From the Boston Bar Journal: Grantmaking in a Down Economy: Thoughts from the Boston Bar Foundation

Monday, January 9, 2012

By Elizabeth A. Ritvo and Joel B. Sherman

Which nonprofit legal services organizations have the greatest impact on the communities they serve? Which address unmet or emerging needs? Which develop innovative programs? Which deliver legal services efficiently and effectively? The Boston Bar Foundation (“BBF”) and its Grants Committee weigh the answers to these critical questions when deciding which programs to fund during a particular grant cycle.

Following the economic downturn of 2008, the BBF, like many grantmakers, has struggled with the challenges created by the growing need for legal services at a time of shrinking funding revenues. Established in 1957 to promote justice by funding and promoting innovation in legal services, enhancing access to justice for the underserved, and supporting the bar’s public interest activities, the BBF primarily supports its grants with IOLTA funds and reserves, certain restricted gifts, and a portion of the net proceeds from the Adams Benefit, the BBF’s annual fundraising event.

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