Giving Compass' Take:

• Jason Grisell, at Grantmakers in Health, shares advice on small foundation giving, reminding organizations to remain flexible and focus on sustainability.

• How can you remain sustainable in your small foundation? What can flexibility do to keep smaller organizations afloat, especially during times of crisis?

• Learn about the importance of small foundations in rural settings.

As the President & CEO of a small foundation, there are some unique challenges and opportunities to consider when deciding how to implement an organizational strategy.

When funding a program or a project, it is important for smaller foundations to understand the impact of their limited capacity. If you are limited to funding only 5-10 percent of a program budget, is that a good use of your limited grantmaking funds? How would the program sustain itself if you were not able to support it the following year? Should you consider funding fewer programs so that your grantmaking can make a larger impact and ensure that programs can achieve their intended outcomes?

As a smaller foundation, we must accept the fact that we are likely not the sole funder of any project. In general, our funds will likely be used to fill a gap left by federal or state funding, or perhaps another foundation funder. This makes it critical for us to communicate and partner with the other funders in our program area. By collaborating with the other funders, you prevent duplication of efforts and excess funding for a project, and ensure that activities are happening in a non-competitive way in order to achieve the best outcomes for the population(s) being served.

Smaller foundations must seriously consider their current financial position and its impact on the future. As part of your strategic planning, encourage organizational leadership to revisit whether your foundation is going to maintain the 5 percent giving requirement, or allow for flexibility depending on the needs of the community and your boards’ willingness to assist in a time of crisis.

Read the full article about small foundation giving by Jason Grisell at Grantmakers In Health.