Key Points

The Blandin Foundation, located in Grand Rapids, Minn., is one of the few foundations focused on rural communities.

The foundation’s trustees commissioned the senior leadership team in 2007 to undertake serious, sustained, and annual assessments of the foundation’s work and impact. The first assessments focused on the ways in which they were delivering on the strategic plan, observations about impact, and potential adjustments.

After focusing on strategies, foundation leadership asked themselves what their theory of change was. This question led to a deeper process of exploring why and how they do their work, eventually leading them to a theory of philanthropy that makes many of their assumptions explicit.

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Support for this open access article is provided by the Blandin Foundation.