Grant reports. We all love to hate them. A reason is that like most things related to grants, we’ve learned to tell funders what we think they want to hear. Imagine if we could be honest, though:

What progress did you make on your proposed outcomes? 

You and other funders have created an atmosphere of absolute risk-avoidance, so we only proposed outcomes we knew we would likely achieve. So we achieved them. Sometimes we stare wistfully at the distant horizon, imagining a world where we are supported to pursue ambitious, visionary goals, which may include failing spectacularly a few times.

What obstacles did you encounter this grant period? Just the usual stuff: Severe community needs, understaffing, overwhelmed and underpaid staff, lack of funding, micromanaging and/or clueless board members, donors who don’t get it, funders like you who make our lives difficult, a pandemic, systemic racism, white moderates focused more on respectability than equity and justice, pervasive generalized existential anxieties, and a cease-and-desist from MacKenzie Scott.

What are some critical lessons you learned? We learned several important lessons, including that it is crucial to get community input and ownership before launching new programs, cultural dynamics affect everything, and that if you don’t take care of mice problems, it may lead to rattlesnake problems when the office is empty for months at a time. But the main lesson we learned is that we’re all exhausted and this system is untenable and rich people should stop putting money into wealth-hoarding vehicles and just pay their taxes.

Read the full article about honest grant reports by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.