Researcher Assesses Strengths, Weaknesses in Philanthropic Foundation Sector

Examining the practices of philanthropy

In 2000 and 2001, Patricia Patrizi, Wyncote, Pa., conducted the initial phases of an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of practices within the philanthropic foundation sector.

The project was also aimed to demonstrate how applied research can be developed and disseminated to advance best practices. Patrizi is a consultant and former director of evaluation at the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Project staff interviewed some 25 people from the foundation sector, either in person or by telephone, to assess the need for and use of knowledge by foundations and to provide guidance on the choice of study topics.

Key Results

  • During the course of the project, experts in the field began work on 12 research papers and peer review panels met to critique four of them. The studies were:
    • "Communications for Social Good."
    • "Strategic Philanthropy: Would We Know It If We Saw It?"
    • "'Field' Work in Philanthropic Strategy."
    • "Toward More Effective Use of Intermediaries."
    • "The Capacity Building Challenge."
    • "Foundation Strategies for Attracting and Building Human Talent."
    • "Toward Greater Effectiveness in Community Change: Challenges and Responses for Philanthropy."
    • "Acts of Commission: Lessons from an Informal Study."
    • "Dollars and Sense: Rationalizing Program and Financial Reporting Requirements."
    • "When Do Philanthropies Work Together?"
    • "Rethinking Evaluation From the Inside Out."
    • "What Makes a Creative Grantmaker?"

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) provided $380,763 for the project between November 2000 and January 2002.