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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.

  • Perspective

    We Are In This Together: A Letter to Philanthropy

    Hear directly from 9 nonprofit leaders what you can be doing to support your grantees in the most meaningful ways.

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

    GEOList Summary: Collecting Feedback from Grantees

    Do you collect feedback from every organization that sought funding/partnership, or only those that ended up being approved for funding? What was the rationale for that decision? What method do you use to collect feedback? Surveys? Interviews? An online platform? On the front end, how do you frame up for grantees the opportunity to receive feedback? What expectations do you set about its use, and how do you communicate the ways in which you use it afterward?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2017
  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: GAR Foundation

    How GAR Foundation is narrowing its focus to have a deeper impact in the community.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • August 2017
  • Perspective

    What we know for sure

    Often unprecedented circumstances seem to necessitate bigger or radically different strategies. But what I know for sure is that these keys to effective grantmaking — grantmaking that produces strong nonprofit results — endure in part because they are our strongest way forward.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • July 2017
  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Vancouver Foundation

    How Vancouver Foundation made progress by getting out of the way and supporting nonprofits to do the work.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • July 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
  • Workshops

    Grantee Inclusion Workshop

    Join us in Phoenix, Arizona, December 5 – 7, 2017 for a Grantee Inclusion Workshop, presented in partnership with Arizona Grantmakers Forum and Philanthropy Southwest!

    • December 2017
  • GEO in the Field

    Building Authentic Relationships with Grantees

    Join GEO to discuss how to build deeper relationships with your grantees and engage in peer-to-peer coaching on what works and how you can incorporate it at your family foundation.

    • October 2017

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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.

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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.

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Emily Wexler


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