‘Tis the season for end-of-year lists. Best albums of 2017? Pitchfork has you covered. Best books? The New York Times Book Review is the place to go. Best movies? NPR has a list to binge your way through on New Year’s Day.
Here on the CEP blog, we didn’t want to miss out on the action. So we decided to compile the top 10 most-read posts of the year into a one-stop-shop reading list on foundation effectiveness. These posts span important topics ranging from the changing landscape for community foundations, to how to build strong relationships with grantees, to performance assessment across the nonprofit sector. Of the 90 posts on the CEP blog in 2017, these 10 were the most read:
1. Barbs, Jabs, and the Roles of Community Foundations by Phil Buchanan
“In light of the increasing array of choices for how donors do their giving, what is the right stance of community foundations today and in the future? Should they adapt by seeking to be more like the other options in this new marketplace? Or should they double down on their community focus, seeking to provide leadership and guide donors toward addressing key community challenges? Or does the answer differ based on local context?” Read more.
2. Changing the Conversation about Measuring Fundraising Effectiveness by Anne Wallestad
“There’s been little guidance for those funders, donors, and board members who earnestly seek to understand whether an organization is making smart decisions about its fundraising strategies and acting in ways that uphold the public’s trust. Nor have there been external guidelines or measures for nonprofits that acknowledge the complexity and diversity of nonprofit fundraising strategies. That’s what this framework seeks to change.” Read more.
3. How Funders Support Nonprofit People by Rusty Stahl
“The outmoded approach of separating people from program is not embedded in law. It relies on a set of norms that will change when foundations have the political will to change them. Funders can use their intellectual, reputational, and financial capital to recognize the inextricably symbiotic nature of nonprofit workers and their good works.” Read more.
4. Life After Charlottesville: Choosing Our Paths by Phil Buchanan
“I am in a lot of conversations with foundation leaders whose values I share and whose goals I laud who are struggling with the question of what, exactly, to do in this moment. I don’t have the answers. But I do think that all of us, myself included, would do well to be a little more willing to put ourselves (and our organizations) on the line, like my dad did, to stand up against inequality and injustice.” Read more.
5. General Support and Myths about New Funders by Phil Buchanan
“It’s not about new donors versus old. It’s about what it takes to achieve your goals. And more funders, new and old and in between, need to recognize that strengthening organizations strengthens impact. Let’s focus on that.” Read more.
6. Five Tips for Building Strong Relationships with Grantees by Caroline Altman Smith
“Relationships between funders and grantees may have their own unique quirks and power dynamics, but they are not fundamentally different from any other good relationships, which are based on mutual respect, open communication, and reciprocity.” Read more.
7. Making Data and Evaluation Work for Foundations and Nonprofits by Johanna Morariu
“It’s clear that in the areas of resourcing and staffing, foundations and nonprofits have room for improvement to get to high quality data and evaluation use. Foundations (and nonprofits) can do more to improve their ability to get more from evaluation.” Read more.
8. What Role Should Philanthropy Play in Local Communities? By Alexa Cortés Culwell and Heather McLeod Grant
“The widening gulf between the wealthy and working poor, between local nonprofits and philanthropists, and between new donors and institutional funders, is hardly unique to Silicon Valley; these forces are playing out across America. We believe nonprofits and philanthropists in all communities have an opportunity to overcome these extreme imbalances and find new solutions by working together. But new kinds of intermediaries are needed. Foundations are well-positioned to leverage their knowledge, relationships, and political capital to help lead the way.” Read more.
9. Upping the Support for Nonprofit Performance Assessment by Matthew Harty
“If the coffers were opened and the funds were suddenly available, would nonprofit organizations be able improve their performance through measurement and evaluation? If so, how might philanthropy, evaluation, and measurement experts and nonprofit leaders partner with one another to improve organizational performance, and by extension, sector-wide outcomes?” Read more.
10. Why Racial Equity? Why Now? By Keecha Harris
“These stories of funders taking meaningful steps toward committing to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the environmental sector are encouraging. But this is only the beginning of the journey.” Read more.
Ethan McCoy is senior writer – development and communications at CEP.