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Glasspockets Find: The Weingart Foundation Lays Out Its Assumptions and Its Grant Plan
March 3, 2014

(Rebecca Herman is special projects associate for Glasspockets at the Foundation Center-San Francisco.)

Herman-150Everyone has assumptions about charitable giving and philanthropy, but we usually don't spell out what those assumptions are. We may have devoted months to researching what nonprofits need most, and we may have spent hours deliberating where to focus our efforts--and where is that information to be found? In a foundation's private files? Not anymore.

Weingart Foundation logoThe Weingart Foundation starts planning its annual grantmaking by laying out its assumptions. This public document reads like a kind of "state of the union" from one funder's perspective, informed by grantee feedback, research, conversations with colleagues and analysis of grant applications. In the President's Message, Fred Ali describes the observations and challenges in the field that led to the Weingart Foundation's grant planning assumptions, such as:

"The failure of private and, in particular, government funders to adequately support administrative and fundraising costs undermines nonprofit effectiveness and sustainability."

Providing support for administrative costs and infrastructure versus program expenses is undoubtedly a hot-button topic in philanthropy, and it is one The Weingart Foundation addresses head-on in their FY2014 Grant Plan Assumptions:

"When combined with strong leadership and management, providing unrestricted, multi-year core operating support is one of the most effective ways to build nonprofit organizational capacity. Core Support grants provide the 'working capital' nonprofits need to sustain and improve their operations, and necessary infrastructure."

What kind of conversations are you having internally about funding administrative expenses? What might your colleagues learn from your assumptions? To start a dialogue about how to share such information publicly, check out the Why Transparency section of Glasspockets, and our new guide, Opening Up: Desmystifying Funder Transparency, created by GrantCraft in collaboration with Glasspockets.

SoundcloudThe Weingart Foundation is one of the case studies that is featured in the guide, and you can hear Belen Vargas, vice president of programs, speak about the foundation's reasons for sharing information about their grantmaking process in one of GrantCraft's new Transparency Chat podcasts.

When you find other great examples of foundations sharing their planning processes, share them with us at: glasspockets@foundationcenter.org

-- Rebecca Herman

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About Transparency Talk

  • Transparency Talk, the Glasspockets blog, is a platform for candid and constructive conversation about foundation transparency and accountability. In this space, Foundation Center highlights strategies, findings, and best practices on the web and in foundations–illuminating the importance of having "glass pockets."

    The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation Center.

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