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Report Reveals Disconnect Between Grantseekers and Grantmakers

22 May 2018 at 8:14 am
Wendy Williams
A new report has revealed a “surprising” disconnect between Australian grantseeker and grantmaker perceptions on the state of philanthropy.

Wendy Williams | 22 May 2018 at 8:14 am


Report Reveals Disconnect Between Grantseekers and Grantmakers
22 May 2018 at 8:14 am

A new report has revealed a “surprising” disconnect between Australian grantseeker and grantmaker perceptions on the state of philanthropy.

Philanthropy – Towards a Better Practice Model, which was launched last week by the Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre, found philanthropists had a far more favourable view of the state of practices and relationships in the sector than their not-for-profit (NFP) counterparts.

The report identified multiple causes for the mismatch, with respondents suggesting the responsibility and power to continue to enhance philanthropic impact lay with the continued development of more strategic relationships between the NFPs and philanthropy.

Report co-author Liz Gillies, Honorary Fellow at APSIC and CEO of the Menzies Foundation, told Pro Bono News the report was illuminating in the considerable difference between grant maker and grant seeker perceptions.

“I was surprised at the extent to which there was such differences. I was surprised to hear that the majority of philanthropists still weren’t interested in capacity building. I was surprised to hear that there was such little confidence in evaluation in the not-for-profit sector. I was surprised to see there was such really considerable percentile differences between perceptions of not for profits versus philanthropists,” Gillies said.

“I think the main takeaways from the report are that it provides a basis for more strategic conversations between philanthropy and grantseekers that should build greater insights about how to enhance a relationship for both parties.”

An important catalyst identified in the report was a greater focus on the strategic impact of philanthropic initiatives and a higher priority by philanthropic decision makers to clarify their strategic intent and measure their performance against this strategy.

Gillies said philanthropists had to be “more prepared” to have a strategic framework that allowed them to measure their own impact as philanthropists.

“I think if more philanthropic entities asked questions along the lines of ‘what does success look like?’ And then took the time to really gather data to get feedback on whether they were achieving what they wanted or not, I think that would be a very important place to start the conversation,” she said.

“I also think that grantmakers need to educate themselves in this sort of more strategic way of thinking about philanthropy so that they can have more informed conversations with philanthropists and also contribute to better and more insightful engagements.”

The report, which aims to establish a benchmark for the current state of play in Australia, identified challenges and opportunities for change that would build towards a better practice model and the increased impact of philanthropy in Australia.

In particular, the model suggested five key pillars of a good practice grant making framework: grant making philosophy; capacity building and not-for-profit resilience; scaling, replication and collaboration; the strength of the relationship between grant makers and grant seekers; and approaches to evaluation and social impact.

Gillies said the five pillars were “the five most important constructs to redefine and improve the conversation between grantmakers and grantseekers”.

“I think that the pillars are really the keys to having a conversation that builds better relationships and I hope that the report encourages philanthropists and grantseekers to sort of initiate conversations around those sorts of pillars,” she said.

“Philanthropy is one of those types of sectors where if you are giving away money people are very positive towards you because they want your consideration, so it’s not often that there’s a chance to surface these conversations and this is why this research is so important because it provides the context in which to have conversations based on data rather than the sort of typical relationship between fund seekers and funders, which is really ‘what do I need to do in order to get support?

“I hope this reframes that conversation. I think that’s a really important conversation to have for both sectors to come together in a way that has more impact.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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