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Funders Forum

Trustees' Philanthropy Fund, Fidelity Charitable

February 2013

 The Trustees' Philanthropy Fund of Fidelity Charitable has been making grants since 1991, focusing on building the capacity of strong nonprofits serving children and families or the philanthropic sector. The Foundation Center asked Cynthia Strauss, director of research at Fidelity Charitable:

Question As you reflect on your work, what factors stand out for you in helping organizations meet their mission and what are some of the lessons learned that you would like to share with grantmaking colleagues?

Answer "Fidelity Charitable's logo carries the words 'Make more of a difference.' In our view, the meaning of these words is twofold. First, we help our donors make more of a difference to their chosen charitable organizations by providing programs that make giving simple and effective. Second, we help nonprofits receiving grants from the Trustees' Philanthropy Fund make more of a difference by operating as professionally as do for-profit enterprises.

"Businesses designed to make a profit develop strategic plans, invest in technology and other infrastructure, and develop comprehensive human resources programs that include training and retention. We have found that similarly building the capacity of strong nonprofit organizations to better meet their missions can have rewarding returns, sometimes over relatively short timeframes, and this has become a clear focus as we invite nonprofits to consider for grantmaking.

"Flexibility and collaboration are key elements in the success of our grantmaking. We engage in understanding each organization's business model, management's greatest challenges in meeting strategic goals, as well as where funding is most needed to strengthen organizational sustainability. The more open the exchange between us and an organization's management, the better the grant is likely to be. This takes lots of probing, hard listening, and a willingness to explore together what can boost an organization's strength, something many executive directors think about but are quite inexperienced in discussing with funders. For example, in working recently with a food bank, we learned through many discussions that its HR process couldn't keep up with its growth. We provided funding to expand and enhance its HR program, making the organization better able to hire, train, and retain employees and, thus, better serve the needs of its community in the future.

"An unexpected benefit of our grants is the leverage many grantees have found by using the success of our grant to them to get additional funding for capacity building. One organization was able to get a group of its board members to allocate more of the budget to longer-term infrastructure investments, and numerous others have used our grants to go to existing foundation program funders and obtain incremental funds for periodic organizational investments. As one grantee said, 'So many of our greatest funders and board members are so passionate about our programs that they leave their own business skills at the door.' We hope our philosophy will begin to change that mindset to the benefit of charitable organizations and donors across America."

Funder's Forum: Donor Profiles

The Cooper Foundation
November 2014

The National Grid Foundation
October 2014

The Endeavor Foundation
September 2014

The Commonwealth Fund
August 2014

Teagle Foundation
July 2014

Robert R. McCormick Foundation
June 2014

Bush Foundation
May 2014

The Kresge Foundation
April 2014

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
March 2014

Rauch Foundation
February 2014

Stavros Niarchos Foundation
January 2014

The Louis Calder Foundation
December 2013

The Bella Vista Foundation
November 2013

The Skillman Foundation
October 2013

Rosenberg Foundation
September 2013

The Pittsburgh Foundation
August 2013

Saint Luke's Foundation
July 2013

The Sobrato Family Foundation
June 2013

W.K. Kellogg Foundation
March 2013

Trustees' Philanthropy Fund, Fidelity Charitable
February 2013

The Duke Endowment
January 2013

The Beazley Foundation
October 2012

The Colcom Foundation
September 2012

The Clark Foundation
August 2012

The Hyde and Watson Foundation
July 2012

Annie E. Casey Foundation
June 2012

Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
May 2012

Markle Foundation
March 2012

The Commonwealth Fund
February 2012

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund
January 2012

Posner-Wallace Foundation
December 2011

Public Welfare Foundation
November 2011

Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies
October 2011

Walter & Elise Haas Fund
September 2011

Alcoa Foundation
August 2011

Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
July 2011

The Cleveland Foundation
June 2011

Fannie E. Rippel Foundation
May 2011

The California Wellness Foundation
April 2011

Jerome Foundation
March 2011

Lumina Foundation
for Education

February 2011

Charles Stewart
Mott Foundation

January 2011

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
December 2010

M. J. Murdock
Charitable Trust

December 2010

Surdna Foundation
October 2010

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