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Amanda Holm is Nonprofit Effectiveness Manager at The Boston Foundation, which is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the United States. The foundation and its donors make grants to nonprofits of more than $100 million each year. TBF is also one of the most innovative community foundations, with a longstanding priority on research and public policy. In this interview, Amanda describes TBF’s commitment to data and innovation, emerging nonprofit risks, and changes in the nonprofit sector.

Amanda can be found on the web here, at TBF.

About TBF’s Data Collection

What is a donor circle? [3:08]

Am I right in asserting that The Boston Foundation has worked hard to develop a culture of data-based decision-making in philanthropy? [4:04]

What are some of the hallmarks of that culture? [5:32]

Is this something about humility? [7:21]

How does data influence day to day operations? [8:57]

What’s the Giving Common? [Here’s a link to Donor Edge, from Guidestar] [9:58]


Do you face resistance from nonprofits who really don’t want to be very transparent about what’s going on within their organizations? [13:17]

How long has Giving Common been active? [15:41]

How would a nonprofit start using the Giving Common? [16:35]

What are some trends you are seeing in the data you’re collecting? [17:53]

Am I right that TBF uses both active and passive data collection – surveying, and also providing a platform for nonprofits to provide data to donors? Are you involved in both aspects of that data gathering?

I’m always interested when I get a chance to speak with great organizations about where they want to lead others. What data are you not collecting now that you would like to be collecting in the future? [21:32]

Where are you on the path of gathering data about equity and inclusion? [24:08]


About Nonprofit Risk

As you know, I like to emphasize risk management and process improvement in the nonprofit sector. Has there been much discussion in Boston about nonprofit risk management over the past couple of years? [25:13]

How do nonprofits account for dynamic risks? [28:20]

What you see as the significant risks facing TBF’s grantees? [30:00]

There’s power in exposing vulnerability, isn’t there? [32:55]

Are funders a part of the problem of nonprofit risk? [33:50]


About the Emerging Nonprofit Sector

You have served as an adjunct professor at Boston University, teaching courses on nonprofit financial management and the modern nonprofit sector. I wanted to ask about those. First, what’s the toughest thing for students to master with respect to nonprofit financial management? [35:00]

When you teach The Modern Nonprofit Sector, how do you distinguish the modern sector from its historical counterpart? What are the big differences now? [39:32]

How do you see those trends extending (or changing) over the next decade? [42:00]