Background

Created in 1913 under the will of Benjamin Altman (see History for further information), the Altman Foundation has been active in New York City for a long time. With over one hundred years of tradition behind us, keeping our founder as our touchstone while also responding to emerging needs and issues, we strive to:

  • Take chances on promising ideas without being too prescriptive;
  • Stay the course with an issue and with high-performing grantees; and
  • Learn alongside our grantees to drive improvement in practice.

The Results-Based Approach

At the Altman Foundation we think of ourselves not only as distributors of resources (“grantmakers”) but also as “investors” in human gain for the individuals, families, and communities we serve. As investors, we ask ourselves three basic questions:

  • What do we want to buy? In other words, what are the results that we want to pay for with our grant dollars?
  • What are the chances that the nonprofits applying to us will achieve these results, and would these results have been achieved without the work for which our funds are requested?
  • Given all the opportunities in front of us, is this the best possible use of our money?

Our interest in “results” rather than “activities” is reflected in our guidelines, our applications and due diligence, our reporting forms, and our post-grant analysis. We ask organizations seeking our support:

  • How do you define success—meaning what are the results you hope to achieve for the people you serve?
  • How do you know for certain when success has been achieved?
  • What information are you gathering along the way that will tell you whether you are on track or that will allow you to make course corrections as needed?

In Practice

In implementing this approach, our goal is to gather information on our grantees’ success in achieving the results we seek in a consistent way that will allow us to:

  • Assess the performance of our portfolio and make informed decisions about the allocation of our resources; and
  • Look more easily across individual grants and program areas and identify the common barriers that keep organizations from achieving their desired results, so that we can determine if our resources can help address these shared challenges.

The overall goal is to maximize the benefit that the people and communities we serve derive from our grant dollars. As you look through our website, we hope that you will recognize organizations and programs that are applying this approach in their work. Thank you for your interest in the Altman Foundation.