January 22, 2020
Center for Effective Philanthropy Gets a Surprise $1.1M Grant

October 17, 2015 — The Center for Effective Philanthropy, a Cambridge nonprofit that develops research on grant makers’ performance, was one of two organizations to recently receive an unsolicited $1.1 million grant to enhance its capacity to support philanthropy.

The grant, funded by the Ford, Hewlett, Kresge, Packard, and Robert Wood Johnson foundations, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, is thought to be the first of its kind—coordinated among foundations and given out of the blue—according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which reported the news this week.

The unrestricted grant will be distributed over three years and is in addition to grants the foundations already make to the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP).

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, chief executive of Robert Wood Johnson, said the six grant makers want to help CEP to step up its effort to use data and analysis to "help all of us in philanthropic fields do a better job" to benefit the broader nonprofit world, The Chronicle reported.

A similar grant was given to Grantmakers for Effective Organizations in Washington, D.C.

CEP conducts research into foundation practices, sponsors conferences and webinars, and offers tools to help grant makers assess their performance, with a $7 million annual budget and a staff of 36.

Phil Buchanan, CEP president, said his organization will use the grant to expand its advisory services, add new researchers, and upgrade videoconferencing and other systems, The Chronicle reported.

"Contrary to everyone’s lament that foundations don’t change, they actually do improve," he was reported saying.

Buchanan was informed of the grant in a conference call from the foundations this past July.

According to The Chronicle, “Larry Kramer, president of the Hewlett Foundation, says the move grew out of a discussion among big-foundation presidents about whether their organizations had a responsibility to strengthen the nonprofit sector as a whole — in addition to awarding grants to promote their own strategic interests.”

He added that the grants, which reportedly described as a vote of confidence, will give both organizations “a little breathing space.”

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