If you are involved in grantseeking, you are probably familiar with the Grassroots Fundraising Journal (or should be!). Published by the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, the journal contains articles to promote the connection between fundraising, social justice and movement-building.
I have a full-length article in the January-February issue, titled “Time to Reclaim Your Power in Funder Relationships.” The piece reminds us that funders rely on nonprofits to fulfill their missions, and offers tips for interrupting the lopsided power dynamics that often plague those relationships. Check it out here!
(To get you started, I reprinted the first several paragraphs below.)
GRANT FUNDING HAS A LOT TO DO WITH POWER. Who has the money, who gets the money, and what are the dynamics between the two groups?
At first glance, it can definitely appear that foundations and other funders hold all the cards when it comes to their relationships with grantseekers. After all, grantmakers control the funds and seem to have complete discretion over how the money is doled out.
As a grantseeker, you may feel like you’re begging with a virtual tin cup. By accepting this position of powerlessness, you may hope funders take pity on you. Or maybe you will learn to answer their questions with the answers they want to hear. If they visit your organization, you often find yourself bending over backwards to please them. You would never think of biting (or even challenging) the hand that may feed you. Continue reading
I recently interviewed James White, a lifelong “conscious capitalist,” even before that term was invented.
For decades, he has been on the forefront of focusing on the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profits. And because I am a writer and editor involved with the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement, I have started blogging for the group.
Yes, I have worked with and for nonprofits since childhood, because they focus on social change and making the world a better place for all.
But in the past few decades we have seen the phenomenal growth of for-profit entities that also seek the Triple Bottom Line: social mission businesses, social enterprises, green businesses, purpose-driven business, etc. In fact, I just attended Sustainatopia, a large international conference along those same lines.
I am thrilled to see the vast shift in today’s businesses world, as it adapts to the demands of people like you and me. We’re insisting on doing business as UNusual — that is, for the benefit of humanity and the environment. No longer is the nonprofit world the only place to participate in this work.
My first blog post for the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Conscious Capitalism movement is a good place to begin to explore this world.
The article starts out like this: Continue reading
Question: It seems that foundations and other funders hold all the cards in power relationships with grantseekers. Is that true?
At first glance, it definitely can appear that way. It may feel like you are “begging for money” with a virtual tin cup. You may even get nervous when you prepare to speak with a funder one-on-one.
That’s totally understandable. (FYI, many foundation program officers used to be in grantseekers’ shoes so they can empathize with your sweaty palms.)
But while grantmakers hold the purse strings, by no means are they the only ones in the relationship who should be confident, empowered professionals.
Look closely at the situation. Continue reading
I wish I could go to the UN Climate Summit in Paris, but I have to watch from the sidelines here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A full 196 signatories (195 states and the European Union) are set to negotiate a treaty to limit global warming and deal with climate change’s effects worldwide (as of 2020). This meeting is supposed to be the big one: the one that will turn the tide toward a real global agreement. Emissions targets, climate change adaptations, financial pledges, etc. will all figure into the document.
Throngs of activists from all around the world are also chiming in.
Will it all be effective? It had better be. But that remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, some great press coverage is coming out of The Guardian (UK) and Democracy Now!, to name a few sources. I am also part of the Paris Rapid Response team at 350.org (an easy way to plug into the action).
And since our focus is on writing and the power of language, I have to share this article from The Guardian on the competing metaphors used by heads of state in their speeches to open the conference. The phrases included: Continue reading
Every year at this time I do a special reflection on the abundance of things in my life I am grateful for.
The list is long, and spans from the physical (health, food) to the social (family, friends, colleagues), to the mental, emotional, spiritual, and entrepreneurial. The people I get to work with every day — talented changemakers in a wide variety of fields, professions, and specialties — round out the list.
I also have been thinking about the refugee crisis our world is facing at this moment in history. The bottom line seems to be that we are all part of a human family; if we can’t accept refugees and migrants fleeing from hardship, what have we become?
I come from immigrant stock myself (my father is a Persian Jew and my mother’s parents come from Jewish communities in Eastern Europe). I am eternally grateful that we are safe, supported, and able to pursue our dreams in this country. (Unfortunately, that cannot be said for all of my country men and women but it is true for many.) Continue reading