Our foundation, The Healing Trust, has evolved a lot over the past few years, beginning with our decision in 2019 to think more intentionally about healing and racial equity. We notified our grantee partners early in our equity journey that changes to our grantmaking would be forthcoming, even though we hadn’t worked out the details, yet. Then, over the course of the subsequent three years, we changed our grantmaking processes, changed who and where we fund, and revised our mission and values to be more explicit about racial equity.
We knew that we weren’t going to be able to live into our revised mission if we continued to only fund the same organizations, so we decided to focus our grantmaking on organizations that were BIPOC-led and/or intentionally working toward racial equity and anti-racism. This meant relationships with some grantee partners we had been funding for years would come to an end.
Ending a partnership can be difficult but there are ways to do it well. Here are some of the tools that we used during our grantee partner transition.
We began notifying our grantee partners of our intention to become more focused on racial equity in 2020. Over the course of three years, we shared updates about our progress via our website, social media, targeted emails, virtual meetings, and in conversations with our grantee partners. After years of planning the implementation and ironing out the details, we were finally ready to announce our new direction.
With our communication strategy set, we got to work on the messaging. We value transparency, so while we were happy to share the process that led to the changes that we were making, we also wanted to decrease the opportunity for confusion by ensuring that we were all saying the same things. We thought through the questions that our grantee partners were likely to have and assigned specific messengers to answer those questions. We also documented the answers to those questions and made them accessible to our whole team so there was access to the same information.
We communicated the changes to our grantmaking in a variety of ways. We emailed a meeting synopsis to everyone who was invited to the grantee partner meeting, along with a link to the recording. The follow-up email included a survey that we asked our grantee partners to complete. The purpose of the survey was to glean how they might align with our new strategic priorities. Our program team followed-up with everyone who completed the survey, and the website was updated to reflect the information that was shared during the meeting. The homepage of our website connects to a blog post that describes the changes in detail and includes the meeting’s recording. This information was also shared via our social channels and was included in our quarterly newsletter.
Read the full article about ending a funding relationship by Jennifer Oldham at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.