Summer Daydreaming is the Perfect Time to Re-Imagine Philanthropy

School’s out and summer is here! Time to pursue that great American pastime – the lazy summer vacation. Be it at the beach, in the mountains, or somewhere in between, there’s actually a great value in taking time off and letting your mind daydream for a bit. In fact, summer dreaming time is the perfect way to spark what could be a dramatic change in your philanthropy. All you need, really, is your own permission to do so. While you’re miles away from the phone, co-workers, and day-to-day expectations, give yourself time and space to dream a little. Take a few deep breaths. Allow yourself to understand that any and all thoughts are welcome – even those that may feel unorthodox. … Continue reading Summer Daydreaming is the Perfect Time to Re-Imagine Philanthropy

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8 Tools Grantmakers Frequently Forget to Use

When most people think about philanthropy, it’s all about the money. But cold, hard cash is just one of many tools in a grantmaker’s tool belt. And some of those non-cash tools are far more effective when it comes to addressing grantee needs and community challenges. Here are eight tools grantmakers can – and should – use more often: Connections – Who are the people you know, and how could you make introductions or referrals for your grantees? If you’re like most people, you probably have a broader list of contacts than you realize. Don’t be afraid to use it. Think about the other funders, accountants, attorneys, consultants, government employees, and nonprofit leaders you’ve met. How could these people help … Continue reading 8 Tools Grantmakers Frequently Forget to Use

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Isn’t This Supposed to be Fun? 5 Ways to Put the Joy Back in Philanthropy

We all know the feeling. When that sense of excitement and possibility on the drive to work is replaced by stress, dread or boredom. What’s a grantmaker to do? It’s natural to face burnout and frustration from time to time. Processes and routines get old. Results are less than hoped for. Grantees approach you with an air of resigned diligence – or worse, apathy. You watch them jump through hoops your foundation has created and wonder what compels them to soldier on. When that happens, it’s easy to lose the big picture and remember why what you do matters – and what drew you to philanthropy in the first place. Fortunately, there are ways to put the joy back into … Continue reading Isn’t This Supposed to be Fun? 5 Ways to Put the Joy Back in Philanthropy

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Speaking with One Voice: 5 Tips for Joint Public Statements

Once upon a time, it was unheard of for a foundation to engage in any kind of discourse involving public policy. Now, it’s becoming more and more commonplace, as foundations realize that in order to truly create positive change and address the various root causes of the issues they fund, policy must come into the picture. Several of our clients have engaged in policy successfully in a variety of ways. Some work well in advance of legislative activity, bringing issues to light and convening experts to brainstorm potential policy solutions. Others work to support nonprofit organizations in their own advocacy efforts. Still others work after policies are enacted to help support their implementation. Sometimes, foundations feel the need to speak … Continue reading Speaking with One Voice: 5 Tips for Joint Public Statements

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Boardroom Battles: 5 Ways to Move Beyond Conflict

Over the last 15 years, I’ve consulted with a few clients who, in the midst of our strategic planning sessions or evaluation efforts, must deal with the added stress of handling conflict within their boards. At best, these conflicts are time- and energy-consuming hassles. At worst, they can derail an entire planning or implementation process or bring a foundation’s momentum to a screeching halt. I’m happy to report that extreme conflict is the exception rather than the rule. Most board members are rational, committed professionals. However, even among the most collegial boards there’s always the possibility of conflict, and savvy foundation leaders I know have used the following approaches to diffuse disagreement smoothly and quickly. Remain impartial. Never take sides. … Continue reading Boardroom Battles: 5 Ways to Move Beyond Conflict

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Your Attention, Please!

If you have ever been a parent of young children, you probably know the utter agony of trying to teach your children to read. Night after night my husband and I sit with our 6-year-old twins and slog through early reader books with titles like A Lucky Day for Andrew and Birthday Surprise. We help them sound out “j-u-m-p” and “s-l-o-w-l-y”, offer encouragement (“you’re half-way done, and you only need to read the entire book two more times!”), suggest proper reading posture (“it would help if you sat up,” “if you shake the book it’s hard to read,” “get your hands out of your pants”) and try to stay awake. It’s truly painful. But there are lessons in reading to … Continue reading Your Attention, Please!

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