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The Top 10 Blogs of 2019

by Tory Martin

Ask a question. Make an argument. Share a lesson. Offer a reflection.

Here it is, dear reader, YOUR list — the top 10 most-read blogs published by the Johnson Center in 2019.

You showed your passion for learning about new trends in the field and cross-sector partnerships. You shared stories of investing in communities. And you asked questions about how the forces at work in philanthropy are affecting the people and places we aim to serve.

We’re proud to have published a wide range of content this year that supports dynamic conversations in our field. We are grateful to all of our guest authors, content partners, and friends who have written for the Johnson Center and helped to share research and insights for the good of all.

We hope these articles and thinkers continue to inspire and challenge you in the new year!

Photo: Michael Moody and Tamela Spicer

Watching Trends in Philanthropy in 2019
    1. The Boundaries are Blurring Between Philanthropy and Business
      More nonprofits are looking for profitable revenue streams and borrowing business jargon and tactics. More donors are talking about their giving and grantmaking as “social investing,” and conducting “due diligence” on these investments. In this blog, Dr. Michael Moody, Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy at the Johnson Center, explores the innovations and possible pitfalls of increased fluidity between business and social good.
    1. As Religiosity Changes, Donor Engagement Needs to Adapt
      Some estimates suggest that the percentage of U.S. giving that goes to religious or religiously-affiliated organizations could be as much as 73% or more. But with Americans’ religious and spiritual habits changing, the future of this giving could be uncertain. The Johnson Center’s Tamela Spicer explores this trend and considers what it might mean for nonprofits and donor engagement going forward.
From Field Focus: Learning for GoodPhoto: Teri Behrens, Ben Liadsky, Andrew Taylor, and Sara Padilla
    1. Learning in Foundations
      Learning is a frequent topic of conversation in our sector, but it’s not always clear what we mean by “learning” — let alone how to do it. Many foundations grapple with the challenges of learning by developing tools and frameworks to support the process. Authors in Vol. 11, Issue 1 of The Foundation Review (March 2019) share their approaches to learning within their organizations. Johnson Center Executive Director Teri Behrens shares a quick rundown of what’s in the issue in this editorial.
    1. Learning Together: Five tips for building relationships that lead to learning
      “Evaluation is much more likely to lead to action when it is undertaken by an organization that has a strong culture of learning.” Guest bloggers Ben Liadsky and Andrew Taylor of Taylor Newberry Consulting share tips and resources for learning within organizations to generate greater impact.
    1. The Presidents’ Forum on Racial Equity in Philanthropy and the Imperative of Leadership
      An increasing number of grantmakers are committing to learn more about the history of racial inequity and the current state of racial injustice — and applying that knowledge to their grantmaking practices. In this blog post, Sara Padilla of Keecha Harris & Associates shares the reflections of participants at this year’s Presidents’ Forum on Racial Equity in Philanthropy.
From Field Focus: Inclusive Strategies for ProsperityPhoto: Juan Olivarez, Kahler Sweeney, and Pamela Lewis
    1. Inclusive Growth Communities: New Strategies for Prosperity
      At the core of our expanding research into diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy is the notion of inclusive growth: the question of how we can forge relationships and develop innovative solutions to ensure that more people share in the rewards of a growing economy. In this first blog post of Field Focus: Inclusive Strategies for Prosperity, the Johnson Center’s Distinguished Scholar in Residence for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — Dr. Juan Olivarez — sets the stage by exploring the landscape of nationwide efforts to promote equitable growth.
    1. 7 Resources to Guide Your Work Toward Inclusive Growth
      Grand Valley State University graduate student Kahler Sweeney shares a list of articles and frameworks that can help you and your organization begin your own dive into this work. These resources fundamentally challenged our assumptions about the nature of inclusive growth itself, the role of philanthropy in achieving inclusive growth, and the finer points of realizing equity through collaboration.
    1. The Power of Investing in People: 6 Lessons from the Detroit Innovation Fellowship
      The New Economy Initiative (NEI), an entrepreneurial development strategy of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, represents one example of how philanthropy is engaging in the work of inclusive growth. In this post, NEI executive director Pamela Lewis shares invaluable lessons about listening to and lifting up community from the creation of the Detroit Innovation Fellowship program.
More Favorites from the Mix
    1. Evaluation and Impact Investing: A Three-Part Webinar Series
      This fall, the Johnson Center teamed up with the American Evaluation Association, the Council of Michigan Foundations, and the Mission Investors Exchange to offer a three-part webinar series on this emerging topic. Designed to engage evaluators and impact investors on the opportunities for using evaluative thinking in social finance and impact investing, the series focused on the three program phases — planning, implementation, and recalibration — and how evaluators can use their skills in each phase. Watch all three webinars for free on our YouTube channel!
    1. Notes on Candid: The Merger of Foundation Center and GuideStar
      In February 2019, two giants in the landscape of philanthropy’s infrastructure came together to form one entity: Candid. On the occasion of their merger, Johnson Center executive director Teri Behrens shared some insights — and caveats — on the role of philanthropy’s infrastructure organizations and the ongoing dearth of support for this critical piece of the sector.

Feature photo: Some of the authors who’ve contributed to the Johnson Center blog in 2019, including (top row, L to R) Jeff Terpstra, Pamela Lewis, Tamela Spicer, Michael Moody, (bottom row, L to R) Sara Padilla, Juan Olivarez, Jara Dean-Coffey, and Melyssa Tsai O’Brien.


Photo: Tory Martin

Tory Martin is the director of communications and engagement at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, where she partners with her colleagues on the senior leadership team to identify, implement, support, and promote the Johnson Center’s strategic priorities and vision for a world powered by smart, adaptive, and effective philanthropy. Read more about Tory here.

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