Strategic Direction for 2018 - 2021

Community, Equity, Action

GEO is a community of peers united to do better. We work together to make change understandable and feasible. We are unified in our belief that strong nonprofits are indispensable to our success as grantmakers. In the GEO community, members find a home and people to help them feel energized, inspired and ready to tackle the next big thing.

Twenty years ago, a group of grantmakers committed to strengthening and improving their practice around capacity building came together to learn from one another. Over the years we’ve demonstrated that, by working and learning together, we can change the field. Our 2018-2021 Strategic Direction builds on the strength and growth of a community that is poised to make a difference in this moment.

Many of us are considering our work with renewed urgency and commitment. Grantmakers aren’t seeing the results they’d like in their communities and the divisiveness in the political landscape only intensifies the complexity and scale of challenges. We’re seeing trust erode, harmful policies multiply and our communities break apart.

This moment is a critical time to come together, find courage and persistence to learn, and improve and change in ways that better support nonprofits. We must move past obstacles to create more equitable, supportive communities. Over the next four years, GEO will come together in new ways, raise our voices with confidence and challenge old ways of thinking, so that we can support and advance the work of nonprofits, partners and advocates.

This strategic direction was informed by hundreds of GEO members who participated in listening sessions and interviews. We also heard from nonprofit leaders who let us know which grantmaker behaviors are most beneficial and harmful. Finally, colleague organizations shared their advice and wisdom. All of these voices shaped our understanding of the potential and opportunities for a group of grantmakers striving to do better.

During 2018 – 2021, we will:

Engage grantmakers in high-impact programs that encourage the adoption of smarter grantmaking practices.

We will prioritize new content — on learning and evaluation, racial equity, and sharing power with and including nonprofits and community members — that we will deliver through conferences, publications, peer learning and more.

Integrate racial equity into our vision for smarter grantmaking.

We will build our internal capacity and work with racial equity partners to integrate racial equity throughout our work and organization.

Deliver the call to action for grantmakers to strengthen nonprofits and communities.

We will tap into shared vision and beliefs and motivate grantmakers to adopt smarter grantmaking practices and embrace the imperative of racial equity in philanthropy.

Establish shared values and stronger member identity within the GEO community to support long-term field change.

We will equip our members to leverage ties within the GEO community to get the support they need for their work and their efforts to influence others.

Build and maintain the internal excellence necessary to do this work.

We will ensure we have an inclusive culture, the resources, talent and processes to effectively advance our strategy.

To do this work well, we will engage:

  • Members who are looking to change their own practice as well those who can influence other funders
  • Nonprofits who are leading the direct work and can tell us if we’re on the right track about the grantmaker practices that are most important
  • Philanthropy support organizations, consultants and other partners that share GEO’s goals for the field and can enhance our understanding

We know we have a lot to learn. The strategic direction will cause us to evolve as an organization and a community. We have mapped out a strategic learning agenda to help guide our understanding about what we will jettison, what we will build upon, and what new knowledge and capabilities we will develop. GEO members are leading the field when it comes to adopting smart grantmaking practices that support nonprofit success. We are ready to do more.

Our next four years will only be successful through collaboration with members, nonprofits and other partners. There are a number of ways to be involved with our work including being a funder or a peer reviewer for a GEO publication or resource, participating in a fellowship or peer learning group, and being a conference participant or committee member amongst others. Together, we are stronger than the challenges standing before us. Together, we will build our collective capability to improve and change in ways that create more equitable, vibrant communities.

The Difference We’ll Make

This multi-year strategic direction is part of our more long-term approach to creating change. This diagram describes the relationship between the strategy and its short and long-term outcomes and impact.

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