December 12, 2018

Foundation grants are an important part of capacity-building and often associated with the term “strategic philanthropy.” That’s not surprising, since most funders are looking for ways to increase their impact. Being more strategic can be a complex undertaking — and like every complex undertaking, shifting toward strategic grantmaking comes with multiple pitfalls and opportunities to make mistakes. That’s okay. Mistakes can provide valuable information for ongoing learning, which is a key part of strategic grantmaking. Acknowledging and acting on them only serves to make your efforts stronger.

That said, there are some common pitfalls that any foundation can avoid with a little forethought:

  1. Not asking “why”. There is a tendency when discussing new ideas for philanthropy to rush headlong into strategies and tactics without carefully thinking through the why behind the strategy. Does investing in a reading program for third graders sound like a good strategic move? Why? Identify what you want to accomplish first, then the fastest way to get there.
  2. Putting all your eggs in one basket. Throwing caution to the wind and engaging full bore in a new strategy may be tempting for some, but when it comes to long-term effectiveness and impact, a slower, more intentional shift will bring greater clarity for your team and greater support from your community. Wade in and test the waters rather than diving in headfirst.
  3. Not communicating. The beginning of an exploration into strategic grantmaking is the time to step up communication and transparency. It’s imperative to explain to your community what you’re doing, the process you’ll use, what you hope to learn and accomplish, and how long you think it will take. Once you’ve designed your new strategy, share messages about that as well. Explain why you settled on the direction you have, how you came to that decision (your process), when and for how long you anticipate enacting this strategy, and who might be affected and why.
  4. Being too prescriptive. There is a difference between identifying an issue and identifying a solution. Dictating solutions is not truly strategic, unless a funder is willing to learn from grantee experiences and adapt its strategy accordingly. The better bet is to work with potential grantees to identify potential solutions to the issue you wish to address, and allow them to help you design their respective approaches. Otherwise, you’re simply asking them to apply the “XYZ Foundation’s method” to a problem that they may or may not feel is best solved by that method. If there is a particular program that you feel would be helpful, poll potential grantees to see who may agree, who may not, and why.
  5. Believing you can’t make a difference. If you don’t believe it, no one else will either. When it comes to strategic grantmaking, there’s no such thing as too small, too conservative, or too restricted in scope to make a difference. No matter what your operating focus or geographic area, there are myriad ways to be strategic. If you can embrace them, others will too.

For more insight on strategic grantmaking, and tips on responsive grantmaking, download the full report, Responsive vs. Strategic Grantmaking: Exploring the Options.

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing Foundation Grants was first posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly on June 25, 2018 at Putnam-Consulting.com. Please VISIT HERE to read original article.

Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW: For over 18 years, top global philanthropies have requested Kris’ help to transform their giving and catapult their impact, including designing strategies that achieve results, streamline operations, assess impact, and allocate funds. Her clients include the Robert Wood Johnson, David and Lucile Packard, Avery Dennison, Annie E. Casey, Charles and Helen Schwab, and Walton Family foundations, among dozens of others. She’s helped over 60 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over $350 million in grants and gifts.

The author of Five Mistakes to Avoid When Pursuing Foundation Grants was featured earlier this year at InsideCharity.org with her article Stop Delusional Altruism from Undermining Your Philanthropy.

June 25, 2018
Foundation Grants

Five Mistakes To Avoid When Seeking Foundation Grants – Putman-Walkerly

Foundation grants are an important part of capacity-building and often associated with the term “strategic philanthropy.” That’s not surprising, since most funders are looking for ways to increase their impact. Being more strategic can be a complex undertaking — and like every complex undertaking, shifting toward strategic grantmaking comes with multiple pitfalls and opportunities to make mistakes. That’s okay. Mistakes can provide valuable information for ongoing learning, which is a key part of strategic grantmaking. […]
May 28, 2018
David Blyer, CEO-President, Co-founder, Arreva

Jewish Federation Selects Arreva as its Preferred Donor Management Software

Arreva – Fort Lauderdale, FL, May 28, 2018 – Arreva, a global technology leader and trusted advisor in delivering an integrated cloud-based online fundraising and donor relationship management software solution to nonprofit organizations worldwide, announces it has been chosen as a preferred vendor for the Jewish Federation of Broward County. The Federation provides support programs for Jewish members in its community, Israel and around the world. “We support thousands of community members every year with […]
May 6, 2018
Artificial-Intelligence-Nonprofit-Marketing-Sean-Kerr

Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Nonprofit Marketing – Sean Kerr

Team SWYDO recently interviewed Cause Inspired Media COO and NANOE Enterprise Partner, Sean Kerr, on the role of Artificial Intelligence will play in nonprofit marketing. Here’s what Team SWYDO and Sean Kerr had to say. How would you describe your company in less than 150 words? We are an agile, rapidly growing and diversified team of people who have always been looking for meaningful work and have found a place to do just that. When […]
May 4, 2018
Nonprofit Budgeting NANOE Ultimate Nonprofit Budget Alan Wiener

Ultimate Nonprofit Budgeting Checklist – Alan Weiner

Nonprofit budgeting is no small task. In order to accomplish your goals your approach to budgeting will have to reflect the uniqueness of your organization. Conversely, while your exact recipe for success may differ slightly, you’ll still need to check many of the same basic budgeting boxes that are reflected in the list below. Here’s your ultimate budgeting checklist for nonprofit organizations: 1. Review Previous Performance and Budgets If you have them, be sure to […]