The Foundation Review's latest issue (2014 #3) is devoted to the grantmaking practices of foundations. Editor Michelle Greanias tells us that the special issue "expands what we’ve learned about the connection between how a grant is made and the ultimate success of that grant." You can view the issue in print at the New York library, or at any Foundation Center regional library through EBSCOhost's Nonprofit Organization Reference Center.
Here are four article summaries from the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature, with additional comments from Greanias.
"The Impact Grants Initiative: community-participatory grantmaking modeled on venture philanthropy" by Adin C. Miller, Elisa Gollub, Ilana Kaufman, and Adina Epelman. p. 6-21.
In-depth analysis of the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund's Impact Grants Initiative (IGI), which offers engagement opportunities for local donors and community leaders, while identifying high-impact nonprofits in Jewish communities. Participation in IGI has more than doubled the number of community members engaged in philanthropy through the fund. Gives data on grantmaking and donations received.
"Ripple effects of process change" by Rebekah Usatin, Nancy Herzog, and Myriam Fizazi-Hawkins. p. 22-35.
Article describes how the National Endowment for Democracy modified its grantmaking program by determining the most effective way to gather information used to decide whether a grant should be renewed. As a result, they shifted from a project-oriented grantee self-evaluation reporting process to one where grantees used cumulative assessments that evaluated several grants at once and focused on long-term outcomes.
Greanias: [In these two studies] we learn that the most effective grantmakers are those willing to evaluate not only their grants, but also their established practices. These grantmakers discover what works through trial and error, reflection and evaluation, and learning from peers.
"Using a priority grid as a tool for shaping strategy and building impact" by Lori Fuller. p. 36-47.
Fuller discusses an analytic tool (a priority grid) used by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust that was developed to assess grant proposals. The grid focuses on three elements: alignment with funding focus areas, depth of impact, and scope of impact. Also discusses how the grid influences grantmaking strategy and staff recommendations.
Greanias: [this paper] examines aligning grant decisions better with strategy.
"Financial analysis for measuring and comparing risk in grantmaking portfolios" by Shena Ashley and Lewis Faulk. p. 60-8.
The authors propose a method for developing a single numeric value of the risk a foundation may accept across its entire grant portfolio. The number is based on an index of various financial indicators, and is tested on a sample of 75 foundations in Georgia.
Greanias: [looks at how foundations] balance risk across their portfolio of grants.
To identify other grantmaking studies in The Foundation Review and other sources, search the Catalog of Nonprofit Literature using subject keyword "grantmaking".
Foundation Center-New York