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Advocacy With a Small “a”—Big Ideas for Small Foundations

While attending Exponent Philanthropy’s 2018 National Conference last month, I had a surprise: I saw a significant number of grantmakers genuinely excited about getting involved in advocacy! At the closing luncheon, I was seated with Melinda McAliney, Director of the Brown Sisters Foundation and Vario Philanthropy, in St Louis, Missouri. She noticed it too and... Read More

Just Say No: The Art of the Turndown

People sometimes compare the foundation/grantseeker courtship to the dating process: Funders and grantseekers are looking to find each other and build long-term relationships. Sometimes the chemistry is there; other times it isn’t. Rejection is an inevitable part of this process so learning to say no, politely and confidently, is an essential skill. That said, let’s... Read More

How a Small Foundation Catalyzed Big Changes for Better Environmental Health

The Fine Fund is a small trustee-run foundation with two very part-time staff, created in 1997 to support organizations using complementary strategies to eliminate toxic chemicals from humans and the ecosystem. I am a funder of environmental health issues, but I also have a personal stake. In 2006, I had my blood tested for toxic chemicals. Despite my best... Read More

Fund International Development? A Framework for Collaboration With Beneficiary Communities

For nearly a century, donor-driven development has struggled to create sustainable change in the Global South. Today, funders realize the key to improving community self-reliance lies in healthy collaboration with beneficiary communities. A challenge, then, is how to collaborate with rural communities in the Global South. How do we maintain financial management standards when our... Read More

Youth Philanthropy, Trust Building, and Sharing Power

Despite the growing number of youth philanthropy programs in the United States, a 2002 survey found that “only 48 percent of adults believe it is important to seek young people’s opinions when making decisions that affect them.” As Katie Richards-Schuster, a professor at University of Michigan stated in 2012, “In general, American society, through its policies and practices, tends to... Read More