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Embracing Complexity: Towards a Shared Understanding of Funding Systems Change

As we stand on the threshold of an epochal decade, we are confronted with an urgent need to find, fund, and support transformative solutions at a far greater pace than ever. To that end, Ashoka and McKinsey invited additional partners to join their annual collaboration to co-create a shared perspective: Catalyst 2030, Co-Impact, Echoing Green, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the Skoll Foundation, and SYSTEMIQ. Together, we seek to reflect on the sector’s insights to the question: how do we get better at funding and supporting systems change? This report is the product of a...
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The Role of Philanthropy in Systems Change

This paper was created to spark conversation and ideation for foundations interested in exploring investments in “systems change.” It offers a scan of the work of systems change within the philanthropic field, as well as a focus on policy advocacy – a key systems change strategy. It also provides an overview of approaches grantmakers are using, along with some examples of systems change investments at work, to help foster ongoing conversation among Foundation board and staff.
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Foundations Respond to Crisis: A Three-Part Series

In early spring of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, foundations in the U.S. began to respond by shifting resources and practices. Some funders, nonprofits, and others in the field called for fundamental changes in how funders approach their work — including upping the provision of long-term, flexible funding; shifting the funder–grantee power dynamic; placing greater trust in nonprofits; and increasing foundation payout. The pandemic has exacerbated long-standing structural inequities — especially in Black, Latino, Native American, low-income and working-class communities, and for...
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Advocacy Field Guide for Lean Funders: How Small and Place-Based Foundations and Donors Can Make Big Change with Little Money

Success in the advocacy and policy arena depends on knowing who the decision-makers are, what motivates them, the best arguments and supporting data to use, the most effective voices and champions, and the best timing. These will be specific to every issue and will vary in every town, city or state. Therefore, to apply the principles and practices in this guide, you first need to choose a focus for your policy work — usually one or two issues you care deeply about — and then you need to learn everything you can about that issue. This, then, is the essential preparation for advocacy — focus...
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Foundations Facilitate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Partnering with Community and Nonprofits

This research study, commissioned by the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning by the D5 Coalition in 2012, investigates the systemic factors in the philanthropic sector that facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusion in grantmaking and nonprofit practice. In spring 2013, OMG conducted a qualititative study of nine foundations through in-depth interviews with executives, program officers, and nonprofit partners.
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Foundation Diversity Policy & Practices Toolkit

Changing demographics throughout the United States are redefining the role of diversity within the field of philanthropy. Foundations are embracing diversity in their grantmaking and organizational practices and thereby strengthening their knowledge of the communities they serve. This, in turn, broadens their perspective on the political, economic, and social problems they aim to resolve. A foundation that both reflects and acknowledges the myriad characteristics of its communities operates from a richer range of viewpoints toward successful grantmaking and as an authentic philanthropic...
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Disability Etiquette: Tips on Interacting with People with Disabilities

The United States Census Bureau reports that approximately 56.7 million Americans have a disability. This booklet is for anyone—with or without a disability—who wants to interact more effectively with people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was conceived with the goal of integrating people with disabilities into all aspects of life, particularly the workplace and the marketplace. Sensitivity toward people with disabilities is not only in the spirit of the ADA, it makes good business sense. It can help you expand your practice, better serve your customers or...
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Building on a Better Foundation: A Toolkit for Creating an Inclusive Grantmaking Organization

The toolkit now in your hands is the product of many years of dialogue, debate and learning among a committed group of people at regional grantmaking associations across the country and their colleagues at member organizations. What began with talk about race and ethnicity in the 1980s eventually evolved into discussions of the broader issues of inclusion and diversity at grantmaking institutions. This toolkit takes the talk to another level, to walk the walk of inclusion by encouraging others to think about and pursue diversity in both their internal organization and their external work as...
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A Toolkit for Centering Racial Equity Throughout Data Integration

Societal “progress” is often marked by the construction of new infrastructure that fuels change and innovation. Just as railroads and interstate highways were the defining infrastructure projects of the 1800 and 1900s, the development of data infrastructure is a critical innovation of our century. Railroads and highways were drivers of development and prosperity for some investors and sites. Yet other individuals and communities were harmed, displaced, bypassed, ignored, and forgotten by those efforts. As railroads and highways both developed and decimated communities, so too can data...

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