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Six Methods Grantmakers Can Embrace Transparency to Foster Stronger Relationships


Philanthropy has had a historical past of being notoriously opaque and inaccessible to organizations in search of funding. In my years as a grantseeker and nonprofit marketing consultant, I’ve waded via dozens of ambiguous basis web sites that make it unimaginable to know the way to get even a foot within the door to be thought-about for funding.

And that’s simply the tip of the iceberg relating to our sector’s lack of transparency.

Even as soon as a nonprofit makes it via the seemingly impenetrable obstacles of accessing philanthropic {dollars}, they’re typically confronted with an entire new set of challenges. Lengthy ready intervals for grant approvals, uncertainty about grant renewals, hard-to-reach program officers, and sudden shifts in grantmaking technique put nonprofits in a continuing guessing sport. Not solely does this lack of transparency exacerbate the already uneven energy dynamic that exists between funders and nonprofits, but it surely additionally inhibits the potential of a relationship rooted in belief and mutual accountability.

Nonetheless, when funders proactively mannequin transparency, energy consciousness, and vulnerability, it may be transformative. By setting a tone of honesty and openness, funders create the situations for a distinct kind of relationship, the place everybody’s time and contributions are valued. And extra importantly, nonprofits really feel secure sufficient to share brazenly about what is admittedly occurring of their organizations and of their work.

These six steps can foster a extra intentional tone of transparency and assist you create higher relationships along with your grantees.

1. Be up entrance about what you do and don’t fund.

Ambiguous or unclear funding priorities could make it troublesome for organizations to know whether or not or not they’re a candidate for funding. Being clear about your funding standards prevents ineligible grantseekers from losing their time, and likewise saves basis workers from having to wade via pointless proposals. Being clear about your priorities additionally means being clear about your submission course of, grant deadlines, and decision-making standards. If you happen to don’t have the ability to find out what’s in your basis’s web site, do what you may to speak these pointers and processes to potential grantees in your verbal and e mail communication. It’s going to prevent valuable time in the long term.

2. Don’t lead anybody on.

Often, if a funder invitations a dialog with a nonprofit chief, chances are high that chief goes into the dialog questioning about – or hoping for – potential funding. Concentrate on the ability dynamic on this context, and be upfront if the potential of funding is (or isn’t)  on the desk. If the reply isn’t any, be swift in letting the group know moderately than maintaining them guessing. Although nobody likes rejection, it’s far worse to be rejected after months of being strung alongside. Being upfront on this means will prevent from having much more awkward conversations down the highway.

3. Be accessible.

For a lot of nonprofits, particularly BIPOC-led and grassroots organizations which have traditionally had much less entry to philanthropic {dollars}, foundations can seem to be a black field. Embody contact info in your web site or supply different methods potential grantees can get in contact, resembling workplace hours or digital info classes. In case your group has a coverage of not publishing contact info, advocate for together with an choice in your web site that provides a means for and eligible organizations to get their work in your radar. You could come throughout an amazing group that you simply didn’t learn about, and it’ll assist enhance the notion of your basis amongst potential grantees.

4. Acknowledge the supply of cash.

Funders not often title the supply of their group’s wealth, typically earning money the large elephant within the room. Naming the supply of cash is a robust approach to exhibit openness and transparency, even when it means confronting a historical past of extractive labor. Displaying up brazenly and vulnerably on this means may also help foster candid, trustworthy conversations with grantees sooner or later.

5. Admit your errors and failures.

We’re all human, and making errors and studying from failure is a part of all of our work. This may increasingly imply being trustworthy about your group’s racial fairness journey and acknowledging areas the place it is advisable proceed to enhance and develop. This will additionally embody sharing your face plant moments when your assumptions have been challenged. Modeling the sort of honesty may also help make nonprofits really feel snug sharing their very own missteps and learnings. If you set the tone of transparency about failure, nonprofits really feel safer sharing their very own missteps and learnings about their work, which in flip lets you acquire a clearer image of the realities your nonprofit companions are dealing with.

6. Preserve companions knowledgeable about shifts that will have an effect on their funding.

In accordance with the Open Highway Alliance, funder-created obstacles make up 46 % of the the explanation why nonprofits are unable to realize their supposed affect. Amongst these obstacles are modifications in funder technique, delayed disbursements, and modifications in grant cycles. For this reason it’s critically necessary for funders to be upfront about something occurring internally that will immediately affect grantee companions’ capability to do their work. Retaining grantee companions knowledgeable – and giving them a runway to plan forward – helps keep the integrity of the connection whereas additionally stopping irrevocable hurt.

Transparency Builds Higher Funder-Grantee Relationships

In the end, being intentional about transparency with grantee companions creates the situations for extra trustworthy funder-grantee relationships. This interprets to a greater understanding of grantees, their work, and their challenges. It additionally presents perception that may assist funders be extra strategic and intentional of their grantmaking. As you reexamine your basis’s transparency practices, take into account for your self, is our present strategy serving to – or harming – our capability to nurture relationships of belief and mutual accountability with our companions?

To discover these concepts additional, register for our webinar, Transparency as a Grantmaking Technique to Construct Belief and Mutual Accountability, the place I’ll be in dialog with grantmakers throughout the sector about sensible methods to embrace transparency in philanthropy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shaady Salehi is a strategist, facilitator, and community builder who has devoted almost 20 years to the nonprofit sector. She at present serves because the director of the Belief-Based mostly Philanthropy Venture, a 5-year studying and advocacy initiative to make trust-based practices the norm within the philanthropic sector. Her work within the nonprofit sector has spanned many roles — from division head, to govt director, to board member, to marketing consultant — and her predominant physique of labor has centered on utilizing movie, media, and strategic communications to advance social change. Comply with her @shaadys and Belief-Based mostly Philanthropy Venture at @trustbasedphil.



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