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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.

  • GEOList Members Only

    GEOList Summary: Examples of Forward Leaning Work By Intermediaries

    What is the risk position should intermediaries be taking in their respective ecosystems? How far out front on issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice should they be? What are best practices in staying in authentic integrity with the field/movement when they may be playing a resourcing role? Should intermediaries lead the way in diffusing the power dynamics of philanthropy through democratizing decision making and more?

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

    GEOList Summary: Community Engagement Specialist Job Description

    We are seeking a job description for a Community Engagement Specialist.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • June 2017
  • Perspective

    Effective Engagement Starts and Ends with Respect

    Even when we don’t mean to — and even when it runs counter to who we want to be — we can fall into ineffective patterns of operating that exclude, rather than engage, key stakeholders.

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

    GEOList Summary: Partnership-model Grantmaking and the Power Dynamic

    We’re considering whether our current practice of regular site visit reviews with grantees is emphasizing the power dynamic, creating a punitive relationship, and generally getting in our way. But before we seriously consider ending the reviews, we need more information

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

    GEOList Summary: Grantmaking to Local Government

    We were wondering if any GEO members have had success working with/making grants to local government? If so, would you be willing to share the mechanics of grant agreements, processes, or any tips?

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • April 2017

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2018 National Conference

    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
  • Workshops

    Grantee Inclusion Workshop

    Join us in Phoenix, Arizona, December 5 – 7, 2017 for a Grantee Inclusion Workshop, presented in partnership with Arizona Grantmakers Forum and Philanthropy Southwest!

    • December 2017
  • Remote Learning and Webinars

    Alternative Models to Support Nonprofit Learning Capacity

    Join GEO, as we highlight one session from our Learning Conference 2017, to hear about how we as grantmakers can better support nonprofit learning capacity.

    • August 2017

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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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