Does Your Grantmaking Process Support Your Mission?

Does Your Grantmaking Process Support Your Mission?

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Do Your #Grants Support Your Mission? @Versaic's blog examines the question posed by @grantsmanagers

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Versaic looks at the how of grantmaking in a 6 part blog series.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014 - 5:30am

CAMPAIGN: The How of Grantmaking


Does our grantmaking align with our intentions? This is the first question posed in the report Assessing the How of Grantmaking from the Grants Managers Network (GMN). This section of the report helps grantmakers assess whether they are putting money into groups they say they want to fund, whether they’re competitive in their grantmaking and taking the appropriate amount of risk.

For this question, I’d like to focus on the importance of structure. When we talk with new and prospective clients, we often see a lack of clarity or downright confusion over the question of focus and intentions. Many times, this happens because the organization lacks a structure for giving and is being barraged with requests. Whatever focus they had initially has gotten lost in the shuffle. It’s a version of “mission creep” — starting out in one place and inadvertently migrating elsewhere in the course of responding to community needs.  If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. On more than one occasion, I’ve had clients say to their team, “Wait, what’s our focus again?” during these early conversations. Getting and staying focused can be challenging, especially without an appropriate structure in place to support your team.

We recently started working with a company that lacked focus about their intent as well as a process for managing requests from the community. They needed to tackle both simultaneously. Going through the steps of formalizing their grants and donations process was a forcing function to clarify their intentions. From there, we collaborated to make sure they were asking the right questions in order to identify those community partners most closely aligned with their goals. They went from being unable to tell a promising proposal from an unpromising one, to zeroing in on the grant opportunities that will help them have the greatest impact.

Another foundation we work with has very ambitious intentions when it comes to their grantmaking. They have three areas of focus and each of those focus areas has multiple potential paths for funding and specific outcomes/impacts. The structure that’s in place helps ensure that from top to bottom, the outcomes from the grants are delivering on the foundation’s stated mission. Without that structure, it would be nearly impossible to manage the complexity let alone deliver on the results.

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