The Brindle Foundation in New Mexico is concerned with the well-being of children and youth, and funds in the areas of education, early childhood development, youth development and human services.  Brindle has assets of $14.2 million and annual giving of $579,000 (as of 2010). As the Board and staff of the foundation explored how to make the most difference with their limited grantmaking dollars, they heard the same thing again and again from leaders in their community: support our efforts to make a bigger impact.

As just one example, Brindle made a long-term investment in the state’s premier anti-poverty advocacy organization New Mexico Voices for Children. Brindle has supported their early education and care policy work, as well as Children in Focus, which seeks to increase federal resources for programs that promote child wellbeing. With this consistent support from Brindle and other grantmakers, NM Voices played a key role to dramatically expand access to the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and raise eligibility levels for child care subsidies, ensuring that 22,000 children and parents just above the poverty level would have decent, affordable health care and child care in New Mexico. The SCHIP expansion alone increased federal and state health care investments by $800 million over 5 years. These investments in turn generated tremendous business activity and jobs in New Mexico.

The story of the Brindle Foundation’s successful work in New Mexico is featured in a new report by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Results by Funding Policy and Community Engagement.  The paper summarizes three years of in-depth, on-the-ground research about the impacts of foundation-funded advocacy, community organizing and civic engagement. (See definitions of these terms.) This new report is based on NCRP’s series of seven regional reports, Strengthening Democracy, Increasing Opportunities, which collectively examined the advocacy activities of 110 nonprofits in 13 states. In each site, NCRP chose a diverse cross-section of nonprofits, both in terms of the communities they served and the issues they sought to address. (An online directory of the policy impacts resulting from the work of these nonprofits can be sorted by issue, beneficiary population and other categories.) NCRP collected extensive data from the groups, looking back over a five-year period of their activity. NCRP also interviewed dozens of foundation leaders to find out how they go about making advocacy grants.

Read the full article on advocacy and family giving by Lisa Ranghelli at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.