High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy


We have been encouraging grantmakers to deliberately think about who benefits - and should benefit - from their grants given their specific issue(s) of interest and missions. We also have been urging them to consider how funding policy and civic engagement might help them address the root causes of siStock_000006715814-smallishocial problems they care about.

Research have shown that addressing the specific needs of underserved communities and supporting policy and civic engagement are two high impact strategies that make philanthropic dollars more effective. The High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy report series looks at four major issue areas that many funders focus on: education, health, arts and culture, and environment and climate. These reports illustrate how the two recommended strategies can help foundations maximize the impact of their grant dollars.


High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy Reports

Real_Results-Cover-SmallReal Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy is Social Justice Philanthropy

By Niki Jagpal and Kevin Laskowski
January 2013

In this report, NCRP contends that strategic philanthropy is limited by its top-down, technocratic approach and recommends the use of approaches familiar to social justice philanthropy to address these limitations. The authors draw on common themes seen in the High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy report series to demonstrate how a social justice approach produces concrete results and society-wide benefits regardless of issue focus. Learn more


NCRP2012-CultivatingtheGrassroots-SmallCultivating the Grassroots: A Winning Approach for Environment and Climate Funders

By Sarah Hansen
February 2012

This report argues that more money needs to go towards grassroots organizing and advocacy for the environment and climate change movements to regain momentum and win important legislative and regulatory battles. Environment and climate funders can become effective resources of a strong and successful movement for change by decreasing their reliance on national advocacy groups and increasing funding for grassroots communities that are directly impacted by environmental harms. Learn more


arts_report_cover_darkFusing Arts, Culture and Social Change

By Holly Sidford
October 2011

This report outlines compelling demographic, aesthetic and economic reasons for foundations to rethink their grantmaking practices to stay current with changes in the cultural sector and to continue to be relevant to the evolving needs of our communities. Regardless of its history or primary philanthropic focus, every foundation investing in the arts can make fairness and equity core principles of its grantmaking. Learn more

NCRP2011-Health-Medium-BorderTowards Transformative Change in Health Care

By Terri Langston
April 2011

Analysis shows that only 31 percent of 880 foundations and institutional grantmakers that give billions towards domestic health-related causes gave half of their grants to meet the needs of the poor, disabled, the elderly and other underserved populations. Langston and NCRP recommend two strategies for health funders to improve significantly the impact of their philanthropy: allocating at least 50 percent of their grant dollars to benefit underserved communities and 25 towards advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement that promotes long-term systemic reform. Learn more


NCRP2010-Education-MediumConfronting Systemic Inequity in Education

By Kevin Welner and Amy Farley
October 2010

Every year, foundations provide billions in grants for education. Yet, our education system is in crisis: American students - especially those from underserved communities - remain trapped in a continuous cycle of inequities in educational access and opportunities. How can philanthropy be more effective at deploying its limited resources to help reform and improve our nation's school systems? How can philanthropy help break this cycle of persistent inequality? Learn more

Download a summary of the High Impact Strategies for Philanthropy reports.



Related Initiatives

Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact
This is the first ever set of measurable guidelines for foundations and institutional grantmakers to operate ethically and maximize the impact of their dollars.
Grantmaking for Community Impact Project
Learn about the positive impact that communities have seen through funder-supported nonpartisan policy and community engagement through the Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities report series.
Philanthropy's Promise
Foundations that sign on to Philanthropy's Promise commits to providing at least half their grant dollars for the intended benefit of underserved communities, broadly defined, and at least one quarter of their grant dollars for systemic change efforts involving advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement.


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