Photo of two people hugging each other.

What We Care About

Strengthening Relationships

When we build trust and tap the knowledge and perspective of nonprofits and the communities we serve, we create better solutions.


of funders say they are willing to engage with their grantees in open dialogue about general operating support, but only 32% of nonprofits believe they actually are

When we build trust and tap the knowledge and perspective of nonprofits and the communities we serve, we create better solutions. And investing in building and sustaining these long-term relationships allows us to continue making meaningful progress in our work. We can bridge our knowledge gaps about the communities we serve. We can ensure greater humility by recruiting and retaining staff from nonprofits. And we can improve our own practices by being inclusive of nonprofit and community feedback and insight. Our success as grantmakers is inextricably linked to the strength of our connections with these partners.

Building these relationships requires an investment of time and resources — but they have the ability to shape not just what solutions we pursue but how we support our grantees. GEO’s research shows that grantmakers who are more connected to their grantees are more likely to provide the support that nonprofits need to be successful, such as capacity building and multi-year support. If we’re going to make progress on some of the most deeply entrenched problems in our society, we must directly address existing power dynamics and create strong, trusting relationships with nonprofits.

Strong relationships are never built on transactional engagements; both parties must engage with honesty and integrity, acknowledge the other as a vital part of their success, be willing to have courageous conversations, and have compassion for each other’s humanity.

Kierra Johnson, Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity

Helpful Tools and Resources

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

  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Grantmaking to Local Government

    We were wondering if any GEO members have had success working with/making grants to local government? If so, would you be willing to share the mechanics of grant agreements, processes, or any tips?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2017
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: June 6 Conference Presenters

    Are there any North East/Mid Atlantic Foundations doing grantmaking that specifically leverages national service programs or that focus on volunteer engagement?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2017
  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GHR Foundation

    How co-designing with grantees and partners from Day 1 can lead to stronger collaborations, flexible solutions and more meaningful impact.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2017
  • Perspective

    Change Incubator Lessons Learned

    Here are five key lessons learned from our pilot Change Incuabtor program, along with examples from our participating foundations.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2017
  • Member Story

    Change Incubator Story — What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

    We are interested in expanding beyond the idea of inclusion, which still implies an “includer” that provides access to an “includee.”

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • March 2017

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

Discover More

I’m looking for
on this topic
Show me all resources for this topic

Perspectives on Philanthropy

Interesting thoughts and ideas circulating in the GEO community.

Related Topics

Flexible, Reliable Funding

When we provide funding that gives nonprofits space to innovate and the security to know our support is here for the long haul, they worry less about their own survival and focus more on responding to shifts in their environment and lifting up their communities.

Learn More

Learning and Evaluation

By shifting our understanding of evaluation so that it’s focused squarely on improvement and engaging grantees and other partners, we can learn in ways that yield rewards for everyone involved.

Learn More
Emily Wexler


Speak directly to our Program Assistant

Reach out

Join the GEO Community

500+ members sharing insights and learnings to move philanthropy forward.