Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) is an award-winning magazine and website that covers cross-sector solutions to global problems. SSIR is written by and for social change leaders from around the world and from all sectors of society—nonprofits, foundations, business, government, and engaged citizens. SSIR’s mission is to advance, educate, and inspire the field of social innovation by seeking out, cultivating, and disseminating the best in research- and practice-based knowledge. With print and online articles, webinars, conferences, podcasts, and more, SSIR bridges research, theory, and practice on a wide range of topics, including human rights, impact investing, and nonprofit business models. SSIR is published by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. Learn more: https://ssir.org/about/overview

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Voices from the Field

A ‘Balancing Test’ for Foundation Spending

Posted on March 10, 2020 by Dimple Abichandani

Editor’s Note: This article, by Dimple Abichandani, executive director of General Service Foundation, was originally published by Stanford Social Innovation Review on February 10, 2020 with the headline: “A ‘Balancing Test’ for Foundation Spending.” One of the most important decisions a foundation makes is how much to spend each year. As distinct from budgetary decisions, spending policies are the invisible architecture shaping… Read More

What the Heck Does “Equity” Mean?

Posted on October 26, 2016 by Kris Putnam-Walkerly

A clear definition of equity would seem paramount to galvanizing philanthropy into action around this increasingly used term—but the field is only beginning to explore what it really means. In this piece, pubslished in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, our content partner Kris Putnam-Walkerly (with the help of co-author Elizabeth Russell) poses some important questions about an infamous philanthropy buzzword… Read More

Putting Grantees at the Center of Philanthropy (GEO and SSIR Blog Series)

Posted on July 28, 2016 by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

Research shows that grantmakers that are more connected to their grantees—those that have an ear to the ground—are more likely to provide the support that nonprofits need to be successful; they are five times as likely to offer capacity-building support and two times as likely to offer multiyear support. We also know that tapping the knowledge and perspective of grantees… Read More

Understanding Rsk Tolerance in Grantmaking

Posted on July 22, 2015 by National Center for Family Philanthropy

Understanding decision-making patterns is the first step toward improving them. We know that despite best efforts to act rationally, human tendencies to avoid risk and loss while seeking certainty and gain can impact sensible decision-making. Research has demonstrated this phenomenon across many facets of our society—including finance, consumer products, and even golf. Given our professional and personal interest in the… Read More

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

Posted on October 1, 2009 by Ann Goggins Gregory, Don Howard

A vicious cycle is leaving nonprofits so hungry for general operating support for decent infrastructure that they can barely function as organizations—let alone serve their beneficiaries. The cycle starts with funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much running a nonprofit costs, and results in nonprofits’ misrepresenting their costs while skimping on vital systems—acts that feed funders’ skewed beliefs. … Read More

War of Ideas

Posted on October 21, 2005 by Andrew Rich

Why mainstream and liberal foundations and the think tanks they support are losing in the war of ideas… Read More

Money Talk: Payout Rates, Executive Salaries, and Trustee Compensation

Posted on October 30, 2004 by Stanford Graduate School of Business

It's hard for the public to understand the compensation for chief executives. It's not entirely rational...." "There is no research supporting the notion that trustee compensation results in higher levels of engagement, better grantmaking, or better work...." "There is an assumption that foundations must be perpetual. In fact, if you examine the mission statements, the opposite is true… Read More

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