Fiscal Year 2015 Program Plan

Weingart Foundation believes that funders are most effective when we solicit and incorporate feedback from grantees and applicants into our grantmaking plans. Accordingly, our grant planning process begins annually with identifying needs, opportunities and trends within the Southern California nonprofit community, primarily through frequent and ongoing communication with our grantees. We also conduct focus groups on topics of interest, sponsor or attend special convenings of funders and nonprofits, communicate with key thought leaders in the field, and carefully review current trends in the nonprofit and philanthropic literature.

This process results in the development of a set of assumptions about the nonprofit and philanthropic environment, which we use to inform our grant planning. Every March, our board of directors and staff meet for two days to discuss and refine these assumptions, and we begin the process of developing our strategic grantmaking priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. In March 2014, our draft FY 2015 Planning Assumptions were published on the Foundation’s website in order to solicit review and comment. We are now pleased to publish a summary of our completed Program Plan for FY 2015 (July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015).

MISSION

The formal mission statement of the Foundation reads as follows:

The mission of Weingart Foundation is to build a better America by offering constructive assistance to people in need, thereby helping them to lead more rewarding, responsible lives.

The Foundation’s mission in practice is often described in the following way:

  • The Foundation provides grants and other support designed to improve the capacity and sustainability of nonprofit organizations delivering effective services in the areas of health, human services and education for people and communities in need.
  • The Foundation gives highest priority to activities that provide greater access to people who are economically disadvantaged and underserved.
  • The Foundation also funds activities that benefit the general community and improve the quality of life for all individuals in Southern California.

GRANTMAKING PRACTICE

Weingart Foundation engages in the following practices that help strengthen and support nonprofit capacity and sustainability.

  • The Foundation prioritizes unrestricted general operating grants (core support), supports both direct and administrative costs for program grants, and pursues strategies to improve organizational effectiveness of nonprofits.
  • Whenever feasible, the Foundation also looks for opportunities to leverage resources through collaboration with other funders.
  • We also strive to publish clear and complete grant guidelines and to structure application requirements that are commensurate with the amount of funds to be granted.
  • Our program staff regularly reviews and works to refine our grantmaking practices. We also continue to survey our grantees and applicants on a regular basis, using their feedback to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our grantmaking programs.
  • The Foundation is also committed to focusing its resources on activities that produce results. This involves funding organizations that demonstrate an ability and commitment to achieving strong governance, leadership, management, and effective practices, along with clearly defined organizational and program objectives that are consistent with our mission and focus.

CORE VALUES

  • Addressing the needs of low-income and underserved individuals and communities.
  • Funding organizations that produce results.
  • Respecting the work of our grantees.
  • Using leverage and collaboration for greater impact.
  • Ongoing assessment, learning, and improvement.
  • Being transparent about mission, grant focus, guidelines, and funding decisions.
  • Maintaining a board of directors and staff that reflect the diversity of Southern California.
  • Exercising leadership on issues of importance to the Foundation.

FY 2015 PLANNING ASSUMPTIONS

  • High levels of service demand, combined with limited and unpredictable funding, will continue to challenge the capacity of most Weingart Foundation grantees attempting to maintain or increase services.
  • In addition to funding concerns, grantees continue to report other internal and external challenges that hinder their organizational effectiveness. This includes issues related to: board governance; leadership development; adaptive capacity; financial management; staffing; facilities and technology; and program learning and assessment.
  • Continuing the Foundation’s responsive grantmaking approach will help build the organizational effectiveness of our grantees.
  • Core support grants are one of the most effective ways to build organizational capacity that can lead to improved program outcomes. Flexible, unrestricted funding provides the capital nonprofits need to sustain and improve their operations and necessary infrastructure.
  • Successful Weingart Foundation grantees will demonstrate an ability and commitment to achieving:
    • A clear mission and vision;
    • A qualified, engaged and supportive board of directors;
    • Strong leadership and management;
    • A well trained and supported staff;
    • A strategy to accomplish its mission, operate programs that produce positive outcomes, and learn from results;
    • The ability to identify and adapt to internal and external changes;
    • A funding model that can support core programs and services; and
    • An appropriate level of cash reserves to sustain the organization

FY 2015 GRANT STRATEGY

Based on our assumptions about the nonprofit and philanthropic environment, and in accordance with our mission, grantmaking practice and core values, the Foundation will maintain our current grant focus and guidelines. We will continue to prioritize unrestricted general operating support grants (core support) and pursue a strategy to improve the organizational effectiveness of our grantees. We will also continue to accept applications for capital, capacity building and program development projects as outlined in our grant guidelines. Lastly, we will continue to look for opportunities to leverage our resources through collaboration with other funders and key stakeholders. As a complement to our responsive grantmaking programs, the Foundation will periodically identify subject areas or issues of high interest that might benefit from a concentrated or targeted approach. As appropriate, the Foundation will provide information about Areas of Special Interest on the website.

Specifically, the Foundation will prioritize the following grant and program strategies for FY 2015:

Regular Grant Program - Core Support

  • In order to build nonprofit capacity and sustainability, priority will continue to be given to core support funding requests;
  • All grantees operating programs within the grant focus of the Foundation will be eligible to submit core support requests;
  • On a case-by-case basis and after consultation with the grantee, program officers may recommend restricting a portion of core support grants for a grantee’s operating reserve.

During FY 2015, the Foundation will continue to hold periodic grantee technical assistance workshops on the development and management of operating reserves.

Regular Grant Program - Capacity Building, Capital, and Program Development

  • Capacity building grants will be limited to projects that evidence a credible plan for sustaining costs;
  • Capital funding will be generally restricted for projects that are construction ready, in the final phase of fund raising, and that can be paid-out immediately;
  • On a very selective basis, the Foundation will consider community impact programs and projects that offer the potential to produce significant benefit to individuals and communities in Southern California. In general, however, funding for new program development and the expansion of existing programs will be limited to programs of clearly demonstrated effectiveness that have a viable fundraising and sustainability plan.

Areas of Special Interest

  • As a complement to our responsive grantmaking programs, the Foundation will periodically identify subject areas or issues of high interest that might benefit from a concentrated or targeted approach. As appropriate, the Foundation will provide information about Areas of Special Interest on the Foundation website.
  • The Foundation will provide continued support for the Nonprofit Sustainability Initiative, which provides support for nonprofit restructuring projects.

Program-Related Investments

  • Based on individual circumstances and as an alternative to a grant, the Foundation will consider a limited number of program-related investments (below market loans) to select organizations for the capital needed to maintain or expand facilities and/or services to underserved individuals and communities.

Small Grant Program

  • The Foundation will continue to operate a Small Grant Program (SGP) to increase access to funding and strengthen the capacity of small, community based, and developing organizations.
  • The San Diego SGP will continue to prioritize organizations with budgets of $1.5 million or less. Details on the San Diego SGP will be announced at a later date.

Grant Payout and Administration

  • Our grant payout target for FY 2015 is projected at $35 million, and we anticipate a qualifying distribution ratio of approximately 5%.
  • To the maximum extent possible, approved grants will be paid out immediately.
  • Grant guidelines will remain as stable as possible, and communication with grantees and grant-seekers will be maintained at a high level to ensure funding guidelines are clear and responsive.
  • Based on a strategic review of its grantmaking in Santa Barbara County, the Foundation will prioritize support for organizations providing services in North County.
  • Similar to the review conducted in Santa Barbara, the Foundation will conduct a strategic review of its grantmaking in Orange County.

LEADERSHIP IN THE NONPROFIT AND PHILANTHROPIC SECTOR

The Foundation will provide leadership to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors in the following ways:

  • Participate in, and provide support for, activities of field-building organizations working to improve nonprofit and philanthropic effectiveness. This would include the Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy, Southern California Grantmakers, CalNonprofits, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and the Foundation Center.
  • Support efforts to change and improve government and private funder practices that limit nonprofit organizational effectiveness. This would include:
    • Advocating for the wider adoption of unrestricted funding;
    • Increasing support for capacity building activities;
    • Encouraging public and private funders to support the full-costs of achieving program outcomes, including equitable reimbursement of indirect costs.
  • Encourage funders to adopt ongoing and transparent communication practices with applicants and grantees.
  • Advocate for support of programs, policies, and services that support the needs of low-income and underserved individuals and communities.

PROGRAM IMPACT ASSESSMENT

In FY 2014, the Foundation board of directors approved the following program impact formula, which was designed to assess the overall impact of the Foundation’s programs:

Weingart Foundation Impact Formula

In FY 2015, the Foundation will continue operational planning and testing of the measurements, management information system, and grant process changes that will be required for full implementation of the impact assessment system in FY 2016.

Program Learning

  • Subject matter experts in areas of interest to the Foundation will continue to be invited to meet with the board of directors and staff. Information gained at these meetings will be incorporated into the grantmaking planning process;
  • Opportunities will be explored to continue convening grantees and funders to discuss issues of importance to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors;
  • As part of the Foundation’s ongoing planning process, “listening sessions” will continue to be conducted with grantees to identify challenges and opportunities, obtain feedback on our current practices and policies, review planning assumptions, and receive recommendations for future programming.

COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY

Goals

In keeping with the mission and values of Weingart Foundation, the overarching goal of the Foundation’s communications is to provide information and transparency regarding our grantmaking to the nonprofit community. The Foundation’s primary objective is to enable our grantee community (current and potential grantees) to become more knowledgeable about the work and guidelines of the Foundation, as well as to improve their overall effectiveness. In all cases, the primary focus of our communications is on the needs and programs of our grantees.

Secondarily, the Foundation’s goal is to communicate with the greater philanthropic community and other interested parties regarding lessons learned in our grantmaking practices. As a learning organization, the Foundation seeks to share information and promote collaboration with funding colleagues including other foundations, individual philanthropists and public funding sources.

Strategy

The Foundation believes that funders are most effective when they solicit and incorporate feedback from their grantees and applicants into their grantmaking. For this reason, we are committed to thoughtful and transparent communications with grantees.

The Foundation’s website serves as a critical resource for individuals to learn about Weingart Foundation, including who we are and what we do. As such, the website is the cornerstone of our communications efforts. We strive to maintain clear and easily accessible information regarding: the Foundation’s mission, goals, and values; our grantmaking practice, priorities and guidelines; the process for applying and how to contact us. The website is also growing as a venue for grantees and the philanthropic community to access information on the field. Additionally, the website is a vehicle for ongoing two-way communications providing individuals with the ability to provide anonymous feedback through a link on our homepage.

In addition to the website and the grantmaking process, the Foundation proactively engages grantees and the larger nonprofit and philanthropic communities in direct communication. We conduct regular “listening tours” in the grantee community, sponsor, attend or present at special funder and nonprofit convenings, and communicate with key philanthropic and civic thought leaders. The Foundation also sponsors or presents research on the critical issues facing the nonprofit sector and disseminates this information to both our grantee and funder audiences.

In all of our communications, we are committed to maintaining high-quality interactions, clarity of messages and a strong commitment to responsiveness.

FY 2015 Areas of Focus

As part of our FY2015 Communications Strategy, the Foundation will focus our communications efforts on a number of key areas in alignment with the Program Plan, including:

  • The importance of unrestricted core support funding to improve the capacity and sustainability of nonprofits;
  • The need to increase support for nonprofit capacity building activities;
  • The need for public and private funders to support the full costs of achieving program outcomes, including equitable reimbursement of indirect costs;
  • The importance of supporting programs, policies and services that help address the needs of low-income and underserved individuals and communities;
  • Financial management and fundraising information and tools for nonprofits;
  • Soliciting ideas and funding requests in areas of special interest to the Foundation;
  • Sharing resources that support nonprofits’ efforts to increase the effectiveness and management of their organizations;

In keeping with the mission and values of our organization, the Foundation may explore opportunities to place articles in the nonprofit and philanthropic trade press on issues of importance to us and the local nonprofit/philanthropic sector. Whenever possible, the Foundation will use stories and examples from our grantee population to illustrate our work.

CONCLUSION

The FY 2015 Program Plan is intended as a guideline and may be adjusted throughout the year in response to changes in the internal and external environments.

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