How to Walk the Talk When You’re Walking with Others

PEAK Grantmaking has been taking a look at how grantmakers can better align their grantmaking practices to their values through our Walk the Talk initiative. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to attend one of our Walk the Talk workshops. We’re working hard on bringing more to you soon.

During our initial scan to find out the most common values that funders have, a list of ten values emerged. That’s not to say all funders should hold these values, but we found a majority of organizations held at least some of these values:

  • Collaboration, Partnership, Teamwork, Working Together
  • Respect
  • Integrity, Honesty, Ethical Behavior
  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion
  • Accountability, Responsibility
  • Transparency, Openness
  • Risk-taking, Innovation, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Creativity
  • Stewardship
  • Learning, Continuous Improvement
  • Leadership

As you can see, collaboration was one of the top values. Collaborating with other organizations to fulfil your philanthropic mission can be a challenging undertaking. Recently, a group of organizations that support and facilitate nonprofit and philanthropic work, called the “Collaboration Champions” (including Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Collective Impact Forum), wrote a letter promoting Seven Ethical Principles to Collaboration in the Philanthropic Sector for Grantcraft based on their own experiences:

Through our work together, we’ve realized that there are some ethical principles, or values, we all hold in common in our approach to building and supporting successful collaborations. We articulate those principles here in hopes of sparking further conversations on values related to social sector collaboration and offering guidance on how grantmakers and nonprofits might think about approaching their own collaborative work with other foundations, nonprofits, government, private entities or some combination.

The seven principles identified were:

  1. Each collaboration should aim to achieve a clear social good. Collaboration is not self-justifying.
  2. How we collaborate is as important as the goals we seek to accomplish. While it is important to have a goal, considerate and values-driven process matters in collaboration. The ends do not justify the means.
  3. The social currency, trust, and relationships that evolve as part of a collaboration are just as important as — and play a critical role in contributing to — the programmatic outcomes a collaboration seeks to achieve.
  4. Collaborations should seek to elevate voices from the affected individuals/communities and provide space for their leadership.
  5. Participants in collaborations should acknowledge power differentials and prioritize an active approach to dealing with them.
  6. Collaboration carries explicit and implicit costs. The principle of equity should guide resource allocations, including, where appropriate, compensation for participation.
  7. Reflection and learning are deliberate acts to ensure that a collaborative is living its values and best serving the membership, the community, and the stated goal.

We applaud and encourage their work. If your organization identifies collaboration, partnership, teamwork, or working together as a value it holds, these principles can be a key starting point to making sure you are aligning your grantmaking practices to this value. PEAK Grantmaking asks you to consider how you align your values, like collaboration, with your grantmaking practices in your organization. Are you adhering to the principles promoted in this article? Tell us in the comments below.

Victor Gongora

Victor Gongora is Effective Practices Project Manager at PEAK Grantmaking. Find him on Twitter @PEAK_Victor.