Leveraging Philanthropy and Collaboration

The Lodestar Foundation seeks to expand the overall capacity of the social sector by promoting philanthropy, volunteering, public service, nonprofit collaboration and other business practices.

Exceptional Grants


While we are proud of all of our grants, there are a few that we consider exceptional for one of two reasons.  

First, we want to spotlight our “FIRSTS” – those grants where we were either the first funder to step up to support the project or we initiated the project ourselves. These grants are our Pioneering Grants.

Second, we want to highlight grants that have resulted in exceptional impact. These grants are our Exceptional Project Grants. 

Before describing these grants, however, we want to mention what we consider to be our greatest achievement, one that doesn’t fit neatly into one of the two above-referenced categories – our groundbreaking work in facilitating a movement to promote permanent nonprofit collaboration as a critically important capacity-building tool for the sector. When we established Lodestar’s founding strategy of supporting nonprofits seeking to explore or implement permanent collaborations, we were the only foundation in the country employing this strategy. Today, almost 21 years later and after forming a national partnership with SeaChange Capital Partners and subsequent partnerships with like-minded funders around the country, Lodestar is part of a network of more than 60 funders in seven cities around the country providing resources to nonprofits to facilitate permanent collaborations. Through leverage, project initiation, public speaking, and scholarship, we are building a field of practice that has the capacity to transform the way nonprofits build sustainability and impact. 

Highlighted below are our exceptional grants.


Giving Tuesday

In 2012, Lodestar was the first foundation to make a grant to support a new initiative, started by Henry Timms at the 92nd St Y, to designate the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as day of giving, analogous to the shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Little did we know the impact that that our $50,000 grant in 2012, followed by a $100,000 grant in 2013, would have on the phenomenon known as Giving Tuesday. In 2018, Giving Tuesday operated in more than 60 countries and raised in excess of $400 million. In addition to raising funds, Giving Tuesday has launched a global data collaborative to analyze giving date and disseminate findings to increase giving worldwide. In 2019, Giving Tuesday became an independent 501(c)(3) with an operating budget of about $4 million.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace

The Alliance for Middle East Peace (“ALLMEP”) is a coalition of more than 90 organizations that promote people-to-people coexistence between Arabs and Jews, Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. ALLMEP works to raise awareness about the work of the member organizations as well as to cultivate new and expanded resources to support the overall “grassroots” peace movement; importantly, it also advocates for the interests of ALLMEP members before US agencies, Congress, foreign governments and foundations. Recognizing the potential impact that ALLMEP’s umbrella organization could have, Lodestar has provided a series of grants starting in 2008,, first to formalize and professionalize ALLMEP and then to help develop a sustainable infrastructure to secure its future. Lodestar’s investment of about $500,000 has leveraged more than $132 million in grants from Congress and others to improve grassroots Israeli-Palestinian relations and establish long-term conditions for peace.

Human Services Campus

Homeless individuals in the Phoenix metro area were required to travel in different directions using public transportation to receive the various services necessary to help them re-enter mainstream society. As a result, many either never sought the services or only received partial and insufficient care. Lodestar provided the lead private sector grant of more than $3 million for the Human Services Campus, which led to a $26,000,000 public/private collaboration to co-locate the area’s major homeless-serving agencies onto one campus. The heart of the campus is a jointly-administered assessment facility, the Lodestar Day Resource Center, where clients can coordinate access to a dozen agencies providing critical services such as health and dental care, employment, substance abuse treatment, food, shelter, clothes, and even court proceedings. The campus has exceeded all expectations, in terms of usage by the homeless, effectiveness in the delivery of services and cost-savings. The Campus has become a national model for other communities throughout the nation.

Global Forum for Media Development

In 2008, Lodestar provided seed funding in the amount of $150,000 to support the first convening of international independent media support organizations, the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD). That seed funding led to additional grants of $1.5 million to support the initial convening. Since then, the GFMD network has grown to an active membership of around 200 organizations, and thrives as a permanent ongoing collaborative organization focused on strengthening journalism and free, independent, sustainable and pluralistic news ecosystems supporting democratic values.

Cancer Support Community Arizona, formerly known as The Wellness Community

Beginning in 2000, Lodestar has made a series of grants totaling more than $700,000 to initiate and support the growth of The Wellness Community in Phoenix (now known as Cancer Support Community Arizona), a place where cancer patients and their families can learn about cancer, be empowered to make decisions about treatment options, and receive targeted therapeutic and emotional support, all at no cost whatsoever. As of 2019, the organization has served more than 200,000 individuals. On a related note, Lodestar supported the merger between the two national networks providing no-charge cancer support services (The Wellness Community and Gilda’s Clubs) that resulted in the formation of the national Cancer Support Communities network. 

The Lodestar Dispute Resolution Center 

Believing that the widespread and ever-growing use of litigation has fostered a breakdown of civility in our business and personal lives, Lodestar has invested more than $2million in alternative dispute resolution activities at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University (ASU). The Center encompasses training of both lawyers and non-lawyers in various forms of dispute resolution, performing scholarly research in the field, and providing mediation services in various forums. Notable among the accolades received by the Center are the two Dispute Resolution Education Awards bestowed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (the inaugural award in 2005 and a subsequent honor in 2019) for its development of innovative curriculum, research and service in the area of alternative dispute resolution.  The Center additionally received recognition for work with Amnesty International, the Master of Legal Studies in Conflict Resolution, and other efforts to work with non-lawyers.  Program students have won the ABA National Representation in Mediation Competition twice (in 2006 and in 2012), the first time that a school has done so -- and the first time that the winning coach was a former national champion competitor.  

Social Venture Partners Arizona/Social Venture Partners International

The increase in wealth of young professionals and baby boomers has provided a fertile environment for encouraging philanthropy in new ways. In 1999, Lodestar founded Social Venture Partners Arizona (”SVPAZ”) patterned on an innovative Seattle-based organization (Social Venture Partners)  that had created a philanthropic giving circle with the dual mission of teaching strategic philanthropy and providing resources (both financial and hands-on) to emerging nonprofits. Little did we know that by being the “first follower,” we were initiating what has become an international network of SVP organizations, Social Venture Partners International (“SVPI”) that now includes more than 40 SVP affiliates in the US and 7 additional countries. SVPI was formed to brand, support, expand and enhance the work of the individual Social Venture Partner groups around the world. Our grants over the years to both SVPAZ and SVPI, have totaled more than $1 million; the value of philanthropic contributions across the network is in excess of $70 million. 

Nonprofit Collaboration Database 

Lodestar initiated a project called The Collaboration Prize in 2009 (with two subsequent iterations in 2011 and 2017) as a way to collect models of nonprofit collaboration to inform and inspire the sector to think about permanent collaboration as a smart capacity-building tool. The project netted more than 650 descriptions of successful collaborations. We then created a database, the Nonprofit Collaboration Database, a broad-based database searchable by a wide variety of categories and characteristics, and partnered with the Foundation Center (now Candid) to house the database within Candid’s Collaboration Hub, a portal that contains case studies, podcasts, videos, and resources on collaborations, mergers, and joint programming. The Nonprofit Collaboration Database is the primary repository of models of permanent collaboration for the sector.  We invested more than $2 million in the project.

Free Expression Legal Network

In response to increased threats to journalists and despite prior unsuccessful attempts to encourage the parties to collaborate, Lodestar, in 2017, initialed a convening of all law school clinics and nonprofits that provide pro bono legal support for public interest journalism. We also underwrote the cost of a consultant with specific nonprofit collaboration expertise to facilitate that convening and a subsequent convening several months later. In 2019, the Free Expression Legal Network (“FELN”) was launched, comprised of 22 law school clinics and more than 20 law professors who are joining together to promote collaboration and to better address challenges facing free expression and transparency. 


The ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation

Building on an initial investment by the Kellogg Foundation, Lodestar’s grant of $5 million has served to further enhance the Center’s extensive offerings in nonprofit education and professional development and to advance understanding in effective philanthropic practice. Through research, education, technical assistance and convenings, the Center has become a global leader in advancing understanding of, and solutions to, social problems to realize a community’s highest aspirations and to accelerate social impact.

Merger between Foundation Center and Guidestar

In 2012, Lodestar made a $96,000 grant to fund a consultant to explore the viability of a merger between Foundation Center and Guidestar. The resulting recommendation was to combine some technical operational functions but not to merge, although the seed was planted for the two nonprofits to work together. In 2018, we made a $60,000 grant to support due diligence investigation for a full merger of the two organizations. Our grants helped lay the groundwork for their merger – now known as Candid – for which more than $27 million has been raised to capitalize the new entity.

Merger between UN Foundation and UN Association of the USA

The UN Association of the USA (“UN-USA”) was established in the early 1940’s to garner support among Americans for the establishment and support of the UN and was led over the years by many prominent citizens, including Eleanor Roosevelt. The UN Foundation was created in 1998 by Ted Turner to support the UN’s mission to strengthen the bonds of international cooperation around shared interests and values. In 2010, a Lodestar grant of $75,000 facilitated the merger of the two organizations, through which UN-USA became a integrated as a division of the UN Foundation, greatly expanding the base of US support for the UN.