Refreshing our strategy to combat digital disinformation

Two years ago, the Hewlett Foundation’s U.S. Democracy Program (then, the Madison Initiative) launched a grantmaking strategy to combat digital disinformation. The premise was that disinformation posed a unique challenge to U.S. democracy, and we should move quickly to learn more about the impact of this problem and to assess solutions to counter it. Because…

The Listening Post: New ideas in effective philanthropy

The Listening Post is a monthly email by Hewlett Foundation Vice President Fay Twersky dedicated to lifting up exceptional ideas, voices, and questions that can help all of us become more effective in our philanthropy. In each issue, Fay weighs in on a new topic, curates the latest sector resources and news, and shares what…

Building bipartisan relationships in Congress

The importance of human connection has come into abrupt focus with the coronavirus pandemic’s stay-at-home orders over the last month. People are finding ways to overcome their physical isolation — singing together from their balconies, participating in video calls with extended family, and checking in on their neighbors. Members of Congress are no exception. Congress…

Building capacity for diversity, equity and inclusion: Lessons from two years of organizational effectiveness grants

How can nonprofits build stronger muscles around diversity, equity and inclusion? This is a challenging question that many peer funders and the nonprofits that we support are currently grappling with. While there are no easy answers, a new assessment following two years of capacity-building grants offers some lessons. First, a bit of background: Since 2004,…

Watching over the bright lines of democracy

What are the key elements of democracy in the United States? How are they faring under the current strain? These are big, difficult, and alas all too relevant questions. The Bright Line Watch project monitors perceptions of a core set of democratic principles or “bright lines” and now has three years of data to illuminate…

A New Look at Impact Evaluation Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa

Impact evaluation and other forms of research that have the potential to inform policy decisions are becoming more prominent in sub-Saharan Africa. And while researchers working in their own countries bring contextual knowledge, relationships, and sustained attention that help ensure results are used in policy decisions, many research teams funded by donors do not include 

How foundations listen to the people they seek to serve: A field scan

As part of an effort to elevate beneficiary voice in our philanthropic practice, the Hewlett Foundation commissioned a field scan, conducted by Valerie Threlfall and Rebecca Klein of Ekouté Nonprofit Consulting, to examine how other funders are trying to systematically gather and use feedback from the people their grants are intended to benefit. In this…

Ask citizens what they want, and other lessons from I Am Aware’s Ghana program

In Ghana, the Center for Democratic Development’s I Am Aware program provides information to citizens about the quality of health, education, water and sanitation, roads, security and governance in 216 districts. We’re privileged to support the program with a grant from our Transparency, Participation, and Accountability strategy that focuses on service-delivery monitoring, and recently had…

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