When funders get together to connect, talk and build relationships with one another, big things can happen.

Consider, for example, this analysis of over $14 million awarded to nonprofits in Frederick County, Maryland, along with a growing understanding of how local giving relates to community needs.

The origins of our funders group

About five years ago, a group of funders in Frederick County, Maryland realized we were all using the same grants management system: Foundant Grant Lifecycle Manager, or GLM. As a result, we started meeting every other month to talk about the system, and how we could leverage this shared technology to streamline grant applications for local grantseekers.

Collaborating for data sharing

What started as a conversation about streamlining applications turned into a desire to better understand what we were funding, and what we were not funding. In particular, the group discussed:

What our funders group learned

Our funder collaborative learned a lot from the first report, for instance:

  • We gave out substantially more funding as a collective than we’d thought—nearly $14 million across participating funders.
  • There were local philanthropies not included in our original working group whose insights were valuable to answering these questions.
  • In some areas, our collective giving directly aligned with stated community needs (e.g., addressing ACEs). But in other places, it did not (e.g., supporting our county’s growing senior population).
  • For some grants, our coding taxonomy worked well. But others needed to be adjusted and/or completely reconsidered. These mostly related to race and ethnicity demographics.
  • Our grantmaking addressed emergency needs (likely a result of this first report coinciding with COVID-19), but overlooked preventative funding.

Read the full article about collaborating for data sharing by Kerry McHugh at Exponent Philanthropy.