Criteria for Philanthropy at Its Best

Benchmarks to Assess and Enhance Grantmakers Impact

Niki Jagpal

2009, 142 pages, ISBN 978-0-615-27727-1. National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, 1331 H Street NW, Ste 200, Washington, DC, 20005, 202-387-9177,

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) is an independent “watchdog of institutional philanthropy” that seeks to bring the voices of nonprofits and marginalized communities into deliberations about philanthropic priorities and practices. The NCRP commissioned this report to define and measure relevancy in civic sector organizations by creating a list of criteria that address values, effectiveness, ethics and commitment:

  • Provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars to benefit lower-income communities, communities of color and other marginalized groups, broadly defined.
  • Provides at least 25 percent of its grant dollars for advocacy, organizing and civic engagement to promote equity, opportunity and justice in our society.
  • Provides at least 50 percent of its grant dollars for general operating support.
  • Provides at least 50 percent of its grants dollars as multi-year grants.
  • Ensures that the time to apply for and report on the grant is commensurate with grant size.
  • Maintains an engaged board of at least five people who include among them a diversity of pespectives—incuding of the communities it serves—and who serve without compensation.
  • Maintains policies and practices that support ethical behavior.
  • Discloses information freely.
  • Pays out at least 6 percent of its assets annually in grants.
  • Invests at least 25 percent of its assests in ways that support its mission.

    In the future, the NCRP intends to highlight grantmakers that exceed the benchmarks, as well as those that fall short.

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