In our recent survey of CEP’s Grantee Voice Panel, nearly 20 percent of nonprofit leaders identify opportunity for funders to improve aspects of their grantmaking approach and strategy, making it the second most frequently cited theme.

Nonprofit leaders frequently lament funder-initiated, top-down approaches. They note that funders, on the whole, should hear more from the nonprofits and constituents they seek to serve.   One leader asks that funders “stop changing funding priorities through the echo chamber that is the Board of Trustees meeting,” and instead “use the communities they serve to guide foundation priorities.”

To foundation staff, we offer some discussion questions to consider as you reflect on these suggestions and think about how your grantmaking approaches can help you and your grantees better achieve shared goals:

  • In what ways is your grantmaking approach informed by those you seek to help?
  • In what ways are you hearing from your grantees about opportunities to improve your approach to grantmaking?
  • Are your expectations for outcomes and change realistic given the resources you provide, relative to the scope/magnitude of the issue being addressed? Is this taken into consideration in your assessment and evaluation efforts?
  • In what ways is your grantmaking supporting organizations with demonstrated/likely success? Where might there be opportunities to provide ongoing long-term support to effective programs and organizations, especially those whose work is core to your strategy? At the same time, in what ways are you learning about new and promising initiatives/practices?

Read the full article about approaches to grantmaking by Naomi Orensten at The Center for effective Philanthropy.