News and Insights

Top Philanthropy Northwest Resources of 2016

12/15/2016

As your thought partner, supporting shared learning and action for all types of philanthropy, Philanthropy Northwest creates and curates hundreds of reports, presentations, recordings, studies, websites and consulting tools with our colleagues and partners in the field. This year, we also launched four Digital Resource Centers for our members, focused on Advocacy, Arts Funding, Disaster Philanthropy and Impact Investing. Here are 10 resources released in 2016 with enduring value for a range of philanthropy and nonprofit practitioners in the Northwest and beyond, listed by release date. If you missed them the first time, now's a great time to catch up! more »

Reflective Practice Makes Perfect

11/03/2016

Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | I was a little shocked when I walked into a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in mid-October and saw the Christmas display. I had several reactions, including a sense of panic about where the year had gone. Did I enjoy summer? Do I need to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Where are the paintbrushes?! I was reminded of that all-too-familiar feeling of too many tasks to accomplish while balancing the need to focus thoughtfully and strategically on one thing at a time. After 20 years in the nonprofit and philanthropy sector, I know that the pace and fullness of how we work can be detrimental — sometimes to our relationships, sometimes to ourselves and often to our desired outcomes. My current reflective practice is to set aside 10 minutes every week to review meetings and interactions, not just to make my next to-do list, but to highlight what I’ve learned and which people I need to circle back around with to close out a conversation where an idea is lingering or an interaction felt uncomfortable. more »

Sharpen Your Strategy With DIY Activities

10/04/2016

Jan Jaffe and Mark Sedway, The Giving Practice | When we say “strategic,” what’s the next word that comes to mind? If it’s “planning,” you're like many of our clients. And for many foundation staff and board members, dread is the feeling that follows. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. In consulting with foundations around the Northwest and across the country, we have worked with leaders who are seeing strategy in a new way — as an ongoing practice rather than a discrete planning chore and an opportunity to mobilize continuous curiosity, experiment and learn, and even have some fun. Our new guide contains 10 activities that can help you get there, too. more »

Your Leadership, Your Reflective Practice

08/24/2016

Jan Jaffe, Senior Partner | I had a hunch: If everyone in a room reflects on their practice, especially the practices they turn to when stymied somewhere between intent and outcome, something good and potentially powerful would result. By practice, I mean the tools and skills one uses to have difficult conversations, move ideas along, work across the boundaries of different systems and bring one’s best assets and manage one’s worse behaviors in service of a task. If my hunch was right, perhaps we could create a space for sharing practices to up everyone’s game. Could we ask philanthropy practitioners to help us discover reflective practices tied to different philanthropic leadership traits? more »

Foundations Should Work With For-Profits, Too

07/17/2016

Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Catalyst Fellow | Business is changing the world. Foundations are built to make grants to nonprofits, but if foundations want to influence change, we have to work in the for-profit business sector, too. It's that simple. The tool for this is investing. If we don’t do this, our foundation efforts are limited to the capacity of the nonprofit sector to steer the course, or clean up the mess. more »

Successful Change Management Using the Rule of One-Third

06/29/2016

Ted Lord, Senior Partner | Successful workplace teams thrive on diverse personality styles. Groups that include people with a variety of temperaments and approaches invite each of us to ask for what we need and offer what we can. Different styles in the workplace balance and challenge our own thinking and approach, sparking creativity and personal growth. We also learn that relationships are as crucial to success as plans and deadlines. Dreamers and designers are grounded by those who create new structures, who are in turn are balanced by those who execute consistently. Like roll, pitch and yaw, we rely on all three dimensions for philanthropy’s dreams to take flight. Appreciating what each one-third brings to the table is essential for maintaining the trust and faith we need to gracefully make it through turbulence, while offering a place of comfort and optimism. more »

Seizing the Momentum for Impact Investing

05/25/2016

Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Catalyst Fellow | It’s not every day you find the top officers from the biggest foundations in the United States chatting about their commitment to impact investing. It happened, though, at the Mission Investors Exchange (MIE) biennial conference in Baltimore, Maryland. From May 9 to 11, the CEOs of Meyer Memorial Trust and the Ford, Kresge, MacArthur, McKnight and Surdna foundations each took the stage to share their stories, commitment and strategies for "Seizing the Momentum" of impact investing. The size and stature of these foundations are a testament to MIE’s organizational reach and impact investing’s increasingly mainstream appeal. It may be a little overwhelming however, for smaller foundations and organizations just beginning to explore this tool. The MIE conference can feel like the arcade at the state fair: Over here we have real estate strategies to fight gentrification! Over there are fisheries, already accelerated to Version 2.0!  And over there, how to invest our way out of climate change! I think this is overwhelming in a good way, though. more »

Funders: How Will You Lead on Leadership?

05/11/2016

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 »

The Art and Science of Designing Peer Learning Cohorts

04/28/2016

Sindhu Knotz, The Giving Practice | When The Giving Practice at Philanthropy Northwest partnered with the D5 Coalition in 2012 to study and report on the ways philanthropic leaders were advancing diversity, equity and inclusion, one of our most significant findings was that leaders need support from peer networks to advance this work. Four years later, we continue to witness how peer learning can be one of the most powerful ways to influence leadership and cultural change within organizations. In confidential, trust-based environments, leaders serve as co-consultants to one another, offering advice, knowledge and sympathetic ears. Again and again, we have seen leaders come together to gather the courage to make meaningful advances in policy, practice and organizational change. We use six key principles to create and facilitate these groups, particularly for cohorts designed around diversity, equity and inclusion. While much of this may read as basic facilitation strategies, we have learned that this is more of an art than a science — and it often takes a few meetings before groups begin to develop their own rhythm and cohesion. more »

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