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  • Brittany Erikson

Exceptional Pro-Bono Consulting Resources for Short-Staffed Foundations


It's no secret that we are a lean foundation in terms of staffing (check our team page). Like all organizations, we have a limited staff capacity, and with a team of just two people managing a large portfolio of grants, we are always on the lookout for operational efficiencies, which vary from reliance on peer funders for support and shared diligence documents to engaging pro-bono consulting support. This year, we engaged two graduate student consulting groups for issue-specific grant recommendations, and I wanted to post a shout-out for each of them because they did wonderful work for us.

Harvard's Philanthropic Advisory Fellowship (HPAF)

HPAF was created in an effort to help philanthropists achieve greater impact with their funds. They provide free advice and recommendations to philanthropists about how to be more effectively altruistic. RTNF engaged with a HPAF team this year because we wanted recommendations related specifically to our climate portfolio, a relatively new issue area for us.

Our HPAF team did a field-level analysis and provided us with fantastic recommendations as to what issues in the climate change mitigation space promised tractability, a great social ROI, impact, and that were not already crowded with funding. You can access their full report here.

The HPAF team was brilliant, attentive, and professional. Their work exceeded our expectations, and their recommendations will inform RTNF's future giving related to climate work.

Brigham Young University's Grantwell

Grantwell is a graduate student philanthropic consulting group housed at Brigham Young University. They assist large donors with grant allocation, strategy, and evaluation. As a former Senior Program Officer with Grantwell, this is actually where I cut teeth in the world of philanthropy and first connected with RTNF. Now on the foundation side, I still see Grantwell as an incredible resource to philanthropists.

This year, a Grantwell team provided RTNF with two grant recommendations in the space of disability services. Providing long-term, life-enhancing opportunities to people of varying special abilities is an issue area that is near and dear to RTNF. Our Grantwell team researched best practices for nonprofits in the space, then used our own due diligence process and priorities to vet several proposals and make recommendations.

Our Grantwell team did fantastic work, and we highly recommend them as a resource to foundations that have more interests than hours or want a fresh take on their work.


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