Philanthropy in Depth

By: Moira
Moira is a participant in our Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers class. 

In Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers, we have the ability to delve deeper into philanthropy. At our last meeting, we went into more detail about the grant-making process, an extremely important part of the health of nonprofit organizations. The grant-making process starts with a healthy grantor-grantee relationship which must be mutually beneficial. Secondly, we learned about the mechanics of the grant-making process. Specifically, we learned about Request for Proposals which are documents created by grantors that describe the possible funding opportunities. After this, grantees are able to submit their proposals about what they intend to do with the funds and then the grantor will decide which grantee to allocate their funds to. One interesting fact that we learned about the grantmaking process is that there is no singular correct way to go about it: each different grantor/grantee will do it differently. 
A second topic of our class was exploring and learning more about nonprofit governance and accountability. A nonprofit is accountable to the public since their goals have to do with improving quality of life for some sector of the public. Within individual non-profits, there are many people that help the organization stay on the right track. For example, the Board of Directors is a group of people that oversee the actions of the non-profit in order to ensure that they are staying true to their mission and values. Without these people, there would be no third person perspective that has the organization's best interests in mind which would have a detrimental effect on the organization. 

In class, we did an activity in which, as a group, we had to decide where to allocate funds to as if we were grantors. Some of the most important factors we looked for in organizations were transparency, accountability, financial health, and efficiency. It is important to consider these criteria because they will ensure that a grantor is giving to a non-profit organization that will be responsible with the treasure given to them. The idea of criteria for organizations to give to ties into being an educated philanthropist in order to effectively give your time, talent, and treasure. 

Grant-making on the Ground

By: Sadie
Sadie is a participant in the Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers class. 

This week in ELP we discussed creating mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationships 
and expanded on the grantmaking process. So far, I have learned that the grantmaking process can be a hard but mutually beneficial for the grantor and grantee. Through a Request for Proposal or Letter of Intent, the grantor can identify the benefits or challenges involved in giving a grant to the grantee. Then, a grant application can further identify if giving the grant will be an efficient use of the money. The grantor can measure if there will be a mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationship through these steps that help to measure the effect on the community the grantee will make with the money. 

We have learned that maintaining a mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationship can ultimately lead to greater and stronger impacts on the community. Through communication, trust, and social impact, this relationship can become stronger. In our class this week, we had the pleasure of having Lauren Wolter from The Once Upon A Time Foundation speak and share her experience with us. The Once Upon A Time Foundation has three sectors; one of which is the Philanthropy Lab. The Philanthropy Lab organizes classes at several colleges and universities in which students are granted money that they can donate to an organization of their choice after learning about philanthropy. Similar to our learning at Allowance for Good, students are given the chance to learn about philanthropy and the grantmaking process and apply their learning to the real world. As a future college student, I think this is a great program to have because many students are unaware of the specifics of philanthropy and its impacts. As part of a foundation, we had the opportunity to hear Lauren’s perspective on the grantmaking process. She spoke of how grantmaking can truly be mutually beneficial and how that can benefit various communities. 

Because of my learning about the grantmaking process in Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy, I am now inspired to somehow be involved in the grantmaking process in the future. I am a catalyst for good because I think everyone deserves to have the same rights, resources, and opportunities as others and non-profit organizations and grantmaking is a way to bring this to action in my future. In the meantime, I will continue to educate myself and others on philanthropy and global change so that I can apply this knowledge in the future along with my peers.

Lessons from Foundation Leaders

By: Will
Will is a participant in Allowance for Good's Winter 2015 Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Explorers class.

This week at ELP, we were lucky enough to talk to a few leaders in the philanthropy world today. Two members of the McCormick Foundation and one from the Jack Miller Family Foundation joined us to discuss their work. We learned the origins of each group, and what they strive to fix through their philanthropy. Programs run by the groups varied immensely, and the speakers were passionate while discussing the diverse initiatives focused on Judaism  medical research, civics, education, democracy, aid for veterans, and more.

As students, it was interesting to hear from two separate foundations each trying to give meaningful grants. The McCormick Foundation is substantially larger than the Jack Miller Family Foundation, but both groups utilized similar grant-making policies. Personally, it was unexpected to hear just how driven each group was by their founders. For the McCormick foundation, they are still driven by the values from about 150 years ago. Jack Miller, who is still alive today, also plays a large role in crafting his foundation’s initiatives. 

Later in the class, we were invited to ask a few questions of our panel. I asked the first question, which was definitely a tough one to answer. I inquired as to how their foundations measure the success of their grants after giving them. The answers varied, but provided nice insight into how decisions are made in foundations. Suzanne Knoll from the Jack Miller Family Foundation noted that their group attempts to give grantees the tools to measure success on their own. They also try and use any quantitative data available to find the impact of the programs. The representatives from the McCormick Foundation also commented on the difficulty of analyzing success in philanthropy, and what their efforts have been. 

There were a few more questions posed before the end of class. For example, one student asked which of the programs each panel member was most proud of. The unique answers displayed their passion for helping others, and some background for what drives them. Unfortunately we ran out of time a tad early, but the chance to hear from these friendly and intelligent guest speakers was amazing. A friend and I also got to ride down in the elevator with one of the speakers, so it was nice to speak a little bit longer with him. I loved getting to know the philosophy behind each foundation’s work, and I’m looking forward to next week’s class.

Will writes, "I am a Catalyst for Good because everyone deserves the right to be their own catalyst."

Learning Abound with Young Changemakers

By: Turner
Turner is participating in Allowance for Good's inaugural Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers program.

In the past few weeks in ELP Changemakers we have delved deeper into the grant making process and learned about grantor-grantee relationships and what a board of directors is/does.

It is important to maintain a mutually beneficial grantor-grantee relationship because the grantor can give the grantee access to their network of organizations that can give the grantee advice and other connections to get money from. The grantor can also give the grantee a place to come for the money they may need to support their projects.

A board of directors governs a nonprofit. The board of directors oversees the nonprofit and helps make decisions on what the organization should and should not do. The board of directors helps ensure that the organization is using its funds in the best ways possible and in the ways that accommodate the needs of the organization as well as it can. The board’s most important job is to govern and provide direction for the organization to develop its projects well. The board also helps ensure the effectiveness of the organizations planning.

I could see myself being a board member for an organization that I volunteer at frequently when I am an adult. The board members help make very important decisions for the nonprofit and I would like to be able to help an organization I care for in the future in that way.

I have enjoyed learning about grant reports the most about the grant making process.  Grant reports are a follow up that the nonprofit gives to the grantor after using the money from a grant. Some of the things that are answered in a grant report are what the project that the grantee spent the grant on was, how the organization achieved its objectives, and what the nonprofits challenges were. The grant reports allow the grantor to know a little about how the project went to help them decide whether their money was used well and if they should consider giving money to that nonprofit in the future. 
"I am Turner and I give my time because I enjoy helping those who need it."

AfG Youth Empowered to Make Change

By: Nina
Nina is participating in Allowance for Good's inaugural Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy: Changemakers program.

Throughout the past few sessions of the ELP: Changemakers program, I have been exposed to a variety of components of the grantmaking process. In class thus far, we have covered aspects such as what makes up a non-profit (executive director, founder, board of directors, advisors, etc.), the relationship between grantors and grantees, what factors grantmakers have to take into account when awarding a grant to a non-profit, and what kinds of documents must be filled out for grantees when applying for a grant.

As a part of our weekly sessions, we have had the opportunity to look at actual grant applications, and to answer the questions posed on the application form as representatives of a real-life non profit organization. In order to help us understand what RFPs, or Requests for Proposals, which a non-profit typically fills out in order to get a certain amount of money from a foundation or other organization, such as the government, are, we created our own proposals and had a couple of members of Allowance for Good's Advisory Council give us feedback. We also had the chance to act as grantors, and write a recommendation for a non-profit worthy of a grant. These activities have all helped me gain a deeper understanding of what I think is the hardest part of having a non-profit: making sure that it functions efficiently and with the greatest impact.

For me personally, what I think are the most surprising and challenging components of the nitty-gritty aspects of non-profit long term impact and success is a) how much a person needs to know about the organization and b) how much information needs to be taken into account in the grantmaking process. You have to be able to not only talk about your organization's successes, but also its failures and how those failures have been fixed. I have learned that there is a lot more that goes into the finer aspects of what keeps an organization running smoothly, and it is not as easy as it seems. The knowledge that I have gained during this class will allow me to become a better philanthropist as I continue to work with Allowance for Good and other organizations, because it has prepared me to think about how to help a non-profit organization continue to have the greatest impact. Armed with these skills, I feel more empowered to have the ability to make a change.
Nina, left, and Zoe pose for the camera during the 2013 Global Philanthropy Summit.