GMN2017-Block E Sessions

Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 9:00am-10:15am


Assessing Nonprofit Financial Health

LEARNING TRACK: Effective Practices
LEVEL: Intermediate
#GMN2017 #nonprofithealth


  • Hilda Polanco, Founder and CEO, Fiscal Management Associates (FMA)

In order to make sound funding decisions, grantmakers must have a firm grasp of the story told by the numbers. Nonprofit organizations face increasing financial challenges in today’s operating environment, but understanding the financial health of both current and prospective grantees is a critical part of the grantmaking process. Focusing on effective approaches to reading and interpreting financial statements, this session will equip grantmakers to understand their grantees’ financial reality by presenting concepts and tools applicable to grantees across a range of mission areas and business models.

Data: The Power Tool for Human Rights Funding

LEARNING TRACK: : Data Intelligence
LEVEL: General
#GMN2017 #humanrightsfunding


  • Myriam Fizazi-Hawkins, Director, Grantmaking Resource Center, National Endowment for Democracy
  • Anna Koob, Knowledge Services Manager, Foundation Center
  • Sara Tansey, Program Manager, Research and Policy, International Human Rights Funders Group
  • Arlene Wilson-Grant, Grants Manager, Disability Rights Fund

Are you a data champion or a data skeptic? Both are encouraged to attend this session! Foundation Center will provide an overview of its multi-year research effort with the International Human Rights Funders Group that brings together grants data from 803 funders in 46 countries to inform an ambitious slate of research materials – a yearly key findings report, a cross-cutting website, and a mapping tool that allows users to drill down to the individual grants level.

The session will focus on the genesis and evolution of the project, as well as the importance of “research with a purpose,” highlighting input from funders that informed the process and emphasizing the value of having a clear set of questions in designing useful research. And, most importantly, we’ll talk about how the key to field-wide research is good data, and how you as grants managers make this possible. We’ll also address challenges related to the effort of synthesizing grants data from a number of funders, because nothing is ever as smooth as it looks.

Participants will

  • Learn the considerations that go into developing a large cross-foundation research initiative
  • Find out specific use cases for how landscape research around human rights has been used to inform decision making within foundations
  • Get ideas on how knowledge synthesis and sharing across foundations might help their own work

Dive In: Disasters & Data

LEARNING TRACK: Data Intelligence
LEVEL: General
#GMN2017 #disasterdata


  • Anna Hurt, Disaster Management Analyst, Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Bring your laptops, log in to wi-fi, and spend a session with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy!

During this hands-on, humor filled session, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy will walk you through two tools that will give you data, analysis, and concrete action plans to help you navigate confusion surrounding disaster grantmaking – before, during, and after a disaster strikes.

Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2016 brings together six data sources (foundation, corporate, and individual giving as well as FEMA, OECD-DAC and non-DAC allocations) to provide a robust picture of global disaster giving trends. With narrative to underpin incredibly telling graphics, as well as an interactive map that lets users dive into the data, the State of Disaster Philanthropy is an incredible resource for grants managers.

The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook is a comprehensive resource of best practices and innovative approaches to guide the philanthropy community in responding to future disasters. It’s centered on 14 strategies, including community and economic recovery, education, health and behavioral health, aging and disabled populations, arts and culture, and environment. During the session, participants will roll up their sleeves and walk through every element of the Playbook (with a guided tutorial, of course!).

We promise that at the close of this session, participants will be data disaster experts – knowledgeable in both navigating and translating disaster data streams as well as knowing when, where, and how to put the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook to good use!

How to Make the Move from Administrator to Advisor

LEARNING TRACK: Skill Building
LEVEL: Intermediate
#GMN2017 #movingup


  • Chris Percopo, Director of Grants Management, The Leoma M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
  • Kim Armstrong, Community Programs Manager, Mutual of Omaha Foundation
  • Wendy Watson-Hallowell, The Belief Coach, BeliefWorks

“What does it take to move from being seen as an administrator to being seen as a leadership advisor? In this follow up session from GMN2016 (“Moving from the Back Room to the Executive Suite”), we will review the roles, beliefs, and behaviors that hold us back or help us make the move, and then take a dive into two leaders’ successful transitions. This session digs deep into what it takes to make this transition in both mindset and action. It uses real examples and best practices on how to navigate the journey, and is helpful to both those who want to make the move, and the leaders that support them.

Participants will

  • Discover how to embrace new beliefs and practices that will change how grants management professionals are seen within your organization, the value you bring to the leadership table, and how you see yourself
  • Learn how to stop taking orders and start taking charge of how your organization gathers, assesses, and uses data for decision-making that leads to the highest impact
  • Identify ways to expand your advisory role by knowing who your “customers” are, what success means to them, and what you can provide to help them succeed

Impact Investing: The Intersection of Money and Meaning

LEVEL: Intermediate
#GMN2017 #impactinvesting


  • Fran Seegull, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director, ImpactAssets

Curious about impact investing and want to learn more? This session is an opportunity to learn exactly what impact investing is and how it relates to philanthropy. The growing impact investment market provides capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance, and affordable and accessible basic services including housing, healthcare, and education.

Participants will

  • Learn what is impact investing and the considerable growth of the field
  • Understand the fallacy of a financial returns tradeoff
  • Find out how to measure social and environmental performance
  • Discover how foundations can engage in impact investing

Improv Comedy for Grants Managers (Seriously!)

LEARNING TRACK: Skill Building
LEVEL: General
#GMN2017 #GMimprov


  • Gretchen Schackel, Grants Manager, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation
  • Jen Bokoff, Director of Knowledge Services, Foundation Center

Back by popular demand! Come ready to let loose and laugh! In this session, you’ll learn some improv comedy basics that might be the most valuable skills you take back to the office. Listening, the “yes, and” approach, teamwork, creativity, and thinking on your feet all are at the heart of comedy, and also your jobs. Gretchen and Jen are both trained in comedy and have worked in philanthropy long enough to have fun with it. If you want to do everything but sit in your seat and take notes, this session is for you!

Participants will

  • Learn about the “yes, and” approach and find value in integrating it into your daily interactions
  • Explore good listening and thinking on your feet.
  • See how humor can be a valuable tool to advance your personal and organizational goals

It’s Not You, It’s Me: Breaking Up with Your Organization’s Inequitable Funding Practices

LEARNING TRACK: Effective Practices | Hot Topics
LEVEL: Intermediate
#GMN2017 #fundingequity


  • Erika Grace “E. G.” Nelson, Senior Community Funding Coordinator, Center for Prevention, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Funders have increasingly emphasized the concept of equity in their philanthropic support. Although these funders are becoming more aware of the role grantmaking plays in dismantling systemic oppression and inequitable outcomes, they may be unaware of how the policies, procedures and practices guiding their own funding may systemically prevent well-suited organizations from receiving support.

Two separate departments within Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation have recently examined how the policies surrounding their community giving can be changed to uplift communities facing the greatest health disparities. The Center for Prevention completed a thorough review to identify areas where policies, procedures, and practices created or reinforced barriers for certain organizations. After revisiting our organizational mission and values around equity and fairness, we identified key areas of our process that did not align. After many deep conversations about changes that could be made and their potential for more equitable outcomes, the team developed recommendations that are currently being piloted and evaluated. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation similarly piloted new engagement strategies and eligibility requirements to uplift organizations led by and serving communities of color, as well as organizations serving rural Minnesotans.

This session will describe the process the Center for Prevention used to identify areas for improvement, key changes made to our process, and the outcomes of process modifications this far.

Participants will

  • Have a starting point for key conversations around equity in their organizations
  • Gain inspiration, support, and resources to examine their own grantmaking policies, procedures and practices
  • Acquire the ability to identify potential barriers and resistance (both internally and within the public)
  • Understand how to begin to make the changes necessary to work towards more equitable outcomes for the communities they serve

Working Together: Effective Funder Collaboration in Disaster Grantmaking

LEARNING TRACK: Effective Practices
LEVEL: General
#GMN2017 #disastergrantmaking


  • Anna Hurt, Disaster Management Analyst, Center for Disaster Philanthropy
  • Stacie Freasier, Director of Knowledge Services, Council on Foundations

When a disaster strikes, funders are often eager step forward to assist in community recovery efforts. A clear model for convening and collaborating in all phases of the disaster lifecycle is vital. Through a national partnership, the Council on Foundations and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy will offer lessons learned and practical tools to maximize funder collaboration for effective disaster grantmaking. Participants will also get to hear about a successful funder collaboration.

Participants will

  • Learn tips on how to successfully collaborate with other funders throughout the disaster lifecycle
  • Gain insights from recent successful disaster-related collaborations
  • Learn information on the latest national disaster philanthropy resources available

PARTNER SPONSORED SESSION: INTL FCStone: The Pitfalls of Global Payments & Best Practices to Avoid Them

LEARNING TRACK: Effective Practices | Hot Topics |Partner Sponsored Session |Technology
LEVEL: General
#GMN2017 #globalpayments @INTLFCStone


  • Byard P. Bridge, Jr., SVP, Global Payments, INTL FCStone
  • Sue-Ellen Speight, SVP, Global Payments, INTL FCStone

Managing foreign exchange (FX) in a project-based environment is a key piece of the financial activities of international aid and development organizations. With the myriad challenges involved – compliance risk, financial controls, opaque pricing – it is often difficult to determine the best currency conversion procedures. Millions of dollars in donor funds are wasted each year on currency conversions that can be avoided by adapting simple principles within an organization’s finance department. This session will highlight the leading FX industry practices using case studies and practical concepts which can be used to maximize the funding that is available at the local level. Join FX and currency expert INTL Global Currencies for this informative session that will include a general overview of FX markets, advantages of using electronic platforms, and current trends in FX management.

Participants will

  • Enhance their understanding of current trends in global financial markets and contracting for local currency
  • Learn the importance of accessing competitive exchange rates for international transfer and the concept of “competitive bidding” and how to apply it
  • Find out about using online platforms to improve international funding operations and the inherent risk of leaving surplus funding in the field and how to avoid it
  • Understand just-in-time funding and the accounting advantages of knowing foreign exchange costs up front