A new report offers an analysis and planning tool to help emerging and established philanthropies better align their resources for impact in a rapidly changing world. Though the report is directed toward family foundations, the information in it may spark some good ideas and be useful to generous givers of all types.
Created with input from the leaders of more than fifty foundations, the Philanthropy Framework finds that, in the context of generational shifts in attitudes, massive wealth creation, diversification of capital, and new operating environments, philanthropies are broadening their activities from grantmaking to impact investing, knowledge building, advocacy, and coalition building – and need to change how they assess and allocate non-financial resources.
To that end, the report lays out three core elements for a foundation to consider in determining how to maximize its impact: the charter, defined as the organization’s scope, form of governance, and decision-making protocol; its social compact, entailing its implicit or explicit agreement with society about the value it hopes to create; and its operating model, including the approach to the resources, structures, and systems needed to implement strategy.
The framework prompts leaders to examine how their organization’s decision-making processes, culture, guidelines or rules, breadth of mandate, and time horizon connect to its founding ideals. From there, leaders are encouraged to investigate six dimensions that affect an organization’s social compact – accountability, legitimacy, transparency, influence on society, independence and interdependence, and approach to risk.