Philanthropy and Governance and Impact, Oh My!
September 18, 2019 9:56 AM   Subscribe

So I need to learn as much as I can about new and newish thought in philanthropy, grants, nonprofit strategy, nonprofit finance, and navigating those worlds. Do you know about those things? Do you know what/who I should be reading, following, or listening to about those things?

I have recently become a Director (in a CEO -> VPs -> Directors hierarchy) at a mid-sized nonprofit with a broad local focus. My department, and the agency at large, focuses a lot on health, mental health, aging, financial wellness, and community connections. There is a very tangled, incestuous community of funding sources and private philanthropy that I need to navigate and hold my own in; these dollars are competitive, with lots of causes and some duplication all competing for the same sources. One of my programs is effectively almost its own organization, and punches above its weight in terms of attention and scrutiny in the community. I have a seat at the table, but I need to build political capital to maximize the good I can do in this role.

So. I need to know what the smartest, hippest people are talking about in the future of philanthropy. I know that there are shady and icky elements of private philanthropy, and I need to learn about them so I can recognize and avoid them. I need to know about new theories and practices in administration and governance of endowments and funds so I can cultivate trust with funders.

But most importantly, I need to know how to do smarter, better work with my dollars. I've listened to Future Perfect, which talks about impact and effectiveness in ways that sound really compelling. What else should I read and listen to as I jump into this? Where should I be looking for ideas and insights 5, 10, 50 years into the future? What do you think sets smart, considerate, effective and efficient nonprofits apart from the pack? And finally, what do I not ask in this question that I should definitely be asking about? Thanks for taking the time, I appreciate it.
posted by skookumsaurus rex to Work & Money (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
If you like Future Perfect, you might like the 80,000 Hours podcast, which is about effective altruism.
posted by catquas at 10:57 AM on September 18, 2019

Nonprofit AF
posted by postel's law at 3:08 PM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blood and Milk is a thoughtful blog about NGO issues. She talks about ground work, ethical, HR and development issues and reading through her essays and comments is a crash course in invisible biases, NGO idiocy and corruption and being critical. It's not actively developed now, she moved into career coaching for NGO people, but her backlog is v. helpful.

I also found Oxfam UK's reports and policies quite helpful as a model of what to do. I disagreed with them on what and how often, but they made clear and straightforward frameworks to start somewhere.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 12:44 AM on September 19, 2019

I like Blue Avocado. They put out a newsletter.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:47 PM on September 20, 2019

You could also check out Independent Sector and Council on Foundations
posted by fieldtrip at 10:38 AM on September 21, 2019

“I need to know how to do smarter, better work with my dollars.”

Does your org have a handle on its data? May be outside your realm of thinking, but if you don’t have a well-designed and well-managed CRM (e.g., Salesforce) you may be missing out on a lot of excellent ways to measure success and evaluate metrics around your data. Smart orgs recognize the value of having good data (and the people to manage it) as a robust driver of smart decisions in pursuit of their missions.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

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