CEP’s 2015 National Conference in San Francisco Draws Nearlef-sidebar3

Only a few spots remain for CEP’s biennial national conference, “Leading Effective Foundations,” in San Francisco May 19-21. The 2015 conference will feature presentations of new CEP research on impact investing and nonprofit performance assessment, and a stellar lineup of speakers, including:

Van Jones, CNN political commentator, two-time New York Times bestselling author, founder and president of Rebuild the Dream, and former special advisor to President Barack Obama. A passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, Jones is committed to movements ranging from building a greener economy to opening new doors of opportunity in the innovation sector to reforming the criminal justice system in America.

Henry Timms, Executive Director of 92nd Street Y and founder of the #GivingTuesday phenomenon, which in 2014 generated an estimated $26.2 million in donations to nonprofit organizations in only its third year. Timms recently co-authored “Understanding New Power,” a Harvard Business Review feature article on the thought-provoking concept of new power, which CNN named one of its 10 “Ideas of the Year” in 2014.

Barbara Kellerman, Lecturer in Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and author of the seminal The End of Leadership and, most recently, Hard Times: Leadership in America. Kellerman has spoken to audiences in more than 15 countries has been named in Forbes’ “Top 50 Business Thinkers” list.

Shankar Vedantam, NPR social science correspondent and author of The Hidden Brain: How our Unconscious Minds Elect Presidents, Control Markets, Wage Wars and Save Our Lives. Vedantam’s work focuses on how the unconscious biases of humans influence our behavior and decision-making in everyday life – for example, he recently reported for NPR on what motivates people to give to charity.

Breakout sessions will feature discussions on foundation strategy, design thinking in philanthropy, and funders’ roles in combatting government dysfunction, among others. Detailed program information, as well as a full list of speakers and registrants, can be found on our conference website. You can also watch highlights from past CEP conferences on our YouTube channel.

We’ll be tweeting updates and news about the conference as it draws nearer. If you’re active on Twitter, join the conversation by letting us know your thoughts and questions with the hashtag #CEP2015!

Limited seats are available – but likely not for much longer. Register here to make sure you’ll join us in May.

Upcoming CEP Research and News

New research from CEP will highlight the state of nonprofit performance assessment efforts and what nonprofits are looking for from their foundation funders.

The new report, to be released this spring, will build on 2012’s Room for Improvement: Foundations’ Support of Nonprofit Performance Assessment. That study found that most nonprofits were lacking the support they wanted from foundations to assess and improve their work.

CEP’s research team is also analyzing new data on impact investing, foundation governance, and the decision for funders to exist in perpetuity or have a limited life, following a recently completed benchmarking survey of foundation CEOs at independent, U.S.-based foundations giving at least $10 million annually. This study, made possible by funding from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, is co-sponsored by BoardSource and Mission Investors Exchange.

CEP will share highlights of the findings at its May conference and publish them later in the year.


Sara Dubois Appointed CEP’s Art Director


Sara Dubois, Senior Graphic Designer, will assume a new role as Art Director when she returns from her current maternity leave. Dubois has been with CEP since February 2013, and in that time has led the charge on a number of CEP’s key marketing, web, and design developments, including redesigning the CEP website, rebranding the organization with a new logo and color scheme, and taking over the design of research reports. You can see Dubois’ artistic touch on display in nearly everything CEP produces – including our conference website, last year’s holiday card, and – if you ever drop into our Cambridge office – our newly redesigned lobby and cubicles.



New Faces at CEP

We are excited to welcome our newest staff member, Leaha Wynn, who joined our Cambridge office this month as coordinator – research and human capital! The new role is broad, and Wynn will contribute to the research and human capital teams on tasks ranging from assisting to recruiting efforts to compiling survey sampling data.


CEP in the NewsScreen Shot 2015-01-22 at 12.17.16 PM

Last month, CEP President Phil Buchanan returned to his column with the Chronicle of Philanthropy with a popular opinion piece defending the nonprofit sector against claims that it is “broken” and should shift to operate more like a business or a technology startup. The column generated a large response on the Chronicle site and on social media. After the Chronicle lifted its subscriber-only access to the post due to popular demand, it was the site’s most read and commented on article for several days.

Buchanan was featured on a new series – “The Download” – on BetaBoston, a site from The Boston Globe about local innovation news. The series profiles the digital habits of local leaders in the business, nonprofit, and public sectors.

Glasspockets’ “Transparency Talk” blog posted a Q & A with Buchanan as part of their series of chats with the first Fund for Shared Insight grantees. In the conversation, Buchanan discusses CEP’s transparency research project that FSI is funding and speaks more broadly about trends toward increasing transparency and openness in the foundation sector.

Buchanan was also quoted in several news stories. In a Boston Globe article about the impending closure of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College, he argues that “we need more academic centers studying philanthropy, not fewer, and it’s a shame in that sense.” And in a Chronicle column from Benjamin Soskis entitled, “Watchdog vs. Self-Promotion: Why Donor Lists Matter,” Buchanan cautions that “rank order lists are often not that helpful in terms of generating real understanding of what’s going on.”

CEP research reports were recently mentioned in a Chronicle story about the blossoming of the feedback movement and a Stanford Social Innovation Review blog post about philanthropic preparedness for disaster.

Additionally, foundations making their GPRs public was cited as an example of greater transparency among large foundations, one of Inside Philanthropy’s “Seven Trends in Philanthropy to be Thankful for” in its pre-Thanksgiving article.


On the CEP Blog

We are excited to unveil a new free subscription service for the CEP Blog! Every time a new blog post goes live, we’ll send an email with the post directly to your inbox. Sign up for the service using the box on the right-hand side of the blog page on our website.

Recent posts on the blog include:

CEP President Phil Buchanan, following up his Chronicle column, penned a widely-read post on the hotly-debated issue of nonprofit overhead.

Chris Cardona, Director of Philanthropy at TCC Group, discussed funder capacity – the skills, abilities, and knowledge necessary for funders to be efficient and effective in their work.

CEP Director, Assessment Tools, Amber Bradley shared the results of a recent third-party assessment of the Grantee Perception Report.

Bernard Kirk, Director of the Galway Education Centre and board member of Philanthropy Ireland, contributed a post about philanthropy in Ireland to our series on international perspectives on foundation work.

Following the publication of CEP’s research report on beneficiary feedback, CEP’s Ellie Buteau and Ramya Gopal shared a profile of ONE DC, a nonprofit that was rated highly in terms of its work understanding its beneficiaries and using feedback to improve its work.

In the first post of a new series of interviews with community foundation leaders and Donor Perception Report subscribers, CEP’s Ethan McCoy shared the thoughts of Nancy B. Anthony, Oklahoma City Community Foundation president.

We also began a series of case studies of funders exemplary in their non-monetary support for grantees. The first post profiled The Wallace Foundation.

CEP’s Grace Nicolette contributed the inaugural post in our Question & Answer series, responding to a funder’s query about evaluating grant application and reporting processes. We’re actively accepting questions for this series and encourage you to send them to We are happy to withhold attribution of the questions upon request.

And to wrap up 2014, Vice President, Assessment Tools, Kevin Bolduc recounted the year for CEP’s assessment tools team and acknowledged the 68 funders who commissioned a tool in 2014.


CEP Staff Out and About

Kevin Bolduc spoke on working well with grantees in New Haven in conjunction with the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, leading a workshop with foundation staff to explore strategic and practical approaches for funders to strengthen their relationships with grantees.

Ellie Buteau led a webinar entitled “Increasing your Transparency Quotient” hosted by Associated Grant Makers earlier this month. Buteau discussed CEP’s recent research on foundation transparency and beneficiary feedback, probing questions about what nonprofits think funders can do to gain a better understanding of those they ultimately seek to help and how foundations can communicate more openly with their grantees.


New Grantee Perception Report (GPR) Video Released


Kevin Bolduc discusses what makes the Grantee Perception Report such a unique and important assessment tool in this new video on our YouTube channel.


CEP is Hiring!

We are currently growing our team and seeking applications for several positions in both our Cambridge and San Francisco offices.

We recently launched a search for a manager, advisory services. The manager will work with the director of advisory services to help create the strategy, approach, and pricing for CEP’s new advisory services offering. He or she will develop new and maintain existing client relationships and create rigorous data analysis and deliverables for clients. The successful candidate will have strong data analysis and communication skills, a minimum of four years’ experience with management/strategy consulting, and a passion for the effectiveness of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. This position will be based in our Cambridge, MA office.

We are seeking a program coordinator with YouthTruth. The program coordinator will support and execute sales, marketing, and fundraising efforts to build YouthTruth’s national presence; manage the initiative’s lead and client database; and support client services, among other responsibilities. The successful candidate will be detail-oriented, demonstrate a passion for contributing to the improvement of student engagement, and have 1-2 years of relevant professional experience. This position will be based in our San Francisco, CA office.

We’ll also be hiring two research analysts to join the assessment tools team – one based in our Cambridge, MA office and the other in our San Francisco, CA office. In this entry-level role, research analysts create data-driven reports and written recommendations based on rigorous quantitative and qualitative analyses to provide foundation executives, boards, and staff with insights into enhancing the effectiveness of their work. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated abilities in quantitative and statistical analyses, effective written and verbal communication skills, and a desire to utilize his or her skills to create positive social impact. Interest and aptitude with computer programming is a plus but not required, and all analysts will receive training in systems such as SQL and Python.

We encourage you to share these postings in your network! For more information on each position and to apply, visit our Careers page.


Austin Long awarded CEP’s 100th Percentile Awardaustin-thumb

Director, Assessment Tools, Austin Long was recognized with the 100th Percentile Award, an award given annually to a staff member who exemplifies the qualities that make CEP’s work culture distinctively positive and makes exceptional contributions to the achievement of our mission. Austin was presented with the award during CEP’s all staff week in December.

Stay Tuned In via Social Media!

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We’re on Twitter, as are members of our staff; Facebook; and LinkedIn. We’re sharing new content from ourselves and the world of philanthropy every day. Give us a follow to stay up to date with what’s happening and to join in the conversation.