S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation

Legacy collection

In December 2020, the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation concluded operations. Founded in 1957, the Foundation was committed to building a productive, vibrant, and sustainable California. In 2009, the Foundation decided to invest all of its assets, or spend down, by 2020 in order to spur significant progress on the challenging issues facing the state in education and environment. This collection features knowledge produced by the Foundation and its partners during its final decade of work. Read concluding reflections from the Foundation's president and learn more about its grantmaking.

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Rehearsing the Future: An Introduction to Developing and Using Scenarios

December 14, 2020

Scenarios are stories about different future environments in which today's decisions might play out. We cannot predict the future. However, by thinking creatively and rigorously about a range of scenarios, we can rehearse future possibilities and prepare for what might be next.In the summer of 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic raged, job losses mounted, and the movement for racial justice grew across the U.S., one thing was clear: nonprofit leaders were trying to figure out how to manage in such a volatile, highly uncertain, and complex environment. The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation had long been committed to helping nonprofits cultivate resilience and grow the related capacities for responding and adapting to significant change and uncertainty. Scenario thinking was a natural fit for this moment. In the second half of 2020, the Foundation offered a training program, Rehearsing the Future, to four cohorts of grantees, partners, and staff. Through a series of virtual working sessions participants were introduced to the discipline of scenario thinking and the core steps of the scenario-creation process. 

Organizational Resiliency

Resiliency Guide, Version 5.0

December 9, 2020

Nonprofits that are intentional about cultivating organizational resilience are better at anticipating and adapting to the disruption, uncertainty, and significant change that are a constant in our world. There is no one recipe for resilience. Context matters -- a lot. And, adapting to disruption and uncertainty will never be a linear journey. Resilience is a way of being, not an endpoint. This is a reality many nonprofits know well. However, it's less readily acknowledged by funders and, even less, a topic for open discussion among funders and their grantees.The Resiliency Guide is designed to help funders and nonprofits engage in candid dialogue about the complex, turbulent environments nonprofits operate in, and to reflect on organizational strengths as well as areas that may benefit from attention. As a tool for grantmakers, it can help deepen thinking about where, when, and how to invest in capacity building.

Organizational Resiliency

So You Want to Hire an Equity Consultant: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations

December 7, 2020

This content was originally published as a Woke@Work blog series designed to help nonprofit and philanthropic organizations engage consultants to build a Race Equity Culture. Building a Race Equity Culture is a years-long process of intentional, focused work that is deeply challenging and nuanced, both in theory ("making the case" for it) and execution (the "how" of doing it) for organizations. It is work on which organizations will need to maintain the sustained, intentional focus traditionally dedicated to strategy and mission. The support of expert facilitators and consultants is a critical element of doing the work in a manner that yields meaningful, measurable and sustainable transformational change.

Working with Consultants

Working with Consultants: Frequently Asked Questions

October 30, 2020

Nonprofits and grantmakers engage consultants for a variety of needs. Here are responses to commonly asked questions that can help you, and your consultant, get the most from each interaction. This tool is part of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation's "Working with Consultants" series. The series features a guide for helping organizations take steps to find, hire, and partner with a consultant. It includes Foundation-generated essays on working with consultants who specialize in strategic planning, communications, evaluation, and fundraising, as well as a resource developed by Equity in the Center on partnering with equity consultants.

Working with Consultants

Writing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ)

October 30, 2020

Realizing the full value of consulting services requires a careful approach to selecting, contracting, and partnering with consultants. One of the most critical steps in the process is finding a good "fit" – an individual or firm that is capable of completing the work effectively, and whose values and approach are well aligned with those of your team. There are many ways to identify potential consultants. It is not always necessary to require written applications from consultants. However, in situations where written applications would be useful, issuing an RFQ (Request for Qualifications) is a good practice that can help you narrow the field. This guide to writing an RFQ can help you get started. This tool is part of the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation's "Working with Consultants" series. The series features a guide for helping organizations take steps to find, hire, and partner with a consultant. It includes Foundation-generated essays on working with consultants who specialize in strategic planning, communications, evaluation, and fundraising, as well as a resource developed by Equity in the Center on partnering with equity consultants.

Working with Consultants

Steps for Success: Engaging a Consultant

October 30, 2020

Consultants support the effectiveness of nonprofit agencies and grantmakers in many ways. For example, you might turn to a consultant to bring expertise on a specialized topic, to help you understand and address a major challenge, or to facilitate alignment within a group. But no single consultant can do everything, client organizations often have a lot at stake when they engage an outside service provider, and the inherent power dynamic between consultant and client needs to be managed well to develop a productive partnership. How do you find and collaborate with a consultant effectively to reach your goals? This tool features nine steps that can help your organization build strong relationships with consultants, adding value through a sound investment of your time and money. It is accompanied by links to other resources that can inform your work with consultants.

Working with Consultants

Guiding Principles for Equitable Engagement in Coordinated Planning

September 1, 2020

Five foundations from across the state, known as the Community Foundation Water Initiative, have been working since 2015 to advance sustainable water management solutions. The Initiative partnered with Local Government Commission to develop a report on the Equitable Integration of Water and Land Use which was released in 2019. Shortly following the report, each foundation selected one nonprofit in their region to advance the report's regional recommendations and statewide strategies while building local capacity for coordination. This cohort of five NGOs collaborated for an entire year, culminating their work in this guide.

Land; Water

Multiple Reflections: Comparison of Frameworks for Promoting Youth Learning and Healthy Development

August 1, 2020

Every year researchers and experts on youth learning and development issue reports with new concepts and frameworks. They are developed to guide the design and implementation of community initiatives, schools and youth programs. The purpose of this paper is to compare recent frameworks and note their commonalities. This paper offers a summary or overview of many of these frameworks as well as resources to learn more. It also provides a crosswalk chart to learn where their critical features overlap. 


California Environmental Flows Framework Technical Report

June 1, 2020

The California Environmental Flows Framework (CEFF) provides technical guidance for managers to employ a functional flows approach to efficiently develop scientifically defensible environmental flow recommendations statewide.  The CEFF guidance document is now available here for public comment through December 18, 2020.


How to Write and Pass a Bill in Congress: A Primer on Bipartisan Negotiations

July 25, 2019

In recent years, the number of laws passed by Congress has decreased, while partisan rhetoric and rancor have increased. Yet the American people expect their representatives to address their most pressing needs. This policy brief, developed by Results for America and the Marian B. and Jacob K. Javits Foundation, outlines key ways that Congressional staff can help break the partisan logjam, engage in productive negotiations, and write and pass laws that tackle the biggest challenges facing our nation. The brief lays out both the what - practical steps for drafting legislation - and the how - productively working with the other party.

Special Grantmaking

Partnership Impact Evaluation Guide

January 1, 2019

Understanding, measuring, and communicating a partnership's "value added" or "impact" is important to successfully optimize collaboration, yet evaluating partnership impact has often been difficult for landscape-scale partnerships and the partnership field in general. This guide is designed to help multi-sector partnerships undertaking long-term, systems-level collaboration to best define, measure, and evaluate impact. The 7 Steps of Partnership Impact Evaluation is presented as a framework to assist these partnerships with the recurring process of conducting impact evaluations. Partnerships are encouraged to use this guide in conjunction with the other elements of the Partnership Impact Model™: the 11 Partnership Impacts, Scaling Up Partnership Impact, and the Partnership Impact Roadmap.


Hiring an External Evaluator

October 1, 2018

Done well, evaluation is an authentic learning process that supports nonprofits, foundations, and their partners to make better decisions as they work to solve a range of complex problems. Most nonprofits and foundations engage in some form of evaluation, but few have dedicated evaluation staff. As a result, external evaluators play an important role in the sector. Responsibility for hiring them often falls to executives and program staff.Finding an evaluator may feel like a daunting task if you don't have a research or evaluation background. This essay seeks to help you put the hard-earned experience of others to use through a set of practical steps, prompts, and tips for matching the right evaluator to your need.

Evaluation Practice; Working with Consultants

About this collection:   Presidents reflections | Intellectual property