The Philea Virtual Library

The Philea Virtual Library includes over 1,000 free-to-download publications from a range of organisations and publishers on the topics of philanthropy, the management of foundations and the areas they are involved in and support. As a Philea member you can send us your publications for inclusion in the library which will also be added to the global IssueLab network where they will be made available to an extended audience, including users of Worldcat, the global catalogue used by tens of thousands of libraries. For questions or assistance, please contact the Philea Virtual Library.
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Featured

Assessing Research for Philanthropic Funding : Innovative Approaches

September 1, 2023

This publication on responsible research assessment aims to explore diverse approaches taken by foundations to enhance the fairness, transparency and effectiveness of evaluating research proposals for funding. The publication delves into three distinct methodologies that challenge traditional assessment methods and offer innovative alternatives: 1. Using artificial intelligence (AI); 2. Adopting narrative curriculum vitae (CVs); and 3. Implementing randomised selection. It provides an overview of general principles of responsible research assessment, key framing documents and recommendations for implementing these principles; and offers examples of the real-world application of these methods by various foundations and organisations.While these approaches demonstrate the innovative potential within research assessment, they are by no means an exhaustive representation of all available tools and methods. Nevertheless, they serve as compelling illustrations of the ongoing efforts to revolutionise evaluation practices and foster a more inclusive and equitable research ecosystem.

Ethical issues and Good Practices; Evaluation and Learning; Grantmaking and Programme Management; Science and Technology; Technology and Foundations

Evaluation of the Shifting Systems Initiative

June 22, 2023

Since its launch in 2016, the Shifting Systems Initiative has played a vital role in catalyzing change within the philanthropy sector. It has conducted extensive research and facilitated numerous convenings, engaging funders and partners across the globe, including the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.In June 2020, the initiative entered its latest phase, which involved commissioning a comprehensive evaluation to assess the evolution of system change as a field, the initiative's role in driving that evolution, and to inform its future direction.The evaluation report pursued five central strands of inquiry, examining the impact and effectiveness of the Shifting Systems Initiative and the sector more broadly. The primary objectives were to assess the extent to which the philanthropy sector has embraced the concept of systems change; explore the influence of the initiative on discourse and practices within philanthropy; analyze critical successes and challenges encountered by the initiative; understand effective strategies to influence philanthropic behavior; and identify opportunities for operational and governance improvements.The evaluation report features significant findings and key insights, shedding light on the impact of the Shifting Systems Initiative and others in the field. It provides valuable guidance for shaping the next phase of the initiative and serves as a vital resource for actors engaged in systems change within philanthropy.

Ethical issues and Good Practices; Evaluation and Learning; Grantmaking and Programme Management

Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA

November 30, 2022

After 28 years as a grant-making foundation, and as we enter our final weeks, we wanted to share our day-to-day experience at MAVA. We started doing this just over a year ago through our various learning products. But beyond the technical and partnership aspects, what are the main lessons we have learnt from our work as a donor?The 23-page publication 'Our Journey in Philanthropy: Lessons from three decades of funding at MAVA' illustrates – in the form of infographics – a summary of the history of the MAVA Foundation and the three successive phases of its structuring. It then presents the eight main lessons that we have learnt from our work as a donor and that we wish to share with the philanthropy sector. These lessons address the topics of collaboration, partners' expertise, donors' levers for action, and the role of foundations in the global system. In addition to describing each of these lessons, we provide elements of practice and an overall recommendation.

Collaborative Philanthropy and Partnerships; Evaluation and Learning

Seven Danish Initiatives by Collective Impact 2014-2022 : A Collection of Case Stories

November 1, 2022

All over the world, states, organizations, municipalities, and private businesses are struggling with how to solve complex and wicked problems.In 2014, Realdania launched several projects and partnerships based on the Collective Impact method, which was developed in North America. Collective Impact is a systematic and data-based approach to working with complex agendas within broad, long term partnerships.Since then a wide range of Danish parties has tackled different problems such as homelessness, local climate planning, and social mobility among children and young people using this method or approaches inspired by it. Realdania has, in this publication, collected, described and reflected on learnings from seven cases – some of the first cases in Europe using this approach.This publication aims to contribute to cross-sectoral reflection on experiences and key areas of learning.

Children and Youth; Disability; Environment and Sustainable Development; Evaluation and Learning; Minorities, Social Inclusion, Multiculturalism

Conservation Learning Initiative: Learn from evidence. Improve Conservation

October 20, 2022

The conservation community needs smarter and more successful actions to improve the impact of its work. For example, it is not always clear how to create training programmes that improve performance in a lasting way, or what the ingredients of a successful conservation partnership are, or how donors can set up funding so that grantees can work in a strategic and sustainable way.One way of designing successful, effective actions is through using insights from evidence-based learning. Recent years have seen significant steps forward in developing concepts for defining and using evidence in conservation. In late 2021, the MAVA Foundation, Foundations of Success (FOS), and Conservation Evidence joined forces in an initiative to build further on this work.Combining the strengths of their approaches with MAVA's treasure of nearly 30 years of conservation data, they set out to formulate assumptions and collect evidence to answer key learning questions. The results of this joint work are now available on the Conservation Learning Initiative website (https://conservation-learning.org/) and in a consolidated report.The website and report present:A practical 5-step approach for evidence-based learning in conservation, designed for combining different sources of evidence, dealing with differences in reliability and relevance, and drawing conclusions.Valuable insights based on data regarding four widely used conservation strategies: capacity-building, forming partnerships and alliances, providing flexible funding, and research and monitoring.The lessons learned will help conservationists fine-tune their work or investment to increase their conservation impact. By applying the approach on their own data, they can learn from evidence to make better decisions and improve strategies over time.

Environment and Sustainable Development; Evaluation and Learning

Philanthropy and Impact Evaluation : Paper prepared for the International Philanthropy Research Conference 22 and 23 September, Turin, IT

September 22, 2022

This conference paper, by Gian Paolo Barbetta, deals with the issue of "philanthropy" and "impact evaluation".  It aims to understand whether foundations should invest in estimating the impact of their actions (programs, initiatives, grants, etc.) on final recipients; as well as to address the complexities of the issue.The section 2 of the paper deals more specifically with the mission of foundations; The section 3 relates a foundation's mission with impact estimates; The section 4 reflects on how impact could be assessed; and the section 5 draws some conclusions.A list of bibliographical references is included.

Evaluation and Learning

Evaluation and Learning at Foundations: A Field Guide

April 18, 2022

This brief grew out of conversations with evaluation and learning leaders working in foundations across the United States about both the value of evaluation and learning in philanthropy, and the challenges of implementing this function well across diverse institutional contexts. Our intent is to provide practical guidance that new and existing leaders can use to navigate their roles in support of more effective and equitable philanthropy. It is based on indepth case studies of the Irvine, Kauffman, and Kresge Foundations along with our own experience partnering with foundations on evaluation, strategy, and learning efforts.

Evaluation and Learning

Learning to Let Go : Decision-making for foundations

February 1, 2022

Building on over 25 years of grant and decision-making at MAVA, this publication sheds lights on three distinct decision-making models implemented by the foundation over the last decades. It looks at the roles of board members and staff as well as the centre of gravity for decision-making. Based on the experience of the foundation, the authors provide pros and cons for each of the models. While there is no single answer to the best decision-making model question, the authors explain that collaborative processes, adaptive management, speed and trust are important factors for increasing impact and that the decision-making process needs to be build for that purpose. This report is part of a series of learning products developed by MAVA (due to close down in 2022) to reflect on and share the foundation's learnings about institution processes and ways of working, with the aim of inspiring donor strategies and best practices. Other learning products are available in this virtual library and here: https://mava-foundation.org/learning/ 

Administration and Management; Evaluation and Learning; Foundation Sector, History and Analysis; Governance, Boards and Strategy

Taking the Pulse of the European Foundation Sector : Moving from Proving Impact to Improving Impact

January 1, 2022

This report contains key insights, survey data and case studies from the first year of the European and Spanish Communities of Practice on Impact Measurement and Management (IMM), coordinated by the Esade Center for Social Impact with the support of BBK. These groups of foundation professionals from 15 countries have come together to increase the level of transparency, knowledge-sharing and exchange within the European foundation sector on this topic. Building on the transcribed discussions and surveys of approximately 40 European foundations, the authors have developed several learnings they hope will help the whole European foundation sector, as well as any other organizations that want to measure and manage their impact. In this perspective, the report also includes tables outlining what the different 'levels' of practice might be, so that the reader can understand what the impact management learning journey looks like at different stages (beginner, on the journey, and advanced).In addition to the present report, the following page provides links to the recording of the launch of the report as well as presentation slides: https://www.esade.edu/en/faculty-and-research/research/knowledge-units/center-social-impact/research/community-practice 

Administration and Management; Evaluation and Learning; Foundation Sector, History and Analysis

Be an Octopus : Reflections from an Engaged Donor

November 1, 2021

After more than 25 years of activity, and one year before the closing of MAVA, a small group of staff members reflected on what it really means to be "an engaged donor". In this report, they explore ways of engagement for donors, reflect on those they have experimented, putting an emphasis on improving project design and implementation, supporting partner organisations and high potential individuals, and increasing the system connectivity.Also included are key lessons learnt presented around the issues of optimal timing, depth of engagement, human relationships, appropriate staffing, decision-making model and communicating vs labelling a donor-partner affiliation. The authors try to address concrete questions faced in their engaged donor day-to-day life. This report is part of a series of learning products developed by MAVA (due to close down in 2022) to reflect on and share the foundation's learnings about institution processes and ways of working, with the aim of inspiring donor strategies and best practices. Other learning products are available in this virtual library and here: https://mava-foundation.org/learning/ 

Administration and Management; Evaluation and Learning; Foundation Sector, History and Analysis; Grantmaking and Programme Management

Shifting the Field: Philanthropy’s role in strengthening child- and youth-led community rooted groups

April 1, 2021

In 2019, Elevate Children Funders Group commissioned the exploratory study, 'Philanthropy's role in strengthening child- and youth-led community rooted groups.' The objective of this study was to map current practices in philanthropic support for child and youth led work at the community level and provide strategic advice to donors on how to strengthen their funding modalities through participatory approaches to achieve greater and more effective impact. The findings and recommendations from this process—conducted through literature review, key informant interviews, focus groups, and online surveys with funders, child- and youth-led community rooted groups, and non-funders—articulated in this report will pave the road for members of ECFG to challenge their own practices; build on the broader philanthropic momentum to shift money down to the grassroots level; explore ways to influence the broader philanthropic sector; and influence and shift the wider donor community thinking and approaches.

Children and Youth; Community Philanthropy; Evaluation and Learning; Grantmaking and Programme Management

Learning Through Play: Increasing impact, Reducing inequality

January 1, 2021

What is the potential of children's play to promote equality in outcomes and address learning gaps between children from more advantaged and less advantaged backgrounds? Drawing evidence from early childhood learning programmes across 18 countries, as well as from interviews with the authors of various contributing studies, this report aims to understand whether and how the evidence about play and learning relates to tackling the learning crisis, especially in terms of inequality in learning outcomes around the globe.This report published by the LEGO Foundation shows that play not only helps children learn, it also supports inclusion, and reduces inequality, therefore demonstrating that policymakers and international organisations need to pay close attention to play. Building on their findings, the authors suggest four areas for future investment, innovation and investigation.

Education; Evaluation and Learning; Socio-economic Development, Poverty

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