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Reflecting on the Foundation-invited Initiative

We reflect on the Foundation-invited Initiative (FII), and the significant results it has created over the last decade. What we’ve learned, and what’s next. Since 2007, Foellinger Foundation supported FII with nearly $33 million. These grants include $1.7 million for capacity support—funds provided specifically to help each organization reach a stronger position.

Our evaluation and our experience tells us that invited organizations are indeed stronger for their involvement in FII. And, the Foundation is stronger for all that we have learned.

This is not our first initiative. FII was shaped by two previous initiatives, each $5 million, in the early 2000s. These efforts were crucial in our development of the most recent Foundation-invited Initiative.

As always, the Foundation has continually evaluated the impact of its work. For FII, we engaged Formative Evaluation Research Associates to complete three separate evaluations that were conducted during the course of the Initiative. The first evaluation indicated the intentional grantmaking strategy of FII had, indeed, been transformational for the organizations. The second evaluation found that FII was successful in strengthening governance and supporting organizational sustainability. The model was helping organizations think more strategically about how to fulfill their missions, and better serve clients/customers/consumers. The third evaluation, completed in January 2016, focused on FII’s impact in four key areas:  governance, leadership, program impact, and financial sustainability.

The evaluation showed that FII had helped position the organizations to engage in and adopt adaptive practices and provided feedback that helped the Foundation identify areas to improve, as well. Specifically, governance and leadership training for Allen County nonprofits were identified as needs.

Accordingly, the Foundation announced, funded and implemented the Helene Foellinger Leadership Development Initiative, which includes the Foellinger Leadership Lab and Barbara Burt Innovative Leader Fund, and inspires nonprofit executive leaders, rising leaders, and board members in Allen County to "lead like no other." 

By the measures agreed upon by our Board of Directors, FII has been successful. Therefore, we announce that we are concluding the Foundation-invited Initiative. 

The Foundation and initiative organizations have all had very long-term relationships; indeed,  fruitful relationships were critical to the invitation to participate in the first place. Our relationships extend beyond any one particular funding strategy. While these relationships will undergo a change in status, they are continuing.

In support of ongoing requests from FII grantees, the Foundation also announced that each organization will receive a three-year, $20,000 capacity grant for staff development. Specific focuses for staff development remain on governance, leadership, program impact, and financial sustainability.

All Foellinger Foundation initiatives and special opportunities are directly connected to the values of our donors:

  • Integrity
  • Responsibility
  • Accountability
  • Results