America’s 86,192 charitable foundations frequently receive both praise and criticism for their efforts to create change. Are they really making a difference?
Former Rockefeller Foundation executive, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau, foundation scholar and Columbia University Carnegie Professor of Public Affairs Kenneth Prewitt will explore the question "Can Foundations Know If They Are Making a Difference? Navigating between Ivory Towers and Performance Metrics," in an Indianapolis talk Nov. 10.
The lecture will be preceded by a reception and followed by a panel discussion among local philanthropy leaders and faculty, including:
- Dewayne Matthews, vice president of strategy development, Lumina Foundation
- Christie Gillespie, vice president of community impact, United Way of Central Indiana
- Catherine Herrold, assistant professor of Philanthropic Studies, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The event is free and open to the public; RSVPs are requested. The program, which is presented under the auspices of the Stead Family Chair in International Philanthropy at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, will be held at the IUPUI University Library’s Lilly Auditorium (lower level), 755 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis.
Even as foundations add to and change the reporting requirements they place on their grantees, among the most frequently asked questions in philanthropy today is: How do we measure the difference foundations make?
Prewitt argues it is increasingly important for foundations to effectively track, measure and share whether the work they fund actually helps make a difference, and deems the current reporting methods U.S. foundations use insufficient.
Prewitt previously has written that "significant, specific achievements can be attributed to foundation grantmaking" but also notes, "Although not wishing to subtract from the worthiness and social significance of these achievements, skeptics might ask … 'How we can assess the magnitude of social change in relation to the funds spent?'"
"The debate about whether and how foundations' impact can be measured is a long-standing but important conversation," said Amir Pasic, Ph.D., the Eugene R. Tempel Dean of the school. "Ken Prewitt’s research, thought leadership and insightful questioning of how we assess foundations provide context to help philanthropic institutions evaluate their impact and consider whether adjusting or rethinking metrics could enhance the services they fund and provide."
About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The School offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter @IUPhilanthropy and “Like” us on Facebook.