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How will you change the world?

GMA Foundations helps you define a clear path to transformative philanthropy, and then walks the path with you as an ally and a guide.

We partner with individual and organizational donors as managers, advisors, and facilitators. With over a quarter-century of insight and field experience, GMA Foundations is changing the world by helping you change the world.

Back to Out-of-School

NPO Conversation at GMA: Wednesday, September 10

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We invite leaders of nonprofit organizations to join us each quarter for a brown-bag lunch discussion about issues, ideas, and concerns in the nonprofit and philanthropic community. The meetings are a time for us to “talk shop” and move beyond the usual conversation between foundations and nonprofit organizations.

Each session focuses on a particular topic, and reservations are required. Guests will learn a little about GMA and a lot about their peers’ perspectives on important issues.

Topic for Conversation: Back to Out-of School

School-age children spend the majority of their time outside the classroom. For years, the nonprofit sector has helped to fill the gap, providing quality after-school and summer experiences. In today’s competitive and shifting global economy, we look to out-of-school time programs to narrow the academic achievement gap, through after-school enrichment and college access programs, and summer vacation programming designed to reduce learning loss.

Have we gone too far? Some would argue that the best learning takes place in less conventional places, in the freedom of unstructured and unusual activity. Seemingly unproductive activities have the capacity to transform individuals and the communities they share. Continue Reading »

Help Nonprofits stay Nimble: Know the 9 forces of change


As experienced grantmakers, we know that nonprofit leaders operate effective programs by continuing to adjust and adapt to changing times while staying true to their mission. By understanding where the pressure to change comes from, funders can help nonprofits stay nimble, focused and operationally strong.

Seven leaders of Boston-area nonprofits joined us at GMA Foundations for lunch last month to talk about how to manage programs that stay rooted in an organization’s mission. Our guests shared stories of well-informed strategy and unforeseen hurdles. They all spoke of the frequent need to fine-tune their operations in response to a variety of pressures. To stay true to their mission, these leaders meet these forces with light-footed, self-assured, responsive management – management that looks more like a dance than a walk.

Forces affecting program operations

mission to program forcesAn organization’s mission tends to stay constant, but over time at least nine forces drive the need for program modifications.

Universally, these nonprofit leaders spoke of the changing needs of their own target populations and of the policy decisions of elected leaders as forces affecting the shape of their programs.  They also spoke of funders as mostly positive influences on program adjustments.  The anecdotes, both good and bad, demonstrated how open, honest communication can give funders a vital role in maximizing a program’s impact.

By identifying and understanding the pressures on their grantees’ programming, funders are better positioned to support effective operations.

Under Pressure:  Nonprofit leaders speak of the need to change

These three examples (shown in green above) of nonprofit leaders responding to the forces around them may shed light on other situations you may have faced (or will face) as a funder.

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Increases in our clients’ grantmaking profiled

Grants 2013 GMA Foundations’ Grants 2013 report released

Forty independent and corporate foundations and individual donors working with Boston-based GMA Foundations increased their giving in 2013 to a combined total of $37.3 million, up nearly 20% from the previous year. The philanthropic advisory firm’s newly released report describes the grantmaking reach of its clients, who awarded more than 1,500 grants to 1,100 nonprofits around the world.

Reflecting stronger investment returns, the amount of the average grant increased 9% over the prior year to $23,565. “We look to the nonprofit sector for innovation, agility, and strong connections to the community,” says Phil Hall, GMA’s Director of Grantmaking.  “Operating on a small scale, these nonprofit organizations are leading the way to social change, and we are proud to support them.”

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