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Foundations in Los Angeles: An Assessment of the Last 25 Years

March 2, 2021

Philanthropy has changed in marked ways over the last 25 years. We have seen new players, new giving vehicles and new approaches. New players came on the scene from their economic success in the tech industry, financial institutions and other growth industries. Many of them are younger, more diverse and committed to philanthropy. Many took advantage of new structures for giving, such as donor advised funds and philanthropic LLCs leading to a donor-centered philanthropy. These donors adopted new strategies that, at their core, aspire for greater impact, not merely doing good.These forces have created a crescendo that is reflected in the way philanthropy is practiced today. Early in this period, strategic philanthropy and nonprofit capacity building – elements central to the venture philanthropy movement – were the focus. In the intervening years, a number of efforts have emerged: philanthropic collaboration, public policy engagement, public philanthropic partnerships, impact investing, diversity and inclusion, and new giving models that are more flexible and nimbler. Some of these approaches have taken hold as evidenced by the emergence of related infrastructure organizations and affinity groups. In other instances, the developments are at an earlier stage, yet are gaining traction. And, there are others where it is still too early to tell. Despite these different stages, it is clear that this generation of philanthropy is marked by a focus on impact.We have seen these changes unfold here in Los Angeles. In this paper, to provide context, we begin by reflecting on the changing foundation landscape and the prospects for even more changes in the future. Then, we work through the eight strategies that have defined this generation, exploring how they have shaped the way L.A. foundations approach their work. For each strategy, we share some notable examples that bring each to life, providing a vivid portrait of the changes that are reshaping philanthropy in the region. We conclude with reflections on how this generation of impact has found expression in L.A. philanthropy and offer some thoughts on what the future may hold. 

A Generation of Impact: The Evolution of Philanthropy over the Past 25 Years

March 2, 2021

In this paper, A Generation of Impact: The Evolution of Philanthropy over the Past 25 Years, we analyze the development, at the national level, of an array of strategies that philanthropy has leveraged to create greater impact over this generation. We begin by documenting the changing landscape of philanthropy and the phenomenal growth in private giving that began in 1995. The times series data on giving and foundations (numbers, assets and giving) all show the establishment of a new plateau for giving over the last two and half decades. Of particular note is the doubling of foundation giving – from 9 percent to 18 percent – as a relative share of total private giving. In addition, the foundations created over this period account for 60 percent of all U.S. foundations, hold 36 percent of total U.S. foundation assets and account for 48 percent of total U.S. foundation giving. 

Place-Based Initiatives in the Context of Public Policy and Markets: Moving to Higher Ground

March 15, 2015

This monograph is the culmination of a yearlong inquiry by The Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC into place based work. It includes a 50-year evolution of place-based initiatives and a synthesis of the inquiry's conversations with dozens of the foremost practitioners and scholars in the field, many of whom have spent their entire careers working on major philanthropic initiatives or government efforts addressing geographically-concentrated poverty. Among the insights in the report: poor U.S. neighborhoods are not all the same; a single process will not reverse generations of poverty; and public policy must be "place-conscious." National thought leaders also strongly recommend that in order to be successful, anti-poverty initiatives must be "nested" within larger, mutually reinforcing public policies and connected to the market economy; and philanthropic, corporate, and public resources should be "braided" together to achieve scale and impact. It also includes an important statement about the significance of "place-based" strategy by The Honorable Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with an illustrative example from Dr. Robert K. Ross President and CEO of the California Endowment, which is in the midst of a ten-year, 14-site, $1 billion place-based campaign in California, and a dozen response essays from a variety of experts across a range of disciplines.

Catalyzing Collaboration: The Developing Infrastructure for Federal Public Private Partnerships

October 20, 2014

There is growing interest on the part of government, philanthropy and business to work together to achieve greater impact. Partnerships that span the sectors have the potential to achieve more than any sector can achieve on its own by leveraging the strengths of each. However, such partnerships also give rise to added costs and entail greater risks. To address these challenges, offices of strategic partnerships are emerging at the federal level to provide an infrastructure to catalyze cross-sectoral partnerships. This report examines 21 such offices in federal departments and agencies whose purpose is to facilitate and accelerate partnerships with philanthropy and business -- ranging from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Education, to the Department of State and the Agency for International Development, to the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The formation of these offices has been driven by champions within government -- many with prior experience in philanthropy or business -- that have witnessed the power of working collaboratively with other sectors. Their actions have often been reinforced by executive orders and other directives conducive to their growth. In the case of those offices that have been created in the last few years, they have also been encouraged by the examples of their more established counterparts.

Foundation Support for Nonprofit Capital Needs in Southern California

October 1, 2007

Analyzes trends in foundation funding for nonprofits' capital campaigns, land acquisition, and building and renovation in five counties. Lists foundations that may provide capital support, but suggests securing other primary sources of capital funding.