By Nicolle Bennett
According to recent research, grantmakers who are more connected to their grantees and communities are more likely to build trust and ultimately, provide more impactful support. Initiatives led by organizations such as Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, along with this series in the Stanford Social Innovation Review emphasize a renewed focus on engagement and a shared understanding that grantees and those they serve are important partners in creating social impact. These types of strategies were also the focus of several learning sessions at the recent Peak Grantmaking conference.
“Do Nothing About Me, Without Me”
Embracing the premise, “Do nothing about me without me,” grantee inclusion may take numerous forms. To illustrate, inclusion ranges from mutual collaboration on project planning, to opportunities for two-way feedback throughout the grant application process. Grantee and beneficiary advisory committees allow those on the front lines to seed solutions for affecting change in a given community. Even when these actions require shifts in organizational culture, practice, or mindset, more foundations are taking these challenges head-on. As a result, foundations increase their transparency and build deeper partnerships with grantees, to great benefit for all involved.
As providers of technology solutions, what can we do to support foundations and their grantees as they build these partnerships?
Technology as a Tool to Support Grantee Inclusion
While it’s people that truly lay the foundation for deeper relationships, technology can be a tool that supports these inclusive actions. As a consultant for foundationConnect, I’m proud to say that our product simplifies interactions between potential grantees and funders. For instance, foundationConnect includes a benchmark feature that allows both parties to collaborate and mutually define and update project goals. Built on top of Salesforce.com, fC allows funders to maintain a system of record that supports evolving relationships with grantees.
The Bush Foundation, a foundationConnect client, is a prime example of an innovator in inclusive strategies. Their Community Innovation Program publishes grantee-authored “Learning Logs” to support ongoing learning and community problem solving. They leverage the Salesforce Chatter Community for grantee cohort sharing, provide hotlines for grant applicants, offer place-based gatherings, and more. You can learn more about some of their processes here. Orienting interactions toward learning and accountability takes effort on both sides, but the foundation continues to establish resources that encourage these types of interactions.
By continuing to provide tools that streamline the grants management process and ultimately, make these inclusive interactions easier, we can hope to support and advance the efforts of all those who come together to create social impact in our communities.
Update: Want to learn more about Grantee Inclusion strategies? On July 13th, 2017, Nicolle Bennett lead a TAG webinar with Kerri Hurley from Barr Foundation and Adrian Bordone, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships, GuideStar USA.
Nicolle Bennett is a Senior Consultant for foundationConnect. Nicolle provides expert services and support to simplify the grants management lifecycle and transform the way foundations manage philanthropic giving and grantee relationships.