out of both of us the stories of what our organizations do – and how CAC’s funds help put a little more wind in BW’s sails.

Showing is always more effective than telling, and by the end of our hour, Rep. Kaptur and her staff better understood one of the key cultural assets in her newly-shaped district – BW – and better understood how the public funding climate in our community helps to keep that asset strong, healthy, and in service to the community at large. I can say that with some confidence, because I had occasion to run into Rep. Kaptur some weeks later, at which time she referenced our visit and reiterated the importance of BW to the cultural landscape in our community – a win for everyone.

So as you consider ways to extend the value you provide to those that you fund, think about ways to put this kind of advocacy to work for you. Why not set the goal of trying to do an advocacy visit like this one just once in the coming year? You will help our elected officials better understand the issues facing our communities, and you will help your partner organizations get some well-deserved attention for their good work.

September 10, 2013 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

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