Strategic Philanthropy

 strategic philanthropy 
 
Supporting Strategic Philanthropy

 

Mathematica helps foundations plan, implement, and learn from their philanthropic programs and initiatives. During the past 30 years, established and newer foundations alike have partnered with Mathematica to benefit from our combination of subject matter and methods expertise, appreciation for evidence, strong process-facilitation skills, and audience-focused communications.

 

Read more about the skills and expertise that we offer our philanthropic clients.       

 

PLANNING

  • Support for strategic planning. We offer a variety of services to help foundation leaders and staff explore and develop new program areas, strategies, and grant initiatives. To ensure that planning processes benefit from the best and most current thought leadership, we identify, recruit, and convene technical expert or advisory panels; we also conduct environmental scans, including expert interviews and literature reviews and syntheses.
    • Project example: To support strategic planning by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in its efforts to study how young children’s health affects their readiness for and success in school, we conducted an environmental scan of the evidence base and the relevant interventions.
  • Developing plans for monitoring, evaluation and learning. Mathematica excels at helping foundations articulate their learning objectives before we design approaches to meet those objectives, whether they involve measuring impact, qualitatively assessing progress, developing evaluative capacity in grantees, or promoting accountability. Our approach ensures that indicators and measures, data sources, and analysis methods are all in service to overall learning objectives.
    • Project example: For the Rockefeller Foundation’s Transforming Health Systems Initiative, we developed and implemented a system to monitor global, regional, and country-level activities in four areas—policy and advocacy, health financing, stewardship of mixed health systems, and health information systems.

 

IMPLEMENTING

  • Providing technical assistance. Foundations can help grantees access information, acquire knowledge, and develop skills to achieve outcomes and goals. Mathematica provides technical assistance with this in several formats—we facilitate learning collaboratives; offer one-to-one consultation; deliver trainings; support help-desk operations and online workspaces; and design toolkits, how-to guides, and handbooks.
  • Establishing grant programs. Foundations look to Mathematica as an operational partner. We leverage our subject matter and methods expertise, our diverse professional networks, and our organizational and project management skills to help foundations develop and implement grant programs and initiatives.
    • Project example: Mathematica helped the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation establish a grant program, Evaluating High-Value Innovations from Low-Resource Communities. We assembled a technical advisory committee, supported the development of a call for proposals, organized a two-stage application and review process, and facilitated the foundation’s selection of proposals. Mathematica will monitor the grantees’ progress to synthesize the results of the program and the lessons learned.
  • Research center operations. Foundations that seek to expand the knowledge base or inform sound decisions in a major policy area over many years can partner with Mathematica for high-quality, timely, and objective research and analysis.
    • Project example: The nonpartisan Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), a Mathematica subsidiary from 1995 to 2013, conducted policy research and analysis that helped decision makers understand the national and local market forces driving changes in the U.S. health system. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation founded HSC and was its sole funder until 2003, when other foundations, government agencies, and private organizations also began to support the organization.

 

LEARNING

  • Support for reflection and improvement. Foundations that focus on complex social problems must continually learn and adapt. Mathematica supports the planning, implementing, and learning cycles. We examine questions about implementation, resources, context, systems, settings, populations, and outcomes and help foundations refine assumptions and improve efforts when new information and opportunities emerge. 
    • Project example: For the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, we produced a series of learning products on the successes and challenges faced by grantees as they implemented their programs, and we participated in peer learning meetings.