Copyright 2005
Girl's Best Friend Foundation

Girl's Best Friend Foundation (GBF) closed November 2007. 
GBF’s records are archived with Special Collections of the University
of Illinois, Chicago.  In fall 2008, they will be made public:

What Makes Our Foundation Strong

We practice what we preach: learn, practice, reflect, adapt, and ‘round again. The arc of our organization’s development is not mysterious or unique, so any foundation can use these practices to move itself along.

Snapshot, 1994:

GBF is a brand-new foundation, trying out a model of hybrid family and community philanthropy, and a hands-on Board approach. Our style is exuberant, ambitious, risk-taking, and unbound by conventions of giving.

Our work in the emerging field of girls' human rights includes:

  • expansive grantmaking, small grants, and an exclusive focus on girls-only programming.
  • a goal to support social change work that has community impactand also changes the lives of groups of girls -- but so far there's little local girls' activism.
  • 10-percent add-ons to our grants, recognizing that evaluation takes resources.
  • thinking about girls’ grantmaking, girls on our Board, statewide research that includes girls, since we want to be informed by girls.
  • planning to commission a review of grantee findings biannually.

Snapshot, early 2006:

As a mature grantmaker, GBF confidently relies on our tested governance and staff model. Our style is more disciplined yet still ambitious, and we’ve drawn from and informed others’ giving practices. We still take smart risks to help drive our mission forward. We see and hear about the impact of our money and work in a field that’s grown and become stronger.

We are:

  • making more focused, layered, and larger grants.
  • funding a statewide advocacy campaign, a girls’ coalition, aincreasing amount of youth community activism, and research and development for a new youth organizing school with a gender lens.
  • funding a mix of gender-conscious programs and organizations.
  • continuing the 10 percent evaluation add-on
  • training and coaching grantees with our youth worker-friendly evaluation and fundraising programs .
  • employing an array of nonfinancial approaches to build grantee capacity and impact.
  • hosting a young women’s grantmaking and social change program.
  • using research we commissioned to illuminate best practices of girls’ programs and suggest how they can be strengthened.
  • beginning a large-scale organizational evaluation.
  • planning GBF’s close at the end of 2007.

Seven Best Practices For Funders

The Three Guineas Fund’s great report, Improving Philanthropy for Girls’ Programs, includes best practices to look for when considering funding requests:

  • Homegrown programming that caters to the specific needs of girls served
  • Holistic approaches that serve the whole girl
  • Collaborations to build a full spectrum of supports
  • Strong personal relationships between staff and girls
  • Long-term programs
  • Quality over quantity
  • Provide a girls-only space

Read more

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