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Philanthropy’s Role in Reparations and Building a Culture of Racial Repair

September 27, 2023

Many in philanthropy have expressed a desire to advance racial equity and a thriving multiracial democracy. This article, written in collaboration with Liberation Ventures, invites philanthropists, foundations, and other funders to see reparations for Black people—and building a culture of repair—as a necessity to reach that goal.

Four Mindsets for Funding Economic Mobility in the Black Rural South

August 24, 2023

The Black rural South is more integral to most philanthropy than it might appear. Tapping into opportunities within this historically underfunded region requires new thinking, ranging from dispelling framings and misconceptions that deter funding to encouraging mindsets that can help fuel economic mobility for young people. This new report from National 4-H Council and Bridgespan highlights exciting opportunities for philanthropy to be a force for economic mobility in the region.

Winning on Climate Change: How Philanthropy Can Spur Major Progress over the Next Decade

August 17, 2023

Over the next 10 years, major progress against climate change is entirely possible, and philanthropy has an important role to play. Through interviews with experts and building on previous work with actors in the field, this report identifies three climate philanthropy practices that will be especially important in the decade ahead. 

Reimagining Global Operating Models: Steps Multi-Country Organizations Are Taking to Advance Equity and Shift Power Locally

June 29, 2023

Global organizations are increasingly engaging in difficult conversations about shifting power and resourcing from capital-rich places like New York or London to local organizations and people, who hold a wealth of lived experience and cultural knowledge, along with deep relationships in communities. Some call this shift "localization." Others view it as "decolonizing" development. At the core, this is about yielding power to communities. And most agree that change, whatever it is called, has a long way to go.Those who recognize the need for change have more questions than answers. A growing number have come to The Bridgespan Group in search of practical advice about re-examining their cross-country operating models. From our interviews, we distilled five trends in practice that attempt to address these issues around power, resources, and equity. We describe each by drawing on the experiences of more than a dozen nonprofits and funders:Redefine the role of the "center" to shift power to local teamsMove central roles closer to the workElevate local voices in decision makingInvest in global and local equity capabilitiesBuild equitable employee experiences

How Nonprofits and NGOs Can Get Real Value from Strategic Planning

June 1, 2023

Strategy is all about getting critical resource decisions right. The strategic planning process is a rare chance for a nonprofit's leaders to step back and look at their organization and its activities as a whole—to understand what success looks like and to allocate time, talent, and dollars to the activities that can help achieve it.When strategic planning is done well, it not only clarifies the path forward for teams and stakeholders, but also informs resourcing decisions and sets in motion key organizational changes. To be sure, it doesn't always go well; we expect some readers may have had negative experiences with strategic planning. The practical advice we offer in this article will help leaders avoid the pitfalls and get real value from the process.

Promoting Equitable and Inclusive Green Job Growth in Southeast Asia

May 15, 2023

The transition to a green economy offers a bright future for Southeast Asia. It's not only a US$1 trillion market opportunity by 2030 across the region's economies. It's also a pathway to a sustainable future, one that is resilient to the climate crisis, more secure for nations, healthier for residents, and inclusive for all.To guide this radical transformation, we studied employment markets across six countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—and conducted 80 interviews with employers, researchers, and nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). This report, supported by J.P. Morgan, identifies steps that leaders across sectors— governments, funders, NGOs, investors, and employers—can take to ensure the emerging green economy achieves a "just transition" that leaves no one behind.

Funding Field Catalysts from Origins to Revolutionizing the World

March 21, 2023

At Bridgespan, we call the organizations that are often key to unlocking equitable systems change "field catalysts." While equitable systems change requires a diverse set of actors playing distinct and complementary roles across a field or ecosystem, field catalysts harmonize and drive that multifaceted work, serving as a kind of nerve center for the matrix of activity needed to transform our inequitably designed systems. Think of the critical role Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, played in the eradication of polio, or the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' contribution to the dramatic plunge in teen smoking rates. In another example, the goal of marriage equality in the United States was reached thanks, in part, to the Freedom to Marry organization, which orchestrated its campaign for 12 years.Behind the scenes, philanthropy often plays a role in these achievements. Surely there must be other opportunities for funders to support equitable systems change. So we set out to learn more about the origin stories of field catalysts, the challenges they face, and—importantly—the ways in which they believe funders can help them.

Philanthropic Sourcing, Diligence, and Decision Making: An Equity-Oriented Approach

January 24, 2023

These are times that demand courageous giving to provide essential fuel for social change efforts in areas ranging from public health and the environment to inequality, racial equity, and much more. The ever-rising scale and urgency of the challenges facing our communities and our planet are a clarion call for funders to take giant leaps forward.Sourcing and diligence processes are at the heart of funders' ability to meet the moment. By "sourcing," we mean finding and elevating nonprofits and initiatives to fund, while "diligence" refers to the vetting process donors conduct before making a contribution. Together, sourcing and diligence are the means to an important end: providing information for making decisions on giving. But that's not all—sourcing and diligence processes can also help donors meet and build trust with those who are leading the hard and ongoing work of social change. In addition, they can energize donors about what is possible, helping them see how their support contributes to an arc of impact that is larger than any one individual's reach.In this article, we offer practical sourcing and diligence guidance for donors who want to increase their contributions to social change efforts—whether they are just getting started or have been at this work for decades. This information will help donors make their grantmaking more inclusive and equitable, and, importantly, it will help donors get started, "learn while doing," and improve over time.

How Nonprofit Leadership Development Sustains Organizations and Their Teams

January 11, 2023

This article outlines an approach to investing in future leaders. Through Bridgespan's work with hundreds of nonprofits over the past decade, we've found that the key to leadership development is for managers and staff to work together on a few simple practices:Define great leadership by crafting competencies that reflect your organization's goals and values. Co-create professional development plans that build staff skills and capabilities using a 70-20-10 approach—70 percent on-the-job learning, 20 percent coaching and mentoring, and 10 percent formal learning. Support consistent development conversations ("check-ins") between managers and direct reports to put plans into action.What these practices have in common is a commitment to greater transparency and consistency in developing talent. They complement performance assessment as part of a talent development system and help to build an organizational culture that embraces professional growth. The nonprofits that put these approaches in place seek to ensure every team member has an opportunity to grow.

How to Build an Organisational Development Plan Toolkit

June 29, 2022

Research conducted by the Pay-What-It-Takes India Initiative (PWIT) has highlighted the need for more financial and advisory support to develop the organisational strength and resilience of India's NGOs. This toolkit is designed to help funders and NGOs address the multiple challenges they face in assessing and funding organisational development (OD) needs. We developed the toolkit in collaboration with the PWIT anchor partners and five organisations listed below that generously shared their insights derived from years of experience advising NGOs on building their organisational capabilities.

Bridging the Gap on Funding the True Costs of NGOs in India

June 6, 2022

There's a gap between funders' perspectives on how much they support indirect costs ("overhead") and organisational development, and NGOs' perspectives on just how much funders are willing to support it. Improved communication between funders and NGOs would help to build trust and shift entrenched attitudes and practices. This research along with our assessment guide and tips can support NGOs and funders in this important work.

Powered by the People: Community-Driven Change in Urban Informal Settlements

June 1, 2022

A decade ago, a Muslim religious scholar named Hussain Khan was a vocal critic of the Mahila Mandal Federation (MMF), a Mumbai-based grassroots women's group, which has been nurtured by an NGO called CORO for the past 20 years. He questioned MMF's efforts to help women take on leadership roles in their communities in urban informal settlements. But instead of viewing Khan as an adversary, MMF believed he might one day become an ally.Today, Khan hosts MMF meetings at his madrassa (school), which traditionally excludes women. And he has developed a course, "Quran and the Constitution," which builds community members' awareness of their constitutional rights and their moral responsibility to help neighbours in need.What prompted Khan's change of heart?Along with MMF, CORO spent three years conversing with Khan about the challenges women living in urban informal settlements encounter, including domestic violence and low access to education. CORO was well-positioned to engage in those meetings, since it is largely led by Dalit and Muslim people who live in the communities in which they work. Khan was later selected into CORO's Samta Fellowship, where he spent a full year reflecting on the values enshrined in the Indian constitution and acquiring leadership and movement-building skills that he took back to his community.It is not an accident that Khan now champions the work of a grassroots group that he formerly opposed. It is an outgrowth of CORO's core approach to supporting community-driven change: to meet people where they are and earn their trust. The idea is to unlock their "power within" to advocate for the rights of Dalits, Muslims, and other historically marginalised communities to have an equal opportunity to advance their lives.To learn more about how this kind of ground up, community-driven change comes to life, a Bridgespan Group team spent several months researching and interviewing CORO as well as three other NGOs in the Global South: Mumbai-based Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA); Kenya's Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO); and Ubuntu Pathways (UP), which works in South Africa's Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) townships.Our research reaffirmed that community-driven change is challenging to execute. Multifaceted power dynamics related to gender, caste, class, and religion often pose significant barriers to change. However, we also learned that, despite all of this, the four NGOs pushed past those challenges to build long track records of success by playing a supporting role as community groups built their own solutions. Tightly focusing on a few NGOs, rather than on many, gave us a close-up look at on-the-ground approaches to working with community members as they take steps towards leading their own change. One of our main insights was the similarities in how community-driven organisations think. Specifically, we identified five mutually reinforcing mindsets that help orient these NGOs around community members' priorities and lived experience.