On the blog of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Braeden Lentz shares his perspective from both sides of the grants world:
Having spent time on both “sides” and organizing in the middle spaces, my conclusion is that grantseekers and grantmakers are not so different. I believe we would all be better off imagining each other to be actual people – with motivations, fears, joys and stories – who want to improve our communities by working in different professional functions.
My advice for grantmakers is don’t waste grantseekers’ time with an artificial inquiry processes if you never take on new grantees through those means.
If you believe in the vision and promise of a nonprofit, put enough trust in your relationship to give long-term, general support dollars. Communities don’t improve because of short-term projects.
Grantees and foundations both bring different resources and experiences to the table, and a funding relationship works when mutual ambitions match. If it just feels like there are no foundations or alternative sources of income, there are larger structural questions you need to address. Not every organization needs to exist permanently to make a meaningful contribution to the world.
A culture of anxiety and scarcity is not the road to the common good, let alone social change. If we look at grantmaking as less of a transaction and more of an alliance, we might have a better shot at getting where we all aspire to be.