About this Assessment

The Daniels Fund supports a wide variety of programs that preserve the vision and interests of founder Bill Daniels, from funding scholarships for low-income students, teaching ethics and financial responsibility to youth and funding often-ignored issues like substance abuse, amateur sports and homelessness. As the foundation continues to support many individuals who need a leg up and provide general support grants, it can boost its effectiveness by obtaining grantee input in prioritizing funding areas, fund more advocacy and civic engagement, open more lines of communication between foundation leadership, staff and other stakeholders, increase multi-year funding and minimize gaps between funding cycles, and align its investments, compensation and payout policies with its goals.

The assessment of the Daniels Fund was conducted by Kevin Laskowski.

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Key Finding and Recommendations

1. Maintain the foundation’s commitment to both underserved communities and general operating support.

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Bill Daniels’ and the foundation’s explicit commitment to “the underdog” and their practice of providing flexible capital to effective nonprofits should continue.

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2. Obtain grantee input when prioritizing the foundation’s areas of focus.

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Grantees suggested that the foundation concentrate its efforts in a few areas. Taking into account the insight of current grantees and community leaders will strengthen the effectiveness of any future strategic shifts.

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3. Fund more advocacy and community engagement to achieve long-term solutions for issues and populations the foundation cares about.

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The Fund only allocates 4 percent of sampled grant dollars to advocacy efforts, well below what NCRP recommends for grantmaker effectiveness. The foundation should increase its investments in civic engagement and public policy to help many more individuals for longer periods than the foundation currently does.

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4. Open more lines of communication between board members, the grants committee, program staff and current and potential grantees.

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The board can exercise oversight over grantmaking while also giving more power to program staff, grantees and communities. The creation of advisory committees composed of local community members is one way to help inform the foundation’s work.

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5. Increase multi-year funding and minimize gaps in funding between grant cycles.

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Make three- to five-year commitments to trusted grantees, checking in annually but guaranteeing funding through the entire grant period. Also, allow grantees to apply for grant renewal prior to a grant’s end.

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6. Align the foundation’s investments, compensation policies and payout policies with its goals.

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Divest the fund of alcohol stocks, end or reduce board compensation and increase grants payout while maintaining the commitment to perpetuity.

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