Category Archives: nonprofit

34 Resources For Nonprofit Organizations

Yesterday I spoke with a group of LGBT nonprofit leaders from the Eastern European country of Georgia, including the Women’s Initiative Supporting Group and TANADGOMA, about nonprofit management, strategic planning, and the challenges of philanthropic funding of  marginalized communities, such as the women’s and LGBT communities of Georgia. The meeting was sponsored by the US State Department and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.  This fantastic group of committed leaders spoke about tremendous challenges, including extreme homophobia and violent attacks on gay activists; lack of organized philanthropy or philanthropic support within Georgia; funders who only want to fund short-term projects and refuse to provide general operating support, multi-year grants, funding for needs assessments or research, or provide support for community empowerment efforts. One funder only allowed 1% of their budget to be allocated for overhead!

In preparation for my presentation I compiled a list of 34 resources for nonprofit organizations that I thought might help these leaders in their efforts to strengthen their organizations. I decided post them here too for other nonprofits and funders to use. If you think of other resources that would help LGBT nonprofit leaders in Georgia, please share them in the comments section and I will pass them along!

General

1. Foundation Center
The Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Offers many resources for nonprofits seeking philanthropic funding.

2. Stanford Social Innovation Review
The Stanford Social Innovation Review offers strategies, tools and ideas for nonprofits, foundations and socially responsible businesses.

3. Alliance for Nonprofit Management
A professional association of individuals and organizations devoted to improving the management and governance capacity of nonprofit organizations.

4. Compass Point
A nonprofit training, consulting, and research organization that provides nonprofits with the management tools, concepts, and strategies to increase their effectiveness and impact.

5. Independent Sector
Committed to promoting, strengthening, and advancing the nonprofit and philanthropic community to foster private initiative for the public good. It contains information on members, publications, annual conferences and events.

6. Nonprofit Finance Fund
NFF helps organizations connect money to mission effectively, and supports innovations such as growth capital campaigns, cross-sector economic recovery initiatives and impact investing.

7. BoardSource
BoardSource “is dedicated to increasing the effectiveness of nonprofit organizations by strengthening their boards of directors.” A Q & A file on nonprofit boards is available.

8. The Nonprofit Times
Leading publication for nonprofit management

9. Tech Soup
TechSoup is a Web-based resource center that offers technology assistance and solutions for small to mid-size nonprofit organizations. The site offers nonprofit technology articles and news, and information on where to find donated or discounted software and equipment through its companion site, DiscounTech.

Strategic Planning and Collaboration

10. Foundation Center Nonprofit Collaboration Resources
Recommended resources on nonprofit collaboration.

11. LaPiana Consulting
A national consulting firm dedicated to strengthening nonprofits and foundations. Website includes resources on strategic planning and strategic restructuring.

12. National Council of Nonprofits’ Strategic and Business Planning for Nonprofits
The largest network of nonprofits in the United States. Provides a list of resources about strategic and business planning.

Core Support and Organizational Capacity Building

13. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
A national network of foundations that promotes strategies and practices that contribute to grantee success. GEO has been a leader in encouraging foundations to provide core operating support, organizational capacity building support, funds for evaluation and learning, multi-year funding, and other practices that strengthen nonprofits and improve outcomes.

14. National Committee for Responsive Grantmaking
NCRP describes itself as the “country’s independent watchdog of foundations.” Its mission is to promote philanthropy that serves the public good, is responsive to people and communities with the least wealth and opportunity, and is held accountable to the highest standards of integrity and openness. In particular it has been a strong advocate of general operating support to nonprofits and recently produced a report The State of General Operating Support 2008-2010.

Evaluation

15. American Evaluation Association
International professional association of evaluators devoted to the application and exploration of program evaluation, personnel evaluation, technology, and many other forms of evaluation. Includes directories to local affiliates and consultants who are AEA members. Also visit the International and Cross Cultural Evaluation topical interest group http://comm.eval.org/icce/Home/

16. Innovation Network
Nonprofit evaluation, research, and consulting firm provides free planning and evaluation tools and a searchable database of evaluation and capacity building resources. Free registration required.

Communication

17. Communications Network
Supporting foundations and nonprofits to improve lives through the power of smart communications.

18. Nancy Schwartz & Company
Nonprofit marketing and communications consultant offering free resources, guides, articles and blogs about effective nonprofit communications.

19. Nonprofit Communications Resource Guide
Guide on nonprofit communications resources from CompassPoint and Lighthouse Collaborative.

Nonprofit Talent and Leadership Development

20. Generating Change Nonprofit Talent and Leadership Development Toolkit
Toolkit includes case studies, videos, a framing paper, blogs and other resources highlight different ways foundations support nonprofit talent and leadership development. Developed by Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.

LGBTQ Resources

21. Funders for LBGT Issues
Funders for LGBTQ Issues seeks to mobilize philanthropic resources that enhance the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, promote equity, and advance racial, economic and gender justice.

22. Horizons Foundation
A community foundation dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

23. Gill Foundation
National foundation that advocates for LGBT equality.

24. The Pipeline Project
The project’s goal is to increase the number of people of color working within the nation’s LGBT rights, service and advocacy sector, and ultimately increase the level of diversity in the leadership of our movement.

25. Human Rights Campaign
The largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans.

26. Transgender Law Center
Transgender Law Center works to change law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression.

Global Philanthropy

27. Council on Foundations’ Global Philanthropy Resources
The Council on Foundations is a national nonprofit association of more than 1,700 grantmaking foundations and corporations.

28. European Foundation Centre
An international membership association of foundations and corporate funders. Its mission is to strengthen the independent funding element of European philanthropy through robust cooperation with an array of partners.

29. Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support
WINGS is a global network of grantmaker associations and philanthropic support organisations.

30. WINGS Global Status Report on Community Foundations
Sixth in a series of reports on the development of community foundations around the world, and the first web-based version of this signature report.

31. International Human Rights Funders Group
A global network of donors and grantmakers committed to advancing human rights around the world through effective philanthropy.

32. EDGE Funders Alliance
Engaged donors for global equity.

33. Clinton Global Initiative
An initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges

34. Skoll World Forum on Social Entepreneurship
Provides relevant news, insight, and opportunities to accelerate entrepreneurial approaches and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.

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The Role of Design and “Design Thinking” in Philanthropy

At the turn of the current century, after decades of academic percolation, the concept of “design thinking” began to expand rapidly in popular business literature and conversation. Although finding a clear, consistent explanation of design thinking is rather like asking bridesmaids to agree on the perfect shade of blue, Wikipedia offers this definition:

Design Thinking refers to the methods and processes for investigating ill-defined problems, acquiring information, analyzing knowledge, and positing solutions in the design and planning fields. As a style of thinking, it is generally considered the ability to combine empathy for the context of a problem, creativity in the generation of insights and solutions, and rationality to analyze and fit solutions to the context.

Ill-defined problems. Combining empathy, creativity, and rationality in developing a solution. Sounds perfect for philanthropy, doesn’t it? It’s no wonder then, that as design thinking has become manifest in the business world, it’s beginning to pique the interest of the funding community.

In a recent conversation with Kyle Reis, Manager for Strategy and Operations at the Ford Foundation, we pondered the question of how foundations might partner with design communities to help them learn how to more fundamentally and intentionally integrate design and design thinking into their work.

And this is already happening.  One of the better-known examples of this is IDEO, a San Francisco Bay Area design firm that is a recognized frontrunner in the design thinking movement. IDEO President and CEO Tim Brown and Jocelyn Wyatt, who then led the company’s Social Innovation group, published a flagship article, “Design Thinking for the Social Sector,” in the winter 2010 edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review that has helped pave the way for further reflection on the topic.  In 2011, the company started its own philanthropic arm, IDEO.org, to help bring design thinking to social problems. (Wyatt is now its co-lead and executive director.) The Chronicle of Philanthropy covered this launch with a great story about a collaboration to pilot a new, affordable system of in-home toilets for low-income urban dwellers in Ghana.

One element of this effort, OpenIDEO, focuses on leveraging crowd-wisdom by using an online platform to discuss solutions to social challenges. In this space, people from around the world can lend their knowledge, ideas and insights to help solve social problems, whether local or global. (There’s a great video there about that Ghana toilet project, too.)

And foundations themselves are focusing on ways in which design might inform and advance the work of foundations. The Ford Foundation, for instance, hosted a meeting earlier this year, Change By Design, to bring together leaders in design, social innovation, art and journalism to think creatively about digital storytelling and cutting-edge tools to visualize, map and create narratives that inspire action.  (Here are some resources highlighted at that meeting).

The idea of open sharing of creativity and knowledge for common good is intriguing. The business world doesn’t own the concept of design thinking any more than the philanthropic world owns the concept of empathy, so it makes sense that the two should combine forces and resources (along with government, entrepreneurs, engaged citizens, scientists, educators, and designers) to solve social problems.

But while there are plenty of articles, information, opinions and posts from the corporate and academic perspectives about the social benefits of design thinking, it’s still relatively quiet on the philanthropic side.  But that is changing. In my next post, we’ll talk about some of the conversations already taking place and efforts that are now underway, such as Public Interest Design and the School for Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation MFA program, to more systematically weave design and social change together.

And in the true spirit of design thinking, advancement comes by listening to a variety of perspectives. So why not add the voice of philanthropy to design and in the process bring the benefits of design thinking to our philanthropic work?

Have you had experience with design or design thinking in your work? If so, please share a comment!

P.S. For a quick way to better your understanding about what design thinking is and what it might do, check out the trailer for Design and Thinking, a documentary on design thinking, that was released earlier this year. Also, visit the Institute of Design at Stanford’s website and watch their 3-minute video about a design thinking boot camp course for all disciplines.

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Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2012

5 Cool Things in Philanthropy this Month

From time to time, Philanthropy411 is asked to highlight or blog about events going on in the world of philanthropy.  We are going to look back, and ahead, and share some of these great stories with you!

What Will Your Good Deed Be This September 11th?
This September 11th marks the 10 year anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11. In honor of those who lost their lives, survived the attacks, helped in rescue efforts or were personally affected – MyGoodDeed (www.911day.org), a leading 9/11 nonprofit organization, and HandsOn Network, the volunteer activation division of Points of Light Institute – have just launched an inspiring national PSA campaign themed “I Will.”

The goal is ONE MILLION GOOD DEED TRIBUTES before September 11, 2011.  To post a personal “I will” tribute, go to the 9/11 Day Observance Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/911dayPlease click through and post your good deed!

PUMA’s Project Pink
PUMA is leaving the decision of Project Pink’s ultimate beneficiary up to young soccer fans, gathering nominations for deserving charitable organizations at www.puma.com/projectpink between July 17 and September 22; voting opens on September 26 and runs through October 7. The group with the most votes will receive 100% of profits from the sale of PUMA Project Pink merchandise, as well as additional funds raised via initiatives throughout the season, at the culmination of the program in October.

Toyota 100 Cars for Good
Toyota recently announced the final 25 winners in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good program, which awarded 100 vehicles over the course of 100 days to 100 deserving nonprofit organizations based on votes from the public.  The final set of winners spanned several categories including human services, child advocacy, health & safety and animal welfare.  Click here to see the entire list!

ColdAvenger Donates Cold Weather Gear to Clothes4Souls Nonprofit
Talus Outdoor Tech is donating more than 1,000 lung-and-airway-protection masks to Clothes4Souls. Clothes4Souls coordinates worldwide donations of new and gently used clothing items to those who need them most.  Read more about providing hope through the gift of clothing here.

IBM’s Smarter Planet Grants
“Non profit and education organizations are the lifeblood of local communities, and we want to help them by offering support to build a smarter planet,” said Stanley S. Litow, vice president of corporate citizenship and corporate affairs at IBM. “In conjunction with our employees making their skills available through massive volunteer efforts, IBM’s Centennial grants will help non profits and educational organizations meet their key goals.”  Read more about building a smarter planet here.

Philanthropy411 does not endorse theses companies, and is not paid to share these stories.

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Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2011.

How Rec.fm Can Change the World

This blog was written by Brenton Gieser, and was posted on his website, brentongieser.com, on December 31, 2010.  We are re-posting it here with his permission.


A little over a month ago I began a stint as a consultant with Rec.fm, a new start-up out of the valley that is dedicated to merging social commerce with cause donations.  A month later I am becoming more and more aware of the Non-Profit landscape and the themes of creativity and innovation.  The majority of the charities I talked to sparked from a possibility, an idea that would make the world a better place…most got to where they are today through innovation and ingenuity.  Rec.fm is based on an idea that we direct a slice of the billions of dollars moving by way of social commerce to causes that better our world!  The vehicle of product recommendations is the innovation needed to gain a slice of the bigger pie.  Just the type of innovation these NPO’s spawned from.

How it works:

Go to Rec.fm and start recommending products you love and find product recommendations from your friends and other people.  You can also ask the community for specific recommendations on product types.  For most people, the real exciting part is choosing a cause to give back to.  You can browse from our partner charities to find a cause you care most about and contribute to that cause with every rec you make.  In my eyes much of the beauty of Rec.fm is that it gives people an alternative way to give back.  Forget digging into your pockets to support entrepreneurs in a third world country (I contribute to Kiva.org), instead do actions you do on a weekly basis anyways (chat about a movie, talk about your Mac Book, etc.) and through that…give to those entrepreneurs in third world countries.

How it can change the world:

Success stories like the Facebook app Causes and Charity Water are proving that many people want to and can change the world with the use of social media.  Bring social commerce and an individual’s social equity together and you have something powerful.  Rec.fm facilitates social powered buying based on recommendations from trusted sources…THE PEOPLE YOU KNOW!   With 90% of consumers participating in peer recommendations, (stat from Nielsen) we look to our friends for product recs than we do Google.  Now allow those people recommending products to their social circle to give back to causes they care about and you have a natural behavior followed by an altruistic motive.

If we as consumers began to consume intelligently and recommend product for a purpose we can make a huge difference in the world.  With Rec.fm donating over half of all site earning to the causes of a user’s choice, just a few recs from you can make a large impact.  One tweet and one shared link on Facebook can bring in hundreds or potential thousands of dollars to an important cause.

There are infinite possibilities.  Rec.fm can be a clear and simple way you and your friends connect when it comes to recommending products, it can be a source in searching for what celebrities buy (all in support of the charities of those celebrities).  It’s a powerful tool to use you “social equity” to do good!

I encourage everyone to use Rec.fm in 2011 (and beyond for that matter).  Start sharing with friends…ask your friends what they recommend and give back to causes you are passionate about.  I would love to hear back from you with any feedback you may have on how Rec.fm can better change the world!

Note: Kris Putnam-Walkerly is also an Advisor to Rec.fm. You can learn more about Rec.fm and my involvement in my recent blog post.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.


The Philanthropy411 2010 Charitable Gift Guide

Cyber Monday is behind us (thank god!). Now it’s time to finish your holiday shopping so you can do what you truly enjoy during the holidays: spend time with friends and loved ones, take time off work to relax, volunteer to help those in need, appreciate all the wonder and beauty of life, and oh yes, attend all those holiday parties!  Why not put your holiday shopping dollars to work for a great cause?

I’ve put together 13 fabulous gift ideas, so you can give gifts that will be cherished while supporting nonprofits that are making a difference at home and across the globe.

Give the Gift of Giving – A flurry of organizations are offering charitable gift cards, allowing the gift recipient to pick an organization to receive a charitable donation. 

The Good Card

Give Hope in a Bottle… A Water Bottle – Be like Matt Damon and give a  CamelBak water bottle to your family and friends. You know, the ones who go hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, or just like staying hydrated. Water.org is selling these limited edition bottles, and 100% of the profits go directly to support people around the world who lack clean water. Give just one bottle ($19 or $25) and you help a child get clean, safe water. How cool and refreshing is that?!

Matt Damon shows off his CamelBak water bottle

Give a Cow – Or a water buffalo, llama, goat, or camel! Make a donation through Heifer International, and give an animal to a family in need. One cow provides 4 gallons of milk per day for a family. After your donation, you’ll have the opportunity to create a printable gift card or e-card to tell your friends and family that you’ve honored them with a Heifer gift.

Recommend Products You Love To Help Causes You Care About – Recommend your favorite products at Rec.fm, choose a charity, and share your product recs with your friends, family and followers via Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. When someone buys one of your recommended products, Rec.fm will donate 100% of its earnings to your charity through the end of December (they normally provide 51%).  To learn more about Rec.fm, check out my earlier blog post “A New Source of Funding for Nonprofits: Product Recommendations.”

Give a Tote Bag – H&M and UNICEF have partnered to offer this hip, organic cotton tote for the All for the Children campaign created by H&M and UNICEF. Thirty percent of the price of the bag will be donated to the charity, and they will be sold at H&M locations.

Tote bag from H&M benefits Unicef

Give Gifts to Benefit US Soldiers and Veterans – Many thanks to Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist, for bringing my attention back to the needs of veterans (I previously worked at a VA Medical Center) through his informative blog posts and tweets.  You can give a $40 pre-paid phone card to American soldiers abroad through the CauseCast Store and USO. Or you can buy President Obama’s new children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, and his book proceeds will be donated to the Fisher House Foundation to provide scholarships to children of US veterans. Buy the book on Amazon through my recommendation, and Water.org also benefits! Fisher House is 4-star rated on Charity Navigator, and I know from personal experience that they provide tremendous support to veterans.

My recommendation for "Of Thee I Sing" on Rec.fm

Give the Gift of No More Junk Mail – For $10 Precycle will remove someone’s name from junk mailing lists (80% reduction) and save some of the 93.5 million trees destroyed each year to create all that clutter. They will also plant 5 trees in the person’s name (for $20 you get all that plus a tote bag and 2 eco-friendly light bulbs!). Thanks to Change.org for this charitable gift tip!

Buy From the Sesame Street Store – When you purchase Sesame Street products from their online store, the proceeds help Sesame Workshop, a nonprofit organization, produce Sesame Street and other programs that give opportunity and hope to children in more than 120 countries. Go ahead, you know you want an Elmo hat!

JustGive.org Gift Collections – Each gift collection features four charities that support a specific cause, such as feeding the hungry, supporting women globally, ending animal cruelty, and promoting human rights. They’ve pre-selected 4 charities for each cause to make it easy for you, and the collection is sent in a gift basket. You can select the amount for each charity, with a minimum of $40 per collection.

Support A Nonprofit For Free with Target –  While shopping online at Target (you know who you are), you can create a simple wish list and Target will donate $5 to a new nonprofit each week, up to $50,000. As I write this post, this week’s charity is the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Last week it was the Salvation Army.

Lastly, check out these other terrific charitable gift giving guides from Change.org, Mashable, and the Charitable Gift Giving Blog!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

A New Source of Funds for Nonprofits: Product Recommendations!

The Great Recession has hit nonprofits hard. The most recent Chronicle of Philanthropy survey found that donations to the nation’s biggest charities dropped 11 % last year — resulting in billions of dollars in lost revenue. It’s the worst decline since the survey started 20 years ago.

The good news: There is a large, promising, and rapidly growing new source of funds to support great causes — and you probably never thought about it before (I sure hadn’t): Product recommendations, through a cool new service called Rec.fm.

Rec.fm, a 2010 SXSW Web Award finalist, is an online service where you can recommend products you love for the causes you care about. It works like this: You love a product (a book, iPad, watch, Coach purse) and you write a brief 140-character recommendation of that product on the Rec.fm site.  You can leave the ‘rec’ on the site, share it with your friends or post it on your Facebook profile like this:

When someone else buys that product by clicking through on your recommendation, the merchant (e.g. Amazon) gives Rec.fm a referral fee (this usually ranges from 5% – 25% of the purchase price, and can be even higher!). You choose from one of Rec.fm’s many nonprofit partners, such as Grassroots.org, Water.org, American Red Cross, Kiva, National Foundation for Cancer Research, and Autism Speaks, and Rec.fm gives that nonprofit 51% of the referral fee! This 55 sec. Rec.fm Video gives you a quick overview.

Rec.fm has the potential to be a huge source of revenue for nonprofits. It’s designed to take full advantage of the viral “sharing and helping” nature of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and active users of social networks spend about $150 billion annually (yes, billion with a B)  buying products online — an amount that is growing 52% per year.  Social network users are also increasingly concerned about helping people and communities in need.

Full disclosure: I’m an advisor to Rec.fm. But don’t just take it from me — Rec.fm has been featured twice on Mashable, including on their Spark of Genius Series,  other national blogs such as LifeHacker and JustMeans, and they were a 2010 Web Awards finalist at the South By South West conference. The service is fully operational in public beta, and integrated with Facebook and Twitter, as well as with major commerce networks such as Amazon.com, Apple iTunes, and Shopping.com.

You can check out my  recommendations for all my favorite baby products  here on my Rec.fm profile page which looks like this:

(When I am not consulting to foundations I’m caring for my totally adorable twin babies — see photo above!). If you have little ones in your life or upcoming baby showers, you can click the product links to purchase them, and the nonprofit I chose — Water.org — will receive a check for 51% of the referral fee!  You can also buy a recommended laptop or Play Station 3 to benefit the American Red Cross, an iPod Touch or a digital camera to benefit the National Center for Cancer Research,  or organic snail repellent to benefit Kiva, etc., etc.

Rec.fm isn’t the only site where you can use your purchasing power and knowledge to help great causes.  Here’s some other sites you should check out as well:

  • Endorse For A Cause – turn your online shopping habit into a fundraiser for the cause of your choice.
  • SocialVibe – donate money to your selected charity based on participation in branded activities like surveys

If you are a nonprofit and want to learn more about partnering with Rec.fm, leave a comment and I will be sure to make the introduction to the Rec.fm team!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

15 Ways To Improve Grantee Communication at Your Foundation

This was originally posted by me as a guest blogger on the Philanthropy News Digest’s blog,  PhilanTopic, and re-posted on the Communications Network blog.

Clear communication with grantees matters:

Grantees are typically a foundation’s chosen agents of change, selected for their ability to create impact. The better a foundation can communicate its goals and strategies to grantees, the more effective these partnerships will be — and the more likely grantees will be to perform in ways that are consistent with the foundation’s goals. (Center for Effective Philanthropy).

Effective communication with grantees is not just the job of program staff, but of staff at all levels of the foundation – from administrative assistants, to human resources, communications, evaluation, and executive staff.  The California HealthCare Foundation believed this when it embarked upon a review of its grantee communications practices. Below are 15 recommendations for improving grantee communications that resulted from this effort (the full report, Improving Communication Between Foundation Staff and Grantees, is available for download)

15 Ways To Improve Grantee Communication at Your Foundation

  1. Consistently communicate your foundation’s goals and strategies through both written and verbal communication with applicants and grantees.
  2. Regularly discuss grantee communications challenges, best practices, and grantseeker feedback survey results at program team and staff meetings. Additionally, you can encourage regular meetings of program officer/program assistant teams to discuss the status of proposals, grants, and grantees, and even organize formal discussions for program assistants to share their strategies for successful grantee communications and to troubleshoot communications problems.
  3. Ensure program staff has adequate time and resources for consistent grantee communications and for building strong relationships with grantees.
  4. Incorporate grantee communications into staff performance appraisals.
  5. Conduct regular grantee satisfaction surveys to keep grantee experiences at the forefront and to track progress in making improvements.
  6. Pay special attention to communications measures that support grantee satisfaction and effective communication, as identified by the Center for Effective Philanthropy: These include measures  such as the quality of interactions with foundation staff, clarity of communication of a foundation’s goals and strategy, foundation expertise of the field, consistency among communications resources, and selection and reporting processes that are helpful to grantees.
  7. Make sure program staff consistently direct grantseekers to grant guidelines, templates and other resources designed to help grantees submit proposals and reports.
  8. Spend time talking with grantseekers about (1) Your selection process and timeline, and (2) The foundation’s and the applicant’s expectations (e.g., for final deliverables, reporting, communication during the grant period) before their grant proposal is finalized.
  9. If multiple foundation staff will be working with the same grantee, be sure that they coordinate their communication and expectations, and represent a “single voice” from your foundation.
  10. Develop a “grantee communication checklist” for program staff. We created one for the California HealthCare Foundation, which you can download and modify to meet your foundation’s needs.
  11. Compare your funding guidelines against the “common characteristics of highly successful funding guidelines” developed by the Center for Effective Philanthropy.  Make adjustments to your guidelines as appropriate.
  12. Consider conducting a communications audit and/or Web site usability testing.
  13. Solicit grantee feedback when making improvements to funding guidelines and Web site.
  14. Ensure that funding guidelines and Requests for Proposals (RFPs) make a clear connection between the funding opportunity and your foundation’s goals and strategies.
  15. Make sure it is very easy for grantseekers to find information on your Web site about how to apply for a grant.

Learn more about the California HealthCare Foundation’s efforts to improve grantee communications and assess impact.

Has your foundation made efforts to improve your communication with grantees? If so, what worked?  If you are a nonprofit, what foundation communication strategies work best for you? What do you wish foundations would do differently?  Please leave a comment and share your ideas!

About this project:  The California HealthCare Foundation (CHCF) commissioned a Grantee Perception Report from the Center for Effective Philanthropy in 2009. Though its ratings related to both consistency and clarity of communication were statistically similar to or above those of other foundations, comments and suggestions from grantees indicated room for improvement in communication between staff and grantees. CHCF decided to retain Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.  to identify ways to improve this communication. Putnam’s focus was to analyze the results of CHCF’s Grantee Perception Report and to conduct further research that included assessing grantee communications practices of CHCF program staff and other foundations, as well as examining the presentation of grantee resources on its Web site.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.