Giving Compass’ Take:
• Nonprofit PRO discusses the importance of grantmakers taking a more hands-on approach to their work, engaging with constituents and communities to problem solve.
• Do philanthropists let money do too much of the talking? Taking the steps listed in this piece would be a good way to get more in touch with why we’re making such strong commitment to causes in the first place.
• Another important part of the funding process: Listening.
Do you believe the idea that “money can’t change everything?”
I certainly believe this (and heck, I’m a career fundraiser). Money will never solve all problems.
Now, how do you describe what your foundation does? Would you say identifying, funding and evaluating grants to nonprofits that do good work (within your focus) is a fair description?
Perhaps I’m “leading the witness” here, but I don’t actually think this encapsulates nonprofit funders core role at its finest. If money isn’t the silver bullet for change, and your foundation has a specific mission to carry out, then making grants is just one aspect of your work, right?
It merits repeating. Foundations don’t exist to manage a grants process. Foundations exist to create change. So, if money doesn’t change everything, making grants is only the start of your work as a nonprofit funder.
Yet, so often, this is how we think about our work. We do call the field “grantmaking,” after all …
Since you are interested in Boards and Governance, have you read these selections from Giving Compass related to impact giving and Boards and Governance?
Effective funders view their core role as something that envelops the grants process. They study complex social challenges, collaborate with others to craft shared, sweeping impact strategies, (then yes, they do grant money) and they continuously assist grantees in creating more
Foundations don’t exist to manage a grants process. Foundations exist to create change. So, if money doesn’t change everything, making grants is only the start of your work as a nonprofit funder.
Practically speaking, how can you begin to roll up your proverbial “sleeves?” Here are three ways.
1. Ask Your Grantees for Feedback and Full Candor. Have you ever asked your grantees questions like, “What do you need from us (outside of grant dollars) to create more outcomes?” How about, “What do you feel that we, as XYZ Foundation, don’t yet understand, but should, about the work you do?” Now, here’s the gut-check. Will you only ask the question, or also listen to the answers?
2. Require All Staff Members (Not Just Program Officers) to Get Out of the Office. While we can use technology to efficiently capture feedback, there is no complete substitute for visiting the communities we serve. So much of the information we absorb on a daily basis is non-verbal and unrehearsed, so it’s critical that everyone in the office—even administrative staff—make spending time in the community a priority.
3. Create and Manage to Set Expectations for Responsive Service. Is there some sort of “rubric” or evaluation tool your staff can use to measure the effectiveness of their interactions with grantees? Are they prepared and knowledgeable during grantee meetings, or do they create more burden and hassle? How do you know?
Read the full article about ways nonprofit funders can roll up their sleeves by Nate Nasralla at NonProfit PRO.
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