Blog

Foundations and Endowments: Smart People, Dumb Choices

This post is part of a Transparency Talk series, presented in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, examining the importance of the 990-PF, the informational tax form that foundations must annually file. The series will explore the implications of…

By Marc Gunther

August 3, 2017

Warren Buffett Has Some Excellent Advice for Foundations That They Probably Won’t Take

This post also appears in Nonprofit Chronicles. This post is part of a Transparency Talk series, presented in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, examining the importance of the 990-PF, the informational tax form that foundations must annually file.…

By Marc Gunther

March 16, 2017

Ten Characteristics of High Performing Nonprofit Organizations

Despite the size of the $1.5 trillion nonprofit sector in the U.S. - nearly 10% of the economy - nonprofits are subject to rather minimal independent professional scrutiny beyond annual audits. Publicly traded companies publish quarterly financial reports, are subject…

February 2, 2017

Foundation Transparency: Game Over?

This post is part of a Transparency Talk series, presented in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, examining the importance of the 990-PF, the informational tax form that foundations must annually file. The series will explore the implications of the…

By Bradford K. Smith (he/him)

May 23, 2016

Serving the Public Good (by Invitiation Only)

America's foundations are not particularly interested in receiving your proposal. Earlier this year I did a quick search on Foundation Directory Online (FDO) of the 96,042 independent, company-sponsored, and community foundations based in the U.S. The results were pretty shocking: only 26,663…

By Bradford K. Smith (he/him)

November 30, 2015

The Clinton Foundation Reveals Its Donors: Should You?

A fundraising foundation has two world famous founders, a global network of generous donors, and a track record of grantmaking success. One of the founders plans to run for higher office, and the foundation makes the decision to be highly…

By Steven Lawrence

June 1, 2015

How do you define a nonprofit’s size?

Visitors sometimes ask us if there are industry standards for"large", "medium", or "small" nonprofits. They often ask in the context of a funder's eligibility requirements or a released report. The simple answer: No standardized scale for "nonprofit size" exists. However,…

By Richard Hallman

October 27, 2014

Ants in the Kitchen: The Role of Data in Human Rights Funding

A professor at Vanderbilt University, Brooke Ackerly, once told me, “Numbers matter. If someone tells you there are ants in your kitchen, you will want to know whether there are two ants in your kitchen or whether there are TWO…

By Caitlin Stanton (she/her)

June 19, 2013

Philanthropy’s Data Dilemma

When McKinsey & Co. released its seminal study Big Data: The Next Frontier for Innovation, Competition, and Productivity, the firm confidently predicted that the world was "on the cusp of a tremendous wave of innovation, productivity, and growth, as well…

By Bradford K. Smith (he/him)

July 11, 2012