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America + Civic Language

October 18, 2022

The words Americans use to describe, debate, and examine our civic values, ideals, and practices are also the words we use to connect, share, and co-create our community and national future. What can we know about how aligned we are on our language choices related to our civic lives? Perhaps another concern underlies this question: are we talking past each other about values we think we share? This was the core inquiry that animated Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE)'s Civic Language Perceptions Project. In November 2021, PACE and Citizen Data surveyed a nationally representative sample of 5000 American voters to understand their perceptions of 21 terms that are commonly used in democracy and civic engagement work, and who they associate using those terms. In March 2022, we released the data to the public and embarked on an effort to analyze and disaggregate the data from multiple angles and perspectives. We now combine the quantitative and qualitative analysis to highlight key findings.

Comparing Models of Collaborative Journalism

September 1, 2017

This report explores the history of collaborative journalism, focusing on on cooperative arrangements, formal and informal, between two or more news and information organizations which aim to supplement each group's resources and maximize the impact of the content produced.

Benchmarking Program Officer Roles and Responsibilities

June 1, 2017

The role of the program officer at foundations is one of great importance. This is not news to the thousands of nonprofit organizations relying on program officers for crucial information, guidance, and funding. Yet, we know relatively little about the role that program officers play at foundations and with nonprofits. What are the backgrounds and experiences of program officers? What are the job responsibilities on which they spend the most time? How do they view their relationships with grantees? In the following pages, we share the results of a survey we conducted, in mid-2016, to gain a better understanding of the role of the program officer. We sent surveys to over 300 program officers who we randomly selected from foundations that give at least $5 million annually. We received responses from 150 individuals for a response rate of 48 percent.

Why Let the People Decide? Elected Officials on Participatory Budgeting

November 1, 2016

This report documents findings from interviews with U.S. elected officials regarding their experience with participatory budgeting (PB). It also includes recommendations for policymakers, PB advocates and funders looking to improve and expand PB.

Public Spending, By The People: Participatory Budgeting in the United States and Canada in 2014-15

May 6, 2016

From 2014 to 2015, more than 70,000 residents across the United States and Canada directly decided how their cities and districts should spend nearly $50 million in public funds through a process known as participatory budgeting (PB). PB is among the fastest growing forms of public engagement in local governance, having expanded to 46 communities in the U.S. and Canada in just 6 years.PB is a young practice in the U.S. and Canada. Until now, there's been no way for people to get a general understanding of how communities across the U.S. implement PB, who participates, and what sorts of projects get funded. Our report, "Public Spending, By the People" offers the first-ever comprehensive analysis of PB in the U.S. and Canada.Here's a summary of what we found:Overall, communities using PB have invested substantially in the process and have seen diverse participation. But cities and districts vary widely in how they implemented their processes, who participated and what projects voters decided to fund. Officials vary in how much money they allocate to PB and some communities lag far behind in their representation of lower-income and less educated residents.The data in this report came from 46 different PB processes across the U.S. and Canada. The report is a collaboration with local PB evaluators and practitioners. The work was funded by the Democracy Fund and the Rita Allen Foundation, and completed through a research partnership with the Kettering Foundation.

Hearing from Those We Seek to Help: Nonprofit Practices and Perspectives in Beneficiary Feedback

October 17, 2014

For nonprofit organizations, hearing from the beneficiaries they seek to serve is an important practice for planning, implementing, and evaluating their programs and services. But does this feedback and an understanding of intended beneficiaries' needs reach foundation funders and influence their funding and strategic decision-making?To answer this question, CEP investigated what nonprofits are doing to hear from those they seek to help and whether their leaders believe their foundation funders are tuned in to the needs of their intended beneficiaries. The data reveals that most nonprofits are collecting and using feedback from their beneficiaries to improve their programs and services, but nonprofit leaders believe most of their foundation funders lack a deep understanding of their intended beneficiaries' needs. The research shows that this matters. Nonprofit leaders believe foundations' lack of understanding of their beneficiaries' needs is reflected in their funding priorities and programmatic strategies, and that nonprofits believe foundations can benefit from deeper engagement with beneficiary feedback.

Grantees' Limited Engagement with Foundations' Social Media

July 1, 2012

It is not surprising that foundations are investing in social media tools. These tools can serve myriad functions for foundations, from promoting a culture of transparency to the public at large, to influencing thought leaders, to connecting with grantees.

Tweeting For a Better World

February 1, 2012

Recognizing the need to build the social media capacity of nonprofits, the Rita Allen Foundation began a pilot project last spring, engaging the expertise and assistance of The Bridgespan Group, to help six grantees plan effective social media strategies. We and these six smaller-sized nonprofits (on average $1.8 million in annual revenue) worked together to determine if and how social media could advance each organization's mission, to develop implementation plans and measurement systems, and to collectively identify and address social media challenges.