Category Archives: consulting

3 Ways Foundations Squash Risk-Taking

There was a time not too long ago when you rarely heard the word “foundation” and “risk” in the same sentence…or paragraph…or entire document. Risk simply hasn’t been something formally and broadly associated with philanthropy over the past few decades. However, it’s become pretty obvious to many people that the traditional ways of grantmaking are not enough to make a dent in the entrenched and intertwined social challenges of poverty, inequity, education or healthcare. Yes, one can’t blame philanthropy alone and other sectors very much bear their share of responsibility and obligation. But philanthropy can afford to take some risks that other sectors can’t. The concept of philanthropic risk isn’t new; there have always been some foundations that are willing … Continue reading 3 Ways Foundations Squash Risk-Taking

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

10 Mistakes New Foundation Boards Make, and How to Avoid Them (Part 1)

The philanthropic sector has seen steady growth over the past decade, and while some new foundation boards may be made up of veteran philanthropists, I’ll 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. I was recently invited to speak with a new health legacy foundation board and shared with them 10 mistakes that new foundation boards often make, and how to avoid them. Here are the first five (I’ll cover the other five next … Continue reading 10 Mistakes New Foundation Boards Make, and How to Avoid Them (Part 1)

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Use an Abundance Mentality to Streamline Foundation Processes

About a year ago, I wrote a newsletter article about grantmaking with an abundance mentality rather than a poverty mentality. That sparked a good bit of interest, some speaking requests, and an article in the December 2015 edition of GMNsight (a publication of the Grants Managers Network) about how an abundance mentality can help foundations streamline almost every process to boost efficiency, productivity and morale. In the GMNsight article (also available for download on my website), there are several examples of what a poverty mentality looks like and how it hinders effectiveness: Understaffing that subjugates networking and knowledge building with administrative tasks Lack of investments in technology or policies that prohibit its most productive uses (such as working remotely) Over-done … Continue reading Use an Abundance Mentality to Streamline Foundation Processes

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

5 Ways Foundation CEOs Stress Their Program Executives (and How to Fix It)

Foundation CEOs carry a huge responsibility. They are charged with achieving mission, but doing so in a way that is as cost-effective as possible. Naturally, they depend heavily on their senior program staff to make sure these things happen – but in doing so they often end up making both mission effectiveness and cost effectiveness all but impossible to achieve. Here are five reasons why: Ridiculous Board Dockets – A foundation program officer once told me she aged two years preparing for each board meeting because of the excessive length and complexity of the board docket. I’ve advocated for shorter dockets before (see Stop the Board Docket Madness) and I’ll do it again. Providing every iota of detail on every … Continue reading 5 Ways Foundation CEOs Stress Their Program Executives (and How to Fix It)

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

New Webinar Series on Philanthropy Consulting

Based on the groundbreaking Spring issue of The Foundation Review — the first edition dedicated to the practice of philanthropy consulting —the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (NNCG) is presenting a series of seven webinars that will dive deeper into many of the publication’s article topics. The webinar series is co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, The Foundation Center, Learn Philanthropy, Northern California Grantmakers, and The Foundation Review. The first webinar, Common Cause: Aligning Foundations and Consultants for More Effective Philanthropy, is hosted by The Foundation Review and will be held Wednesday, May 13 at 1:00 pm (ET) featuring speakers Chris Cardona of the Ford Foundation and Barbara Kibbe of the S. … Continue reading New Webinar Series on Philanthropy Consulting

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Why RFPs Waste Time: Choose a Better Approach to Finding a Great Consultant Part II

Last year I posted a blog about why I consider the RFP process for hiring consultants to be a waste of time and resources, for foundations and consultants alike. This week, read about 5 better ways to find quality consulting help. Before you send out another RFP to retain a consultant, consider these alternatives: Continuously source and build relationships with consultants. Don’t wait until you desperately need a consultant to start looking for one. Ask peer foundations to share their experiences. Create a shared list of consultants who have delivered pleasing results. Ask a consultant or two to help you brainstorm ideas in the early stages in exchange for lunch. Ask colleagues, including consultants, for referrals. Word of mouth truly is … Continue reading Why RFPs Waste Time: Choose a Better Approach to Finding a Great Consultant Part II

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

20 Ways a Consultant Can Make Your Life Easier

You and your staff can probably leap tall buildings in a single bound. But you might not be able — or willing — to tackle every single need that presents itself. It might be time to hire a consultant. If you are wondering just how much help consultants can be, here are 20 ways they can make your life easier. Perform needs assessments – The more ingrained we get in our work, the harder it is to see the big picture. A strategic consultant can provide an overview of your organization and help you determine where you have real gaps and where you need to make strategic change. Conduct environmental scans – It would be great to know who else … Continue reading 20 Ways a Consultant Can Make Your Life Easier

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

Call for Papers On Philanthropy Consulting

The Foundation Review has issued a Call for Papers for an issue focused on philanthropy consulting. The March 2015 themed issue, co-edited by the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers,  will explore quality, trends and impact in a significant component of philanthropic practice. Abstracts of up to 250 words are due by May 15, 2014. If a full paper is invited, it will be due by August 15, 2014 for consideration for publication. Papers are invited on topics including, but not limited to: Scope and scale. To what extent do grantmakers and funder networks retain consultants, and for what purposes? Role. Why do foundations hire philanthropy consultants? What are the roles of philanthropy consultants? How do roles vary by grantmaker … Continue reading Call for Papers On Philanthropy Consulting

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

15 Tips for Effective Communications Planning

I’ve helped dozens of foundations to develop and launch new grantmaking initiatives. One of the lessons I’ve learned is the importance of communications planning – early and often. As one colleague advised me, “Communications begins the moment you open your mouth and start talking about the idea of your initiative.”  Yet communications planning often gets overlooked. To help one of our clients prepare for communications planning for a new initiative, I conducted brief research to identify recommended components of a communications plan, and approaches to communications planning. I wanted to share some of the key findings with you, in hopes that it helps you with communications planning for your philanthropic initiatives and programs. A Strategic Communications Plan Should Have Internal … Continue reading 15 Tips for Effective Communications Planning

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >

15 Ways To Improve Grantee Communication at Your Foundation

This was originally posted by me as a guest blogger on the Philanthropy News Digest’s blog,  PhilanTopic, and re-posted on the Communications Network blog. Clear communication with grantees matters: Grantees are typically a foundation’s chosen agents of change, selected for their ability to create impact. The better a foundation can communicate its goals and strategies to grantees, the more effective these partnerships will be — and the more likely grantees will be to perform in ways that are consistent with the foundation’s goals. (Center for Effective Philanthropy). Effective communication with grantees is not just the job of program staff, but of staff at all levels of the foundation – from administrative assistants, to human resources, communications, evaluation, and executive staff.  … Continue reading 15 Ways To Improve Grantee Communication at Your Foundation

Share Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookEmail this to someoneShare on LinkedIn
read more >