ASF: Small-staff philanthropy pursues greater impact

Through its Getting to Impact Initiative, the US-based Association of Small Foundations (ASF) is equipping small foundations – that is to say foundations with few or no staff – with information and inspiration to move along a continuum towards greater impact over time.

Three principles are key to the Getting to Impact Initiative, funded partly by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Coleman Foundation and central to ASF’s vision of strengthening small foundations:

  • Small foundations can and do have impact. It is possible to have an impact on complex social issues even with limited time, energy and resources. Funders around the world are making notable differences in their communities, well beyond what their assets may suggest is possible.
  • Communities are counting on it. Resources are scarce, and a significant influx of government funds is unlikely. Striving for the greatest impact possible is one way to offset the losses communities are experiencing.
  • The effort is worthwhile. Not only do communities benefit when funders strive for the greatest impact possible; funders benefit too. Satisfaction in giving is often related to results – and results are possible when funders proactively pursue impact.

Through peer coaching, a robust suite of seminars and written materials, and a forthcoming Impact Diagnostic Tool, ASF is helping small foundations apply their grant and non-grant resources intentionally, assess the results, and make necessary adjustments over time.

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