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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.

  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Program Design for Racial Equity Peer Cohorts

    ACT for Alexandria, a community foundation in Alexandria, VA, is developing a capacity building cohort focused on racial equity for nonprofit leaders in our community. We are curious about any of your experiences with similar initiatives.

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

    GEOList Summary: Artistic Vitality Language & DEI

    I’m interested in what language others have used that we might consider and thoughts on a more inclusive definition of artistic vitality without changing our strategy. Has anyone been engaging in this conversation or exploration?

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

    GEOList Summary: Online community platforms

    Does anyone operate within a region that utilizes an online community platform for local nonprofit organizations to communicate with each other? Think a private social media site – only accessible to local nonprofit organizations – where they can post needs for specific items, program availability, events, grant opportunities, etc. I’m looking for resources, best practices, experiences with a particular platform, as well as anyone who has tried this and run into difficulties with startup or ongoing operation.

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

    GEOList Summary: Resources for Rural Early Childcare Success Models

    The H. E. Butt Foundation is researching ways rural areas have successfully implemented early childcare centers. We are interested in research data around different methodologies for implementation.

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

    GEOList Summary: Leveraging the power of position

    We are seeking thoughts, favorite resources, and/or policies that colleagues may have for when and how their foundation – in particular, a family foundation, might leverage their power/voice within a community to move the needle on any particular issue. Perhaps on an issue area where philanthropy is silent or having an emerging voice. Some topics can include immigration, gun violence or democracy.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • February 2019

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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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