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Effective Matters: January 2019

Date: January 28, 2019

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Don’t miss the 2019 CEP Conference this May!


The role of philanthropy in a moment of political division and distrust of elite, wealthy individuals and institutions will be among the themes explored at Stronger Philanthropy, the 2019 CEP conference in Minneapolis-St. Paul. From May 7-9, more than 450 foundation senior leaders, trustees, and major donors will come together at the Hilton Minneapolis for three days of thought-provoking plenaries, focused breakout sessions, and plenty of time to connect with peers to share best practices and reflect on the most pressing issues that the philanthropic sector is seeking to tackle. (See who’s coming here.)

Here are some of the plenary talks on deck for the conference. You can see the full agenda — including a selection of breakout sessions attendees will be able to choose from — here, as well as a full list of speakers here, which is growing every day.

  • Political philosopher Michael Sandel will set the table for the conference with an engaging and incisive look at the appropriate role of money and market-based dynamics in a just society.
  • Author and political analyst Anand Giridharadas will sit down with Jeff Raikes, co-founder of the Raikes Foundation and former CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and CEP’s Grace Nicolette to discuss Giridharadas’s main arguments in his much-discussed book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, which was recently named one of The New York Times Book Review’s most notable books of 2018.
  • Matthew Desmond, sociologist and author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted, will discuss his research on the prevalence of eviction in low-income communities in America. His talk will be followed by a discussion among a panel of experts, including Funders to End Homelessness Together CEO Amanda Andere and Melville Charitable Trust Senior Program Officer Susan Thomas, exploring what funders can most effectively do to work toward solutions to this problem.
  • CBS Sunday Morning contributor, comedian, and actress Nancy Giles, who is known for her blending of humor and social and political commentary, will deliver the conference’s dinner plenary.
  • CEP’s Kevin Bolduc and Ellie Buteau will present new research exploring how funders approach the question of influencing policy at the national, local, and regional levels. The debut of these new findings will be followed by a discussion of philanthropy’s role in influencing policy — and either strengthening or undermining democracy — with New York Community Trust President Lorie Slutsky and Wilburforce Foundation Executive Director Paul Beaudet.
  • And a panel of philanthropic leaders will close the conference with a discussion about what is required for giving to be effective and create impact in this challenging moment, examining the arguments put forth by CEP President Phil Buchanan in his forthcoming book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. Joining Buchanan on stage for this discussion will be the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation President Larry Kramer, Southeastern Council on Foundations President and CEO Janine Lee, Latino Community Foundation CEOJacqueline Martinez Garcel, Nord Family Foundation Associate Director Anthony Richardson, and the McKnight Foundation President Kate Wolford, who will moderate.

There will also be several pre-conference sessions attendees can take part in.

Already registered? Why not bring a trustee with you, too? If a trustee accompanies you, they can register at a 15 percent discount! Also, don’t forget to let the world know you’re coming by tweeting with #CEP2019 (you can also follow the hashtag and @CEPData to keep up with everything going on in the lead-up to, and during, the conference).

Not yet registered? Remaining seats are limited — register for the conference here! We cap attendance to optimize interactivity and audience discussion, so please do not delay if you are considering joining us and more than 400 of your colleagues in Minneapolis-St.Paul. If you have any questions, contact CEP’s manager, programming and external relations,Ying Tao at or 617-492-0800 x186.

We hope to see you in the Twin Cities this May!

Giving Done Right Publication Date Approaches

 _248_ Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count

 by CEP President Phil Buchanan offers the inspiring stories, intellectual frameworks, data-driven insights, tools, and practical examples to think through exactly what it takes to make a difference. During a time of increasing critiques of philanthropy, this book is a timely reminder of the tremendous good that can be done through giving done right.

Here’s what some of the early readers of Giving Done Rightare saying:

Giving Done Right punctures myths and provides helpful guidance about the complexities and joys of philanthropy. Buchanan makes a persuasive and always practical case for why non-profits are not like businesses, why giving is not like investing, and how readers can find their own satisfying path to doing great good.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Arbuckle Professor (Harvard Business School) and Founder, Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative

“Phil Buchanan is arguably the best informed and most insightful thought leader in philanthropy today, and this book shows him at his best. Like its author, Giving Done Right is grounded in data, animated by real stories well told, and provocative in ways that shed more light than heat. An essential and highly readable guide for foundations and donors ready to move beyond feeling good to doing good.” – Richard Ober, President and CEO, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

“For any philanthropist — whether you give large amounts or small — your money will go much further and your impact will be much deeper if you understand the insights and advice offered in this book. It is the essential guide to effective giving in the 21st century, so you can play your part in the great American tradition of giving back. Don’t donate without it.” – Henry Timms, Co-founder of #GivingTuesday, President and CEO, 92nd Street Y

Giving Done Right, which features a stirring foreword from Ford Foundation President Darren Walker, will be out in less than three months. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon or IndieBound, and if you’d like to place bulk pre-orders for your organization’s staff and board, you can do so using special pre-publication discounts at 800ceoread or BookPal.

Stay tuned for more updates and watch this space for special launch events and to see if Buchanan will be speaking in your area. You can learn more about booking Buchanan to speak on any of the subjects at the heart of Giving Done Right here.

Expanding CEP’s Global Presence


Starting this year, CEP is deepening its focus on partnering with foundations around the world. In CEP’s 17-year history, we have worked closely with 25 international foundations through our assessments, and we’ve surveyed grantees in more than 150 countries.

Leading this effort is Manager, Assessment and Advisory Services, Charlotte Brugman, who recently relocated to her home city of Amsterdam. In a recent webinar, Brugman spoke with Tim Wilson (funding and social investment director at City Bridge Trust in the U.K.) and Lee Risby (head of effective philanthropy at C&A Foundation in Switzerland) about their experiences surveying grantees through the Grantee Perception Report (GPR) — and making changes based on the feedback they heard. Check out highlights from the conversation in this blog post.

If you are a funder based outside the U.S. interested in learning more about CEP’s work, including our rigorous research and assessment and advisory resources, contact Brugman today.

In Case You Missed It: On the CEP Blog

In his latest piece, Phil Buchanan pushes back on three “iffy assertions” about giving that have been gaining traction lately — and which increasingly appear to be widely taken as fact. “Critique is healthy, of course. It fuels learning and improvement,” Buchanan writes. “I think critique is less productive, however, when it’s based in misunderstandings, incomplete or non-existing evidence, or exaggerations. It can lead to misguided reforms, distract from actual problems, and take our attention away from increasing the effectiveness of crucial philanthropic efforts.”

Last fall, CEP Manager, Research, Charis Loh visited the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to shadow CEP’s program officer, Lindsay Louie, for a day. In this post, Loh shares takeaways about the questions and decisions program officers must effectively navigate in their day-to-day work.

Karen FitzGerald, senior director for program and community at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, discusses the role that general operating support can play in funders’ ability to place more trust in their grantees and “relinquish the illusion of control that comes with awarding restricting program grants.”

In a series of three posts, William Keator, former vice president of programs at the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, breaks down “the art of philanthropy” and what it takes for funders to effectively navigate the inherent power dynamic that influences every interaction a funder — no matter their size or focus area — has with its grantees. Keator approaches this topic from three angles: understanding power and corrosion, empowerment and diffusion, and checks and balances.

Moses Taylor Foundation Program Officer Jeff Smith discusses why providing support for nonprofits’ communications, staffing, and fundraising needs can be an effective way to strengthen grantees.

Open Road Alliance Executive Director Maya Winkelstein looks at findings from CEP and Open Road Alliance’s recent respective pieces of research, finding takeaways about the importance of communication to funders’ ability to strengthen grantee organizations.

Colorado Association of Funders CEO Joanne Kelley discusses three key themes that emerged from conversations with a cohort of Colorado foundation and nonprofit leaders about how to bridge the divide between funders and the organizations they support.

Kelley Gulley, senior program officer at the James Irvine Foundation, describes Irvine’s approach to listening and learning from fellow stuff, fellow funders, grantees, and those they are seeking to help.

Joi Ridley, director of communications at GEO, shares the story of Healthcare Georgia Foundation and its approach to providing capacity-building support — and poses a list of key questions for funders to consider in their own thinking on capacity building.

Kelson Goldfine, marketing and external relations coordinator at YouthTruth, shares excerpts from a conversation with Simon Youth Foundation’s J. Michael Durnil with advice for funders and educators looking to collect and act on student feedback.

Looking for a concise digest of philanthropy reading? At the end of 2018, CEP’s Ethan McCoy compiled a list of the top 10 most-read CEP blog posts of the year, which cover topics ranging from diversity, equity, and inclusion to foundation governance to equine metaphors for the social sector. Of the 91 posts on the CEP blog in 2018, these 10 were the most read.

Like what you can see? Subscribe to the CEP blog to receive every new post directly in your inbox! You can subscribe by filling out the short form on the right-hand side of the page on any of the posts linked above.

CEP is hiring!

We currently have active searches for several positions across teams in our Cambridge, MA office:

Learn more about CEP’s mission, vision, and values here. Do any of these roles sound like the right fit for you? Someone you know? Apply or help us spread the word!

Reserve your spot now to participate in a CEP assessment this year!

If you’re thinking about learning from honest, actionable feedback from your grantees, staff, donors, or other stakeholders this year, act quickly to reserve your spot for a CEP assessment in 2019. Our May survey window is starting to fill up fast and planning for the rest of the year will start soon. If your foundation is interested in collecting and learning from feedback in 2019, now is the time to contact Austin Long to get the conversation started.

Will you consider a donation to CEP?

While earned revenue accounts for about half of CEP’s total revenue, we are dependent on philanthropic support for much of our work. If you believe in CEP’s work, and if it benefits you as you seek to do yours, please consider making an individual contribution to CEP. Supporting CEP means supporting more effective philanthropy.

New Faces at CEP

 _965_ year and a new face at CEP! Matthew Chan has joined the research team in Cambridge as an analyst. Welcome, Matt!

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