Exponent Philanthropy: How small-staffed US foundations create change

Exponent Philanthropy recently released its 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report. Based on responses from 676 of its nearly 2,200 member foundations, all of which have few or no staff, the report includes more than 60 pages of data on how member foundations govern, steward their assets, accomplish their administrative work, and carry out their grantmaking.

Among its findings, the report identifies seven strategies that lead to ‘outsized impact’, or more than a single dollar’s worth of impact. Ranked by percentage of members that engage in them, the strategies include:

12 ExponentOur-Nearly-2200-member-foundations

  • Making general operating support grants: 80%
  • Making multi-year grants: 68%
  • Using information received from grantees to inform grantmaking: 64%
  • Collaborating with other funders to increase impact: 61%
  • Making capacity-building grants: 58%
  • Convening grantees or organizations: 37%
  • Making grants for advocacy work: 28%

The report also includes data on staff and board compensation, expense ratios, impact investments, and trends over years.

To download the report visit

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