Through community and collaboration, the people of New Mexico have survived harsh conditions to thrive for hundreds of years. As a foundation that funds exclusively in the state, we continue to see the power of these values in our philanthropic work.

Our most recent strategic plan states,

If we co-create a more aligned, collaborative and integrated social sector, we will help build resilience and prosperity in New Mexico communities.

As a small, private family foundation with a broad mission, we rely heavily on collaboration to increase our impact. This includes what we look for in our grantees, as well as in how we work with other foundations in our geography. And because we have a small staff and operate in New Mexico, a state where history and culture sit front and center in just about everything, we rely on community voices to help us identify grantees whose work resonates best with the people our foundation serves.

Prioritizing community voice

The presence and influence of community voice is a high priority of ours. Multiple questions in our application try to understand the extent to which the community was involved in developing and implementing programs. Applications that say and demonstrate how community input was sought and applied in program development are more likely to get funding from the McCune Foundation, as are organizations that hire from within the community whenever possible. We also look for organizations that prioritize collaboration as much as we do. Those that can describe where they fit within their ecosystem of partners are more favorably ranked than those that cannot.

Reducing the burden on grantees

In general, the funding is unrestricted, general operating support, which gives grantees more flexibility in how they work (and is especially useful to supporting collaboration). Our shared request for proposal process means applicants can submit one application to potentially receive funding from multiple sources. And we created shared reporting structures and meetings to keep grantees more focused on their work, rather than fulfilling requirements from several foundations.

Read the full article about community and collaboration by Henry Rael at Exponent Philanthropy.