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.
In the Center for Effective Philanthropy's research on strong funder-grantee relationships, we looked at a subsample of our grantee data: responses from almost 30,000 grantees representing 175 funders across the United States of all different types, sizes, and focuses. We sought to determine not only the essential elements of strong relationships, but also what it takes to develop them.
To hear more about our latest research on strong funder-grantee relationships and the keys to success, please join me on March 4th for the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation’s 13th Annual Forum on Nonprofit Effectiveness, "Nonprofit Grantees & Funders: Building Strong Relationships - Assuring Community Impact."