About the Assessments

At the center of Philamplify is a series of comprehensive reports conducted by highly regarded researchers assessing foundation grantmaking and operations. Assessments include key findings and recommendations, along with in-depth analysis of foundations’ funding strategies. By keeping these assessments public, Philamplify seeks to build a culture of transparency, mutual accountability and knowledge sharing.

Philamplify.org turns the assessments into an interactive experience, giving everyone involved with or touched by philanthropy a chance to comment on each assessment’s key recommendations and each foundation’s overall grantmaking approach. Visitors also can share their stories in text, photo or video, chime in on general issues affecting philanthropy and provide direct feedback about Philamplify itself.

Overview of Methodology

NCRP recently developed an assessment tool for founda­tions that addresses the strategic practices outlined in Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best and its more recent re­port, Real Results: Why Strategic Philanthropy Is Social Justice PhilanthropyCriteria for Philanthropy at Its Best provides a comprehensive and nuanced set of benchmarks that foundations can use for effective operational and grantmaking practices. Real Results argues that to maximize impact, foundations must be both strategic and just.

“Strategic and just” means not only having clearly aligned goals and strategies and a way to measure impact, but also considering who benefits from the foundation’s grantmaking and how. It means seeking input from affected commu­nities and attempting to change systems that perpetuate inequity. A comprehensive, nuanced examination of founda­tion goals, strategies and practices shows how strategy and justice can be aligned to be more impactful in target com­munities. Key questions the assessments addressed were:

Overall Goals and Strategy

  • What are the foundation’s primary goals, and is it em­ploying strategies likely to achieve them?
  • Which stakeholders and what sources of data and best practice have informed these strategies?
  • Given its mission and goals, is the foundation appropriately seeking to benefit or empower underserved communities? Is the foundation applying an equity lens or analysis to its grantmaking? Is it addressing disparities in outcomes for the issues or constituencies it prioritizes?
  • Does the foundation pursue systemic change strategies? Does it support grantees to use the full range of
  • Advocacy tools legally at their disposal? Is the foun­dation leveraging its limited dollars in ways that are consistent with the foundation’s mission and goals?Is the foundation looking at the ecosystem of actors within the sphere it seeks to influence, and strategi­cally collaborating with others?

Outcomes and Impact

  • Has the foundation worked across sectors and silos to achieve impact?
  • Has the foundation effectively supported community-driven collaboration and coalitions among grantees and other nonprofits?
  • How does the foundation measure its progress and impact?
  • Can the foundation and its stakeholders point to spe­cific signs of progress?

Partnership with Grantees

  • Does the foundation employ responsive grantmaking practices, such as providing core support and multi­year funding? How do the foundation’s grantmaking practices advance or hinder achievement of its goals?
  • How does the foundation go beyond the grant to lever­age its relationships, convening power, expertise and other assets to help grantees achieve mutual goals?
  • Does the foundation solicit feedback from its grantees and applicants and act on that feedback?

Other Effective Practices

  • How do the foundation’s investment and payout poli­cies and practices support its own mission and the goals of its grantees?
  • Does the foundation operate in a transparent and ethi­cal manner, with policies in place to prevent fraud and abuse?
  • Is the board of directors large and diverse enough to allow for effective and ethical decision making?

NCRP conducted this research and invited each foundation to participate in shaping and implementing the review. Please refer to each foundation report to determine the extent of a foundation’s participation in the assessment.

For specific methods employed by NCRP researchers in the assessments, please refer to the “Overview of Methodology” section in each assessment report.

Learn about how NCRP piloted the Philamplify methodology on Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.