Funder Relationships: More Than Just Money
3 November 2016 at 10:23 am
Imagination and commitment to best outcomes are needed in funding relationship makeovers, writes philanthropic adviser Genevieve Timmons from Portland House Foundation and co-host of Pro Bono Australia’s latest webinar.
Not for profits create value with philanthropic dollars, and are there to ensure that the benefits and opportunities of any grantmaking program are delivered.
Effective relationships between grantmakers and the people who bring their money to life are essential to any funding transaction, to guarantee optimal outcomes from money given, and also to avoid draining valuable resources of the organisations there to serve communities and society. There are still significant frustrations and burdensome processes in negotiating funding support for not-for-profit work. The opportunity to exchange and sort out fresh ways of doing business are rare, but essential for effective giving practice.
Mistrust is expensive in a funding relationship, and mutual trust is a cost-effective ingredient. Contemporary grantmakers are increasingly looking for ways to ensure the strength and efficiency of funding relationships, while also maintaining a light touch, nimble processes and mutual commitment to outcomes. How do you cultivate common understanding, shared risk and clear expectations of each other on both sides of the transaction?
It’s time to look again at what is necessary to transact philanthropic dollars effectively, and what is time wasting and demoralising for the many talented and committed not for profits who seek resources to carry out the work we all rely on in society. The burden can also be lifted for people on the giving side of the equation, many of whom are also often under pressure of limited time and resources to carry out their work.
If philanthropic dollars are to generate best outcomes, while also accelerating the progress of the not for profits who put this money to work, there needs to be more opportunity for not for profits to describe best-practice grantmaking, and provide feedback to donors independent of their requests for funding. Matched with this is a willingness by donors to ensure they listen and hear, and be open to refreshing processes for receiving applications, gathering reports on outcomes, and maintaining engagement throughout the life of funding relationships.
With diminishing dollars available for not-for-profit work, and many new people becoming part of the giving world as trustees, staff, advisors, volunteers and partners organisations, the time is right to expand design of practical ideas and approaches to transacting funding. The priority is to put trust at the heart of the work, harnessing the acumen and capacity of many people active in the not-for-profit world. What emerges will depend in every instance on the experience of people involved, the amount of money and the purpose. But with imagination and commitment to best outcomes, a makeover for funding relationships will provide wins for all involved.
Genevieve Timmons will join Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davis to co-host Pro Bono Australia’s upcoming webinar on 9 November on Funder Relationships: More Than Just Money.
This 60-minute live panel will delve into how funders and not-for-profit organisations are improving the relationships that add real value to grants. Book now.
About the author: Genevieve Timmons is the philanthropic executive for the Portland House Foundation. She has been active in philanthropy and grant making for over three decades, pioneering approaches to contemporary giving programs and promoting thought leadership around generosity in Australia and New Zealand. Her 2013 book, Savvy Giving, commissioned by the Australian Communities Foundation, outlines the basics for those interested in the art and science of philanthropic giving.