By Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy, and Jenny Chandler, National Council of Nonprofits
Last week we held two Great Funder-Nonprofit Relationships programs generously supported by the Fund for Shared Insight. More than 200 total participants, representing both funders and nonprofits, joined us for candid conversations in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
What does a great funder-nonprofit relationship look and feel like?
We asked this question during the program and gathered 30 responses that summed up the participants’ collective vision:
- Mutually beneficial
- Relaxed not rushed
As a funder or a nonprofit, we think you’ll agree that these characteristics contribute to true partnerships. We’ve purposely not indicated if each came from a funder or a nonprofit because we found that both groups expressed interest in building relationships with the other that reflect these qualities.
How do we make these characteristics a reality? How do we move from transactional to transformational relationships?
From participants, here are 20 ways funders and nonprofits can work together, starting today, to be more intentional about building relationships with our mission partners:
- Share mistakes
- Get to know each other like I know my friends
- Engage each other with radical candor
- Be less defensive and open to bigger pictures beyond individual programs
- Take risks
- Be strategic
- Be open to multiyear funding
- Be human-centered in how we design our work
- Connect each other to resources
- Be intentionally educational
- Have open communication
- Be interactive and feedback-friendly
- Adapt to change
- Don’t always be rushed; take time to be relaxed
- Engage for the longer term
- Build on common interests
- Keep each other informed
- Be easy-going
Do you agree? We look forward to hearing your responses and sharing more of what we are learning about building and maintaining great funder-nonprofit relationships.
We invite you to watch for future posts and join us this fall when we repeat the program in Boston (September 12) and Washington, DC (September 20); a webinar on November 9 will summarize our lessons learned.
Henry Berman became Exponent Philanthropy’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and Exponent Philanthropy member since 2003, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of members to his role.
Jenny Chandler is vice president of the National Council of Nonprofits. Jenny’s past service for charitable nonprofits includes being a legal advisor, board member, senior staff member, program volunteer, and grantmaker. Prior to joining the Council of Nonprofits in July 2009, Jenny took a deep dive into ‘what can go wrong?’ by conducting internal audits and risk assessments for charitable nonprofits while serving as Senior Counsel and Director of Special Projects for the Nonprofit Risk Management Center, a national nonprofit that helps other nonprofits understand and manage risk.