News and Insights

Introducing the 2016 Northwest Nonprofit Capacity Report


A consortium of five northwest state nonprofit associations has released a comprehensive study on the capacity, strengths, and challenges of the region’s nonprofit sector. The 2016 Northwest Nonprofit Capacity Report: Our Strengths — Our Challenges — Our Resilience, developed using survey data from more than 1,000 nonprofits in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, highlights the progress nonprofits are making in creating a resilient sector. more »

Food Systems Research Reveals Funding Opportunities


Tim Crosby, Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project | If we want to catalyze a thriving food economy in the Pacific Northwest, where should we invest our philanthropic funds? We commissioned research into the production costs of six categories — no-till grain, grass-finished beef, organic greens, organic storage crops, pastured chicken, and hoop house pork — to identify differentiated and viable production systems aligned with our project's five overarching principles of health, social equity, family wage job creation and preservation. The results have revealed intriguing insights for our regional food economy, venture philanthropy and impact investing. We want to achieve system change to increase more sustainable food production and to build resiliency in rural communities. We want to support enterprise success so that rural communities can generate livable wage jobs and investors can at least preserve capital. We now know where we can do each; we seek the opportunity to do both. Now we're asking a new question: How can we advance system change by supporting success at the enterprise level? more »

Northwest Area Foundation Awards $1M in MT, OR, WA


The Minnesota-based Northwest Area Foundation approved 27 grants worth $5.3 million in the second quarter of 2016, focused on advancing good jobs and financial capability by funding grantees whose work creates enterprise development, access to capital, workforce opportunity, and financial inclusion for low-income communities, with a special focus on those that are Native, communities of color or immigrant. In the Northwest, these grants included more than $1 million for programs in Montana, Oregon and Washington. more »

Virtual Roundtable: Philanthropic Banks


Our "virtual roundtable" interviews feature a group of leaders from across our network who work on a common issue area, illuminating the diversity of place-based approaches to the shared topic. We kicked this series off in February with the CEOs of five healthcare conversion foundations, then continued in March with the Pacific Northwest's seven statewide nonprofit associations, April with four arts funders and May with five rural funders. For June, we interviewed representatives of four banks engaged in Northwest philanthropy: First Interstate Bank, Pacific Continental Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo. more »

Embracing a Place-Based Approach to Our Work


Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | For each of us, our community, landscape and identity create a fluid concept: place. Environmental thinkers use place as a common ground for deepening local awareness of ecological relationships, with bioregionalism as a compelling manifestation of that impulse, suggesting that political boundaries, governance and public policy must be considered within the natural connections of geographic settings. We regard place-based thinking as the foundation of community relationships as well as the appropriate scale for civic engagement; this concept has also become part of the literature in anthropology, economics, education and political science. We believe it has an important role to play in philanthropy, as well, as The Russell Family Foundation and other Philanthropy Northwest members have demonstrated in their place-based community partnerships. more »

Gates Foundation CEO: Northwest Is Our Learning Lab


Nicole Neroulias Gupte, Senior Communications Manager | At a May 24 Seattle gathering of three dozen social media influencers, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann answered questions about the foundation's views of taking risks and applying new knowledge to solve some of the world's biggest problems. Most questions focused on aspects of Desmond-Hellmann's recent open letter to the community, her first such message since joining the foundation two years ago, sharing examples from the foundation's global health and national education work. On behalf of Philanthropy Northwest, I had an entirely place-based query: "I'd like to hear more about the foundation's home being here in the Northwest. How does that influence the culture and what kind of risks are you able to take here at home?" more »

Microsoft, Boeing & Starbucks Top Corporate Philanthropy List


Nicole Neroulias Gupte, Senior Communications Manager | The Puget Sound Business Journal honored 75 companies for corporate philanthropy, based on 2015 cash giving in Washington state, at its annual Corporate Citizenship and Healthy Community Champion awards luncheon, in partnership with Seattle Foundation. In the large category, focused on companies with revenue exceeding $500 million, three Philanthropy Northwest members topped the list: Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks. We will be exploring these and other corporate giving models in a June 6 discussion on The ROI for Corporate Social Responsibility. more »

Funders: How Will You Lead on Leadership?


Danielle Garbe, Sherwood Trust & Caroline Miceli, Satterberg Foundation | The greatest assets the social sector has are its people. Human capital is one of the most important — yet often underfunded — investments that foundations can make to ensure the success and vitality of nonprofit organizations and our communities. To understand how to make smarter investments in organizational leadership, 10 foundations committed to strengthening Washington's nonprofit sector through a Statewide Capacity Collaborative spent months asking nonprofit leaders about what's needed to further develop the skills required to lead the teams, organizations and movements making positive change in our communities. The resulting Washington State Leadership Scan is a tool for funders, in any region, to consider the needs and opportunities for investing in leadership capacity. more »

Philanthropist Forum Takes First Collective Policy Stand


Ted Lord, The Giving Practice | Engaging foundations in policy and advocacy work has been a leading theme and learning edge in philanthropy for a decade. Part of the difficulty in moving these efforts forward is the level of abstraction in many of the discussions and lack of concrete examples. This month, our field gained a new example from a group of Washington and California funders focused on child welfare and juvenile justice issues. As trust and understanding has developed, they have asked each other and The Giving Practice how they might use their other forms of capital — influence, relationships, partnerships — on behalf of our most vulnerable children and families. Within 72 hours, nine members were able to sign onto a letter to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. more »