AN AUDIT OF GRANT MODIFICATION PROCESSES
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust (Helmsley Trust) is dedicated to improving people's lives and building healthier futures for individuals and communities worldwide. Helmsley Trust invests in innovative ideas and research in six key program areas in collaboration with a range of individuals and organizations. The client engaged a Capstone team to: 1) research the evolution of the philanthropic sector and current best practices, 2) analyze the grant modifications made to the client’s funded grants during the past two fiscal years, and 3) make recommendations to improve and streamline Helmsley Trust’s grant modification policy and process to ensure they align with industry best practices and meet the needs of internal and external stakeholders. The team conducted interviews with Helmsley Trust staff and leaders of peer foundations, surveyed grantees who participated in the modification process, analyzed internal data and processes, and conducted external research. The team incorporated its analysis and findings into a white paper and presented it to the Helmsley Trust.
DEVELOPING ARGUMENTS AND STRATEGIC MESSAGING TO KEEP PRIMARY ELECTIONS OPEN
Open Primaries is a nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for open and nonpartisan primary election systems, educate voters, counter efforts to impose closed primaries, and build local, state, and national coalitions. The organization engaged a Capstone team to examine the efforts to close primaries in the Republican-controlled states of Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas. The team conducted background research on the types of primary elections in the US and three key reasons for keeping primaries open: protecting the voice of independent voters, avoiding electoral polarization, and preventing expensive logistics for taxpayers. The team also explored Idaho's successful effort to close its primary election in 2012, subsequent changes, and public responses thereto. The team’s final paper details its findings, reviews current campaigns to close primaries in Tennessee, Alabama, and Arkansas, and proposes recommendations for strategic messaging to keep primaries open.
EMPOWERING SERVICE PROVIDERS THROUGH COALITION ORGANIZING AND ADVOCACY
The Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) is a collection of over 50 nonprofit service providers supporting victims of domestic violence (DV) with comprehensive services like shelter, legal aid, and mental health services. ODVN members advocate together at the state level to provide testimony on DV issues and to acquire funding through the state’s budget process. As ODVN works to broaden its advocacy efforts, it enlisted a Capstone team to evaluate opportunities for strengthening its advocacy processes and the advocacy capacity of its member organizations. Through a combination of in-depth interviews and surveys, the team designed an advocacy toolkit, tailor-made to activate and inspire ODVN’s diverse service provider membership to take on advocacy roles in their community and network. The team produced a final report offering recommendations on how to use the advocacy toolkit and further develop the client’s coalition organizing strategy.
EMPOWERING WOMEN IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND ADVANCING GENDER LENS INVESTING
Accion Venture Lab (AVL) is a global early-stage investor in inclusive fintech startups. Over the last two years, AVL has held venture capital fundraising workshops and investor networking sessions with over 80 women fintech founders in 15 countries. The organization engaged a Capstone team to identify the needs of women founders in emerging markets, outline existing resources, and provide recommendations for future steps. Building on its desktop research and interviews with AVL’s regional directors, the team conducted comparative analyses to identify strengths and weaknesses within each regional market. The team’s final report provides recommendations to AVL concerning the pipeline development process, the accessibility of funding, and expanding gender lens investing through partnership development. Specifically, the team recommended that AVL structure programs to: (1) promote mentorship, (2) build collaborative networks, (3) conduct workshops and training, (4) strengthen pipeline development, and (5) advocate for policy change.
DEVELOPING THE STRATEGIC DIRECTION FOR A UK-BASED FISCAL HOST FOLLOWING BREXIT
Global Dialogue is an independent, international platform for philanthropic partnership, enabling funders to work together to advance human rights and social change within countries in the European Union (EU). Fiscal host organizations offer incubation and operational support for grants and small funders. Global Dialogue engaged a Capstone team to help determine its strategic direction as a UK-based fiscal host following Brexit. The team was tasked with evaluating the potential costs and benefits of partnering with an EU entity, establishing its own operation in an EU jurisdiction, or maintaining its current status. Using information obtained from desktop research and stakeholder interviews, the team prepared a final report outlining strategic options for Global Dialogue in the context of broader trends within the philanthropy and fiscal host sector.
MEASURING AND COMMUNICATING IMPACT IN COMMUNITY WEALTH BUILDING
The Majira Project seeks to build wealth in communities of color through entrepreneurship, by helping small business founders access capital and build strategic connections to advance their work. The organization pairs small business owners with consultants from Boston Consulting Group to facilitate a cohort-style experience with networking opportunities and personalized coaching. The COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have increased the demand for Majira’s services. To meet this increased demand, the organization engaged a team to measure the organization’s impact, communicate its value, and develop recommendations for expanding the program to more entrepreneurs and start-ups. The team conducted a comprehensive literature review and developed a competitive landscape analysis, a communications strategy, and an impact reporting framework to help prepare Majira for future growth.