Grassroots Philanthropy: Field Notes of a Maverick Grantmaker

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This is an illuminating book for those in the foundation and nonprofit worlds alike. With an unprecedented transfer of generational wealth expected over the next half-century, it is also a call to the upcoming generation of philanthropists to step up and use their wealth to ensure that real change happens quickly and creatively. Bill Somerville is a nationally recognized expert on creative grantmaking. He has consulted at over community foundations in the United States, Canada, and the U. In he founded Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, which specializes in responsive approaches to grantmaking, such as paperless discretionary grants and grants with a forty-eight-hour turnaround.

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Fred Setterberg is the coauthor of several books about the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, including Grantmaking Basics, with Colburn Wilbur and Barbara Kibbe, and Beyond Profit, with Kary Schulman. Someone who can see the great ideas when others just see chaos or problems; someone who listens and reaches down to the grass roots to discover new trends, new ideas.

It is difficult to imagine how we could accomplish much of our grantmaking, both regionally and internationally, without his assistance. Thomas C. Convert currency. Add to Basket.

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Book Description Heyday Books. To ask other readers questions about Grassroots Philanthropy , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Grassroots Philanthropy. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Jun 22, Adelaide rated it liked it Shelves: summer.

The ideas that stuck with me from this book were the importance of getting out of the office to meet people and visit organizations to see their work , going "paperless," and trying for quick grant decision periods. I think these are things the community foundation is definitely trying to do also, so the book has been an interesting lens for viewing my work.

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Feb 28, Greg rated it really liked it. As much a treatise on what is wrong in foundations and grantmaking as a game plan for how to set it right. Jun 10, Jocelyn rated it really liked it.

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No Yes Undecided See results. Verizon Media will also provide relevant ads to you on our partners' products. Paul C. Remove From Wishlist Cancel. Somerville clearly relishes the role of provocateur , perhaps to the point of overstating his case: he characterizes foundations in general as plodding and bureaucratic, their staffs out of touch and uninformed. Who Really Matters.

Somerville's attitude can be really grating, but the book is a great insight into the world of philanthropic foundations and how you can make a big difference for someone with a small amount of money. A quick, worthwhile read. Jul 31, Gloria rated it liked it Recommends it for: foundation employees and development directors. Recommended to Gloria by: my boss told me I had to read it.

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Please don't read this if you don't work for a foundation, or work with one. But please do read this if you do work for a foundation. Lesley rated it really liked it Jan 04, Jenny rated it really liked it Jul 25, Jan 17, Adam Meents rated it it was amazing.

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Excellent insight from a guru in charitable causes. Pair this book up with "Beyond Fundraising. Karen Clark rated it liked it Jan 23, Roel M rated it it was amazing Apr 19, Craig rated it it was amazing Dec 09, Apr 13, Beth rated it really liked it. But the contrast is useful as illustration and the field can always benefit from a little shaking up.

Since not many grantees or practitioners will risk the possibility of a grant by criticizing foundations directly, that criticism must come from within the field, and Somerville is a special asset in that regard. Somerville began his career as a social activist while a graduate student in criminology at UC Berkeley , organizing other students as volunteer tutors in the public schools.

After graduation, he worked for nonprofits working to address "children's welfare, race relations, prisoner rehabilitation, job development, and other issues linked to the quest for social justice.

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When he joined the staff of the San Mateo Foundation fourteen years later, he vowed to be different. A public charity, PVF's mission is to be "a demonstration foundation, initiating and demonstrating new forms of grantmaking focused on creativity, responsiveness, and community involvement. In the PVF model these small grants go to community leaders whom foundation staff has personally identified — he recommends that program staff spend a third of their time out in the community learning about local issues and getting to know its leaders — or are made through a PVF program for direct service professionals.

The latter program includes donations of several hundred dollars to teachers, social workers, and juvenile court personnel, where a minor purchase can make a great difference in the lives of students and other young people. The core of Somerville's philosophy of grantmaking, however, is an emphasis on identifying the effective leaders in a community and learning whom to trust.

Knowing and trusting the right people, which comes from spending time in the community, enables foundation staff to stay abreast of community issues and needs. Confidence in those leaders, in turn, eliminates the need for lengthy proposals and months of review, resulting in less administrative work and more timely grants. Which means staff can spend more time in the community.

Somerville also encourages risk-taking, noting that because of their autonomy foundations are uniquely positioned to fund experimental, innovative, and sometimes controversial projects. Too often, however, staff "confuse bold action with recklessness" or stick with the safe project at the mainstream organization. In fact, Somerville believes much of the bureaucratic review process exists because of "terror at the possibility of making a mistake.