Grantmaking

 
 
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The Flora Family Foundation makes grants in two categories -- individually sponsored grants and program-related grants.  Individually sponsored grants of $25,000 or more must be approved by the Board.  These are called Board Grants.  Individually sponsored grants under $25,000 are reviewed and approved by the Foundation president, pursuant to a delegation of authority from the Board.  These are called Council Grants.  All other grants of the Foundation are approved by the Board through the Foundation’s three program areas: the Gap Program, the Climate Protection Program, and the Marine Conservation Initiative. 

The Gap Program addresses the gulf in wealth between the world’s rich and poor.  The Gap Program supports community-based groups and nongovernmental organizations that seek to improve the lives of the poor in selected developing countries. 

The Climate Protection Program focuses primarily on ways to slow emissions of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.  The program is chiefly concerned with coal combustion and the reduction of short-lived climate pollutants such as methane and black carbon.

The Marine Conservation Initiative supports research and projects with global implications for ocean health.

The Foundation has no geographic or subject area constraints on grantmaking as long as the grant opportunities fit the philanthropic interests of the Family Council and meet IRS requirements.  By necessity, this open-ended approach requires that all of the Foundation's grantmaking must be done on a strictly invitational basis. We regret that we are unable to consider unsolicited requests for support.

In its grantmaking decisions as well as in its interests and activities, the Flora Family Foundation is wholly independent of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Hewlett-Packard Company, and the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation. 

 
 

Impact Investing

 
 
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The Flora Family Foundation has committed a substantial carve-out within its endowment to make investments that can both achieve market-like, risk-adjusted returns and advance the Foundation’s mission to address social and environmental problems.  The foundation’s impact investment portfolio includes allocation targets that parallel the asset allocations in the larger portfolio.  Holdings include investments in public equity, public fixed income, real assets, and private equity.  Investments touch domains including renewable energy, low-income housing, health care for the poor, community development, and financial services for small and medium enterprises. Funds are active both in the U.S. and across the world.  All of the foundation’s impact investments exclude holdings in fossil fuels, weapons manufacturing, and tobacco.  The foundation has established performance targets pegged to appropriate benchmarks.

The Foundation does not consider unsolicited inquiries from investment firms.

 
 

2018 Year in Review

 
 
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2018 Year in Review

At the beginning of every year, 60 percent of the foundation’s grants budget is made available to Family Council members in the form of individual allocations for grantmaking.  Each Family Council member receives the same allocation.  The remaining 40 percent of the grants budget is assigned to the foundation’s three program areas:  the Gap Program, the Climate Protection Program, and the Marine Conservation Initiative. It is common for Family Council members to commit some portion of their allocations to Gap, Climate, or Marine Conservation.  By the end of the year, this practice typically yields roughly an equal split between individually sponsored grants and program-related grants.  This was the case in 2018.  The balance between individual initiative and collective action is a distinctive feature of the Flora Family Foundation.  

In 2018 the Foundation awarded 122 grants.  Fifty-one percent of the grants budget took the form of awards sponsored by members of the Family Council, often in co-sponsorship with others.  Individual awards of $25,000 or more must be approved by the Board.  These are called Board Grants.  Grants under $25,000 are reviewed and approved by the foundation’s president, pursuant to a delegation of authority from the Board.   These are called Council Grants.   In addition to Board and Council grants, 49 percent of the 2018 grants budget was awarded through the Gap Program, Climate Protection Program, and Marine Conservation Initiative. 

2018 Distribution of Grant Dollars

Note: Values are percentages (%)

Grant Domains

In 2018, grants related to the environment constituted the largest share of the budget, with 35 percent of the grant dollars directed to work on environmental issues.  This included grants from the Climate Protection Program and the Marine Conservation Initiative. Another 10 percent of the budget went to organizations involved in food and agriculture, which also can relate to the environment. These results continue a trend over the past decade toward more and more interest in environmental issues.  By contrast, only 3 percent of all philanthropy nationwide is related to environmental issues.

Funding as a Percentage of Grants Budget

Note: Values are percentages (%)

General Operating Support

In 2018 nearly three-quarters of the foundation's grants budget was awarded in the form of general operating support. Nationwide, general support accounts for only 20 to 25 percent of foundation grantmaking, so FFF is distinctive in its practice of favoring unrestricted grants.  General support is prized by nonprofit organizations because it allows for flexibility and the payment of expenses not covered by earmarked grants. Even when FFF awards project-specific grants, a 20 percent allocation is made available for overhead. 

Grant Types as a Percentage of Grants Budget

Note: Values are percentages (%)

The percentage of the grants budget awarded by FFF as general support has risen steadily over time. 

General Support Grants as a Percentage of Grants Budget

Note: Values are percentages (%)

Multiyear Grants

In addition to the provision of general support, another “best practice” among foundations is the provision of multiyear grants. Grants of two or three years’ duration give assurance to nonprofit organizations that they will have working capital going forward. This is especially helpful when it comes to hiring staff. Too often, nonprofits are unable to provide assurance to potential hires that they can offer salaries beyond one year, and this can reduce the pool of qualified candidates. FFF's percentage of multiyear grants was notably higher in 2018 than 2017. at 30% versus 22% and Family Council members are considering more candidates for multiyear commitments. 

Number of Multi-year Grants as a Percentage of the Total Number of Grants Made

Note: Values are percentages (%)

Grant Renewals

FFF’s strong preponderance of one-year grants is counterbalanced by a propensity to renew grants. In 2018, 80 percent of grants awarded from the previous year were renewed.  This high rate of renewal sends a signal of dependability to grantees, but it also raises a question about whether the foundation is adequately assessing the performance of grantees and actively investigating new opportunities for grants.  This is a subject of ongoing examination.

Renewal Rate

Note: Values are number of grants

Types of Grantees

FFF supports nonprofit organizations at all stages of development -- start-ups, mid-range organizations and mature enterprises -- but it is notable that 20 percent of the grants in 2018 went to organizations with budgets under $500,000.  The foundation has the ability to identify early-stage organizations and provide infusions of flexible support that can help catalyze growth.
 

Organizational Budgets of Grantees Supported in 2018

Note: Values are the number of grantees

International Grantmaking

Finally, FFF is distinctive for its international orientation. In 2018, 60 percent of the grants budget was directed to work in countries outside of the US or with a worldwide reach. Nationally, only 6 percent of all US philanthropy (including individual giving) is directed to international affairs.

International Grantees as a Percentage of FFF Grants Budget

Note: Values are percentages (%)

All in all, FFF continues on a steady course, with active involvement from Family Council members on issues of great significance both at home and abroad.

 
 

Recent Grants

2019 to date

 
 
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Board Grants

Abraham Path Initiative
Maplewood, NJ
General support, $50,000 over two years

Brown University, Middle East Studies
Providence, RI
Support for a chaired professorship in Persian and Iranian studies, $350,000 over three years

Innovations for Poverty Action
New Haven, CT
General support, $50,000 over two years

Internews Network, Earth Journalism Network
Arcata, CA
General support, $25,000 over two years

Land Institute
Salina, KS
General support, $100,000 over two years

Oregon Public Broadcasting
Portland, OR
Support of staffing for a rural reporting desk, $40,000 over one year

Puente de la Costa Sur
Pescadero, CA
General support, $30,000 over three years

Refugees International
Washington, DC
General support, $25,000 over one year

San Francisco Ballet
San Francisco, CA
Support for the Dance in Schools and Communities program and the Community Scholarship program, $50,000 over one year

Council Grants

Brighter Beginnings
Pleasant Hill, CA
Support of the Richmond Center, $20,000 over two years

Building Peaceful Bridges
Glenview, IL
General support, $5,000

Catalyst Cooperative
Boulder, CO
(
Paid through Boulder Housing Coalition)
Support of the Public Utility Data Liberation project, $5,000

Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, Inc.
Cusco, Peru
(Paid through Andean Textile Arts)
General support, $20,000 over two years

National Center for Family Philanthropy
Washington, DC
General support, $5,000

Youth Community Service
Palo Alto, CA
General support, $10,000

Climate Protection Program

Air Quality Asia, a project of Sustainable World
New York, NY
General support, $50,000

Carbon Cycle Institute
Petaluma, CA
General support, $137,500 over two years

City Forest Credits
Seattle, WA
General support, $150,000 over two years

Clean Air Task Force
Boston, MA
Support of the Pan-American Oil and Gas Network, $74,500 

Climate and Health Research Network
Bowdoinham, ME
Support of the methane abatement in the Caspian Sea region project, $200,000 over two years

Energy Peace Partners
Oakland, CA
(Paid through CalCEF Innovations)
General support, $75,000 

European Climate Foundation
The Hague, Netherlands
(Paid through the Tides Foundation)
Support of the Pooled Fund for International Energy, $205,000 over two years

Growald Family Fund
Brookline, MA
(Paid through the Tides Foundation)
Support of coal-to-clean diplomacy work, $35,000 

Market Forces
Collingwood, Victoria Australia
(Paid through the Tides Foundation)
General support, $150,000 over two years

Rockefeller Family Fund
New York, NY
Support for the Rural Electric Co-op Funder Engagement project, $20,000

Rocky Mountain Institute
Boulder, CO
Support of the coal finance and coal diplomacy program, $50,000

Rural Investment to Protect our Environment (RIPE) Roadmap
(
Paid through Multiplier)
General support, $50,000

Sunrise Movement Education Fund
Washington, DC
General support, $100,000

We Own It
Madison, WI
General support, $110,000 

 

 

PAST GRANTS

2018 and 2017

 

 
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