travis manzione

Relationships Matter

Travis Manzione
Director — Assessment Tools
The Center for
Effective Philanthropy

In almost every facet of our lives, the types of relationships we form and maintain not only define how we perceive others, but also how we are perceived by others. Our interactions and communications should characterize the expectations we have for others and the expectations they have for us. When thinking about important relationships in my own life, the ability or failure to acknowledge and accept that we each have a unique and differing perspective determined the relative success of each relationship.

So why should relationships between funders and their grantees be any different? The relationships grantees have with their funders – the quality of interactions and the clarity and consistency of communications – are the key predictor of not only grantee satisfaction, but also grantees’ views of a foundation’s impact.

For grantees, it is about relationships with individual program officers. Program officers play a key role in grantees’ experiences and are the main interface between foundations and their grantees. Therefore, the right program officer can make or break grantees’ experiences with a foundation. However, program officers perform with varying levels of quality. This is true not only among program staff across foundations, but among program staff within foundations.