CEP – In Search of Impact

Huang, J., Buchanan, P., & Buteau, E. (2006). In Search of Impact: Practices and Perceptions in Foundations’ Provision of Program and Operating Grants to Nonprofits. Cambridge, MA: Center for Effective Philanthropy.

From the report:

“Foundation and nonprofit executives have long discussed debated how grantmakers can best support nonprofits. Some prominent leaders have argued in recent years that operating support – often called “unrestricted support,” “core support,” or “general purpose support” – is a key way to help nonprofits be more effective and achieve greater impact. These leaders suggest taht nonprofits suffer from a lack of flexible funding, which ultimately undermines the effectiveness of these organizations as they pursue their impact objectives.


Missing from this debate is data – data about current foundation practice and what informs that practice, and data about the grantee perspective on these critical issues. Our study set out to provide data to answer these questions:

What are current foundation practices in provision of support?
– What is the mix of support by type, and how does it vary among foundations?
– What guides foundation leaders’ decision-making as they choose what type of support to provide grantees?

How do program and operating support affect grantees?
– What role does type of support play in influencing grantee views of foundations?
– How prominent is operating support in grantee descriptions of ideal grants?”

Read the report here (external link)