I am Lisa Ranghelli, Senior Director of Evaluation and Learning at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. In my career committed to social justice, I have worn many hats—advocate, technical assistance provider, program director, researcher, evaluator, nonprofit grantseeker, and even volunteer grantmaker on the grants committee of my local women’s fund. I have seen from both the nonprofit and funder perspective the challenges of building authentic, effective relationships, and how quickly miscommunication can lead to mistrust.
At NCRP I have spent over a decade helping funders and nonprofits understand each other, and I frequently collect anonymous feedback from nonprofits about how foundations can be better partners.
Because of the inherent power imbalance in funder-nonprofit dynamics, nonprofit and community leaders are more likely to be honest if given the opportunity to provide anonymous or confidential feedback. Yet our extensive data show that many grantmakers do not invite such feedback. And those that do often fail to “close the feedback loop,” which means letting the nonprofits know what the foundation learned and how it used the information to change practice. This is a critical step in building trust, understanding and mutual accountability.
NCRP’s Power Moves guide is a funder self-assessment framework that emphasizes the importance of addressing power to achieve racial equity in communities. Sharing Power is a key concept in the guide, and pertains to relationships between funders and grant partners. Power Moves offers:
- Sample questions for funders to get feedback from grant partners and communities and then use that feedback to reflect on how well they are building authentic relationships.
- Tips for equitable feedback gathering processes, to ensure those who are most marginalized are heard.
- Power in Practice profiles of funders sharing power, such as the Brooklyn Community Foundation, whose extensive community engagement and input led to more participatory programs.
- A reading list that includes other great tools for Sharing Power, including Unicorns Unite: How Nonprofits & Foundations Can Build Epic Partnerships, by Jessamyn Shams-Lau, Jane Leu, and Vu Le.
Watch NCRP’s webinar recording, Ceding Control: Sharing philanthropy’s power for equitable, inclusive relationships, and learn from seasoned community and funder practitioners on the art and science of listening to and co-leading with communities.
While Power Moves resources were created for grantmakers, hundreds of nonprofits have downloaded the guide. Why? Because they are trying to better understand how funders think and act. By being more transparent and inclusive, including soliciting feedback, foundations can demystify their world and build deeper connections.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Nonprofits and Foundations Topical Interest Group (NPFTIG) Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our NPFTIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.