What is Giving Compass?
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As a funder supporting organizations that create and provide Jewish learning opportunities, the Jim Joseph Foundation is inherently in a position of power in the funder-grantee relationship. While we acknowledge this reality, we also try to minimize this “power dynamic” when possible. Talented, committed grantee-partners are vital to realizing our aspiration and, guided by a relational approach to grantmaking, we strive to offer them more than just grant support. This can mean offering technical support, supporting data gathering or other research efforts, or filling a void either in the field or in their organization specifically.
In fact, non-monetary grant assistance has been a staple of our successful grantmaking for decades. In the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) 2018 report, Strengthening Grantees: Foundation and Nonprofit Perspectives, researchers noted that 83% of foundation CEOs say that their staff provides direct assistance beyond the grant and 67% enlist a 3rd party consultant to provide that support. Even with those promising numbers, the report shares a stark disconnect between what foundation professionals are offering and what nonprofit CEOs say they actually need. According to the report:
Almost all foundation leaders say that their foundation:
- feels responsible for strengthening grantees;
- cares about grantee organizations’ overall health; and
- is aware of grantees’ needs.
In contrast, the majority of nonprofit CEOs say:
- their foundation funders feel no or little responsibility for strengthening their organization;
- most foundation funders do not care about strengthening the overall health of their organization; and
- most foundation funders do not ask about their organization’s needs beyond funding.
The report shared dichotomous perspectives about who makes decisions about consultancies, the nature of ancillary services provided, whether follow-up takes place to the interventions that are provided, and overall responsiveness to requests beyond the dollars granted. While some of this divide can be attributed to communications challenges, more can be attributed to succumbing to the power divide.
Undoubtedly, we have made some mistakes with our grantee-partners that are noted in this report. Operating from an office that in certain cases is thousands of miles away from these partners leaves plenty of room for error and assumption. We have discovered some of these through three different iterations of CEP’s Grantee Perception Report and recognize that there are grantee perspectives that remain un-shared due to the grantee-funder relationship.
Still, relational grantmaking is an attempt to ensure that knowledge-sharing and open communication are prioritized by both funder and grantee. This approach creates more meaningful and impactful investments.
Read the full article about non-grantmaking support by Steven Green at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.