In February I had the pleasure of chatting with my friend and colleague Jessica Mindnich on a webinar that focused on the importance of shifting the funder-grantee relationship toward one that encourages continuous knowledge sharing between parties. This is a topic close to my heart as well as Jessica’s, who is the Senior Director of Evaluation, Learning and Impact Stories at Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The truth is that trust-based relationships that prioritize collaboration and transparency are the only way we will be able to move the needle on some of the social issues that philanthropy, and the greater public, are looking to take on.
What an inspiring #PEAKOnline2021conference. Congratulations to the PEAK board and host committee and especially to Satonya Fair whose leadership was embedded throughout every session and every conversation. Satonya has unleashed the PEAK community who dove deep on topics and brought PEAK’s many new members into the excitement. It was particularly inspiring to learn about the different ways the PEAK members are working to support their grant partners and the way they are championing to approach their work with an equity lens at their foundations.
April is volunteer month, and before it comes to an end I wanted to take the opportunity to call out the importance of giving a voice to your volunteers and, by extension, your community. At UpMetrics, we often speak to the power of qualitative data. Numbers can only provide so much information – to translate those numbers into desired action, next steps, and a strategy that will impact the areas with the most need, you need qualitative data. Those on the ground can tell you whether they are seeing an impact of your efforts with the audience you intended, or if you’re indirectly solving for something else with your efforts.
The grantee reporting dilemma is not a new one - foundations rely heavily on grantees to understand whether their investments are making a positive impact in the areas that they wish to support. And yet many grantees do not have access to tools or resources in the area of data collection and analysis. This results in time and energy wasted on reporting requirements and process - time that could be spent focusing on the organization's mission and driving impact.
Teamwork is not a new concept. Whether it be in business, sports, or politics, what can be achieved with the help of many almost always surpasses the work of one. This is for two reasons. One, each contributor offers different skills, resources, and perspective, fostering an environment that encourages new ideas and solutions to old problems. Two, working as a team ensures that all players are bought-in to what you’re trying to achieve - each person has a stake in the game.
October means playoff baseball. It’s the month of the most gloriously unexpected. Moments of heroes that rise to the occasion when the pressure is on, like Gibson’s walk-off against the A’s in 1988. And we’ve seen legendary performances from teams you thought had the odds stacked against them, like the 1906 White Sox “Hitless Wonders” who secured the title. As we watch four talented teams battle in their respective series, you may be eagerly asking yourself what will be the story we remember this year?
“The inequity in this district as compared to the other districts surrounding us has always been so tangible and clear,” explains Jenna Wachtel Pronovost, Executive Director of the Ravenswood Education Foundation. “Then COVID happened and the schools closed. The inequities have intensified in this environment, and we knew we would have to act quickly to support our students and the greater community.”
“We began in 2012 with three loans—it was sort of our experimental year,” explains WEALF (Women’s Enterprise Action Loan Fund) founder, Vicki Weiner. “The next year, we really got going, and things started to come together.”
What kinds of metrics can you track to ensure that you are helping foster the change you hope to see in the world?
Here's how foundations can help nonprofit leadership be even more effective.