Philamplify assessments are based on high-impact grantmaking and operational practices described in Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best: Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmaker Impact and Real Results: Why Social Justice Philanthropy Is Strategic Philanthropy.

The assessment criteria are:

Goals and Strategy

  • The foundation’s mission, goals and objectives together demonstrate that it supports systemic change to address important societal problems.
    NCRP defines systemic change as follows: “A systemic approach to change recognizes the multilayered structures, interrelationships and interdependencies among all the parts of a system, organization or institution. This approach takes into consideration the impact of change on all parts of the system and on their relationships to one another. Systemic change examines the intersecting causes of problems, resulting in tangible and long-term solutions or benefits. It shifts the way that an organization or community makes decisions about programs, policies, funding streams and/or services to eliminate the causes of a problem or reduce their impact.” Systemic change seeks to identify and remove structural barriers. It can be sought at multiple jurisdictional levels (e.g. school, district office, state education agency, federal government), and multiple types of sectoral institutions can be targeted for change (nonprofit, business, government, philanthropy). The foundation considers all of these potential avenues for systemic change when choosing strategies to achieve its goals.
  • The foundation allocates a significant proportion of its grant dollars to address the needs of the underserved, consistent with its mission and goals.
    NCRP defines “underserved communities” broadly, including but not limited to eleven of the special populations tracked by the Foundation Center: economically disadvantaged; racial or ethnic minorities; women and girls; people with AIDS; people with disabilities; aging, elderly and senior citizens; immigrants and refugees; crime/abuse victims; offenders and ex-offenders; single parents; and LGBTQ citizens.
  • The foundation’s grantmaking and other strategies demonstrate its commitment to underserved communities in ways that seek to address the root causes of inequity.
    NCRP defines inequities as: disparate outcomes, impacts, access, treatment or opportunity for underserved communities based on race, ethnicity, income, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin or other disadvantaged populations.
  • The foundation gives grants to nonprofits that not only work on behalf of but directly engage affected communities in creating change, consistent with its mission and goals.
    The foundation’s grantmaking and other activities support the capacity of underserved communities to determine their own strategies and to lead efforts to pursue systemic change. This includes efforts to shift underserved communities’ power and access in relation to societal structures and institutions.
  • The foundation has undertaken a strategy development process such that foundation’s strategies are informed by evidence of best practice and research that explores equity issues, power analysis, foundation’s strengths and assets, and its potential niche and that of grantees relative to the ecosystem of actors seeking change.
  • The foundation gets input on its strategies from stakeholders in the field, including nonprofits and grantees. The foundation makes changes to its strategies, policies and practices based on input and feedback from its grantees and other nonprofits, including applicants.

Outcomes and Impact

  • The foundation’s grantmaking explicitly addresses inequities.
    NCRP defines inequities as: disparate outcomes, impacts, access, treatment or opportunity for underserved communities based on race, ethnicity, income, gender, sexual orientation, disability, national origin, or other disadvantaged populations.
  • The foundation works across sectors of society and issue silos in partnership with others to achieve impact.
  • The foundation’s grantmaking and program activities support community-driven collaboration and coalition-building among nonprofit organizations working toward common objectives.
  • The foundation leverages its reputation, resources, convening power, expertise and connections to exercise public leadership in order to elevate and advance its goals and those of its grantees.
  • The foundation has a process or system to measure its effectiveness and impact, including systems change, and it regularly considers data on the performance of its strategies in order to make mid-course corrections.
  • The foundation’s outcomes and impacts demonstrate that it is working toward or achieving systemic change to address important societal problems.
    The foundation’s own leaders, knowledgeable experts, peers in the sector and grantees view foundation’s strategies as effective and can point to specific achievements or concrete signs of systemic progress as a result of its work.

Relationship with Nonprofits and Grantees

  • The foundation staff and grantees each view their relationship as an effective partnership that helps them achieve their respective goals.
  • The foundation encourages grantees to use the full range of advocacy tools legally at their disposal and does not hinder grantees from undertaking such activities.
  • The foundation provides support beyond the grant (either monetary or nonmonetary) that helps grantees achieve their goals.
  • The foundation evaluates grantees using measures and tools developed in consultation with grantees that are appropriate for systemic change work.

Other Effective Practices

  • The foundation’s policy and practice with respect to provision of general operating grants advances its systemic change goals and strategies.
  • The foundation’s policy and practice with respect to provision of multi-year funding advances its systemic change goals and strategies.
  • The foundation’s payout rate was determined in a way that supports its mission and systemic change goals.
  • The foundation’s investment policies and practices (including PRI, MRI, shareholder activism) advance its mission and systemic change goals.

Internal Operations: Good Governance, Ethics and Transparency

  • The foundation’s board and program staff each represents a diversity of background and experiences, including with and from the communities it serves.
  • The trustees serve without compensation.
    Exceptions are a CEO who is also a trustee, and low-income individuals who could not otherwise serve.
  • The foundation operates with transparency by communicating clearly with stakeholders and by disclosing information on its website and through other avenues, especially key information relevant to its mission, governance, ethics, operations, strategies, activities, and performance.
  • The foundation has the following ethics documents and abides by them: conflict of interest policy, code of conduct policy, whistleblower procedures and executive compensation procedures.

For specific methods employed by NCRP researchers in the assessments, including key questions addressed, please refer to the “Overview of Methodology” section in each assessment report.