Still in the Dark: Why Philanthropy Remains a Black Box — Inside Philanthropy

When I started Inside Philanthropy 18 months ago, I was certainly interested in the age-old questions about transparency and accountability in the sector, but I can’t say I was preoccupied with them. To me, the most exciting stories are about how funders are trying to solve big problems, often in new ways. I still think that, and IP tries to tell those stories every day at a moment when more cool funders are doing more cool things than ever.

Over time, though, I’ve become ever more frustrated by just how hard it is to gauge what philanthropists are doing or who in this sector is having the most impact.

Compared to earlier times, I know the sector is doing a better job of assessing itself. And I know that more answers are now available to certain questions, like how grantees perceive funders, what kinds of collaborations are most successful, how best to evaluate grants, and so on. All that’s a good thing, and the pioneers of that work—like the Center for Effective Philanthropy—have moved the ball forward in impressive ways.

via Still in the Dark: Why Philanthropy Remains a Black Box – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

How a Cutting Edge Effort to Boost Family Financial Stability is Giving Out $3 Million – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

We’ve been keeping an eye on the Center for Financial Services Innovation, which is backing new ways to promote the financial health of Americans—especially the “underbanked and the underserved, traditionally an overlooked segment of the financial services market.”

A key premise of CFSI’s work is that companies can profitably serve the poor with low-cost financial service products—and help put the bottom-feeding predatory lending industry out of business.

via How a Cutting Edge Effort to Boost Family Financial Stability is Giving Out $3 Million – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

What’s Behind These Surprisingly Big Grants to Boost Small Businesses?  – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

President Obama has talked a lot in the past year or two about “middle-out” economics—the idea that prosperity is driven not by a few job creators at the top, but by building a thriving middle class. Historically, a robust small business sector has been one key to such broad prosperity, and philanthropic efforts in this area have lately gained steam. Still, there’s not a huge number of funders focusing here in a big way, and many that do are from the business world and see a win-win in boosting mobility while expanding their customer base.

One funder in this space, as we’ve reported before, is Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program. Now it’s stepping things up, recently announcing the Small Business Economic Mobility initiative, a five-year investment in small business growth through increased access to capital and financial skills education. The move was unveiled during National Small Business Week.

via What’s Behind These Surprisingly Big Grants to Boost Small Businesses?  – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

What’s So Interesting About Atlantic’s Huge Health Care Give – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

It’s a fascinating time in health care philanthropy, as funders ramp up a sprawling and ambitious push to improve the most dysfunctional health care system in the world.

Over the past year, we’ve covered the pivot of top health care funders away from a historic battle to expand access—now largely won with implementation of Obamacare—to an even tougher challenge: reining in costs while improving care and, more daunting still, boosting the overall health of Americans.

via What’s So Interesting About Atlantic’s Huge Health Care Give – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

What’s Sam’s Club Doing for Workforce Development? – Workforce | Labor | Grants – Inside Philanthropy

It’s a win-win. Retail suppliers like Sam’s Club that invest in small business development are not only helping the economy, they are creating more customers for themselves. With $700,000 in gift cards and training, Sam’s Club is working this double win by sponsoring a contest for a second year to build and mentor small businesses.

Sam’s Club recently announced 102 winners of the American Small Business Championship. With two winners in every state and the District of Columbia, these businesses will receive a $1,000 Sam’s Club gift card, an all-expenses-paid trip to a training event, SCORE mentoring for one year, and promotion throughout the year to showcase each Champion’s story.

via What’s Sam’s Club Doing for Workforce Development? – Workforce | Labor | Grants – Inside Philanthropy.

Hope on Mental Health, With an Unusual Funding Model – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

Mental health is easily the most frustrating corner of a healthcare sector rife with shortcomings and unmet needs. What’s maddening in this case is that government funding has declined even as the potential for improving mental health has increased. Worse, perhaps, is how a backward mental health system routinely inflicts harm on those people who come in contact with it.

via Hope on Mental Health, With an Unusual Funding Model – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

The Funders Who Can Claim Some Credit for the Massive Uptick in ACA Enrollment – Inside Philanthropy

Back in the spring of 2013, when plans for the first enrollment period for ACA were underway, funders were skittish about the public knowing of their support for enrollment efforts, fearing negative backlash from conservative critics. Now, with the White House’s recent announcement that 11.4 million Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare, funders are more openly acknowledging their support for enrollment efforts.

via The Funders Who Can Claim Some Credit for the Massive Uptick in ACA Enrollment – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.