There is a lot of talk in philanthropy about organizational culture in foundations. I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a culture of disrespect when it comes to the way foundations deal with grantees, consultant partners, and even themselves. Luckily - in my experience - this is the exception not the norm. Still, it’s troubling. Here are three examples:

  1. A foundation colleague told me his foundation has a “culture of double booking meetings” including among their own staff.
  2. A board member at a family foundation intentionally wanted to keep her grant application long and cumbersome, and refused to purchase an online application system, because she felt nonprofits should have to work for their money.
  3. The CEO of one of the largest foundations in a state wanted to hire a consultant I know, but he wanted to unilaterally change the consultant’s payment terms, because the foundation was concerned about its “cash flow needs."

I am positive that none of the foundation staff or trustees in these anecdotes intended any disrespect. I’m also pretty sure that it never crossed their minds that they were being disrespectful to people who could have been strong allies. So how does a grantmaker avoid behaving disrespectfully?

Read the full article about respectful behavior by Kris Putnam-Walkerly.