Operating Principles

We define ourselves as investors and are interested in creating the highest possible levels of human gain for the grant dollars we have available. In that mode, we review proposals with the following questions in mind:

  • What are the results from the project—meaning outcomes for participants—that provide the return on our investment?
  • What are the chances those results will be achieved?
  • Is this the best use of our money, given all alternatives before us?

To carry out our mission and achieve human gain, we make three types of investments:

  1. Investments in Direct Service
    In this area we support programs and projects that create human gain for people in our areas of focus. Historically, most of the grants in our portfolio have fallen into this category.
  2. Investments in Capacity Building
    At times we believe that making an investment in an organization so that it can achieve and sustain stronger gains for those served is the best investment we can make. In general, these investments are reserved for organizations with which we are already working.
  3. Investments in Systems Change
    At times we believe that the most pressing need is to make an improvement in the larger context of factors and forces that affect programs and organizations. The Foundation will allocate limited grant dollars to strategic policy, advocacy, and applied research initiatives that advance the Foundation's grantmaking priorities.

In addition, the Altman Foundation:

  • Promotes connections among nonprofits, government agencies, and foundations, and other organizations doing complementary work in order to advance best practices and build knowledge within a given field; 
  • Seeks to leverage its limited resources by investing in issues, programs, or initiatives that have the potential to attract other funding sources, both public and private; and 
  • Initiates a limited number of program-related investments that provide low-cost loans to high-performing nonprofits with strong business models and the capacity to leverage other capital sources to advance effective programs or initiatives.