Opening Avenues of Understanding Between Funders, Nonprofits

By Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy

Here at Exponent Philanthropy, our research has consistently found that philanthropists with few or no staff can multiply the impact of their giving through the wise use of resources and a focused mission. When that wisdom and focus are applied in true partnership with a nonprofit grantee, the opportunity to leverage resources and amplify impact is greatest. By working together with the nonprofits with whom we share a common passion, we can achieve great and powerful things.

The future of the communities we serve rests in our ability to move beyond traditional grantmaker–recipient roles and to work together to achieve outsized and meaningful impact. If you have known me for very long, you know this is a passion of mine. I am increasingly coming to recognize that we, as funders, are part of an ecosystem in which the nonprofits we fund often have more expertise on specific issues than we do. By tapping into this expertise through true partnerships, we can achieve our vision of a better world through informed philanthropy.

Scientists will tell you that, within any healthy ecosystem, survival depends on sharing nutrients, energy, and other resources. As philanthropists, our contribution to the system is critical, yet without a healthy coexistence with those we fund, our grants and our dreams are likely to fall short of our desired impact.

I am excited about recently being appointed to the National Council of Nonprofits’ board of directors. The National Council of Nonprofits advocates on behalf of America’s charitable nonprofits through its network of state associations, representing more than 25,000 members. Continue reading

Noticing Nonprofit Redundancy, Taking Action

By Andy Carroll, ASF 

Last month, I interviewed Nan Pugh of Pugh Family Foundation for ASF’s Leadership Initiative. She was amazing—smart, enthusiastic, committed, curious.

One of the themes Nan talked about was that foundations are leaders because they set agendas and set directions. An example she offered was that her foundation is concerned when they receive multiple proposals for the same work, or same kinds of work, from different organizations. For example, in one grant cycle the foundation received seven applications for financial literacy work in its rural community.

The week prior, Scott Brazda of The Stuller Family Foundation e-mailed me to ask about guidance for foundations that see redundancy among nonprofit work and wish to encourage certain grantees to merge or collaborate. I offered a little guidance and recommended Scott post to ASF’s Discussion List.

But Scott’s post—and an influx of great responses from fellow ASF members—came later. Back to Nan.

A few moments later in our interview, Nan mentioned a colleague named Scott Brazda as “a visionary.” She said Scott was concerned about redundancy in their community and was trying to figure out ways to address it. Nan said she wanted to think more about the issue of redundancy and work with Scott and others on it.

I then realized Nan and Scott are both in Louisiana, and it turns out they are good colleagues.

Continue reading