Funding Performance Monograph

Funding Performance

How Great Donors Invest in Grantee Success

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Funding Performance Campaign

In an era when our communities are being rocked by a health pandemic, economic upheaval, racial injustice, and political turmoil, the world has never needed more from civil society leaders—and never have these leaders needed more from their funders. Now is the most important moment in our collective lifetimes for funders to dispense with conventional practices that have been shown to undermine grantees and adopt those that have been shown to produce greater impact for grantees, funders, and constituents alike.

The Funding Performance campaign encourages funders to rise to the urgency of this moment. You’ll find no pie-in-the-sky theory in the resources on this page. Instead, you’ll find practical advice about the specific practices that produce outsized progress on urgent issues of our time.

The centerpiece of this campaign is Funding Performance: How Great Donors Invest in Grantee Success (2021), a Jim Collins–style monograph intended to generate positive peer pressure among foundations and individual donors.

The monograph features insightful essays by eight highly respected thinkers and doers: Hilary Pennington, Ford Foundation; Daniel Stid, Hewlett Foundation; Sam Cobbs, Tipping Point Community; Jeff Bradach and Jeri Eckhart Queenan, Bridgespan; Lowell Weiss, Leap Ambassadors support team; Hilda Polanco and Deborah Linnell, FMA. All of these essayists have vantage points that have given them a close-up look at the best and worst practices in our sector. In Funding Performance, they share both—in the hope of turning this moment of crisis into a moment of truth and then a moment of productive pivot.

The essayists and their respective organizations joined forces on this project to begin merging closely related workstreams into a river of advocacy for the following changes in funding practices:

  • If you want to empower grantees rather than hamstring them, provide more of what nonprofit leader Vu Le cleverly calls “MYGOD” support—multiyear, general operating dollars.
  • If you’ve made the decision to give your precious resources to an organization, then give that organization the benefit of your trust and respect as well.
  • If your website trumpets your concern about inequality, then don’t perpetuate it with funding decisions that always favor fancy pedigrees and PowerPoints over lived experience and relationships.
  • If you’re moved by the suffering in your community, then show the courage to give more money when the supply of funding from governments is down and the demand for nonprofit services is skyrocketing.

Please read this practical, plain-English guide to what the best funders are already doing to supercharge their grantees, and let us know what you think!

If you’d prefer to read or share individual essays rather than the full monograph, you can do so below.

Individual Essays

Rising to Our Times: The Five Habits of Highly Effective Funders

Rising to Our Times: The Five Habits of Highly Effective Funders
“This essay highlights a remarkable group of positive-outlier funders that are supporting grantees. If every funder were to study these practices, our sector would be more effective by an order of magnitude.”

– Lowell Weiss

By Lowell Weiss

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Helping Your Grantees Succeed—Or Trying to Catch Them Messing Up?

Are You Helping Grantees Succeed—Or Trying to Catch Them Messing Up?
“If you’re not willing to examine how racial and other biases play out in your work, that’s your prerogative. But don’t use the words ‘equity’ or ‘inclusion’ on your website.”

– Sam Cobbs

By Sam Cobbs

Sam Cobbs

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If Not Now, When?: From Virtue Signaling to Self Examination

If Not Now, When?: From Virtue Signaling to Self Examination
“We in philanthropy are our own worst enemy, and we are therefore uniquely called to examine and change our own practices”

– Hilary Pennington

By Hilary Pennington

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We Depend on Well-Led and Well-Managed Grantees

We Depend on Well-Led and Well-Managed Grantees
“Grantees are hampered in developing their management chops because some penny-wise-pound-foolish funders balk at paying for it.”

– Daniel Stid

By Daniel Stid

Daniel Stid, Hewlett Foundation

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Accelerating the Movement Toward Funding Practices That Strengthen Nonprofits

Accelerating the Movement Toward Funding Practices That Strengthen Nonprofits
“The pre-pandemic status quo wasn’t working. But the crisis may prove to be the catalyst that ushered in a new era of grantmaking.”

– Jeri Eckhart Queenan and Jeff Bradach

By Jeri Eckhart Queenan and Jeff Bradach

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What Grantees Need From Funders at This Time of Tumultuous Change

What Grantees Need From Funders at This Time of Tumultous Change
“Well into 2022, the nonprofit sector will be managing the change wrought by humanity’s shared frailty and hubris. We must take stock of reality, change behaviors, live with less, and dream of more.”

– Hilda Polanco and Deborah Linnell

By Hilda Polanco and Deborah Linnell

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