The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

The Sillerman Funders Guide Series

Our Funders Guides provide the philanthropic community accessible, useful, expertly vetted information about high impact giving opportunities in a wide variety of sectors. In order to help frame the Funders Guides, we have created a short series of guides that may be useful to funders looking to deepen their understanding of social justice philanthropy as well as think critically about internal practices and policies around organizational assessment and discretionary grant practices and policies. 

Social Justice Philanthropy Terminology Guide: This guide focuses on developing a deeper understanding of both general and niche philanthropy-related terms. Some of the terms, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion are more general and applicable outside of the field of philanthropy. Other terms, such as charitable industrial complex, mission creep, and return on investment are very much focused on the field of philanthropy. Although some of the terms are not specific to the field of philanthropy, all terms included affect giving practices and should be considered when aiming to shift grantmaking practices.

Best Practices for Assessing an Organization’s Wellness - The purpose of this guide is to provide tools to assess the general wellness and well-being of organizations that your foundation funds or seeks to fund. This guide considers financial well-being as well as other factors, such as mission alignment and outcome measurement. Although the guide focuses on financial-related information, we encourage you to look beyond the numbers and ask questions that assess organizations in a holistic manner.

Discretionary Grants Guide - Discretionary grants are those made at the discretion of individual trustees or other authorized individuals, without the standard approval process and/or review by the full board. The purpose of this guide is to detail the benefits and concerns of discretionary grantmaking. We also provide recommendations and key best practices to consider when providing discretionary grants as well as some sample policies and forms that you could use to create your own practices and guidelines. 

The Sillerman Funders Guide series is about giving opportunities in the areas of restorative justice in schools, science and math enrichment for underrepresented students of color, refugee resettlement programs and arts programming for students in neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage. We welcome comments about these Guides and also encourage you to suggest topics for future Guides. 

Please send all comments and suggestions to Susan Eaton, Director of the Sillerman Center, or Sheryl Seller, Assistant Director of the Sillerman Center, or call us at 781-736-3918 or 781-736-3772. We look forward to hearing from you. 

A Practical Guide to Making Strategic Philanthropic Investments