Philly's William Penn Foundation Examined in New Project by Philanthropy Watchdog - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Philly's William Penn Foundation Examined in New Project by Philanthropy Watchdog

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SOURCE National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

NCRP's Philamplify Combines Crowdsourcing with Expert Critiques in New Groundbreaking Website

PHILADELPHIA, May 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) launched Philamplify, a new project aimed at bursting the "isolation bubble" in philanthropy by delivering honest feedback to grantmakers. Philamplify pairs comprehensive assessments of prominent foundations with an interactive website that gathers user-generated commentary on foundation practices. The William Penn Foundation, Philadelphia's largest foundation with over $2 billion in assets, is one of the first three grantmakers examined by the initiative. 

Written by NCRP's director of foundation assessment, Lisa Ranghelli, "The William Penn Foundation: Is Philadelphia's Leading Philanthropy Back on Track?" highlights the organization's strengths, which have made a mark on watershed protection, promoting educational opportunities, and fostering arts and culture in Philadelphia. The report also identifies ways the foundation can boost its impact, including by asserting more public leadership and offering expanded support for advocacy and civic engagement. The report explores in depth many elements of the foundation's operations, including the recent leadership change and new strategic plan that had some stakeholders worried the foundation's commitment to underserved communities, equity and community organizing was waning.

"There's a lot riding on the effectiveness of the William Penn Foundation," said Aaron Dorfman, executive director of NCRP. "We hope the foundation will consider how our concrete recommendations, which are largely based on feedback from members of its own community, can help it realize its vision for a thriving Philadelphia."

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) offered this statement: "The William Penn Foundation has played a central role in Philadelphia  – providing critical funding for the city's arts and culture, offering historic support for improving public education, and creating extraordinary efforts to address the city's environmental challenges. As the foundation moves into its seventh decade of philanthropy and leadership in our community, I know it will value the feedback and insight offered by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy's report."

In a letter responding to the assessment, William Penn Foundation Managing Director Peter Degnan said, "We have long respected NCRP and appreciate [its] dedication to challenging and improving the philanthropic sector. While we strive toward lasting positive impact, we recognize that it is often through external constructive critique that we are able to sharpen and hone our strategies and operational approach."

The William Penn Foundation, along with the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation in Atlanta and the Lumina Foundation for Education in Indianapolis, were selected for the assessment because they are among the 100 top foundations in the U.S. Over time, Philamplify will evaluate other major foundations.

At the heart of Philamplify are individual foundation assessments conducted by top-notch researchers that provide a comprehensive examination of a foundation's grantmaking and operations. These assessments incorporate feedback received from the foundation's key stakeholders, including peer foundations, nonprofits, issue experts, members of the media and other individuals. All foundation assessment reports are made public on where users can also weigh in. users have the option to remain anonymous, allowing all those whose lives are touched by philanthropy, from foundation leaders and staff to experts and community members, the opportunity to comment on and share their experiences with foundations in a safe space. In addition to providing comments on the assessed foundations, users are also encouraged to weigh in on issues affecting the philanthropic sector, and share stories about the impact of philanthropy in their lives and communities. The site, which is available free of charge, also enables individuals to reach out to leaders of foundations that have been assessed.

View Philamplify's William Penn Foundation video or visit to learn more about the foundation's impact.

About NCRP

Since 1976, NCRP has served as the voice of nonprofits and the communities they serve in philanthropy. Through research and advocacy, NCRP works to ensure that philanthropy contributes in meaningful ways to the creation of a fair, just and equitable world. Visit for more information.

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