Philanthropic Strategy

How do we deploy the resources at our disposal as effectively as possible? What values and shared understandings should underlie our work? How can we help set the conditions for sustainability of the organizations we support? These and other questions that inform the development of grantmaking strategies are addressed in these pieces.

Transformative Leadership in Action

March 2012

A report on a series of conversations conducted with grantees and friends of the Compton Foundation to explore how its new mission and vision statement might set the stage for the next phase of its grantmaking and other programming.

View as PDF

A Defining Moment for Health Philanthropy

March 2010

This piece was commissioned by Grantmakers in Health as one of a set of theme essays for its 2010 Annual Meeting. My charge was to provoke discussion on the topic of foundation risk taking.

View as PDF

The Ecology of Community Change

November 2008

This piece was invited by The Foundation Review to synthesize issues raised by the papers included in its inaugural issue on "Comprehensive Community Initiatives." It didn't make the cut in the journal for space reasons, but sections of it were used to stimulate an on-line conversation on their blog.

View as PDF

The Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative: Accomplishments, Challenges and Lessons Learned

October 2007

The TPPI was a $60 million, ten-year initiative of The California Wellness Foundation that achieved some significant results. This commissioned piece was designed to complement the formal evaluation. It examines the lessons learned from a grantmaker perspective. Most are relevant for any complex undertaking of this sort regardless of topic area.

View online

CCI Lessons Learned from the IT Grantmaking Program

August 2006

The Community Clinics Initiative is a multi-year partnership between Tides and The California Endowment. This piece summarizes some of the lessons learned from its grantmaking in Health Information Technology, although it is also applicable to any foundation grantmaking initiative.

View as PDF

Sustainability

February 2004

Most grantmakers would contend that they are not in the sustainability business. They are catalysts for innovation and sustainability is the work of others. But it can be argued that as philanthropic assets have increased that foundations need to take a fresh look at the sustainability challenges confronted by their grantees. This piece was an invited address to a conference of grantmakers and nonprofit executives in Buffalo.

View as PDF

Terrance Keenan Leadership Award Acceptance Speech

February 2002

This is a meditation on the paradox of "less is more" and ways in which it applies to the work of philanthropy. It was my acceptance speech when receiving the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award in Health Philanthropy at the 2002 annual meeting of Grantmakers in Health in New York City.

View as PDF

Reflections on Sustainability

February 2002

The first piece I wrote on the topic of sustainability from a grantmaker's perspective. It is part of The California Wellness Foundation's Reflections series.

View as PDF

Reflections on Strategic Grantmaking

November 2000

This piece was written to share some lessons learned from the startup of The California Wellness Foundation with other new health foundations. I contend that there is no single "strategic" approach to grantmaking, and discuss a spectrum of strategies that different foundations have chosen to guide their work. It is also part of The California Wellness Foundation's Reflections series.

View as PDF

Reflections on Our First Initiatives

Most of our grantmaking in the first years of The California Wellness Foundation was centered on five multi-year initiatives. This piece was written midstream in those initiatives to sketch out some initial lessons we were learning about this style of grantmaking. It was the first in The California Wellness Foundation's Reflections series.

View as PDF

Partership and Leadership

June 1998

Partnership is one of the most frequently used terms in philanthropy, yet effective partnerships require a good deal of effort and patience on the part of all parties. This piece was originally written as an internal memo for the Board of The California Wellness Foundation to stimulate discussion on the various forms of philanthropic partnerships and to articulate some principles for our work with others.

View as PDF

The TCWF Way

October 1996

What are the core values and shared understandings that should inform our work in philanthropy? This piece was prepared as a discussion starter for our first staff retreat during my time at The California Wellness Foundation. It is a personal statement and does not represent the official views of the Foundation or its staff.

View as PDF