Many foundations do not follow practices that they themselves consider important to their effectiveness, according to a recent report by the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy. The study, based on a survey of nearly 1,200 grantmaking foundations, reveals that many of the nation’s best-endowed foundations routinely break their own rules.

Hypocrisies abound. Among foundations that say it’s very important to collaborate with external groups, 41 percent had not participated in...

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