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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.

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: What Does it Take to Build Strong Relationships?

    On November 21, 2017, the Center for Effective Philanthropy posted this blog on building strong relationships. GEO's work on strong relationships with nonprofits is closely aligned with CEP's new publication Relationships Matter: Program Officers, Grantees, and the Keys to Success. This article explores what it takes to build strong relationships.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • December 2017
  • Member Story

    Smarter Grantmaking in Action: Social Venture Partners Arizona

    Increasing nonprofit capacity to deliver positive social impact through multiyear, general operating support

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • November 2017
  • Publication Members Only

    Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?

    Through our research over the past 20 years, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has identified a set of grantmaker practices that help nonprofits achieve better results. Every three years, GEO conducts a study to help us understand how we are doing as a field, including trends over time as well as new areas of inquiry.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • November 2017
  • Event Materials Members Only

    Member Call: How Can We Be In This Together? Highlights and Resources

    Highlights, Key Takeaways and Resources from the October 16, 2017, Member Call: How Can We Be In This Together? A Funder Discussion with Nonprofits.

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

    GEOList Summary: Meet with Program Officer Event

    I’m working on planning a monthly informal event where grantees or applicants can come into the office, perhaps first thing in the morning for coffee, and ask questions. Not just questions about the Foundation and our work, but also general questions about writing good grant proposals, how to contact a foundation, etc. Does anyone currently do anything like this? Has it worked well? Do you have a particular way of publicizing it or extending invitations?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • October 2017

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2018 National Conference

    Hosted in partnership with Philanthropy California, 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

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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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Emily Wexler

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