Strengthen Relationships with Nonprofits

Better solutions take hold when they emerge from the communities we serve. When we fail to achieve the best results, it is often because we aren’t connected to our communities and the work of grantees.

What is stakeholder engagement?

Many grantmakers are recognizing that in order to ensure better results, we need to tap into the knowledge experience and energy of key stakeholders — nonprofits, community members, other funders, thought leaders. This type of engagement means reaching beyond the usual suspects, deep listening and involving key players in philanthropic decision making. Doing so provides a better understanding of the challenges on the ground, increases buy-in and improves strategies. Find the full answer here >

What are different ways to engage stakeholders?

A host of specific practices and activities can help grantmakers bring the voices of nonprofits, beneficiaries and community members into decision making and planning. These activities range from lower touch where grantmakers create vehicles to communicate with key stakeholders, to higher levels of involvement in shaping grantmaking programs. Find the full answer here >

Which stakeholders should we involve in our decisions and how?

Taking time early in the grantmaking process to map out the stakeholders affected by our work, and their position in the ecosystem, helps creates a deeper understanding of key issues. It also prepares us to address future concerns and to tap stakeholder expertise in a proactive way that helps build agreement and buy-in that ultimately leads to more effective programs. In order to do this well, grantmakers need to master stakeholder analysis and determine how to bring key players into decision-making. Find the full answer here >

What is empathy and what are the benefits?

Empathy is one of the main reasons individual and institutional philanthropy exist. Grantmakers in communities across the country and around the world are mission-bound to try and help people and communities overcome challenges in order to thrive. Implicit in most grantmaker missions is the message: “We care, and we want to help.” But while philanthropy often originates out of compassion and concern for others, grantmakers sometimes forget to make empathy a core driver of our grantmaking. In this piece, we discuss the value of empathy and how it can help grantmakers make smarter grantmaking decisions. Find the full answer here >

How do we build and maintain authentic relationships?

While we may not be able to totally remove the inherent power imbalance between grantmakers, our grantees and the communities we serve, we can take steps to build more trusting, honest and authentic relationships. By making our work about others, not ourselves, we can develop more genuine connections with grantees and communities. This can mean getting out of the office, bringing the outside into our organizations, making the necessary investments in time and resources, and leading from the top. Find the full answer here >

How do we know if our stakeholder engagement is working?

Effective stakeholder engagement starts and ends with respect — respect for the expertise that those on the front lines bring to the problems affecting their community, and respect for their capacity to develop solutions if given the chance. Assessing whether stakeholder engagement strategies have truly taken hold requires a shift in our traditional approach to evaluation and learning processes and the factors that constitute success. Find the full answer here >

Where can we go to dig deeper on stakeholder engagement?

This document contains resources and websites that can assist grantmakers as we continue to improve our engagement with grantees and other partners. Find the full answer here >

Who is engaging stakeholders well?

A searchable collection of member stories about strengthening relationships with nonprofits is available here.

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