Research conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) about how to build strong relationships between funders and their grantees finds that one important component is creating a grant selection process that is actually helpful in strengthening grantees. In the best-case scenario, a funder’s application and selection process sets the stage for a positive relationship characterized by productive, meaningful discussions — and mutual respect.   Separately, funders can strive to design their reporting and evaluation processes in such a way that they lead to learning, reflection, and improvement on the part of grantees.

But this is easier said than done. Despite best intentions, funder selection, reporting, and evaluation processes can sometimes turn out to be time-intensive and burdensome to grantees — and, in some cases, add no value to grantees at all. Not only that, they might not actually collect information that funder staff actually use either. So how does a funder build and implement processes that are helpful — both for themselves and for their grantees?

The Amsterdam-based international women’s fund Mama Cash supports feminist groups globally working toward a world in which every woman, girl, trans, and intersex person has the power and resources to participate fully and equally. In its 2020 Grantee Perception Report (GPR), grantee-partners supported by Mama Cash rated the fund in the top 5 percent of CEP’s overall comparative dataset for the helpfulness of its selection process in strengthening grantees’ organizations and/or programs. Moreover, grantees rated Mama Cash in the top 10 percent of CEP’s dataset for the extent to which its reporting process was a helpful opportunity for grantees to reflect and learn, and the extent to which the evaluation generated information useful to other organizations.

Tamara Pels-Idrobo Tapia, programme associate for Latin America and the Caribbean, and Shikha Sethia, programme officer for Money – Labour rights, shared their thoughts on which approaches they believe have been key to building processes that grantee-partners find helpful.

Three Keys:

  • Reviewing Applicants Holistically
  • Collective Decision Making and Power Sharing
  • Encouraging Self Reflection and Honest Dialogue

Read the full article about Mama Cash by Charlotte Brugman at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.