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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: Learning from Two Decades of Grantee Relationships

    Decision-makers such as elected officials and institutional funders have historically ignored and underinvested in BIPOC communities. Conscientious funders are asking big, long-overdue questions: how do grantmaking policies, practices, and cultures play a role in perpetuating imbalances in power and resource allocation? How can we, as grantmakers, address that?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2020
  • Perspective

    Scaffolding and Support: How Senior Leaders Are Setting the Stage for Change

    Like many other grantmakers, the CLIPF community mobilized quickly to support grantees and communities amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Within a few weeks, most had extended or renewed grants to current grantees, loosened or eliminated restrictions on funding, relaxed application and reporting requirements, redirected funds directly to Covid-related relief, joined (and hosted) pooled funds with colleagues, and partnered to provide relief directly to families. But changes don’t just happen without scaffolding and support. What do leaders need to be doing inside organizations to set the stage for these crucial shifts?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • May 2020
  • Perspective

    The Obstacle is the Path

    Hear from GEO CEO, Marcus Walton, as he reflects on the impact of the circumstances created by COVID-19 on him personally and how the GEO community is even more important during times of uncertainty.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2020
  • Perspective

    Smarter Grantmaking Practices During—and Beyond—COVID-19

    As a community of grantmakers advocating for philanthropy to put nonprofits and communities at the center of our work, we at GEO think the most important questions grantmakers should be asking center around how you can change your practices to be of greater service to your grantees and others serving communities during this time of crisis and beyond. However, these practices are not only needed during times of crisis. We can make permanent changes that shift more power to people working on the ground to strengthen communities.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2020
  • 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

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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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Nichole Hoeflich

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