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Foundations and the Ambiguity of Success and Failure : A Case Collection

October 1, 2016

The Hertie School releases its findings from an international research project "Foundation Successes and Failures: Implications for Policy and Management – Developing a Case studies Repertoire". Professor Helmut K. Anheier led the research project, which was made possible by the Robert Bosch Foundation. The project looks at 20 case studies of philanthropic foundations from a range of fields in seven countries including Germany, the United States and the United Kingdom. The primary intended purpose is to be used by foundation boards, foundation staff training and executive education. The vignettes may also serve teaching purposes at university master level programs, particularly in public policy and business schools. For example, several will become teaching cases at the Harvard Business School.One major conclusion based on the collection of case studies is that 'success' and 'failure' are not as clear cut as it would appear. Any claims of failure or success should be approached with caution, and there are no simple solutions for high impact results or maximized philanthropic contributions. Despite ambiguity, planning and performance measures are better than none at all. A fuller analysis will be forthcoming as a book in 2017 published by Helmut K. Anheier and Diana Leat (London: Routledge).

Performance Measurement in Perspective: An exploratory study of Australian foundations’ approaches to performance measurement

September 10, 2014

Performance measurement in Australian philanthropic foundations is a hot topic. Foundation staff and board members are concerned with striking the right balance between their need for information with which to assess the effectiveness of their grant-making programs, and the costs in both time and money for grantees. Influenced by normative pressures, the increasing size and professionalism of the Australian philanthropic sector, and trends from the U.S.A and the U.K, foundations are talking amongst themselves, seeking expert advice and training, consulting with grantees and trying different approaches. Many resources examine methods of data collection, measurement or analysis. Our study instead treads into less charted but important territory: the motivations and values that are shaping the debate about performance measurement. In a series of 40 interviews with foundations from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, we asked whether they felt under pressure to measure performance and if so, why. We queried whether everyone in the foundation shared the same views on the purposes of performance measurement; and the ways in which the act of performance measurement changed their grant-making, their attitude to risk, their relationship with grantees and their collaborations with other funders. Unsurprisingly, a very diverse set of approaches to performance measurement were revealed.

The Inventive Foundation: Creating New Ventures in Europe

May 14, 2014

This report explores the neglected topic of foundations' involvement in the creation of new organisations. In recent years much attention has been paid to venture philanthropy but there has been little focus on foundations as entrepreneurs creating new organisations and institutions.Based on interviews across Europe, the exploratory study tells nine stories of entrepreneurial, or inventive, foundations and their creations. It explores why foundations take the big and bold step of inventing something new, the processes, considerations and challenges along the way.The nine cases are very different in socio-political context, in purposes, and in scale. Despite these differences there are a number of common issues which all inventive foundations need to consider including how to let go while at the same time ensuring the future of their fledgling creation. The report does not tell foundations how to be inventive but rather highlights some of the issues they may wish to consider.

Private Battles

January 1, 2013

Story of the Rockefeller Foundation during the Second World War.

More than Money: The potential of cross-sector relationships

October 1, 2009

Collaboration and co-funding between foundations has seen strong and consistent development. However, less has been done to explore and document the opportunities that collaboration across sectors between foundations, public and private sector funders may provide. 'More Than Money' provides a valuable insight into what it means for funders from different sectors to work collaboratively. Examples include the Pears Foundation working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families to turn a school linking project from a small pilot to a national project, or the development of the Evaluation Support Scotland project which began through informal discussions between a small group of funders from the statutory and voluntary sector, and continued to develop through funding from the Scottish Executive.We hope that this publication will help inform and encourage funders from all sectors as they continue to explore the exciting opportunities that cross sector collaboration can offer.

Theories of Social Change

January 1, 2005

Foundations choose one rather than other course of action or grant presumably in the belief that it is more likely than some other grant or activity to contribute to the fulfillment of the foundation's mission of making a difference in its chosen field. What broad approaches and assumptions underlie these choices? How do foundations perceive "problems"? What do they perceive as the causes and solutions of problems? What theories of intervention do they operate with? What tools of change/intervention do they see as most effective and available to them alone or in cooperation with others? This paper outlines broad approaches to understanding social change and how it can be achieved. In addition, this paper begins the process of identifying key variables/constraints which need to be taken into account in constructing decision paths for donors, foundation staff and leadership.

Promoting Philanthropy: Global Challenges and Approaches

December 1, 2004

Philanthropy promotion has become a subject of increasing interest within civil society over the last two decades. This paper tackles questions concerning the emergence of a more effective strategic philanthropy, identifying challenges to better philanthropy and possible strategies to address them, ongoing approaches and innovative models. It focuses on adapting philanthropy strategies to various countries, cultures, and contexts.