‘Infrastructure’ Groups Receive Surprise Grants From Funder Coalition

Unrestricted grants totaling $1.1 million have been awarded to the Center for Effective Philanthropy and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations by a coalition of six foundations to help the organizations boost their use of data and analysis, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

The Ford, Hewlett, Kresge, Packard, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund will fund the no-strings-attached grants over three years, with each foundation providing its share at different times. The grants will not affect any other grants the two organizations are slated to receive from the foundations.

CEP, which has an annual budget of about $7 million and thirty-six staff members, conducts research into foundation practices, offers tools to help grantmakers assess their performance, and hosts conferences and webinars. GEO, with a budget of approximately $4.5 million and twenty-five staff members, unites more than five hundred foundations working to improve grantmaking and evaluation practices.

Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation, told the Chronicle that the idea grew out of a discussion among presidents of a group of large foundations about whether their organizations, in addition to making grants to advance their own strategic interests, had a responsibility to strengthen the nonprofit sector as a whole. "What we all kind of settled on is we thought CEP and GEO play a particularly important function," said Kramer, even though they operate in a niche. The grants, he added, "give them a little breathing space."

"This kind of collaborative investment could happen in any sphere," said GEO president Kathleen Enright. "There are groups of like-minded funders who talk among themselves and have a point of view about which organizations are really making a difference. They could provide transformative support. It could happen in housing, HIV/AIDS, whatever. What a magnificent way to think about rewarding performance."

Suzanne Perry. "2 Nonprofits Get Surprise $1 Million Grants." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/14/2015.