Can grantmakers and nonprofits work together?

If there really were a growing trend of partnership between nonprofits and grantmaking foundations, what would we notice?  A partial list includes:

  • More cooperation between those with money to fund good work and those with the muscle, spirit, and willingness to do it.
  • More development and affirmation of common purposes, less on finger-pointing or distancing.
  • More demand for fairness and equity as commodities that our public systems and private markets and philanthropy must produce, compared to just settling.
  • More communication of real progress and real problems, less on “community relations.”
  • More support for sustained effort and helpful assistance, less on shutting down efforts that don’t pan out immediately.
  • More funding to go deeper, less for one-shot skin-deep or nice ephemera.
  • More space to think creatively, less enforcement of the dysfunctional business model.
  • More spine from philanthropic funders, less self-protection and less avoidance of real opportunities to serve the greater good.
  • More spine from philanthropic nonprofits, less self-protection and less avoidance of real opportunities to serve the greater good.
  • More support of growing nonprofits’ capabilities, less on non-growth strategies.
  • More resources to educate the community and engage it in a kind of activism that can energize even while it’s reeling from the effects of a hostile recession and unhelpful bureaucracies.
  • More intention to fix our social systems, with support for the R&D, policy development, advocacy, community organizing, resource development, and action needed to “move the needle” in those arenas that are clearly not working.
  • More support for generosity, inclusion, and engagement.

Steven E. Mayer, Ph.D. / June 28, 2011