Maximizing the Value of Philanthropic Efforts through Planned Partnerships between the U.S. Government and Private Foundations. B. RESEARCH QUESTIONS


This literature review provides a basis for understanding public and private philanthropic efforts, including decision-making and measurement approaches among, and interaction between, USG and foundations. The review will address three sets of research questions (detailed below), focusing primarily on the first set of questions.[2] The second set of questions, while addressed in the review, will be informed further by the case studies developed under later tasks. While the literature review will begin to address the third set of research questions, these will be explored more fully in the final report, drawing from an in-depth examination and cross-cutting analysis of the case studies.

  1. How do foundations and USG agencies identify needs, develop initiatives, and measure progress toward their goals?
    • How do public and private sector organizations set priorities among possible choices for beneficial work? How do their decision-making approaches differ?
    • What kinds of metrics are used to measure success against goals?
    • What innovative approaches to decision-making and outcome or impact measurement are being used?
    • What are the relative strengths and limitations of foundation and USG decision-making processes, funding mechanisms, and program approaches?
  2. What is the nature of existing USG-foundation interactions regarding international and domestic health and social service initiatives?
    • What types of current foreign and domestic philanthropic ventures include USG-foundation interactions? What types of interaction occur?
    • Under what circumstances do foundations or intermediary organizations (organizations that rely on both USG and foundation funding to coordinate and lead initiatives) tend to coordinate with USG efforts domestically and abroad?
    • When coordination occurs, how is it structured?
  3. What approaches to USG-foundation decision-making, results measurement, coordination, and collaboration have positive potential for future application?
    • What decision-making processes, funding mechanisms, and program approaches used by private foundations could USG philanthropists adapt, and vice versa?
    • What factors might affect the desire and ability of USG and foundation funders, as well as intermediaries, to target and address needs, and to coordinate their efforts in doing so?
    • How might foundations and USG combine efforts in developing, implementing, and evaluating initiatives to deploy their strengths most effectively?

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