How We Work

About Our Grantmaking

The Nicholson Foundation is committed to helping New Jersey's vulnerable populations. Since our founding, our goal of transforming the way health and early childhood services are paid for and delivered drove our search for strong partners and promising new ideas. As a spend-down foundation, The Nicholson Foundation has announced that it will be closing at the end of 2021, having brought transformational change to New Jersey.

We work by providing funds to nurture the development of local service providers and government agencies. We partner with statewide intermediary organizations, hospital systems, other foundations, and state and national experts who are implementing innovative strategies for addressing social needs. In our grantmaking, we are guided by three principles:

  • Systems change

Rather than supporting single, one-time projects, we advance our five focus areas by funding multiple projects that complement and build on each other. This approach allows the communities working with us to apply lessons learned, share inspirations, and build a concentration that begins to move the culture. The ultimate goal is to change the systems that deliver health and early childhood services.

  • Riding the wave

We want to capitalize on the momentum of what's on the public's agenda. We seek out approaches and practices that have demonstrated evidence of success elsewhere and adapt them to meet New Jersey’s unique needs and circumstances.

  • Sustainability

We make funds available to seed select pilot programs, allowing us to build relationships, test new ideas, and make adaptations. Then, we provide additional support to build these projects over time and help them become self-sustaining.

Performance-Based Funding

We feel strongly that projects with clear goals, measurable objectives, and defined performance milestones have the best chance of success.

Organizations that we fund are required to be accountable for outcomes they define, because definable outcomes help us know and measure what we are supporting. We seek to ensure that we have attracted partners and collaborators who not only have good ideas, but who can achieve outcomes that result in measurable impact. Therefore:

  • The projects we fund include performance benchmarks delineating specific process and outcome objectives that are measured by “how much,” “how many,” and “when.”
  • Depending on the project, we link 25 to 100 percent of the total funding amount to the achievement of these performance benchmarks.

To help this approach succeed, we work closely with organizations during project development to help them articulate their goals, define their objectives, and determine the performance benchmarks. We also provide technical assistance and guidance throughout the project’s implementation.