Effective Philanthropy

SPR has specialized expertise working with foundations and funder collaboratives. Our philanthropic clients include The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, The California Endowment, The Ms. Foundation, and Annie E. Casey Foundation (see full list of clients here).  Major foundations across the nation have sought SPR’s expertise for a variety of reasons.  As consultants, we have helped foundations design initiatives; develop theories of change, logic models, and indicators and measurements; design grantee database and reporting systems; and implement organizational changes to increase effectiveness around diversity, equity, and inclusion.  As researchers, we have conducted numerous evaluations of foundation initiatives focused on capturing outcomes, challenges, and lessons learned. 

Through our experience, we have gained a deep understanding of the unique context in which philanthropic planning and initiative implementation unfold. We have applied this knowledge in developing collaborative and flexible evaluation designs, providing timely feedback that promotes ongoing program improvement, conducting multi-level analyses, and writing actionable reports of practical value to foundation clients, their grantees, and the communities they serve.

Project Spotlight: Evaluation of The Blue Shield Foundation of California Strong Field Project

Evaluation of The Blue Shield Foundation of California Strong Field Project

To increase knowledge about effective field-building strategies, SPR conducted a five-year, mixed-method evaluation of Blue Shield of California’s Strong Field Project (SFP). The SFP’s goal was to strengthen the domestic violence field in California by equipping a critical mass of diverse leaders and organizations with the capacity, tools, skills, and knowledge necessary to lead a stronger movement for ending domestic violence. The evaluation showed that the SFP achieved its desired impact by inspiring leaders and organizations to explore new ways of thinking, leading, and operating. We found that the SFP challenged long-held assumptions and entrenched patterns that had stalled the development of the domestic violence field. This evaluation can serve as a model for the evaluation of philanthropic field-building initiatives using a robust logic model, social network analysis, leadership assessments, and longitudinal tracking of individual, organizational, and network changes.

Learn More

The Strong Field Project webpage

The Strong Field Project, Year 5 Legacy Report

Yu, Hanh Cao, Jennifer Henderson-Frakes, and Lucia Corral-Pena. “Building a Field: The Blue Shield Foundation of California’s Strong Field Project Leaves a Legacy and Valuable Lessons.” Foundation Review Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 2016).