Transparency Talk

New tool makes giving during a pandemic easier
October 21, 2020

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Rebecca Moffett

Rebecca Moffett is Chief Strategic Planning Officer, Vanguard Charitable.

This blog also appears in Candid blog.

NAVi helps donors understand the COVID-19 giving landscape, ensuring their relief efforts make an impact.

We at Vanguard Charitable are proud to introduce the Nonprofit Aid Visualizer (NAVi), a free new mapping resource available to anyone interested in supporting COVID-19 relief.

When word of the coronavirus pandemic spread and the United States began to realize its magnitude, Vanguard Charitable started to see a sharp rise in granting dollars for COVID-19 relief.

While I’m not sure any of us could ever be fully prepared for a global pandemic, our donors were uniquely situated to make a charitable impact. Through their donor-advised fund (DAF) accounts, they had immediate access to charitable dollars and supported charities responding directly to the pandemic. Between March and September 2020, more than $80 million in Vanguard Charitable grants were sent to more than 4,000 charities supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

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Additional charitable resources needed

Although we provide resources to support our donors, such as a pre-vetted list of organizations providing COVID-19 relief, we knew additional support might be needed. We reached out to our donors and asked how we could better help them make a charitable impact.

Part of the feedback we received was expected: Our donors wanted to make a significant impact when supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. We also heard something new, however. Giving in a pandemic, where information and need are evolving, came with its own challenges. We found that 79 percent of our donors surveyed wanted more resources to give to COVID-19 relief in their local communities, and 50 percent wanted more opportunities in geographic areas most severely impacted by the pandemic.

NAViTM makes giving simpler

To answer those needs, we created a new tool: The Nonprofit Aid Visualizer, or NAViTM.

This tool is an interactive charity locator that combines several sources of data. The data, provided by the Surgo Foundation, Candid’s information on COVID-19 grants and nonprofit organizations, and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, is displayed in custom software built by the geospatial services firm Azavea.

To enable donors to sort through the data quickly, we included filters based on cause area and need. These filters quickly and easily zero in on the specifics donors might want to support. For example, you can widen your search to include charities by location or cause areas, or limit your search by filtering for the hardest-hit locations or the highest vulnerability factors, such as socioeconomic status, epidemiology, or healthcare system considerations.

Ease of use

NAViTM is easy to use, and open to all individuals for free. When visiting NAVi, start at the top of the screen to set the filters or enter information to begin a charity search. NAViTM generates a list of charities based on the COVID-19 incidence rate and community vulnerability filters applied. Once the charity list is generated, it can be saved to reference later.

Thanks to donor feedback, we’ve been able to help people interested in supporting COVID-19 relief efforts and support our mission to increase philanthropy and maximize its impact over time. We hope this new tool helps make your charitable-giving decisions easier.

For more information and to access NAViTM, visit vanguardcharitable.org/map.

Packed with Facts: F.M. Kirby Foundation’s Grants Summary & Map
October 6, 2020

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Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is the Content Development Associate for Candid.

Figuring out foundation funding can befuddle grantseekers and grantmakers alike. What do they fund? What are their most recent grants? Does my organization have a chance? Are we on their radar? Have they historically funded in areas that could inform our own grantmaking?

Questions like these are easier for potential partners to answer when a funder lays bare their grantmaking history like the F.M. Kirby Foundation (FMKF) has on its Candid-hosted website’s Funding Map and Grants Summary page, which details their giving back to 2006 all the way through 2020. On the summary page, they have included total funding across program areas, the percentage that each area makes up in its giving, and the total number of grants awarded in each area. The summary is simple, clear to read, and provides a wealth of information about the foundation, its program priorities, and where they are trying to make a difference.

Visitors can then take a deeper dive into FMKF’s funding via its Candid-supported Foundation Map—free to all eGrant reporters.

Screen Shot 2020-10-06 at 3.35.20 PMF.M. Kirby Foundation's Interactive Grants Map

A lot of foundations are transparent about this type of information, but the way FMKF has presented it in a single summary page that then allows the user to easily drill down for more details is user-friendly and data rich. Grantseekers and potential collaborators don’t have to go looking for the numbers or guess at how funding priorities have shifted over time. You can see with one glance where FMKF’s money is going and, if you click through, you get a brief description of what each grant was spent on.

This type of data visualization is a great step in the right direction for transparency and openness in foundation funding. To find out more about how F.M. Kirby Foundation is demonstrating its transparency and accountability to the field visit its Who Has GlassPockets? profile. And, to learn more about how to get your own foundation grants displayed on a free, interactive map visit Candid's Updater page.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen other great examples of foundation visualizations that improve funder transparency!

What We Don’t Know About COVID-19 Funding, and How You Can Help
September 29, 2020

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Grace Sato

Grace Sato is Director of Research, Candid.

This blog also appears in Candid blog.

Candid began tracking philanthropic gifts for COVID-19 on February 3, 2020—two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control confirmed the first U.S. case and as evidence of the pandemic’s disastrous scale was mounting. Recently, in partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, we documented $11.9 billion in global philanthropy for COVID-19 in the first half of the year. Coronavirus giving has continued, and, to date, Candid has identified roughly $14 billion.

IMAGE 4 Adam Nieścioruk on UnsplashFunding for the pandemic is larger than anything we’ve seen since we began collecting real-time data about disasters and humanitarian crises. And yet we know that there’s more global COVID-19 philanthropy we haven’t captured.

Why Does it Matter?

We hope that sharing real-time data about where funding is going will allow funders to put their grantmaking in context, coordinate their responses with others, and ensure impacted communities are not inadvertently left behind. This information also helps those who are doing crucial work on the ground understand what other efforts are underway and identify potential partners for their work. We display the data on our free, public coronavirus page and disaster philanthropy map.

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How Does Candid Collect COVID-19 Data?

We gather real-time data from publicly available, primarily English-language sources, including news articles, press releases, websites, and membership reports. Our technology scans roughly 300,000 news articles every day, identifying grants and donations made by funders and high-net-worth individuals. In addition, Candid receives data directly from funders who report details about their grantmaking to us. It’s a massive data collection and processing effort, involving dozens of colleagues who search, code, load, and create and improve systems for processing and displaying information on tens of thousands of COVID-19 grants/commitments and the individuals and organizations involved.

Candid already had processes in place to collect this information, honed over years of gathering data about disasters and humanitarian crises in partnership with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Because of the unprecedented scale and impact of the global pandemic, we made COVID-19 an organizational priority and dedicated considerably more staff than usual to collecting and processing as much data about coronavirus funding as possible. Although we ramped up our efforts, we know there is much we are missing.

What We Don’t Know

We don’t know which organizations have received the vast majority of funding captured by our tracking efforts. The two largest recipients of coronavirus funding in Candid’s database are “Unknown Recipient” and “Multiple Recipients.” We simply lack enough information to be more specific. In some cases, funders announced multiple recipient organizations but didn’t disclose how much funding was allocated to each. In others, funders announced pledges, or plans to spend a certain amount on their coronavirus response, but haven’t yet shared how they’ve begun to spend those resources. In our analysis of funding in the first half of 2020, we were unable to identify a recipient for 85 percent of dollars granted or pledged by grantmaking institutions.

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We don’t know who has received payouts from special coronavirus funds. Candid has identified more than 945 COVID-19 response funds. These funds were created by community foundations, United Ways, and grantmaking entities in the U.S. and beyond. But our current data doesn’t reflect the hundreds of millions of dollars disbursed by these funds. Some grantmakers have yet to share information publicly about their disbursements. Some have listed recipient organizations without grant amounts or shared only aggregated totals. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough detail for Candid to include in our database and analysis.

Other organizations have begun transparently sharing their grantmaking on their respective websites with enough detail about the recipient organization, funding amount, and purpose for us to add that data to our database. (We see—and thank!—you, Smart Small LLC, All Together ATX Fund, and Innovia Foundation.) It is, admittedly, a challenge for us to actively search for this information on hundreds of organizations’ websites and why we invite funders to share their grantmaking data directly with us. When an organization posts grant details on its website, it communicates this important information to a specific audience, but sharing data with Candid communicates that information with the entire sector.

We don’t know who is benefiting from these funds. In our report, even when we excluded awards to unknown or multiple recipients, the analysis demonstrated that little institutional funding targeted Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. Among funders (excluding individual donors), only 5 percent of total dollars and 12 percent of awards explicitly identified BIPOC communities or BIPOC-serving recipient organizations—despite these populations being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Three percent of dollars were explicitly designated for women and girls, and only 1 percent of funding was explicitly designated for people with disabilities.

One reason for this may be that the source from which we collected the data didn’t identify information about the intended beneficiaries. When an award is described as a “coronavirus response grant,” Candid does not assume a specific population focus—other than what’s identified in our taxonomy as “victims of disaster.” (For more on Candid’s population-specific coding, especially in relation to racial equity, please see this related blog post.) To overcome this limitation, Candid and CDP also took into account what we know about the recipient organizations and their missions. For example, a general support COVID-19 grant to the Center for Black Women’s Wellness or 100 Black Men of America was included as funding explicitly designated for BIPOC communities. Still, the numbers remained low.

It may also be that, in the first half of the year, the largest COVID-19 donations were not targeted to vulnerable communities. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded hundreds of millions of dollars to advance COVID-19 treatments and vaccine development—critical, life-saving research needed to end the pandemic. This funding will, ideally, lead to benefits for vulnerable communities, but we can’t describe these grants as explicitly targeted to benefit them. And, as mentioned above, we can’t identify the recipients of 85 percent of the grants we’ve identified.

We don’t know as much about non-U.S. funding as we’d like. In our report, the global funding picture included donors in 38 countries and special administrative regions (including Hong Kong and Macao) to recipient organizations located in 52 countries, but we know we’re only scratching the surface.

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Candid looks at news sources from around the world, but as a U.S.-based organization, we have the most access to data about the work of organizations in this country. Candid is building partnerships with organizations like Philanthropy Australia and Philanthropy Indonesia to build a global database of philanthropy. And to the extent that the information is in a form we can use, we’re also attempting to gather COVID-19 data collected via national and regional efforts around the world (such as 360Giving in the United Kingdom).

How You Can Help Improve the Data

If you’re with a foundation, community foundation, donor-advised fund, or other type of funder, there are several steps you can take.

Share information on your grantmaking with us. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Candid will be taking a second look at COVID-19 funding at the end of the year to see if there have been any changes in funding patterns since the first half of the year. To be meaningfully included in our analysis, you need only give us basic details about grants made: the recipient’s name, the recipient’s location (city and state/province), grant amount, and ideally, a grant description. Please be sure to include either the term "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" in your grant description.

Provide a detailed grant description describing the population group(s) you intend to reach. In general, a good grant description answers the questions WHAT, HOW, WHO, and WHERE. Our template for sharing grants data also provides space for you to explicitly specify population served. Funders know their work best; the more details you provide, the more accurately we can code and represent that work in our products and analysis.

Specify if you’re making a grant for general operating support. Nearly 800 foundations signed a pledge to provide flexible support for grantees during this time—including loosening or eliminating restrictions on current grants and making new grants as unrestricted as possible. So how much of COVID-19 funding is unrestricted (i.e., general support)? It’s a reasonable question but one that we’re not able to fully answer with the data we have. For one, Candid doesn’t have grantmaking data for many of the institutions that made this commitment. Also, the data we have may not explicitly be described as general support. Similar to the way we code grants for population groups, we don’t assume that a grant is for general operating support unless the funder identifies it as such.

If you know of a resource that would give us insight into non-U.S. COVID-19 funding, tell us. You can email us at coronavirus@candid.org.

Transparency and Information Sharing Matter, Especially In A Crisis

Having better information means organizations don’t have to make important decisions about where their resources are needed most in a vacuum, and that the sum of their efforts can add up to more than the parts. Dealing with the health, economic, and social consequences of this pandemic will require that every dollar spent has maximum impact. As a funder, the time you take to share information about your work makes a difference. Learn more about how you can contribute to the global database of philanthropy for COVID-19.

Transforming the “How” of Grantmaking in a Time of Crisis
August 20, 2020

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Elly Davis

Elly Davis is Programs and Knowledge Manager at PEAK Grantmaking.

Grantmaking includes three primary components: what we fund—program areas and impact; who we fund—the grantees we support; and how we fund—the grantmaking practices that are the focus of PEAK Grantmaking’s membership of more than 5,000 grants management professionals. 

As the calls for more responsive and streamlined philanthropy grow around the COVID-19 crisis, grants management professionals are leading organizational efforts to adapt processes, procedures, technology, and communications to be what the moment demands – responsive, agile, compassionate, and creative. 

“Grantmakers across the spectrum are considering how they might better support their grantees.”

Here’s what we’ve learned.  

PEAK has been convening our members for a series of virtual community conversations to understand how grants management practices are evolving to meet pressing needs. A poll of 370 members illuminated the degree of transformation happening in just a few weeks: 

  • 97 percent are considering changing grant practices, including changes to their application, due diligence and decision-making processes, reporting requirements, and more. 
  • 63 percent are considering changing grant priorities (who or what they fund). 

In those calls, and over on our discussion forums, hundreds of members have reported on practice changes underway, focusing on three critical areas: uninterrupted service, responsive communications, and increased flexibility 

How Grantmakers Moving to Remote Operations Are Avoiding Interruptions in Grant Processing 

With the sudden move to remote operations, a common concern is how to make the shift without interrupting or delaying getting grants out the door. Solutions include: 

  • Conducting site visits remotely through video conferencing software 
  • Reworking standard grant payment processes to move from paper letters and mailed checks that require printing and signature to paperless communications and ACH payments
  • Conducting remote grant review meetings with decision-makers by creating or revamping a scoring framework and building it into existing grants management systems 

How Grantmakers Are Redefining Their Communication Protocols with Communities and Grantees to Emphasize Humility, Transparency, and Listening 

Public statements to grantees evidence a groundswell of organizations using this moment to rethink their communications and reconnect with constituents in newly compassionate, collaborative, and transparent ways. 

Common themes and elements include: 

  • An update on funders’ remote work situations and commitment to continuing uninterrupted operations  
  • An invitation to grantees to reach out and share how the crisis is affecting them and the communities they serve 
  • A confession that there is no playbook for what we are experiencing, humility in the face of collective uncertainty, and commitment to listening deeply and acting collaboratively 
  • A clear and detailed explanation of how grant processes and requirements are changing to better support grantees and communities.  

How Grantmakers Are Rethinking Grant Requirements, General Operating Support, Risk, and Flexibility 

Grantmakers across the spectrum are considering how they might better support their grantees as they face increased demand, canceled events, and a shaky fundraising future.  

Our members are already: 

  • Converting existing grants to general operating support, especially for organizations on the frontlines of health care or social service response or those that have lost substantial earned revenue 
  • Offering support for technology or infrastructure so nonprofit staff can continue to work and deliver on their mission remotely 
  • Adding provisions to grant agreements that increase their grantees’ ability to adapt activities, outcomes, or timelines as their situations change 
  • Extending grant periods on existing grants and implementing new processes to make grant modifications easier to request and receive 
  • Streamlining all processes to reduce the burden on grantees managing applications, grant deliverables, reporting, etc. 
  • Coordinating across multiple funders to streamline communications and grant work 
  • Moving future-year grant payments to 2020 
  • Adjusting approved budget allocations to include more indirect costs 

“There is no question that grants management is undergoing a rapid and profound transformation.”

Change for Good? 

There is no question that grants management is undergoing a rapid and profound transformation, with widespread efforts to adapt quickly and effectively; and a commitment to leading organizational efforts to shift practices to be more responsive and flexible. 

The question—and opportunity—is whether this response will translate into permanent change once the crisis has passed.  

PEAK will be tracking the trajectory as we continue to navigate this crisis and beyond, as we continue to champion and support the advancement of more equitable, effective grantmaking practices. 

GlassPockets Finds – A Historical Look at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
August 7, 2020

PowellNikki
Nikki Powell

Nikki Powell is the Content Development Associate for Candid.

The history of foundations and philanthropic giving in the United States covers a lot of ground. Capturing it all in a format that is approachable, informative, and digestible is a daunting task, but one that the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation has achieved with a new website feature. 

In an innovative approach to acknowledging and celebrating its history and evolution as a philanthropic organization, the foundation website features an interactive timeline of its history. The timeline starts on June 19, 1926, with the establishment of the foundation. “Endowed with 2,000 shares of General Motors stock, then valued at $320,000, the Foundation has since experienced significant growth, marking $3 billion in giving over our first 90 years. 

“Charles Stewart Mott Foundation took steps to promote greater transparency.”

The vignettes shared throughout the timeline provide a snapshot of some of the foundation’s key grants and place them in the context of the evolution of a leading grantmaking organization. Included is an entry regarding the Tax Reform Act of 1969, which contained major provisions affecting the way private foundations did business in the U.S. Upon passage of the Act, the Charles Stewart Mott foundation revised their articles of incorporation, clarifying future governance of the organization. The foundation took steps to promote greater transparency, such as publishing Facts on Grants and an annual report. It also supported efforts to build a national infrastructure for the philanthropic field, which bolstered its capacity, efficiency, and ability to advocate on behalf of the sector.  

Anniversaries and other milestones often encourage foundations to stop and reflect and consider how to sum up their legacy and history into a neat package. Such moments can lead to the creation of content like this that opens up greater understanding and appreciation for the work of the foundation. Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s timeline is a good example of how to use such content to increase knowledge of and help articulate the impact of the sector. 

Introducing Candid Learning
July 23, 2020

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Janet Camarena
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Zohra Zori

Zohra Zori is Vice President of Networks, Candid, and Janet Camarena is Director of Candid Learning.

We are excited to introduce you, the people who power the social sector, to Candid Learning. Candid Learning is your new single destination for trainings, resources, and learning experiences to improve the way you do your work.

Beginning today, Candid’s live trainings, on-demand learning resources, and grantseeking tools that were previously found on GrantSpace will now be a part of Candid Learning. Because Candid has learning tools for grantmakers and grantseekers, the site is designed to be a destination for both audiences, and includes pathways to content from GrantCraft and GlassPockets. Through sharing peer wisdom, case studies, and thought leadership, GlassPockets and GrantCraft offer learning experiences to improve philanthropic effectiveness. In the future, we’ll further integrate these sites into Candid Learning, aiming to bridge resources and conversations across both sides of the grantmaking table.

How we got from GrantSpace to Candid Learning

Eleven years ago, in 2009, Foundation Center launched GrantSpace to more directly serve the learning needs of our nonprofit audience. When Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to create Candid last year, we further prioritized learning as an essential service and today’s announcement is a step towards streamlining and enhancing related offerings across the organization to serve you better.

“We further prioritized learning as an essential service.”

Candid’s service orientation has evolved in ways we would never have predicted over the last year and a half. Addressing urgent information needs through real-time data reporting on philanthropy’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and increased calls for racial equity, tracking how grantmaking practices are evolving, and experimenting with brand-new methods for delivering our previously in-person trainings are just a few of the ways our organization is building and growing its presence. The launch of Candid Learning is part of Candid’s larger evolution and will help us deliver on our recently released 2030 vision.

The information your grantees rely on

Candid-Learning-Social-and-Blog-imageWhen you visit Candid Learning, you’ll still find the rich trainings and resources your grantees have always found on GrantSpace. Grantseekers can still, for example, register for webinars on perfecting their proposals, find self-paced e-learning on cultivating relationships with individual donors, and chat in real time with our staff about board development and emergency funds. Nonprofits will still be able to rely on our experienced staff, a network of trainers, time-tested content, and the use of Candid data to ground education in facts.

And participants will still be part of a vibrant community. Candid offers trainings to tens of thousands of people each year, some of which are transformational for participants. To date in 2020, we’re nearing 30,000 registrants for our live and on-demand trainings, hundreds of checkouts of our eBooks collection, 650+ case studies about nonprofit collaborations, and nearly 10,000 questions asked and answered through our online librarian chat and email service.

“We want Candid Learning to make it easier for you to see and take advantage of the many ways Candid can help.”

Resources for funders

Beyond changing our name from GrantSpace, we want Candid Learning to make it easier for you to see and take advantage of the many ways Candid can help. For example, let’s say you attend a webinar on digital storytelling on Candid Learning. An easy and free next step is to make sure you are currently enrolled in our Foundation Updater program so that the millions of users who use our databases annually get the most accurate and complete story about your foundation. And we know that your professional role in the social sector will evolve, and that you may work across both nonprofits and foundations throughout your career. Whether you have on your funder or grantseeker hat, Candid Learning’s tools from GrantCraft and GlassPockets will be here to help you improve your grantmaking practices with self-assessments, field guides, and tool kits.

Through Candid Learning, we’ll continue to get you the information you need to do good by connecting you with peers, experts, and innovative learning experiences. We invite you to explore the site, share it with your network, and follow us on social media @Candid_Learning.

Does your philanthropy have the clarity to be the change we need?
July 15, 2020

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Kris Putnam-Walkerly

Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a global philanthropy expert, advisor, and award-winning author of Delusional Altruism: Why Philanthropists Fail To Achieve Change And What They Can Do To Transform Giving.

During COVID-19, we’ve seen how systemic racism and injustice magnifies personal hardship and undermines recovery. We’re also witnessing what happens when too many nonprofit organizations balance on a financial knife’s edge. So, just when we need robust social safety nets, civil society is at its weakest. Hard on the heels of that massive need, we’re experiencing an even more deafening call to action to condemn business as usual and dismantle racism in this country.

It’s a lot. And it amplifies a question that philanthropists have been grappling with for decades. How do you sensitively and effectively use your power, privilege, and means most effectively—especially in the face of so much need? The answer to that question is complex and multi-faceted. But one thing is for sure: as a funder, you won’t achieve the dramatic changes you seek if you continue clinging to beliefs and practices that are misguided and “delusional.” That’s why I wrote a book about it. It’s called Delusional Altruism.

PutnamWalkerlyKris-DelusionalAltruismbook-July2020Now, by “delusional” I don’t mean we’re stupid or crazy! I mean we’re hindering our impact unnecessarily, because of a handful of deceptive and illogical thoughts we choose to hold onto. These illogical thoughts make us get in our own way and often we even don’t realize it. For some, it’s a scarcity mindset. For others it's fear. Many of us have too many steps that slow us down. Or we ask the wrong questions, which send us down the wrong paths.

“We’re hindering our impact unnecessarily, because of a handful of deceptive and illogical thoughts we choose to hold onto.”

The path to truly transformational change can be found by clarifying your purpose and transforming the way you work. If you aren’t doing this already, here are three ways to get started:

  1. Think like a mechanic. This means you need to regularly lift up the hood of your philanthropy to notice what’s slowing you down. Look for the friction and leaks. Ask yourself, “What’s wasteful, duplicative, or redundant? What are self-created barriers that keep us and our partners from moving forward?” What’s costing time and money and slowing everyone down?

Maybe you’re attempting to increase fairness and transparency in your work, but you have too many steps, like requiring potential grantees to fill out lengthy application forms, submit three years of audited financial statements, obtain letters of recommendation from community leaders, explain how the project will be evaluated, and host a half-day site visit to showcase the organization.  By eliminating self-imposed rules and unnecessary gates and gatekeepers that strain already taxed systems and relationships, everything will run more smoothly.

  1. Ask the right questions. Ever feel like any potential pathway could be the right one? You’ve got all these talented people on your team proposing new frameworks and solutions. As you move forward with yet another new initiative, you feel like a squirrel, chasing the next shiny new object. The antidote to this tail-chasing behavior is to clarify your destination. Sometimes the same question can be the right one in certain circumstances and the wrong one in others. For example, “How should we improve remote education in our school district?” is a really important question. But first, you need to know, “What’s our goal for remote education?” or “Why is remote learning failing some students and not others?”

You can also step back and do this organizationally by asking questions like, “What is the change we want to see in our community in the next 12 months?” Or, “Who do we want to be in a year?” To answer these shorter-term strategic questions effectively, you need to have a clear sightline to your particular philanthropy’s North Star. This means having the answer to questions like, “Why do we exist?” “What do we value?” and “What long-term vision or future state are we trying to achieve?”

  1. Build trusting relationships. With little accountability in philanthropy aside from what you create yourself, think about how you can be more accountable to your grantees, those working on the frontlines for change. Start by really listening. Call your grantees and ask them two questions: How are you doing? What can I do to help? Be aware of power dynamics and what grantees may not be saying. You want them to come to you with challenges so you can help in meaningful ways. But they want to maintain your support. There is a lot of power merely being the person with access to wealth. The giver gives, and the recipient receives. Be patient and take the time required to break down barriers and truly get to the heart of things.

“By changing how you work, you can elevate voices, improve experiences, and improve outcomes for all stakeholders, including you.”

To take it a step further, look at your own systems, policies, procedures, and practices that diminish trust and increase power dynamics. By changing how you work, you can elevate voices, improve experiences, and improve outcomes for all stakeholders, including you. This might include ceding power and decision-making to the people most impacted by the issues you fund. Nobody expects you to have all the answers. By operating with a “we’re all in this together” mentality, you get a whole ecosystem of people working collaboratively toward solutions. In addition to alleviating tension and pressure, it’s an approach that yields amazing results.

COVID-19 and the outpouring of response to police violence, ongoing racism, and divisive leadership have all combined to daylight just how tied together we all are, and just how urgently change is needed. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, it’s an opportunity for philanthropists to up your game. By intentionally thinking like a mechanic, asking the right questions, and building trusting relationships, you’ll be doing the important internal work required for collective transformation.

Action & Accountability: Why Demographic Data Matters Now
May 28, 2020

Every day we wake up anxiously to frightening new data. The number of cases. The number of deaths. Which country has surpassed another? Who’s flattening the “curve.”  And... that the pandemic’s impact is shockingly disproportionate across race, age, gender, and geography. Due to the living legacies of oppression baked deeply into our social, economic, and political systems, we are seeing that the folks most negatively affected by the crisis are more likely to be Black, Brown, and Native.  In the US especially, we are also seeing a backlash of xenophobia towards Asian and Pacific Islander communities due to efforts to racialize the virus. Add in other intersecting identities like gender identity, age, sexual orientation, immigrant status, justice-system impacted, disability status, and socio-economic class and it becomes clear that those most affected will likely face greater challenges to accessing aid or meeting eligibility requirements for existing support and recovery packages.

Although the scale here is unprecedented, the narrative is a familiar one to us. Prior to the pandemic, CHANGE Philanthropy, PEAK Grantmaking, D5 Compass, and Candid were partnering to raise awareness about the importance of collecting and sharing demographic data. As COVID-19 continues to disproportionately affect our most vulnerable communities and philanthropy mounts a large scale response to growing needs, we encourage foundations and nonprofits to consider these recommendations in an effort to accurately account for the reach and impact of philanthropic dollars and use this data to address funding gaps to communities most impacted by the crisis.

Our challenge for you: 

  • Review your response strategy with an equity lens. 
  • Move the money simply and equitably.
  • Track your grants' intended impact and community reach.
  • Be transparent by sharing your giving and program data.

Reviewing Your Response Strategy with an Equity Lens 

Billions of dollars are being mobilized to support what will become a lengthy and multi-stage response to both the pandemic and a devastating economic downturn. How they will be invested, and to which organizations and communities, will shape the legacy of philanthropy’s response during this historic crisis. A survey in 2018 by PEAK Grantmaking and Frontline Solutions found that 56% of funders had a formal equity statement. Yet, when PEAK conducted a flash survey of its members it found that so far only around 10% of funders are reporting that they are collecting any demographic data for the leaders or nonprofits or the beneficiaries they serve as part of this rapid response.

This represents an opportunity for foundations to not only to walk the talk around embedding equity into practice, but also to show it. As funders continue to distribute aid addressing COVID-19, it will be imperative for them to document the intended beneficiary community, demographics about the leadership of grantee organizations, and how the organizations are addressing community needs. This kind of focus on demographic data is essential if philanthropy truly wants to assess and improve its track record on equity and inclusion.

Move the Money Simply and Equitably

As the calls for more responsive and streamlined philanthropy grow around the current crisis, grants management professionals—the people inside grantmaking organizations who are managing technology systems, application, and reporting processes, grant agreements, and payments—are leading organizational efforts to adapt grantmaking processes, procedures, technology, and communications. At PEAK Grantmaking, many members have reported that they are already adding fields to their grants management systems to collect data around how money is being spent during this crisis. 

As decision makers are called on to make quick determinations in new settings (many have hosted or attended their very first virtual grant review committee meetings in just the last two months!), it becomes even more important for them to have data to inform their deliberations, ensure that philanthropy’s response is equitable, and take into account communities that have been marginalized or left out of traditional grantmaking practices. It is in these moments of crisis response and recovery that we must make some changes in practice, otherwise, we will default to the philanthropic practices that have only exacerbated inequity.

Track Your Grants’ Intended Impact and Community Reach

Instead of building systems that satisfy the information needs of the few while overshadowing the needs of the system as a whole, we recommend improving transparency and data collection efforts by sharing data that can be accessed by everyone to help inform both crisis response and recovery efforts.

Nonprofits can easily share key details about who they are, whom they serve, and any specific COVID-19 response through the GuideStar Profile Update Program.  Consider asking all applicants to complete the Demographics section. There, organizations can share leadership, board, and staff demographic information as well as equity strategies. The demographic survey was updated last year in partnership with CHANGE philanthropy and Equity at the Center to revise the language and approach to collecting and sharing demographic information. This data can help to inform grantmaking and be integrated later in reporting grant details.  

It sounds counter-intuitive but tracking data about grantees need not be at odds with streamlined, rapid response processes. Common standards, taxonomies, and practices are the bedrock for comparability, analysis, and insight.  The fierce independence of our sector often works against our goals to effect large-scale change with disparate actors who frequently are reticent to share information using common standards. By adopting existing taxonomies and standards foundations can bypass the time it takes to create custom systems, and ensure comparability with peers.

Be Transparent by Sharing Your Giving and Program Data

Now is the time for foundations to go beyond the details they disclose on annual IRS reporting forms (990-PF) and share current, complete, and accurate giving data, especially on COVID-19 response work and specific populations that are intended to benefit from that work.

Candid is actively tracking philanthropy’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The public-facing website includes funding opportunities, an interactive map listing awarded grants and grant descriptions, a directory of rapid response funds, and related news items all updated daily at candid.org/coronavirus. Though this effort is currently tracking more than $10 billion in grants, it is incomplete without your data.

Here are some tips to maximize the impact of this reporting: 

  1. If your organization has already funded efforts related to the crisis, please share information on this grantmaking with Candid. Knowing where the money is going and how, and having the latest information from organizations, facilitates thoughtful collaboration and decision making in times of crisis. 
  2. If your organization has established a coronavirus response fund, please let Candid know so we can include it on the list of funds we’re curating. 
  3. If you have never shared grants data before, we recommend using the simplified eReporting template.
  4. Provide detailed grant descriptions. This is the best way to ensure your data will be accurately coded to capture the subject, population, geographic area served, and support strategy you intended and, ultimately, mapped correctly. 
  5. For additional information or assistance with eReporting, email: egrants@candid.org.

 

In closing…

We already know that the impact of this pandemic is tragically inequitable. Let’s take this moment to embed intentionality around demographic data collection and reporting and bake it into our recovery funding practices. These tools and strategies will allow us to be more transparent and accountable about the reach of our pandemic response grantmaking.  If practiced, they will strengthen the field, our ability to analyze the impact, and help future philanthropists understand how to invest in community-based solutions. By combining equitable action response with timely and accurate data collection, philanthropy can avoid past patterns of excluding historically under-served communities from much needed support.

About the Authors

Melissa Sines leads PEAK Grantmaking’s work to identify effective, efficient, and equitable philanthropic practices and advocate for their adoption by grantmakers. She currently serves as Programs and Knowledge Director at PEAK Grantmaking

C. Davis Parchment has long worked to support a social sector driven by better data, research, and analysis. Currently serves as Director of Partnerships-West where she is responsible for elevating and expanding the reach of Candid across the western region by building partnerships and strategies that help to strengthen the social sector.

Kelly Brown is principal consultant at Viewpoint Consulting, which provides program design, research, and analysis to organizations and individuals investing resources to strengthen underserved communities. Previously she led the D5 Coalition, a five-year effort to advance philanthropy through diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Carly Hare (Pawnee/Yankton) strives to live a commitment to advancing equity and community engagement through her professional and personal life. Carly serves as the Coalition Catalyst/National Director of CHANGE Philanthropy.

COVID-19 Response: Which Changes in Grantmaking Practice Should Be Here to Stay?
May 19, 2020

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Janet Camarena
Melissa_Sines







Melissa Sines

Melissa Sines is Programs and Knowledge Director at PEAK Grantmaking, and Janet Camarena is Director of Candid Learning.

Recently PEAK Grantmaking and Candid teamed up on a Community Conversation as part of an ongoing PEAK series designed to provide a forum for peer learning and knowledge exchange on COVID-19 response practices. Melissa Sines, Programs and Knowledge Director for PEAK Grantmaking and Janet Camarena, Director of Candid Learning, hosted the session at the end of April, to invite grants management professionals to reflect on what they are learning from changes made to streamline grants processes that may inform how they hope to improve overall practices post-pandemic. Here we share highlights of the take aways from the session. A complete re-cap of the full program appears on the PEAK blog here.

In the weeks since the crisis began, we all have been learning what it’s like to bring our humanity to our work. Barriers to communication and collaboration that seemed insurmountable just a month ago have been erased. More funders are embracing practices that are allowing them to narrow the power gap and build strong and trusting relationships with their grantees.

More Transparency and Communication

Program participants report that they are adopting streamlined and flexible workflows, which are freeing them up to be more available to connect with grantees. During phone calls to check in on needs and progress, stronger relationships are being forged, leading to greater empathy and understanding about which adjustments might be most helpful. For example, many funders have started to repurpose existing project grants to unrestricted support, as well as to allocate a larger portion of their overall budgets to general support. An earlier GlassPockets blog delves into this further.

Streamlined and Flexible Workflows

As the world continues to adjust to the ongoing strains of sheltering in place and the stress of the extended public health and economic crisis, philanthropy is beginning to understand how its own practices can help or hurt the situation. And the burden you lift may be your own, as several participants reminded us that streamlined application and reporting processes and workflow shortcuts are reducing burden not only for nonprofit partners but also for grantmaking staff.

“Barriers to communication and collaboration that seemed insurmountable just a month ago have been erased.”

In Applications: There is increased attention to the labor standard foundation applications require, greater scrutiny on which information is really needed in order for funders to make decisions, and questioning whether the work of collecting that information should fall to the grantee or to the funder. Some funders have started taking on more of the due diligence burden, using a variety of sources readily available to them, such as organization information already available in their own databases; grantee websites; and websites like Candid’s GuideStar profiles to find the information they need. They’re also taking applications via phone—asking questions of the grantee verbally and recording answers in their grants management system. Some are also taking applications created for another funder or banding together in funder collaboratives to agree on one application and one report format and submission for emergency response grants. As one funder put it, they are “short on what we ask from the nonprofit—long on us documenting what we know about the nonprofit.”

In Decision-making: Grantmakers are convening decision-making bodies (staff, boards, grant review committees) in creative ways. Online meeting software is being utilized to convene decision makers, work through decisions, and rapidly deploy funds. Detailed grant summaries and packages are being reduced to quick emails and spreadsheet overviews that actively prompt in-depth questions and discussions that engage decision makers in meaningful work and promote good decisions. These quick meetings in virtual environments could be a great way to democratize the grantmaking process by utilizing a more participatory grantmaking structure.

In Agreements and Payments: As one of our participants declared: “We moved to electronic checks and electronic award letters and we are NEVER going back!” For many grantmakers, this crisis has led them to embrace electronic processing in place of printing and mailing agreements and checks. One funder reported that they had been advocating for wire payments for a year and a half, and now as a result of the crisis they had it up and running within a few weeks. Award letters, grant agreements, and grant modifications are all being accepted in simplified formats such as a short email, electronic signature software, or a phone call. Another funder reported that using electronic signature software had resulted in over half of signed grant agreements being returned within thirty minutes.

“Philanthropy is beginning to understand how its own practices can help or hurt the situation.”

In Reporting: On the reporting side, funders are accepting quick updates via email or phone, extending reporting deadlines for interim and final reports, even suspending reporting altogether. Some are adjusting evaluation plans and reducing report requirements. Education funders are realizing they will need to entirely rethink evaluation for their grantees given the disruption in that part of the sector.

Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Call participants admitted to feeling a lot of stress around quickly implementing and iterating these rapidly changing practices and processes, but also say that overall, they’re actually amazed at what they’ve been able to accomplish in just a few weeks. Specific takeaways from participants making such changes include:

  • Streamline applications and reporting processes and use conversation to build stronger relationships with your grantees.
  • Closely examine all pieces of information that you ask of applicants to make sure you are using this information.
  • Take on more of the burden for doing the homework and due diligence about your grantees.
  • Consider eliminating the use of customized narrative and budget templates and encouraging applicants to submit applications used for other funders.
  • Move to mobile-friendly, accessible, online applications if you haven’t previously, and make accommodations for people with disabilities.
  • Take the leap and go electronic for grant agreements, payments, and reports.
  • Change mindset on general operating support by increasing its frequency of use.
  • Consider the role of participatory grantmaking in how philanthropy might shift the power now to traditionally under-served and under-represented groups.
  • Reconsider evaluation and data requirements and remove requirements for advertising or brand opportunities that require a certain threshold of participation.
  • Consider which metrics and decision-making frameworks should be used to guide decision making now, and whether you can use an equity or values-based framework to make better decisions.
  • Remember, operationalizing and standardizing all of the changes is a lot of work, so write down how you’re making decisions and why you’re making specific decisions. It’s not easy, but it will help you document changes for your board and for the auditors.
  • Change can be intimidating and you may likely encounter resistance. So make the case that this is a pilot or part of iterative change, and it can always be changed back or changed again in the future if it’s not working. Framing in this way can help get the experiment going.

Which changes are you implementing? Which of them would you like to see carried forward to make your future grantmaking more efficient and effective?

A Call for COVID-19 Grants Data
April 15, 2020

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Kati Neiheisel

Kati Neiheisel is the eReporting liaison at Candid. eReporting allows funders to quickly and easily tell their stories and improve philanthropy by sharing grants data.

Our mission to get people the information they need to do good is taking on greater urgency during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Given how many nonprofits are struggling with increased demand at a time of financial freefall, we are doubling our efforts to make sure the information and services we provide are fast, accessible, reliable, and useful as we monitor philanthropy’s response to the pandemic—but we need your help.

“Transparency and information sharing are more critical now than ever.”

Transparency and information sharing are more critical now than ever to ensure we are not responding to today’s issues with data from years ago. If your organization has funded efforts related to the crisis, please share information on this grantmaking so we can include your COVID-19 grants on our free, public map, part of our coronavirus webpage. The map documents where the money is going and visualizes funder, recipient, and grants data through a variety of filters with list and map views. To facilitate thoughtful collaboration and decision-making, we need your help to make this the most useful resource possible.

Depending on the data fields you collect, you can either use the "Simplified Template" or the "Complete Template," both of which are available here. Please be sure to include either the term "coronavirus" or "COVID-19" in your grant description.

If you use grants management software, you can find instructions for downloading grants data into an Excel spreadsheet on our software partners page. Grants data can then be uploaded through Updater or simply emailed to egrants@candid.org.

To learn more about how this data can serve to inform dialogue and advance the sector as a whole, review this previous Candid blog on the importance of sharing grants data. And remember, timely and accurate grants data help those who want to change the world connect to the resources they need to do it.

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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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    directed to:

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    Foundation Center

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