Giving Compass' Take:

• Nell Edgington at Social Velocity lists three questions funders can ask their grantees to help align goals and improve communication.

• How can we foster more open and honest conversations about organizational sustainability in general? These questions are a start, but the discussion shouldn't end there.

• Here's an argument for letting nonprofits embrace failure on the path to innovation

I think we can all agree that most philanthropists truly want to be helpful to the nonprofit recipients of their dollars. However, because of the inherent power imbalance, it is often challenging, if not impossible, for a funder and a grantee to have a candid conversation about what it will really take to achieve the social change that they both seek.

So here are some questions that funders, who hope to help their most beloved grantees achieve their mission, can employ:

  1. What holds you back?  Instead of pressuring nonprofit leaders to grow, funders should ask about the capacity constraints that are holding those nonprofits back. And once a nonprofit leader reveals what those constraints are, funders and nonprofit leaders together should brainstorm how to overcome those hurdles, with capacity capital.
  2. What would it really cost to achieve your long-term goals? Funders should encourage the leaders of the nonprofits they fund to take the longview (perhaps starting with a Theory of Change), and to include ALL the costs (program, infrastructure, reserves, staffing and systems) necessary to get there.
  3. What other funders or influencers can we introduce you to? Instead of being overly protective of their desirable network, funders should actively make connections for those nonprofits that they want to succeed.

The only way we are going to move beyond the power dynamic and an under-resourced nonprofit sector is if funders and nonprofit leaders have more open and honest conversations about what it will really take to move social change forward. So get talking.

Read full article about what funders should ask nonprofits by Nell Edgington at Social Velocity.