Supporting a stronger philanthropic and nonprofit sector that leads by living the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Our Strategy

We have three intentionally broad and flexible approaches to our field support for Philanthropy. This allows us both to direct our work and to be responsive to the needs of the moment. We emphasize that funders are not the experts and aim to lead by example, striving to be open to feedback and transparent about how we work.

We support a strong philanthropic sector

  • This includes organizations that innovate and promote best practices for ourselves and our peers in philanthropy that help lessen the burden on grantees and increase impact. 
  • We also seek to better understand and participate in the growing trend of donor collaboratives and funder learning communities. 
  • Additionally, we support and participate in affinity groups and communities of practice and provide opportunities for MacArthur Staff to learn and engage with colleagues in the sector.  

We promote research and communication among funders and nonprofits.  

  • This includes work to increase transparency and feedback among and between funders, nonprofits, and the public. 
  • We also aim to promote values-aligned ways of working, emphasizing MacArthur’s values of Creativity; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Empathy; Integrity; and Learning. 

We support a strong nonprofit sector.  

  • This includes organizations that provide publicly accessible nonprofit resources. 
  • We support professional growth for development and fundraising professionals, particularly individuals and organizations serving underfunded communities.

Across these three approaches, we have two types of grantmaking: Seeding/growing grants aim to provide initial funding to new and emerging organizations or to help grow an organization at a pivotal moment. These grants are typically larger and likely time limited; this also includes funding to specific and time-limited projects. Maintaining grants support work that is often stable in nature or serves an important role as a convener, bringing together organizations from all corners of the philanthropic sector. These are often general operating support grants that are smaller and more long-term.  

Why We Support This Work

We believe a strong philanthropic and nonprofit sector that centers diversity, equity, and inclusion can help society meet its biggest challenges. By this we mean a sector that invites in, respects, and values people across the full spectrum of backgrounds and lived experiences, and encourages multiple ways of thinking. With philanthropic support, the organizations and individuals who are innovating and advocating for a more representative and responsive sector have the power to change the world.

We aim to increase transparency and feedback between funders, nonprofits, and the public; to reduce burdens on nonprofits to increase their impact; and to strengthen skills for philanthropic and nonprofit professionals. As a philanthropy ourselves, we aim to lead with our values of Creativity; Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Empathy; Integrity; and Learning. 

We have funded field building in the philanthropic sector for over four decades, beginning in the 1980s with support to the Council on Foundations, Forefront, and Independent Sector, among other organizations. This program started mainly as a membership dues arm of the Foundation. Since 2016, when Philanthropy became a Field Support program, it has incorporated memberships as well as grants to organizations that strengthen our sector. Coming out of a strategy review in 2023, we articulated our grantmaking approaches to be clearer to our grantees and the sector about the role we play as funders. And we expanded our geographic scope to include India and Nigeria, where we have offices and are learning with and from the philanthropic communities. 

Expected Outcomes

We believe that our work in the sector can: 

  • Shift norms in philanthropy that help lessen the burden on grantees and increase their impact.
  • Increase funding of and for underfunded populations. 
  • Strengthen communities for underrepresented groups in the sector and increase the diversity of philanthropic professionals. 
  • Increase funder transparency and responsiveness to feedback. 
  • Move toward a dynamic the recognizes that donors are not the experts and should follow the lead of people doing the work. 
  • Increase comfort with risk taking.

Funding Priorities

We fund organizations working in the U.S., India, and Nigeria working across our three approaches.  

Supporting a Strong Philanthropic Sector includes

  • Philanthropy supporting organizations that promote more equitable and effective practices in the sector; 
  • Conveners and facilitators that bring funders together in learning communities and collaboratives; and 
  • Organizations that build and support philanthropic infrastructure.

Promoting Research and Communication among Funders and Nonprofits includes

  • Organizations that make sense of data on philanthropic giving and where it is going;  
  • Research that analyzes “best practices” in an effort to learn if they are having the intended effect; and 
  • Critical friends that hold philanthropy accountable and promote transparency.

Supporting a Strong Nonprofit Sector includes

  • Organizations that provide publicly accessible nonprofit resources, including research on how policy affects nonprofits, training peers to be advocates for themselves and their communities or issue areas, and providing peer networks for learning alongside one another; and  
  • Support for professional growth for development and fundraising professionals. 

While MacArthur has been a long-time funder in India and Nigeria, grantmaking as part of our Philanthropy strategy is nascent. Our grantmaking seeks to strengthen the domestic, homegrown sector in both countries, investing in philanthropic infrastructure and learning with and from communities.

We are not accepting unsolicited proposals at this time. However, you are welcome to contact us to share new ideas and perspectives.

Measurement and Evaluation for Learning

Evaluation of our work is a critical tool for informing our decisionmaking, leading to better results and more effective stewardship of resources. We develop customized evaluation designs for each of our programs based on the context, problem, opportunity, and approach to the work. Evaluation is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing process of collecting feedback and using that information to support our grantees and adjust our strategy. Findings and analyses from evaluation activities are posted publicly as they become available.