December 5, 2016

Foundation CEO Angst: Moral Imperatives and Insomnia

Phil Buchanan and Ellie Buteau
Stanford Social Innovation Review

More than two-thirds of the CEOs of large, staffed foundations in the United States believe foundations have the potential to make a significant difference in society. That’s the good (and perhaps hardly surprising) news in a new report from our organization, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP).But there is bad news, too, and some may find it more surprising. A much smaller proportion—just 13 percent—of the 167 foundation CEOs responding to a survey we fielded believe that foundations are making a significant difference today. Instead, most characterize the current difference foundations make as “moderate” and cite a number of barriers that impede foundation impact. For the most part, foundation leaders point the finger not at others—such as their grantees or the government—but at themselves, with two-thirds saying internal barriers at their own foundations are getting in the way of greater impact…>read more.

October 4, 2016

Ditch Strategic Philanthropy — but Don’t Throw Out Strategy With It

Phil Buchanan and Patricia Patrizi
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Recently, there has been a kind of backlash against “strategic philanthropy.” The term has come to take on some very negative connotations, conjuring up images of arrogant, overpriced consultants and their large foundation clients issuing top-down edicts that are ineffective and divorced from the realities nonprofits face.Strategic philanthropy, in this conception, is seen as overly formulaic and linear, denying the complexity of the tough, interdependent challenges foundations and nonprofits try to address. Moreover, feedback from grant recipients is usually absent, because the idea is that the donor knows best.Maybe it’s not surprising, then, that even prominent proponents of strategic philanthropy are having second thoughts. Hal Harvey wrote a much-discussed mea culpa that was published earlier this year by The Chronicle of Philanthropy (“Why I Regret Pushing Strategic Philanthropy,” April 4)…>read more.

September 7, 2016

Black Lives Matter partners with charity in sign of growth

Phil Buchanan
Take Two (KPCC 89.3)

Phil Buchanan, president of CEP, recently joined Alex Cohen, host of the radio show Take Two to discuss the implications of the recently announced partnership between International Development Exchange’s (IDEX) and the national Black Lives Matter movement. Take Two explores news and culture through the lens of Southern California and is the top-rated public radio show in the country’s largest market on the West Coast. KPCC reaches an audience of over 800,000 listeners… > listen here

August 22, 2016

HR Insider: Hiring Practices at the Center for Effective Philanthropy

Leaha Wynn (Interviewed by Victoria Crispo)
Idealist Careers

As part of our “HR Insider” series, I recently interviewed Leaha Wynn, a long-term Idealist user and Senior Coordinator, Human Capital at the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). We talked about how she got into this type of work, the recent growth at her organization, and what makes a job candidate really stand out.Great to speak with you today, Leaha! Tell us a little bit about how you got into this work.I’ve been working at CEP for a little over a year and a half, and I’m new to nonprofit HR overall. I work mainly with our human capital department, which includes recruiting, professional development, and talent management initiatives at the organization.I fell into the field of nonprofit HR through a recruiter. I had been looking for ways to be more involved in the public service sector, in policy or philanthropy. A recruiter I had worked with in the past recommended that I might be interested in these areas. And I started out working in a split role, actually: Human Capital and Research…>read more.

 August 16, 2016

The Ripple Effect of Foundation Culture

Kevin Bolduc
Stanford Social Innovation Review

What happens inside a foundation doesn’t stay inside a foundation. We’ve written and spoken these words before: A funder’s internal culture and practices affect the experiences and work of its grantees.This isn’t just speculation. At the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP), we’ve surveyed tens of thousands of grantees from hundreds of funders about the ways in which grantees experience work with their funders. Funders ask us to create Grantee Perception Reports for them out of a belief that grantees are important partners in creating social impact—and out of a commitment to engage grantees’ feedback as an important influence in learning and planning. In grantees’ open-ended comments about their funders, we find evidence of things funders do that accelerate or impede grantees’—and by extension, funders’ own—effectiveness. We somewhat regularly see cases where a funder’s internal culture seems to fairly directly influence a grantee’s experiences…>read more.

July 6, 2016

Think Giving to Groups That Support Nonprofits Is a Waste? You’re Wrong.

Jacob Harold and Phil Buchanan
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

America’s nonprofits are the envy of the world for their strength and diversity. Yet as these organizations grow in scale and complexity — and as the problems they seek to solve become more urgent -— the nonprofit world lacks sufficient investment in research, training, and other tools to help them grow stronger.”Like a body without a backbone, a sector without a strong infrastructure will crumble,” wrote Cynthia Gibson, a philanthropic adviser and former Carnegie Corporation program officer, in a 2008 special issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly dedicated to infrastructure. Eight years later, with the level of investment in infrastructure essentially flat, we — along with more than 20 other nonprofit leaders — are issuing a renewed call for foundations to invest in strengthening how charitable organizations work…>read more.

 May 29, 2016

Phil Buchanan interviewed by Denver Frederick on radio show The Business of Giving 

Phil Buchanan
The Business of Giving

Phil Buchanan, president of CEP, was recently interviewed by Denver Frederick, host of the radio show The Business of Giving.The program is the only show of its kind that focuses on solutions to today’s complex social problems. Each week, listeners hear from philanthropists, corporate  CEOs, nonprofit luminaries, celebrity ambassadors, government officials, and social entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of the transformative changes that are occurring around the world.> listen here

May 3, 2016

5 Issues Foundations Must Confront to Stay Relevant

Phil Buchanan
The Chronicle of Philanthropy

Despite what you may have read in the wake of Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he will do his giving through a limited-liability company, it’s hardly the case that foundations have become obsolete. They will remain crucial players and influencers in the nonprofit world.That said, they should not be complacent, and they must focus on changing to accommodate new realities. Here are five issues that should be front and center for America’s grant makers.Confront mounting criticisms of foundations and major donors. Compared with big business, Congress, the press, and so many other parts of society, we should be happy that nonprofits continue to enjoy a high level of trust among the public. But foundations should not assume that the trust the public places in operating nonprofits applies to them as well. As historian Benjamin Soskis noted, we have come out of a “brief, balmy” season — which he argues is a historical aberration — when major donors and foundations received little scrutiny. It is increasingly clear that season is over…>read more.