New Report Details How Foundations Create Change

January 11, 2016

Small-staffed foundations are using a variety of strategies to make their grant dollars go further, according to Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report, released today.

Download the full report (Exponent Philanthropy members only) or order your copy >>

Among its 60-plus pages of data on grantmaking, governance, investments, and administration, the new report identifies seven grantmaking strategies that lead to outsized impact among member foundations. Ranked by the percentage of members that engage in them, they include:

  1. Make general operating support grants: 80%
  2. Make multiyear grants: 68%
  3. Use information received from grantees to inform grantmaking: 64%
  4. Collaborate with other funders to increase impact: 61%
  5. Make capacity-building grants: 58%
  6. Convene grantees or organizations: 37%
  7. Make grants for advocacy work: 28%

Some 85% of Exponent Philanthropy member foundations engage in two or more of these strategies to help them achieve outsized impact.

The 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report also includes the following and much more:

  • Staff compensation benchmarking data with breakouts by foundation asset size, geographic region, relationship to donor family, years of experience, and more
  • Board compensation benchmarking data by asset size, foundation type, and various payment structures, as well as consultant and advisor data on how much small-staffed foundations pay and what types of projects they hire for
  • Impact investments and small-staffed foundation investment returns
  • Expense ratio tables by foundation asset size showing total and charitable operating expenses, administrative expenses, and qualifying distributions
  • Data over years to show change and trends—in some cases, as far back as a decade or more

Exponent Philanthropy members support many issues, including education (79%), human services (60%), health (55%), arts & culture (50%), and environment and animals (36%). They are funding locally (86%), at the state level (42%), regionally (26%), nationally (37%), and internationally (22%).

Our sincere thanks to the 676 Exponent Philanthropy member foundations that generously responded to our surveys in 2015.

Download the full report (Exponent Philanthropy members only) or order your copy >>