News and Insights

Philanthropist Forum Takes First Collective Policy Stand

03/31/2016

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 »

Five Ways to Improve Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Family Foundations

02/17/2016

Audrey Haberman and Sindhu Knotz, The Giving Practice | ast fall, we had the pleasure of hosting a conversation with a group of 10 family foundations attending the National Forum on Family Philanthropy in Seattle. The session was focused on how foundation leaders can begin to address the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) with your staff and trustees. Through storytelling about successes and a discussion about mistakes and anxieties related to DEI, the group identified five essential practices any family foundation should consider to improve diversity, equity and inclusion. more »

The Secret Sauce of Building Community Philanthropy

02/08/2016

Audrey Haberman, The Giving Practice | Over the course of four years, the Building Community Philanthropy (BCP) initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Pacific Northwest team has brought together 20 partners — United Ways, identity-based funds, tribal governments and community foundations — to learn together, challenge each other and shift the way they see their role in their communities. In short, to participate in a peer network that rewards honesty and authenticity while also receiving funding to test new ways of working, and transform their work in positive and meaningful ways. Ted Lord and I recently facilitated a two-day convening for this learning cohort.  We’ve noticed three key shifts that BCP has helped unlock: more »

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Our Workplace

02/03/2016

Anne Yoon, The Giving Practice | Once an organization is more than a generation old, it can become paralyzing to decide which resources to keep, donate or toss. Like Philanthropy Northwest, many of our partners have also have amassed decades of artifacts, including Boeing (celebrating its centennial this year) and our founding members Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Medina Foundation, Seattle Foundation and Weyerhaeuser. With the start of the new year, and as we thought more about how to reflect on our 40th anniversary this fall, we decided it was time to go through everything and make an informed decision about which materials should be saved — to reference in upcoming programs and future publications — and which to let go. more »

Top Philanthropy Resources of 2015

12/28/2015

Our Resources library offers a curated list of more than 100 reports, presentations, studies, websites, consulting tools and other useful content created by Philanthropy Northwest and our partners in the field. Here are 10 publications released in 2015 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 »

Beyond Gifts: Planning a Meaningful Holiday Season

12/09/2015

Leslie Silverman, The Giving Practice | Growing up, I was the only "Hanukkah kid" in my class, so my parents felt compelled to offer me a similar experience in what kids talked about most — the gifts! So, they would give us a gift each evening after we lit the candles. Often, this would amount to seven small toys and games, then a big gift on the eighth and final night. A few years ago, inspired by my work with family foundations, I started to think about how to make the holiday season more meaningful for my son. We created a new tradition: planning out what each night of Hanukkah should be about, beyond buying and exchanging a lot of presents. After a little brainstorming, my 7-year-old son and I came up with eight days of themes: more »

From Ally to Accomplice: Leading for Equity in Complex Systems

12/01/2015

Ted Lord, Senior Partner, The Giving Practice | After spending two days in November with 80 other local philanthropic, nonprofit, education and government colleagues at the National Equity Project’s (NEP) Leading for Equity in Complex Systems Institute, we were invited to take home one of the many quote posters that decorated the walls. I chose this from Meg Wheatley: "When we begin listening to each other, and when we talk about things that matter to us, the world begins to change… Listening and talking to one another heals our divisions and makes us brave again." As a white ally, I often feel frustrated by my inability to take clear and quick action in the face of persistent disparities based on skin color. This quote captures how listening is essential in continually learning about issues and dynamics that are beyond my lived experience. more »

Introducing DIY Strategy Improvements: 10 Activities for Community Foundations

11/16/2015

Jan Jaffe and Mark Sedway, The Giving Practice | How do you feel about strategy? Most philanthropy practitioners we work with feel ambivalent at best. For most of us, signing up to do strategic planning is about as energizing as arranging to get your teeth cleaned. It has the oppressive quality of someone doing something to you rather than being in charge of your own health, especially when you bring evidence of poor self-care to the appointment. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the same way that flossing and brushing your teeth will make that appointment less painful, we’ve seen how foundations that treat their strategy not as a discrete planning process but as ongoing practice, and use bite-size activities to make the experience manageable and fun, come out the other side with their strategy gleaming and in good health. more »

Surfing the Boundary Between Order and Chaos

10/27/2015

Ted Lord, The Giving Practice | In my experience, philanthropy too often stays in its safe spot, privileging white-paper expertise over lived experience, inviting compliance rather than building a plan together with the deep understanding that participants bring multiple forms of capital — influence, lived experience, community connectedness, time and energy — in addition to potential grant dollars. Is philanthropy’s job to underwrite what has an established track record? Or is it to provide the risk capital for demonstration projects or the resources for best-in-class organizations to pursue their highest-return ideas? more »

At the Tipping Point for Mission Investing: What Now?

09/09/2015

Rosalie Sheehy Cates | Rosalie Sheehy Cates, Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice | I officially declare that mission investing among foundations and family offices is at a tipping point. The number of early adopters has reached a critical mass, providing enough results and pulling enough products and services into the market to tempt mainstream audiences to take a serious look. Mission investing is everywhere — it comes up at conferences, in board rooms and at professional meetings. New funds and managers are introduced every week. Hold onto your hats, because it looks like the sector will be very, very busy in the next few years. more »

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