Philanthropy and Capacity Building

Philanthropic and programmatic work increasingly focuses on building the capacity of organizations to work efficiently and effectively.

Informing Change has worked with clients in all forms of capacity building, from an intensive three-month process to articulate a theory of change, to long-term, ongoing work to build new organizations and programs.

Read about these examples of our current and recent philanthropy and capacity building content work.


William and Flora Hewlett Foundation – Performing Arts Program

The Hewlett Foundation came to Informing Change and our partners at Olive Grove with a strategic question about a particular funder-grantee relationship. While Hewlett is one of the largest institutional funders of the performing arts in the San Francisco Bay Area, they do not directly fund small arts organizations and individual artists. Instead, Hewlett funds intermediary organizations who, in turn, support individuals and groups with Hewlett’s resources, along with funds of their own or from other sources. These intermediary ... Learn more »

Sisters of Charity Foundation Cleveland

The Sisters of Charity Foundation Cleveland works to improve the lives of those most in need, especially families, women and children living in poverty. The Foundation works to end homelessness, reduce health and education disparities and sustain the ministries of women religious.

In 2012, the Foundation rounded out a five-year strategic plan. At its conclusion, the Foundation looked to Informing Change to assess the resulting impacts and examine the effectiveness of the strategies used to help strengthen and refine efforts going ... Learn more »

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

In November 2011, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) engaged Informing Change to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Scaling What Works Initiative. The Initiative is a three-year, $4.5 million project that amplifies the efforts of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF) to help philanthropy and the public sector most successfully broaden and deepen nonprofits’ impact to create meaningful social change.

The SIF, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, allocates resources to grantmakers to expand the impact of nonprofit organizations in three ... Learn more »

Jewish Service Learning Initiative / Repair the World

In Fall 2007, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Jim Joseph Foundation commissioned Informing Change to assess the landscape of Jewish service learning. The foundations wanted to better understand what service programs existed, and where their investments could have the greatest impact.

Informing Change responded with comprehensive field research and a related action plan. That plan resulted in the emergence of Repair the World, a new organization dedicated to building support of authentic, high-quality ... Learn more »

Marguerite Casey Foundation

The Marguerite Casey Foundation (MCF) supported a cluster of eight grantee organizations engaged in grassroots organizing, economic justice and community development.

Over 18 months, Informing Change led a process of shared learning and reflection for the organizations’ leaders, contributing to their understanding of social movement development, relationship building among the grantees and the Foundation’s knowledge about the value and impact of its grantmaking. Informing Change also prepared case studies of each of the social change organizations.

These combined efforts seeded an increased ... Learn more »

National Network of Fiscal Sponsors

Many innovative nonprofit ideas and start-up endeavors first appear as projects sponsored by larger, established organizations with a compatible mission. This practice of fiscal sponsorship has occurred in hundreds of nonprofits across the country for decades, but lacked real guidelines until fairly recently.

In response to increasing interest in fiscal sponsorship, Tides Center facilitated the organization of a new group, the National Network of Fiscal Sponsors, to build knowledge about the practice and help build the field.

Informing Change served as Tides ... Learn more »

Organizational Capacity Grants Initiative

The Organizational Capacity Grants Initiative (OCGI) was an early funder foray into organizational effectiveness grantmaking. Three Bay Area foundations launched the project to advance the capacity and effectiveness of 16 local nonprofit human and social service organizations.

The foundations asked Informing Change to lead an evaluation of the project’s effectiveness. We approached this work by assessing the collective impact of OCGI’s supports:

  • Capacity-building funds
  • Supportive engagement from the foundations
  • Active reflection
  • Leadership development

We are proud that the lessons learned and recommendations we presented from this ... Learn more »

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement

The field of civic engagement needed a network of grantmakers and donors that spanned a number of strategies. Civic-engagement leaders envisioned a network that would include national service, voter education and community organizing.

These leaders turned to Informing Change to create such an organization, and to develop its constituency and launch its programming. That organization was Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE). To establish PACE’s presence in the field, Informing Change:

  • Designed and organized a national conference
  • Recruited nationally known speakers
  • Created a Web ... Learn more »

The David & Lucile Packard Foundation

Conducting ethical research and evaluation requires taking extreme care to protect the rights of research participants. As a private foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation is not legally subject to the federal laws that governing human subjects protections in research. However, given that much of the Foundation’s work addresses the needs of the most vulnerable children and families, the Foundation wants to ensure that the rights of individuals involved in Foundation-supported research and evaluation are appropriately and fully protected.

To ... Learn more »

Tides Center

The Tides Center’s strategy development project is an effort to expand its model of fiscal sponsorship and provide high-quality services that meet project needs.

When Tides asked Informing Change to evaluate the project, we approached the job in three stages over four years:

  • First, monitored Tides’ process of developing and implementing the new business model
  • Next, worked with the senior management team to clarify the Center’s values and purpose
  • Finally, conducted a multi-year evaluation of the implementation of the strategy and the national context ... Learn more »

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