Members enjoy a plenary at GEO's 2016 National Conference

Annual Report

Year in Review 2016

To our community:

Our community of more than 6,000 grantmakers keeps looking for better ways to learn and improve together.

Member connect before the opening plenary at the 2016 National Conference

That’s what the GEO community has always been about: peers coming together to find better ways to support nonprofits and make progress on the issues we care about. Regardless of where we’re from, the organizations we represent or the issues we’re passionate about, we’re united by a belief that we are all able to achieve more when we commit to a path of improvement and help each other along the way.

In 2016, we prioritized finding new ways to build connections with each other and experimented with ideas to make some of our most popular programs even more valuable.

  • At the 2016 National Conference, a host of inspiring speakers shared from the heart with nearly 800 participants and challenged our field to do better when it comes to racial equity.
  • In the Change Incubator, teams from four grantmakers concluded a deeply introspective 18-month journey to find ways to better include grantees in their work.
  • In the Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellowship, a group of seasoned leaders supported each other through a transformative 10-month learning experience that has better equipped each of them to lead change in their own organizations.
  • Internally, we embarked on a branding process to reaffirm who our community is and what we stand for — leading to the launch of this new website.
  • And we worked to bring GEO conversations closer to where our members live and work, which is why we built deep partnerships with regional associations in North Carolina and California. It’s also why we spent almost double the amount of time out in the field, reaching members in Christchurch, New Zealand; Canyonville, Oregon; Des Moines, Iowa; Ypsilanti, Michigan — and many more places around the world.

At the same time, we continued to produce the content our members have come to rely on including new publications such as, Strengthening Nonprofit Capacity, which collected in one place the key information about effective capacity building and lifted up stories from our peers. We partnered closely with the Management Assistance Group is the launch of the Systems Resource Guide. And finally, we released Shaping Culture through Key Moments, which helps grantmakers take advantage of those opportunities to tend and shape culture in a positive way.

In 2016 we neared the end of our multiyear strategy, so we’ve taken advantage of the critical opportunity to think through what has worked and what can be improved. GEO staff and board are currently listening hard — we have had more than 230 conversations already in 2017 — to better understand what our community needs from GEO, given the current context, for our next phase of our collective growth and development.

We welcome your input if you haven’t already been asked to share your ideas. Please reach out directly to either of us. Regardless of what shape it takes, we’re excited for the progress we can continue to make together.


LaTida Smith (Board Chair)

President and CEO, Moses Taylor Foundation

Kathleen P. Enright

President and CEO, GEO

Who are we

Want to get to know GEO even better? Want to know who to reach out to when you have questions about how to get involved? GEO's board and staff are here to serve you.

Members chat at GEO's 2016 National Conference

Our Community

The GEO community grew to 576 organizations in 2016, representing more than 6,000 individual grantmakers. This growth was powered by more than 107 new members.

See all members

Use this map to find peers around the world and right next door!

The GEO community brings together a diverse group of grantmakers, representing a huge variety of funding areas, organization types and grantmaking budgets. As our community has grown, we’ve become even more diverse — but remain united in a our desire to improve and our belief in the importance of creating strong nonprofits.

Learn more about our community and join here!

Peer Learning in 2016

In 2016, we looked for even more ways to come together as a community to solve challenges and learn together.

We were committed throughout last year to improving our existing peer learning opportunities and finding new ways for our community to connect. Even though our 2016 National Conference was our biggest yet — bringing together almost 800 grantmakers in the Twin Cities — we experimented with different formats, like facilitated networking, to bring members closer together and new sessions, like moderated Q+A sessions with short talk speakers, to bring participants closer together with speakers. We also launched two new long-term cohorts, the Change Incubator and Change Leaders in Philanthropy Fellowship that explored different ways that we can support each other on change journeys.

Many of us face similar challenges so chances are someone has experience trying to solve the same problems you have

A GEO member

In addition to our annual Smarter Grantmaking Essentials remote learning series, we also launched two new series aimed to bring together like-minded peers for deep, meaningful conversations. Our Learning Mindset series focused on providing program managers with a greater understanding of how they can incorporate evaluation and learning into their work. Our Golden State Learning Series — as part of our partnership with Northern California Grantmakers, San Diego Grantmakers and Southern California Grantmakers — provided a unique, tailored experience for members from California (and participants continue to check-in regularly!).

Members say hello at GEO's 2016 National Conference

2016 National Conference

Nearly 800 grantmakers gathered in Minneapolis-St. Paul to explore the smarter grantmaking practices that lead to stronger nonprofits and better results.

See what happened

Change Incubator

Progress isn’t always happening as quickly as it should

The first phase of the Change Incubator was an intensive, selective cohort program designed to help grantmakers address complex challenges and accelerate the pace of change within their own organizations throughout 2016.

Learn more
Change Incubator Cohort

Around the Field in 2016

Reaching more than 2,100 grantmakers

Through more than 83 events, GEO staff explored what smarter grantmaking means from California to South Carolina and everywhere in between — including internationally in Canada, New Zealand and China.

See when we'll be in your area
Lori Bartczak speaks in the field.

Change Leaders in Philanthropy

Our newest peer learning cohort

We launched this brand new 10-month peer cohort program for senior executives in 2016, bringing together those who are responsible for developing and guiding key change efforts in their organizations.

Learn more
Members celebrate at the Change Leaders in Philanthropy closing retreat.


GEO’s publications are driven by the issues we care about. We dive into specific topics and connect themes across the sector in short and longer works.

Our publications elevate real examples from your peers, providing innovative ideas to your own organization. We also craft practical tools and friendly guides to help transform your knowledge into action. That’s why they’re GEO’s highest-rated non-conference resource.

In 2016, we released three new publications that dove deep on top-of-mind practices for grantmakers: systems grantmaking, capacity building and culture. In each of these, we highlighted key steps that grantmakers can take as well as built on the experiences of peers in our community.

Find all of GEO’s resources

2016 Committees and Advisors

Culture Advisory Group

  • Lisa Eisen, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation
  • Daniel Lee, Levi Strauss Foundation
  • Shane Murphy Goldsmith, Liberty Hill Foundation
  • Robert Hughes, Missouri Foundation for Health
  • Kelly Nowlin, Surdna Foundation
  • Stacy Van Gorp, R. J. McElroy Trust
  • Wayne Jones, The Heinz Endowments

Equity Advisory Group

  • Starsky Wilson, Deaconess Foundation
  • Arelis Diaz, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Candy Solovjovs, Meyer Memorial Trust
  • Damon Hewitt, Open Society Foundations
  • Deborah Aubert Thomas, Philanthropy Ohio
  • Denise St. Omer, Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
  • Jennifer Splansky Juster, Collective Impact Forum
  • Lulete Mola, Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Raquel Guitierrez, Vitalyst Health Foundation
  • Samantha Mellerson, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Sheri Brady, The Aspen Institute

Nonprofit Advisory Council

  • Kierra Johnson, URGE | Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity
  • Sarita Gupta, Jobs with Justice
  • Christina Livingston, ACCE Institute
  • Steven McCullough, Communities in Schools
  • Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials
  • Cathy Tisdale, Camp Fire
  • Donna Murray-Brown, Michigan Nonprofit Association
  • Johng Ho Song, Koreatown Youth and Community Center
  • Kate WIlliams, 1% For The Planet
  • Mary Zanotti, Colorado Youth for a Change
  • Melinda Wiggins, Student Action with Farmworkers
  • Rob Riley, Northern Forest Center
  • Wes Ware, BreakOUT!

2016 National Conference Planning Committee

  • Bob Uyeki, Y & H Soda Foundation (Chair)
  • Ted Chen, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies
  • Arelis Diaz, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Greg DiDomenico, Community Memorial Foundation
  • Cindy Eby, ResultsLab
  • Trista Harris, Minnesota Council on Foundations
  • Grace Hou, Woods Fund of Chicago
  • Tom Kelly, Hawai'i Community Foundation
  • Jeff Kutash, Peter Kiewit Foundation
  • Justin Laing, The Heinz Endowments
  • Lindsay Louie, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Quynh-Anh McMahan, The George Foundation
  • Kate Shirah, John Rex Endowment
  • Ana Lisa Yoder, formerly of The Philadelphia Foundation

2016 National Conference Host Committee

  • Jennifer Ford Reedy, Bush Foundation (Co-chair)
  • Kate Wolford, The McKnight Foundation (Co-chair)
  • Diana Anderson, Southwest Initiative Foundation
  • Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation
  • Meghan Barp, Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Paul Busch, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies
  • Mark Dienhart, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation
  • Jacob Gayle, Medtronic Foundation
  • Amy Goldman, GHR Foundation
  • David J. Fraher, Arts Midwest
  • Trista Harris, Minnesota Council on Foundations
  • Saanii Hernandez, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota
  • Dana Jensen, Delta Dental of Minnesota Foundation
  • Carolyn Link, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation
  • Marina Munoz Lyon, Pohlad Family Foundation
  • Denise Mayotte, The Sheltering Arms Foundation
  • Mary Jane Melendez, General Mills Foundation
  • C. David Nelson, The Carlson Family Foundation
  • Gayle Ober, George Family Foundation
  • Kim Price, 3Mgives
  • Carleen Rhodes, The Saint Paul Foundation
  • Susan Bass Roberts, Best Buy Foundation
  • Holly Sampson, Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation
  • Tony Sertich, Northland Foundation
  • Patrick Troska, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota
  • Kevin Walker, Northwest Area Foundation

Supporters in 2016

Unrestricted and Program Support:

  • The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Barr Foundation
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Blue Shield of California Foundation
  • The California Wellness Foundation
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  • Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • Ford Foundation
  • Fund for Shared Insight
  • The Heinz Endowments
  • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • The Kresge Foundation
  • Lumina Foundation
  • Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
  • Surdna Foundation
  • Weingart Foundation
  • The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Leadership Circle Support:

  • Baptist Community Ministries
  • Bigglesworth Family Foundation
  • BlueCross and BlueShield of North Carolina Foundation
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, Inc.
  • The Brinson Foundation
  • California HealthCare Foundation
  • The California Wellness Foundation
  • The Colorado Health Foundation
  • The Columbus Foundation
  • Community Foundation of South Jersey
  • Cone Health Foundation
  • The Cricket Island Foundation
  • Deaconess Foundation
  • The Duke Endowment
  • The Durfee Foundation
  • The Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation
  • The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Inc.
  • The George Foundation
  • The Grable Foundation
  • Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Greater Houston Community Foundation
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way
  • Hawai'i Community Foundation
  • Health Foundation for Western and Central New York
  • Henry P. Kendall Foundation
  • Houston Endowment Inc.
  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • Lancaster County Community Foundation
  • Liberty Hill Foundation
  • Maine Health Access Foundation
  • Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation
  • Moses Taylor Foundation
  • Nellie Mae Education Foundation
  • The Oak Foundation
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • PATH Foundation
  • The Priddy Foundation
  • Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • Ruth Mott Foundation
  • Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio
  • Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland
  • Tarsadia Foundation
  • William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund


You can find GEO's statements of financial position and activities here.

Bo Dorsey

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