By Steven E. Mayer and Athan L. Lindsay. To make the Gulf whole again, we need a different vision, and a different visioning process, to take us to a future that’s both more practical and more sustainable. Dated July 7, 2010. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. Written in the days after Katrina struck, this presents a short analysis of how foundations can use their assets differently – and better – to facilitate a recovery that doesn’t just rebuild the old system, that gives everyone an opportunity to help in the recovery and redevelopment, and engages the talents of more of the region’s people. Originally dated October 2, 2005, re-issued June 14, 2010. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. There’s been a good bit of talk about philanthropy’s potential, but… Dated February 8, 2010. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. A paper written while Scholar in Residence, Center for Community Philanthropy, Clinton School of Public Service, University of Arkansas, Little Rock. Dated May 1, 2009. PDF
Essays and Tools from the Pathways to Progress project
The following papers are from the former JustPhilanthropy.org website called “Pathways to Progress.” The Ford Foundation supported the underlying discovery work and production of the papers and website during the years 2003-2009. These tools and short essays are cross-listed on the parent website of our Effective Communities Project.
The Effective Communities Project site has larger collection of papers and presentations by Steven Mayer, all dealing with larger themes of philanthropy, organizational effectiveness, community development, and evaluation. Click here for the Archive.
By Steven E. Mayer. Funders frequently ask of nonprofit efforts, “What’s the bottom line?” Unfortunately, this question has limited use outside of business settings, where it originates. In social justice work, the bottom line is typically to reduce inequities or disparities, but this is almost never under the control of just one organization. Better than asking for “measures of bottom line impact” is to more gently ask for “evidence of progress” and justification that this evidence is plausibly connected to disparities reduction. Try this exercise: assume the program you support or operate has been accused of being trivial or ineffective, doing nothing to reduce disparities or improve social justice. What evidence could you provide in its defense? Dated Jun 12, 2008. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. Four key steps can help you transform your philanthropy to make much more of a difference. Once you’ve decided to help “close a gap” or “reduce a disparity,” you can use the six Pathways to Progress to guide your investments. Dated Mar 25, 2008. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. Until foundations address the structural inequities that contribute significantly to human suffering, their own effectiveness will be limited. … Philanthropic organizations can and must put their shoulders to the wheels. Until it does, and becomes more relevant to today’s society, we will continue to see mean-spirited systems and markets that contribute to substantial human suffering, and highly mediocre levels of philanthropic organization performance. Dated Jan 9, 2008. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. An evidence-based inventory of gaps and disparities, plus what we mean by “gaps” and “disparities.” Also, technical and human issues in understanding gaps and disparities, and a five-step strategy for reducing gaps. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. What we mean by philanthropy. Kinds of philanthropic or charitable organizations. Reasons why people give. Philanthropy, in its newest personal and organized forms, is for everyone. PDF
by Steven E. Mayer. By racial equity, we mean that ideal situation in which society’s systems and markets perform equally well for different racial and ethnic groups. Inequity, shown in the data as performance gaps, implies injustice. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. Definitions of social justice culled from the Web, meant to show its various meanings. Its roots in faith traditions, law, and political theory. Its connection to philanthropy, human rights, spirituality, and the quest for racial equity. PDF
By Betty Emarita. Technical assistance has a cultural viewpoint, acknowledged or not. Getting the right kind of assistance can make all the difference, and the wrong kind can be harmful. Examples of appropriate assistance. Why this is important to effective grantmaking. PDF
By Betty Emarita. In human society, and in Southern African American communities especially, relationships serve as an essential infrastructure for getting things done. An example from the Black Belt Community Foundation in Alabama. Why this is important to philanthropy. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer. A parable is used to illustrate a key dilemma in philanthropy: Do we use our charitable resources to save drowning babies one at a time, or do we look upstream for the causes of casualties and invest in solutions? Or both. PDF
By Steven E. Mayer, Vanessa McKendall Stephens, and Betty Emarita. Version 2.0, released September 1, 2006. PDF
- “Moving Past the Silence: A Tool for Negotiating Reflective Conversations About Race” By Vanessa McKendall Stephens.
- “Becoming a Catalyst for Social Justice: A Tool for Aligning Internal Operations to Produce Progress” By Betty Emarita.
- “Choosing Promising Ideas and Proposals: A Tool for Giving that Closes the Gaps” By Steven E. Mayer.
This report examines how community philanthropy can deepen social justice work, especially in the American South. Supported by the Ford Foundation.
A two-page adaptation of highlights from this report.
This Op-Ed piece written for the Chronicle of Philanthropy questions the need for modern American community foundations to mimic private financial services institutions, and proposes three avenues for innovation.
Other Related Work
A selection of other work by Steven Mayer from his work as Director, Effective Communities Project, and before that as founding Executive Director, Rainbow Research, Inc.
“Building Community Capacity: The Potential of Community Foundations”
This small book summarizes the experiences of 18 community foundations participating in the Ford/MacArthur Leadership Program for Community Foundations. It contains lessons for foundations and nonprofits alike on strategies for developing successful community initiatives. It is available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org)
“Common Barriers to Effectiveness in the Independent Sector”
This paper, presented to Independent Sector, describes three common barriers challenging nonprofits and foundations: dominance of the deficits model over the assets model, the dysfunctional distinction between “grantmaker and grantseeker,” and racism and other failures to be inclusive. Available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org).
This paper, adapted from Building Community Capacity: The Potential of Community Foundations, describes how different groups, such as families, neighborhood organizations, local government, and others, can contribute to the community’s ability to address its problems.
“Supporting Low-Income Neighborhood Organizations: A Guide for Community Foundations”
This guidebook gives advice on making grants and providing other kinds of support to low-income neighborhood organizations. Available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org).
Lessons learned from the experiences of 51 neighborhood organizations in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and their suburbs are profiled in this handbook. Lessons are grouped into two areas: Involving Residents, and Organizing and Governing the Work. One of the first lessons learned-style evaluations ever.
“Better Together: Religious Institutions as Partners in Community-Based Development”
Key learnings from a national initiative on how religious institutions of various kinds can contribute to low-income housing and community economic development efforts. Available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org).
“The Assets Model of Community Development”
This paper presents the basics of the assets model as formulated by John McKnight and contrasts it with the deficits model, along with implications for funders. Available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org).
“What is a ‘Disadvantaged Group’?” (pdf)
A short, historical paper serving up a digestible analysis to help a program design or grant review committee recognize disadvantagement in the proposals it receives.
This paper summarizes what we have learned about the effectiveness of foundation efforts to build capacity in nonprofits, expressed as lessons learned.
This paper offers a framework for assessing organizational capacity and forms the basis of our Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool©.
“Building Community Capacity with Evaluation Activities That Empower”
A chapter in the best-selling “Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self-assessment and Accountability” (Fetterman, Kaftarian, and Wandersman; Sage, 1996). Available from Sage Publishing (www.sagepub.com).
“Inclusiveness Assessment Tool”
This tool was developed for the United Way of Minneapolis to help it and its member organizations make progress in becoming more racially inclusive and culturally competent. Available from Rainbow Research, Inc. (www.rainbowresearch.org).
“Community Philanthropy in Central/Eastern Europe”
A primer for people who are interested in learning about community philanthropy organizations and the role they can play in strengthening communities, set in Central/Eastern Europe. Available from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (www.mott.org).
“A Statement of Values, Accomplishments, and Intentions of the Twin Cities Neighborhood Movement”
A discussion paper prepared for the Twin Cities’ Center for Neighborhoods as part of its Neighborhood Futures Initiative. Five core values are presented, with accomplishments and challenges. Available from the Center for Neighborhoods (www.Center4Neighborhoods.org).
In this paper, Steven Mayer presents three excellent outcome areas desired of community leadership initiatives: increased commitment, increased resources, and increased skills available to address issues and opportunities. Based in work done for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership Program for Community Foundations.