Greater Good: Lessons from Those Who Have Started Major Grantmaking Organizations

With more than 30,000 new private foundations established in the U.S. in the past 20 years, it is vital that early-stage grantmakers learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before them so they can avoid common mistakes and position their grantmaking organizations for success.

To learn more about what it takes to effectively get a grantmaking organization off the ground, CEP interviewed 35 leaders — including trustees, CEOs, program staff, and operations staff — of 14 grantmaking organizations that were established, or that experienced significant growth, in the past 20 years and that hold at least $350 million in assets.

Greater Good: Lessons from Those Who Have Started Major Grantmaking Organizations distills insights gleaned from those interviews, offering guidance for a new wave of philanthropic leaders as they seek to build thriving grantmaking organizations that can best support nonprofits to achieve shared goals. While there is no single blueprint for those new to philanthropy to follow, across CEP’s interviews emerged three key elements for effectively getting grantmaking organizations up and running.

This research was supported by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which marks its 10th year of grantmaking in 2019.

We invite you to download and read the report in full, and as always, we welcome your thoughts and reactions.

This report is co-authored by Ellie Buteau, Charis Loh, and Hannah Martin.

The interview protocol used to gather information for this report is available here.

April 2019

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