Why don’t more grantmakers set strategic goals aimed at making them the best makers of grants possible? In PEAK Grantmaking surveys, fewer than 50 percent of responding funders maintain strategic goals relating to grantmaking practices—the steps funders take to equitably, effectively, and efficiently mobilize resources to achieve shared goals with grantees and partners.

How we make our grants matters. In the absence of a widespread commitment to grantmaking excellence, we’ve instituted a dizzying range of policies, processes, and requirements—both within and among funders—that are not only misaligned with our values, but send a strong message that we don’t trust our grantees.

Every requirement placed on grantseekers requires them to shift resources from delivering on their missions to fundraising. While that might be dismissed as the “cost of doing business,” we need to remind ourselves that nonprofits don’t really receive grants: They receive “net grants,” the total amount of funding minus the costs of getting and managing the grant. (Of course, this doesn’t take into account the costs of unsuccessful requests, which the grantseeker must fund on its own.)

If we want to move the field towards more equitable, effective, and efficient practices, we must establish strategic goals related to practice, then report on our progress to staff, board, and, yes, external stakeholders—including our grantees.

Below are some examples of organization-level strategic goals that you might want to consider:

  • Narrow the power gap with grantees by collecting feedback from them, and then using that feedback to improve our processes.
  • Drive equity by eliminating bias in our decision-making processes, and incorporating people with lived experience into the process.
  • Share what we learn from and with our grantees to build the field and make a greater impact overall.
  • Practice responsiveness by implementing risk management practices that promote equity and reduce the burden on nonprofits.

Read the full article about how to make grants more effective by Michelle Greanias at PEAK Grantmaking.