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There’s no doubt about it — relationships are important in creating impact. That alone makes them indispensable in service of philanthropic success.
I want to suggest, though, that this articulation does not completely express the full value of a strong funder-grantee relationship.
As nonprofits, grantees and funders alike work to solve some of the most pernicious and discouraging problems our society faces. These problems present challenges that often touch on the inherent dignity of all people. The sheer scale of the issues, and the material and emotional resources entailed in our responses, necessitates a collective effort. As part of working to rise to that collective calling, building strong relationships — those that transcend power dynamics, differences in race and creed, and even (sometimes) ideology — is important in and of itself. These relationships represent our collective intent and demonstrate that the better society we seek is possible. They reinforce the value inherent in each of us. They are deeply moral expressions.
I think that if we value strong funder-grantee relationships (or, for that matter, strong workplace relationships and environments) only for their necessary role in creating impact, we’ve undervalued them. We’re ignoring the necessary heart and soul of our work. As a voluntary sector, we are called on to exemplify the best ideals of what can happen when groups of people come together to address common challenges. And those ideals demand that we build strong relationships.
Read the full article about funder-grantee relationships by Kevin Bolduc at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.