In the 11+ years that I’ve been working in institutional philanthropy I have had the opportunity to have many private and public conversations with nonprofit leaders and activists about what they really want out of their relationships with funders. On a regular basis I hear these leaders express their wish list for funders: general operating support, long-term commitment and reasonable evaluation requirements.
None of these requests are exactly big surprises. And, in fairness, there are a number of reasons why funders can’t or won’t fund in these ways. Regardless of the logic, the truth is that not enough foundations provide this kind of financial support, which, in my opinion, is the best grantmaking strategy a foundation can practice. I am committed to influencing foundations to evolve to this more progressive type of investment until the end of time (wish me luck!).
Now, it is not these typical requests from nonprofits that agitate me. However, there is one request I find frustrating – that is, when nonprofits request that foundations listen – yes, to simply LISTEN to them. Listening is something that EVERY funder can do regardless of charter, asset size, issue, etc. Every human deserves the dignity of being heard. Program officers may have little influence to impact a board or CEO’s funding strategy, but they can LISTEN to grantees with an open heart. After a decade, I can’t believe I’m still hearing this request from nonprofit leaders!
Read the full article about listening by Edgar Villanueva at the National Center for Family Philanthropy.