Voices from the Field Posts

Three shifts toward changing philanthropy’s advocacy narrative

Posted by Laurel O'Sullivan and Sonya Campion on April 11, 2016

Advocacy is the single most effective strategy to achieve social impact. Without advocacy, achieving real social transformation is not possible. It provides both the scale and pathway to implement the solutions foundations fund. Yet there remains a tendency to undervalue and avoid it as a grant making strategy for a multitude of reasons based on misperceptions, fear, and often impatience for quicker results.

The Noyce Foundation: Ten core principles for hands-on philanthropy

Posted by The Noyce Foundation on April 1, 2016

The Noyce Foundation was established in 1990 by the family of the late physicist, inventor, and computer industry pioneer Dr. Robert N. Noyce, co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, and co-inventor of the integrated circuit, better known as the microchip. For the past quarter-century, the Noyce Foundation has been devoted to helping the nation’s students become “curious, thoughtful, and engaged” learners in the fields of mathematics and science. Over its quarter century of existence, the Noyce Foundation’s approach to grant making evolved reflecting what the trustees have learned from their cumulative experiences as well as the institutional knowledge the foundation has gained about the fields it in which it works.

Lessons from the Orfalea Foundation sunset

Posted by Catherine Brozowski and Lois Mitchell on April 1, 2016

In 2000, The Orfalea Foundation was started in Santa Barbara, California. The foundation carried forward the same entrepreneurial spirit of the business through its philanthropy. Orfalea’s legacy stands for bold and at times even aggressive approaches to helping alleviate some of the pressing social problems in Santa, Barbara, including early childhood education, school nutrition, and disaster preparedness. The foundation engaged in deep working partnerships, comprehensive initiatives, and transformative impact in the community because we believed that through partnerships we could tackle big challenges facing our neighborhoods.

Four ways family philanthropies can support social movements

Posted by Derrick Feldmann on March 29, 2016

Social movements are at the core of who we are as a society. People participate in these social movements because those who can’t stand up for themselves need the voice of strangers to be there for them. It’s the real reason most of us get behind a cause – an inspirational story, a symbol or a vision inspired us.

10 mistakes new foundation boards make, and how to avoid them

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly on March 24, 2016

While some new foundation boards may be made up of veteran philanthropists, it's a safe wager that many of those entrusted are taking on the job for the first time. It's a big responsibility, and many of the early choices made by a new board can determine whether the new foundation will move forward smoothly and effectively or become mired in a culture or in policies that stifle effectiveness.

Why we must stand up for overhead

Posted by Katherine Lorenz on March 3, 2016

It is critical that donors invest in the long-term health and sustainability of the institutions we are asking to tackle the world’s most entrenched social problems. Starving organizations of strong strategic plans or essential technology—often viewed as overhead and therefore superfluous—actually prevents their ability to use the limited resources they do have most effectively.

Walking the talk: Striving for authentic partnership with our grantees

Posted by Laura McCargar on February 23, 2016

In November, PFF Program Officer Laura McCargar joined Michael Moody of the Johnson Center for Family Philanthropy and NCFP Fellow and Board Member Katherine Lorenz of the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation at the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference in Houston, Texas to talk about collaboration in the context of family philanthropy.

Five essential practices to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion at your family foundation

Posted by Audrey Haberman and Sindhu Knotz on February 16, 2016

Last October, we had the pleasure of hosting a conversation with a group of ten family foundations attending the National Forum on Family Philanthropy in Seattle. The session was focused on how foundation leaders can begin to address the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) with your staff and trustees. Through storytelling about successes, and a discussion about mistakes and anxieties related to DEI, the group identified five essential practices any family foundation should consider to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Good governance: How should family foundation boards spend their time?

Posted by Phillip Henderson on February 9, 2016

Checks landing in the mailboxes of nonprofit organizations with foundation return ad-dresses have long been considered philanthropy’s most important currency. Reflecting that view, family foundations have tended to focus their operations, self-image, and their very reasons for being on getting the dollars out the door...Lurking behind that 90 percent, though, is another story—it’s the natural tendency to conflate family governance of a foundation and strategic control of its mission with control of the grantmaking function.

I am Family Philanthropy: Katherine Lorenz

Posted by National Center for Family Philanthropy on February 2, 2016

Katherine Lorenz, President of the The Cynthia & George Mitchell Family Foundation and NCFP Fellow and board member, reflects on how philanthropy has brought together multiple generations of her family. Katherine shares how the Cook's Branch Conservancy in Piney Woods, TX promotes local and regional conservation ethics and demonstrates the resilience of nature in perpetuity.

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