The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has had a long-standing commitment to increasing the effectiveness of grantmaking organizations, a commitment reflected in its Philanthropy Grantmaking Program. In 2015, the Foundation commissioned Harder+Company Community Research, in partnership with Edge Research, to conduct a field scan to inform its own strategies in this area as well as those of other organizations working to increase philanthropic effectiveness.
The Foundation was interested in learning more about how foundations find knowledge and how it informs their philanthropic practice. The scan focused on practice knowledge, which the research team defined as anything about the effective practice of philanthropy irrespective of the programmatic issues that are the goals of most grantmaking. The research team used a variety of methods to ensure that a wide range of perspectives are reflected in the field scan findings, including interviews with staff and board members from 75 foundations, an online survey of foundation professionals that had 738 respondents, four in-depth case studies, and a literature review. The field scan was exploratory and offers findings from foundation staff and board member perspectives.