Contributions

Special grantmaking: A purposeful, flexible resource for foundations

Posted on January 8, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Many foundations that are guided by a long-term commitment to move the needle in a finite set of issue areas also hold “special grantmaking” funds. These program dollars can be flexibly deployed for nascent opportunities, innovative ideas, emergencies, local causes, and/or areas of high interest to their leaders. Little has been written about special grants as a vibrant resource for… Read More

Strategy and Evaluation: The Twin Engines of Effective Philanthropy

Posted on January 8, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

This essay provides a fast-paced tour of grantmaker approaches, launching with the advent of long-range planning in the 1980s and visiting scenario planning, social return on investment, human-centered design, big data, and other developments that have influenced practice. The author lands on strategy and evaluation as the anchor approaches that will fuel greater philanthropic impact in the new decade. This… Read More

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 3: 2018-2020

Posted on January 7, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California’s critical challenges “sooner rather than later.” The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to… Read More

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 2: 2014-2017

Posted on January 7, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California’s critical challenges “sooner rather than later.” The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to… Read More

Sooner Rather Than Later, Chapter 1: 2009-2013

Posted on January 7, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

In 2009, following five decades of Foundation growth and impact, the Board of Directors for this family philanthropy chose to spend down all assets. In the words of its founder, this decision reflected a commitment to finding lasting solutions to California’s critical challenges “sooner rather than later.” The spend-down horizon was initially set for eight years and then adjusted to… Read More

Spending down: Laurie Dachs answers questions for family philanthropies

Posted on January 7, 2021 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Courtesy of Jonathan Petersson from Pexels In October 2020, Nick Tedesco, president and CEO of the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP), talked with Lauren B. (Laurie) Dachs, president and vice chair of the board at the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, about spending down all assets. The Foundation was founded in 1957; in 2009 it became a limited-life philanthropy… Read More

The Experiences of a Foundation With a Limited Life: Benefits and Challenges (MAVA Foundation)

Posted on October 9, 2020 by Lynda Mansson

Drawing on reflections from the director general of the MAVA Foundation and learnings from foundations that have recently closed, this article also discusses how to prepare for the end date of a limited-life foundation. MAVA, a Swiss-based grantmaking foundation for 25 years, has a planned end date of 2022. The article features key lessons for foundations considering closure, and will… Read More

Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries

Posted on August 25, 2020 by Valerie Threlfall, Fay Twersky, Phil Buchanan

To become more effective, nonprofits and foundations are turning to various sources for advice. Some look to experts who can share knowledge, research, and experience about what works—and what does not. Others turn to crowdsourcing to generate ideas and even guide decisions about future directions or funding. Experts and crowds can produce valuable insights. But too often nonprofits and funders… Read More

Building Impact: Tools for Making Good Capital Grants

Posted on November 18, 2019 by S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Capital projects are frequently transformational, changing the arc of the nonprofit organizations that choose to build. Unlike program grants that aim to advance change in complex systems, the process for a capital grant is seemingly transactional: a grant is made, and a structure is built or renovated. As many nonprofits and funders have found, however, the trajectory of a capital project is rarely clear cut… Read More

Get Involved

Search Knowledge Center for Resources!

We’re here to help you on your philanthropic journey. Contact NCFP for support!

Get Assistance

Keep up with trends in family philanthropy. Subscribe to our newsletter!

Signup

Family philanthropy improves the quality of life for all. Join our family!

Join Now