Phil Buchanan and Ellie Buteau share new data and research on foundation performance assessment and orient conference attendees as to what has changed—and what has not—in the last decade of foundation evaluation.
How does the leader of the largest foundation in the world think about the challenge of developing, implementing, and assessing strategy? Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, shares his candid thoughts in this discussion with Nadya Shmavonian, president of Public/Private Ventures.
Foundation leaders face unique leadership challenges. They work to address some of our toughest social issues, presiding over what seem to be significant resources but often pale in comparisons to the scale of the problems. They are removed from the front lines and lack universal performance measures and natural feedback loops. How, then, should foundation leaders lead? How can they motivate the kind of change they wish to see, both within and outside their organizational walls? How do they stick to strategy while simultaneously fostering the innovation that can lead to breakthroughs?
The leader of a group of economists that Bloomberg BusinessWeek has dubbed "the pragmatic rebels," economist Esther Duflo has brought a data-driven, analytic approach to poverty reduction efforts. Duflo has been named one of Fortune's "40 under 40," included in Foreign Policy's "Top 100 Global Thinkers," and has been the subject of profiles in The New Yorker and other major publications. Duflo shares her thinking on the approaches needed to determine the best solutions to our most pressing societal problems, drawing on her new book Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty.
No one intentionally makes bad decisions. Yet we make them all the time. In fact, some of the worst disasters in recent history—the collapse of major investment banks, the global financial meltdown—were the result of seemingly reasonable decisions made by a lot of smart people. How does this happen? Michael Mauboussin, author of Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition, explores the answers to these questions in this session.
Keynote speaker Jim Collins, author of Good to Great and How the Mighty Fall, challenges foundation leaders to question their leadership and operational methods, giving advice such as, “the presence of a to-do list, without the presence of a correspondingly robust stop-doing list, is a singular lack of discipline. Disciplined action begins with piercing clarity about what we chose to not do.”
Assessing Overall Foundation Performance: Jim Canales of The James Irvine Foundation, David C. Colby of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Crystal Hayling of the Blue Shield of California Foundation share how their organizations evaluate their progress against goals and how they translate their results into meaningful improvements.
In March 2007, more than 225 CEOs, trustees, and senior executives gathered in Chicago to discuss a wide range of important issues: the role of strategy and performance assessment, board functioning and the dynamics of race in the boardroom, and the challenge of inspiring — and leading — change. Among the report’s 11 articles are highlights and lessons learned from presentations by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey; MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School; Spelman College President Beverly Tatum; and former Atlantic Philanthropies President and CEO John R. Healy.
CEP at 5 reflects on CEP’s first five years through stories and pictures from CEP's Five-Year Anniversary Event held in New York in September 2006. The report features a speech by Rockefeller Foundation Vice President Nadya Shmavonian, who details the insights her foundation gained using comparative data to assess its performance. The report also includes a talk by CEP President Phil Buchanan on “The Foundation Effectiveness Imperative,” comments from foundation leaders, and descriptions of CEP's research agenda and assessment tools.
Nadya Shmavonian, fomer Rockefeller Foundation Vice President, tells how CEP’s comparative data influenced a period of transformation at Rockefeller, saying the beauty of data is “it is simple to the observer, but has the real potential for an ‘ah-ha’ moment for people who are living up close and personal with the work every day.”
In March 2005, more than 200 foundation leaders gathered to consider the challenges of achieving higher impact through their work. Speakers whose remarks are described in the CEP report include Independent Sector’s Diana Aviv; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Carol Larson; California HealthCare Foundation’s Mark Smith; The Greater Cincinnati Foundation’s Kathy Merchant; The Bridgespan Group’s Jeff Bradach; Global Business Network’s Katherine Fulton; and Boston Globe’s investigative reporter Michael Rezendes. This report includes viewpoints of these practitioners and distills lessons learned.
Foundation Effectiveness: A Seminar for Foundation CEOs, Senior Executives, and Trustees
In October 2003, 100 foundation leaders — CEOs, trustees, and senior management — gathered to discuss four themes of foundation effectiveness: strategy selection, funder-grantee relationships, performance assessment, and governance. Participants heard talks by Michael Bailin, president of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Edward Skloot, executive director of the Surdna Foundation, and others; participated in interactive panels; and candidly shared their experiences in making their foundations more effective. This report includes viewpoints of these practitioners and distills lessons learned.
Edward Skloot, former executive director of the Surdna Foundation, affirms the value of striving for effectiveness and accountability, but also challenges seminar participants to look beyond management tactics and breathe new life into funder–grantee relationships.