NNCG Masthead
April 2015
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 From the Executive Director...  

During our recent webinar on the importance of story, NNCG member and story-teller extraordinaire Thaler Pekar said, " People don't need more information; they need more meaning." Thaler's comment really resonated with me since although we have access to more information than ever before, it often seems our ability to truly understand the world in which we live has not increased accordingly.


At the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, we want to further illuminate and provide meaning to the vital work philanthropy consultants are carrying out on behalf of grantmakers. From our perspective, meaning lies not merely in the transactional relationships between grantmakers and consultants, but in the transformational outcomes resulting from the knowledge, experience and perspective our members and others in the field contribute every day to philanthropy and the communities we collectively serve.


And though Hollywood has yet to call, NNCG intends to tell this story in a variety of ways -- including the special themed issue of The Foundation Review, our Annual Meeting and Author Panel at the Council on Foundations conference, upcoming webinars and presentations, social media and other communication platforms. Moreover, we hope your own experiences and stories will make the meaning of philanthropy consulting even more apparent to everyone who cares about the quality of human and community life.


After all, who doesn't love a good story?

 NNCG Annual Meeting & Celebration:
 Join us April 26th at 4:30 p.m.

Please join us at NNCG's Annual Meeting and celebration of the launch of The Foundation Review's landmark issue on philanthropy consulting. Several authors will be on hand to talk about their articles followed by a discussion about philanthropy consulting. Our speakers include:

  • Brenda Henry-Sanchez, Ph.D. of the Foundation Center, who will present highlights of the 2014 survey exploring the use of consultants by grantmakers
  • Barbara Kibbe, J.D., S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, who will share lessons learned about the difference in perspectives between consultants and clients when it comes to judging progress and success in consulting engagements
  • Gwen Walden, M.A., Arabella Advisors, who will explain five ways in which funders can use consultants to extend impact beyond their grantmaking
  • Kris Putnam-Walkerly, Putnam Consulting Group, panel moderator; Chair, NNCG and co-editor of The Foundation Review special issue

A reception will immediately follow the panel discussion.  This event takes place during the Council on Foundations Conference at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco (Note that COF conference registration is not required to attend NNCG's annual meeting). Please let us know if you'll be joining us!


REGISTER TODAY:  https://nncgannualmeeting2015.eventbrite.com   

Meeting Room: Foothill F - one level above the lobby



Thank you to all of our Annual Meeting sponsors!      


Inspiring Family Philanthropy



 The Foundation Review   Issue on Philanthropy Consulting is Out!

This groundbreaking edition features nine thought-provoking articles - from the first ever national survey of the scope and use of philanthropy consultants - to best practices in working with consultants - to concrete ways consultants can expand philanthropic impact. You can find the complete list of articles, author videos and open access to most of the content here.


NNCG is proud to be co-editor of this issue and thrilled that nearly every author is an NNCG member!

NNCG Webinar Series

Beginning in June, NNCG's new webinar series will expand discussion of the content in The Foundation Review special issue on philanthropy consulting. We'll have the full schedule in NNCG's May news. If you can't wait, check our events page for the dates and times as they're confirmed.

Philanthropy New York Program: May 19th

If you're in the New York area on May 19, we hope you'll join NNCG for our program at Philanthropy New York: The Value Philanthropy Consultants Bring to Foundations: The Data is Here!


Dr. Brenda Henry-Sanchez, Director of Research for Special Projects at The Foundation Center will provide an overview of a paper recently published in The Foundation Review. The paper highlights the results of the Center's survey reflecting responses from over 1,000 foundations in the United States. The survey found widespread use of consultants among foundations, particularly for community foundations and larger foundations (by total giving). Also, while the results of the study tend to emphasize the benefits - taking advantage of external expertise, allowing staff to stay focused on what they do best, bringing fresh or neutral perspectives to the work - respondents were also clear that working with consultants has its challenges.


NNCG Steering Committee member Hilda Polanco, Managing Director of Fiscal Management Associates will also speak as part of a discussion on the use of consultants among New York foundations.


For more information and to register for the program, go to
 Los Angeles Program: May 20th

If you're in Southern California on May 20, join join NNCG, Valley Nonprofit Resources and Southern California Grantmakers for a special program Advocacy Best Practices: Funder and Consultant Perspectives.


A stellar panel will lead a lively dialogue on best practices in developing grantmaking for nonprofit advocacy. Speakers include:

  • Thomas E. Backer, PhD, VNR & NNCG Steering Committee
  • Lee Draper, PhD, Draper Consulting Group & NNCG Vice Chair
  • Leah Ersoylu, PhD, Ersoylu Consulting & NNCG member
  • Efrain Escobedo, California Community Foundation
  • Deena Margolis, Focali Consulting & NNCG member

The program will be moderated by consultant and NNCG member Larry Kaplan.


For more information and to register for the program, go to 


 NNCG Members in Action

NNCG highlights members' thought leadership - articles, presentations, innovations and other activities that advance philanthropic practice. Follow the links for more information.

Brian Sooy of Aespire  will be speaking at the Faith, Philanthropy & Change Nonprofit Conference in June. His breakout Session is titled 12 Resolutions for Nonprofit Communications.  The resolutions of the Cause Manifesto are 12 timeless strategic, inspirational, relational, and aspirational principles for better communications. Together, they provide your nonprofit and foundation with the framework for inspiring your audiences and connecting them with your mission and impact. This session is based on his book Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto.


Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Elizabeth Russell of Putnam Consulting Group produced a case study for Blue Shield of California Foundation about the foundation's unique, multi-tiered approach to building capacity, with a focus on elevating two specific fields in California: community health centers and domestic violence service providers. 

Prentice Zinn, Principal of GMA Foundations, shares practical tools and approaches to outcomes measurement in a workshop, Measuring What Matters: Choosing the Right Outcomes for Evaluation, Monitoring, and Learning, on April 22nd at Associated Grant Makers in Boston. The fast-paced session, designed as an introduction for nonprofit staff new to evaluation, will also challenge seasoned professionals to think about how they partner with their staff, constituents, and communities to evaluate impact in dynamic ways.


At the Community Leaders Conference of United Way Worldwide on April 29 and May 1 in Grapevine, Texas, Barbara R Greenberg of The Philanthropic Group, will serve as a feedback panelist in a Community Innovations Hackathon.  The session is designed to generate innovative solutions to the challenges communities face in creating opportunities for older adults to live healthy, active, and independent lives.   


In late 2014, Anne Schonfield of Schonfield Consulting facilitated a grantee convening in Tanzania for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  35 participants attended from Africa, Asia, U.S. and Europe.  
The goal was to examine data from grants - to share grantees' data, to discuss data quality challenges, and to create "Results Headlines" summarizing each grant's progress.  The 3-day convening was a great success - after creating Results Headlines in a "write shop," grantees shared their results with Gates staff and others.  And the dance party was very fun too! 

Following expansion to include a new office in the Bay Area, FMA has partnered with Northern California Grantmakers to deliver two series of workshops serving the staff of San Francisco and other Bay Area foundations during the Spring and Summer. In addition, Hilda Polanco served as a facilitator in the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation's Board Leadership Series and authored a post at The Dodge Blog on the always-challenging concept of depreciation.

About NNCG

The National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers is dedicated to elevating, expanding and improving philanthropy. It's the only organization that brings together high-quality consultants to support the work of grantmakers while advancing quality and ethical standards in the practice of philanthropy consulting. NNCG's distinguished and diverse membership represents experienced and carefully vetted practitioners and thought leaders in the philanthropic field.
Learn more at NNCG.org.

National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers

a Tides Center Project 

P.O. Box 40272  

Cleveland, OH  44140   



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