We are Susan Wolfe, of Susan Wolfe and Associates and Ann Price of Community Evaluation Solutions. Even before the pandemic, nonprofits and foundations were increasingly exploring ways to more towards more collaborative relations. Since the pandemic, the call for foundations to examine what types of social change initiatives they fund and who they fund is getting louder. A recent article by The New York times highlighted the inequities in who gets funded. Hint: Nonprofits led by Black and Hispanic executive directors are less likely to receive funding. The article proposes this disparity is in large part to a lack of connections between nonprofits led by people of color with mostly white philanthropy, lack of rapport between disconnected funders and applicants, and lack of data and measurement systems.
There is some good news, in August of this year, Echoing Green, a global nonprofit organization that finds, supports, and connects emerging social entrepreneurs, announced it would raise $50 million for a new Racial Equity Philanthropic Fund. Other foundations are also committing more dollars to address social and health inequities.
We both do a lot of work with coalitions and collaboratives and our values require that we promote full collaboration among the nonprofit organizations and community members that make up the coalition. In this blog, we are going one step further and adding foundations to this mix.
So, what does collaboration between nonprofits and foundations look like? We believe that both nonprofits and foundations could learn from the knowledge base about what makes a successful coalition. Successful coalitions create positive changes for the communities they represent through many factors, among them effectively engaging all members of the community.
Rad Resource: We use the Tamarack Institute’s Collaboration Spectrum Tool to help coalition members depict the level of collaboration that is happening. This can also be adapted to assess collaboration between nonprofits and foundations.
Below are five principles we suggest to get this conversation started to achieve true collaboration.
- Members of the focal community participate with foundations and nonprofits in developing shared missions, goals, decision-making, allocation of resources and determining the outcomes.
- Employ a community development approach whereby residents and nonprofits have equal power in determining the funding agenda and resource allocation.
- Go big, and focus on equity, justice, and systems level change rather than simply funding more programs. Confront racism and oppression and be willing to shift power structures.
- Plan, fund, and implement initiatives with a long game in mind. A year or two of funding will not bring about real change. Plan for five to ten-year cycles.
- Incorporate Developmental, Principles Focused, and Utilization Focused methods into your evaluation design to allow for ongoing feedback and ensure the goal of evaluation is continuous learning.
Rad Resource: Read Collaborating for Equity and Justice to get more ideas of how Foundations and Nonprofits might collaborate with communities to break down barriers and work toward greater equity and justice.
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