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.

70%

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

    Cross-post: Are Nonprofits Getting the Support They Really Need?

    The Center for Effective Philanthropy conducted a study to discover what support nonprofits need and how funders are currently meeting those needs. This post, which originally appeared on the Center for Effective Philanthropy's website, highlights some key lessons from the research.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • October 2018
  • Perspective

    Complex Problems Require Collaborative Solutions

    After 17 successful years of inspiring and nurturing people with innovative, grassroots ideas to positively impact their communities, The Sprout Fund has decided to sunset in 2018. In doing so, the Pittsburgh-based organization has decided to share their lessons learned in "The Sprout Fund Field Guide for Philanthropy & Civic Action." This is part two of a two-part series sharing their lessons learned.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2018
  • Perspective

    Introducing The Sprout Fund Field Guide for Philanthropy & Civic Action

    After 17 successful years of inspiring and nurturing people with innovative, grassroots ideas to positively impact their communities, The Sprout Fund has decided to sunset in 2018. In doing so, the Pittsburgh-based organization has decided to share their lessons learned in "The Sprout Fund Field Guide for Philanthropy & Civic Action." This is part one of a two-part series sharing their lessons learned.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2018
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Communicating about strategy change

    For those of you who have been through foundation strategy shifts, I am wondering what you have learned about communicating with grantees and non-grantees throughout the process? What worked well, and what did not seem to go so well?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2018
  • GEOList Members Only

    Faith Community Nurse Grant Opportunity Samples

    Our foundation is interested in creating a grant opportunity for local faith communities to apply to support the creation or ongoing support of an existing program. If your foundation has this type of opportunity, I’d be interested in your grant criteria, etc.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2018

Upcoming Events

  • Member Calls

    Community Participation and Power

    Amy Price of the Zellerbach Family Foundation will share how the Foundation views power and community participation in their work, as well as some thoughts about the Foundation’s community-driven, relationship-based approach to grantmaking.

    • October 2018
  • Workshops

    Participation, Power and Philanthropy: Putting Nonprofits and Communities in the Driver’s Seat

    As grantmakers, our desire to have a positive impact on the communities we serve fuels our work. In order to create the greatest impact, we must work side by side with nonprofits and communities to solve problems and determine the most effective path forward. But what does it look like to have nonprofits and communities drive our work? How much participation is required to center our work on what the community tells us it needs? How can we be advocates for this approach to philanthropy? This full-day workshop will answer these questions.

    • December 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

Questions?

Speak directly to our Director, Programs

Reach out

Join the GEO Community

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