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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

    A Note from GEO CEO, Marcus Walton, on COVID-19

    The global COVID-19 outbreak being felt here and across the world is forcing philanthropy to reconsider our practices to be more responsive to nonprofits and communities. GEO CEO, Marcus Walton, shares his perspective on the evolving situation.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • March 2020
  • Perspective

    Cross-post: An eye towards the future: Trust-based funding

    In this cross-post from the inaugural fellow at The Patterson Foundation, Hannah Saeger Karnei, she explores her experience learning about the Ford Foundation's BUILD program.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • December 2019
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Self-Care and Wellbeing at Grantee Partner Convenings?

    Hi GEO community, I'm planning a convening for partners working on the frontlines of the migration crises in Central America, Mexico, and the U.S., and looking for thoughtful ideas, both big and small, to bring some self-care and wellbeing to the space we will be creating together. What are ways you've seen some self- and collective care integrated into conferences or gatherings? Or ideas you'd love to implement but haven't had the chance? If you've been thinking about self-care/wellbeing and its importance to the success and resilience of your partners, do reach out. I'd love to have a conversation.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • November 2019
  • Perspective

    Revolutionary Love — Our Secret Sauce

    What if the philanthropic sector placed as much value on love and relationships as we do on data and outputs? What if strategic plans accounted for the time it takes to actually build deep, authentic trust and our theories of change had love at the center? It’s no longer a dream— it’s how the Latino Community Foundation does the work and why they've had such powerful results.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • October 2019
  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Senior Fellowship Examples?

    Greetings GEO Friends! Hoping this note finds everyone in good spirits as spring sets in. I’m wondering if any of you know of any fellowship programs that you could point me to, either within philanthropy or more broadly within the social sector? We have a few we are looking at but want to expand our reach to include others. Specially, we are hoping to see examples that invite fellowship from senior leaders who are well-established in their careers. Thanks in advance for any examples that you may have!

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • June 2019

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Perspectives on Philanthropy

Interesting thoughts and ideas circulating in the GEO community.

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Flexible, Reliable Funding

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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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Nichole Hoeflich


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