Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?: Reflecting on GEO’s Latest Report

In a recent blog post NCG member John Esterle, Executive Director of The Whitman Institute, reflected on the findings of  Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter? published this past March by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO).

In 2011 Grantmakers for Effective Organizations heard from 775 foundations about grantmaking practices GEO identified as contributing to healthy and successful nonprofits (general operating/unrestricted grants, multiyear funding, and capacity-building support) With Is Grantmaking Getting Smarter?, GEO reports on the results of their survey.

Unfortunately, the answer to their question is “no.”

Thankfully, the report doesn’t suggest grantmaking isn’t getting any dumber.

But the point that John considers in his blog post is that despite evidence based research from organizations like the Center for Effective Philanthropy, FSG, The Bridgespan Group, Nonprofit Finance Fund, TCC Group, GEO and others touting the benefit of general operating and capacity-building support, it’s still the hardest type of funding to acquire.

…it appears you can amass a pile of evidence about the value of certain grantmaking practices, but it is only when you create opportunities for real listening and dialogue, when you build a different kind of relationship between funder and grantee, that behavior shifts (something to think about when we look at the “impact” of process and relationship-based work).

Read all of John’s blog post online.


About the author

Northern California Grantmakers is an association of foundations, corporate contributions programs and other private grantmakers. Its mission is to promote the well-being of people and their communities in balance with a healthy environment by the thoughtful and creative use of private wealth and resources for public benefit. To this end, NCG works to enhance the effectiveness of philanthropy, and to strengthen the ties between philanthropy and its many stakeholders; including nonprofit organizations, government, business, media, academia, and the public at large.

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