Fall 2008 Newsletter

Grantmaker Spotlight

Foundations Eliminate the Tax Letter Requirement

"It was so easy," says Dee Slater, The Dekko Foundation's grants manager. "All we had to do was ask."

Back in February of this year, Slater decided to urge her foundation's auditors to support her recommendation to drop the requirement that grantees submit an Internal Revenue Service Tax Determination Letter as part of its grant proposal process.

"The IRS has informally noted that the letter is a dated document and cannot be relied upon," Slater wrote in a letter to the auditors. "To my mind, this is an issue that should be put to bed. We should no longer be asking for IRS letters except in rare circumstances."

Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose

A Nonprofit Executive Responds to
Project Streamline's Recommendations

Soon after Karen Goldman, the director of foundation relations and donor communications at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (the non-lobbying branch of the ACLU), read Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose, she sent a memo about the report to ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, offering a sober and insightful assessment of Project Streamline's core recommendations. Her take—which draws from her experience with foundations over the course of her career but doesn't, she points out, necessarily reflect the views of the ACLU—adds a seasoned voice to a growing conversation about improving philanthropy's system of grant application and reporting.

Hal Williams

Streamlining for Effectiveness, not just Efficiency

by Hal Williams, Senior Fellow of The Rensselaerville Institute.

"Drowning in Paperwork, Distracted from Purpose" is indeed a huge problem for foundations and non-profits alike. But the solution may not be as obvious as the issue. Is it enough to just reduce the length of the grant application? That question misses the point that the best way to reduce the length may be to sharpen the point.

Richard Toth and Sara Engelhardt

Project Streamline: The Big Picture

To provide some perspective on Project Streamline, we interviewed two philanthropy leaders who were instrumental in its creation. Richard Toth is Director of the Office of Proposal Management at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Chair of Project Streamline. Sara Engelhardt is the former President of the Foundation Center. Their answers shine a light on Project Streamline's significance and also how their complementary perspectives have shaped the project's goals.

Project Streamline: The Next Phase

Project Streamline: The Next Phase

COMMUNICATIONS

This inaugural issue of the Project Streamline newsletter coincides with significant updates to the Project Streamline website, positioning us to capture and communicate streamlining ideas and developments to the field on a regular basis.

CONVERSATIONS