A recent study from Exponent Philanthropy indicates shifts in grantmaking practices for smaller foundations as they work to further expand the impact of their giving. The report, which is based upon survey results from close to 2,000 of the association’s members, found that respondents have continued to heighten their impact strategies over the past two years. Exponent Philanthropy found that 81% of respondents review their grantmaking strategies on a regular basis, an increase from 74% in 2014. Sixty-one percent have board members that attend pertinent conferences and 48% of respondents have brought in outside consultants or resources to improve their practices, up from 55% and 40% respectively in 2014.
The report found that 79% send board members to conduct site visits, 70% offer multiyear grants, 63% collaborate with other funders, 43% convene grantees, and 11% engage in impact investing. Small foundations have also worked toward formalizing their governance processes, as 80% have developed conflict of interest policies, up from 30% in 2005. Succession and a desire for greater focus in their grantmaking were indicated as top concerns for respondents.
These findings reflect and illustrate the growing focus from smaller foundations on augmenting their philanthropic impact. As Exponent CEO Henry Berman explains, “Foundations with lean operations do so much more than just write checks to their grantees. Our members are making a conscientious effort to have an 'outsized impact', allowing each dollar granted to result in more than just the monetary value of their giving."