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What We Care About


Productive grantmaker culture is one that accelerates progress by supporting nonprofits to be successful.

Culture is the collective behaviors and underlying assumptions of an organization.

While there is no one “right” culture, GEO’s work shows that grantmakers who cultivate cultures based on collaboration and partnership; diversity, equity and inclusion; respect and humility; responsiveness; transparency and trust; and curiosity and learning are better able to adopt the smarter grantmaking practices that matter most to nonprofits.

Creating productive culture is the result of intentionality and constant tending — this means understanding what we’re trying to achieve and continually aligning strategy, operations, talent and culture in that direction. In order to do this, everyone within the organization must understand how her or his role and behaviors either reinforces or contradicts the culture we are collectively trying to create. By working together to understand and tend our culture, we can build stronger, more inclusive and more effective organizations.

Culture is built every day in every action you take. It affects how people think about your organization, whether they trust you, and their willingness and eagerness to work with you.

Stacy Van Gorp, R.J. McElory Trust

Helpful Tools and Resources

Stay informed of the emerging trends and promising practices from the field of philanthropy through GEO’s publications and research.

  • Executive Summary

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens

    Embracing Equity: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equity and Inclusion Within Your Organization

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • March 2017
  • Perspective

    Protecting Progress in the Trump Era

    What will the Trump Administration mean for the nonprofit organizations who serve our communities? What will it mean for the grantmakers who make up the GEO community?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • January 2017
  • Member Story Members Only

    GEOASKS: Sarah Cotton Nelson and Ann Marie Warrick, Communities Foundation of Texas

    In this GEOAsks, we interviewed Sarah and Ann Marie about how Communities Foundation of Texas shaped its organizational culture and the challenges it still faces.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • December 2016
  • Member Story

    Member Story: Social Venture Partners Seattle

    Member Story: Social Venture Partners Seattle

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • November 2016
  • Publication Members Only

    Shaping Culture Through Key Moments

    Every organization experiences moments when it has opportunities to tend its culture and to cultivate a more productive one — a culture in which staff and trustees are performing at their best and it is doing everything it can to make sure nonprofits are resilient, successful and strong. Paying attention to culture doesn’t have to happen only at huge, earthshattering moments in the life of an organization or its operating environment.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • November 2016

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2018 National Conference

    The 2018 National Conference will provide participants with the information, connections and experiences to continue improving and pursuing smarter grantmaking practices that positively impact nonprofit effectiveness.

    • April 2018
  • Member Calls Members Only

    How can we internally align around capacity building?

    Culture change takes time, persistence and champions.

    • May 2017

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Perspectives on Philanthropy

Interesting thoughts and ideas circulating in the GEO community.

  • The exterior of a foundation building.

    Center for Effective Philanthropy

    The Ripple Effect of Foundation Culture

    "Building the right internal culture at any organization, foundations included, requires proactive attention from the CEO." Read more in this article from Kevin Bolduc, vice president of assessment tools at CEP.

  • Article Photo

    Community Wealth Partners

    Internal Culture, External Impact

    Amy Celep, Sara Brenner and Rochel Mosher-Williams share how a change-making culture positions foundations to transformational change.

  • Article Photo

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Lead Your Culture.

    In this article, the Gates Foundation shares its perspective on strengthening organizational culture.

Related Topics


No matter the outcome we are working toward, our institutions and systems were built to advantage some but not all — and data shows that inequities persist to this day. These inequities become more apparent when we take race into account.

Learn More

Organizational Change

Knowing what works and taking steps to change your work for the better is easier said than done. But real change is possible when our organizations foster innovative and supportive environments where smarter grantmaking practices can thrive.

Learn More
Kristen Scott Kennedy


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