What Grantees Want: Publicizing Your Partners and Their Work - Exponent Philanthropy
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What Grantees Want: Publicizing Your Partners and Their Work

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Do you actively publicize your grantee partners and the work they do? If not, you should strongly consider it. Whenever we field our Grantee and Applicant Perception Surveys (GAPS), respondents frequently express wanting funders and foundations to do more to publicize their organizations and work. The following anonymous quotes are a small sample of what we commonly hear from grantees and applicants:

“Good communications work is extremely expensive. We deeply appreciate promotion of our successes.”

“Does the foundation have a newsletter or other communication avenues where it can highlight our work?”

“Stories of impact from grantees and partners would be a great way to increase credibility and make efforts more visible.”

Learn more about our Grantee and Applicant Perception Survey »

The Benefits of Publicizing Grantees

Many foundations have websites where they publish their mission and guidelines. By spotlighting the work of your partners on your website and via newsletters, you can help raise the profile of your partners at relatively little additional cost. Exponent members highlight a number of benefits.

Developing Additional Funding Streams

Foundations pay attention to what their peers support. And small foundations are known for making bets on new and creative ideas – to be first-in. The new projects, pilot initiatives, and emerging fields that lean funders support can catch the attention of larger foundations. 

Raising Grantee Profiles 

Likewise, elected officials and other public decision-makers, journalists, and leaders in your field look to you and other foundations in your area to learn about dynamic nonprofit organizations. These leaders may be interested in learning more about your grantees, and potentially collaborating with them.

“Not many foundations focus like we do on funding civil legal services. So, we’re trying to make other potential partners aware of what we do and why we do it, to encourage people to get in touch with us with field-specific ideas, innovations, and partnerships.”

Akilah Browne of FurtherJustice in New York, NY

Expanding Your Network and Nurturing Collaboration 

Spotlighting your partners can be a way of identifying organizations working in your field or issue that are unknown to you. Groups that reach out to your partners and to you have the potential to become grantees, coalition members, or collaborators in other ways.

“Our communications strategy aims to create connections among folks who may have familiarity with each other but haven’t connected yet, and those who have never heard of nor met each other before. For instance, two partners in a grant program knew each other through our quarterly learning community gatherings. However, they connected one-on-one after they attended a webinar and read a follow-up newsletter interview featuring one partner’s work. It was such a fruitful and synergistic point of connection for both organizations, that a team member from one actually joined the other’s advisory committee.”

Megan Cook of the Rx Foundation in Hadley, MA

How To Publicize Grantees

List Grantees on Your Website

FurtherJustice (New York, NY) Legal Accelerator Grantees

This is one of the easiest way to promote grantees. Here are some other examples from the Exponent Philanthropy community:

Share Grantee Communications

Some funders share communications materials produced by their grantees. 

Rx Foundation (Hadley, MA) Partner Updates

Exponent members also use their websites to promote events organized by grantees such as arts performances, lectures and discussions, and conferences. The Cullen Foundation in Buffalo, New York promotes summer arts events hosted by grantees, including outdoor concerts, festivals, and theatre productions.   

Write About Partners and Host Webinars

Some Exponent members produce content about partners, from writing short pieces to creating articles, interviews, and blogs.

Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation (Belfast, ME) Fellow Stories

One foundation publishes Q&As with selected grantees. Another hosts webinars with partners to help audiences learn about their work in more depth. Some lean funders who are supporting new and emerging fields or movements write about a cohort of grantees doing innovative work to help the public learn about the field or approach and build interest among potential collaborators and stakeholders. Foundations that support individuals such as researchers, activists, artists, and social entrepreneurs also use these strategies to highlight work they believe in.   

To manage this work, some funders choose one grantee each month to highlight. Here are examples:

Publish a Newsletter

Some lean funders distribute content about their partners using a newsletter they produce, and via social media.

How to Build a Newsletter Distribution List

Our members that publish newsletters advise starting small and gradually building a list over time.

  • Invite your board members, committee members, grantees, advisors, and consultants to sign up for your newsletter or listserv and ask them to invite their contacts.
  • After each meeting you have with stakeholders (such as other funders, people working in your field or issue, and government staff) ask if you can add them to your mailing list. Sign them up directly rather than waiting for them to sign up.
  • Create a place where visitors can sign up for your newsletter on your website homepage, and the page where you publish your mission and guidelines. Remember to make it clear how people can unsubscribe.

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Andy Carroll advises staff, trustees, and donors of leanly staffed foundations in leadership, advocacy, and catalytic philanthropy. He works to empower more small foundations to leverage their unique position and assets to catalyze change on important issues. Andy has an MBA from the University of Michigan Business School and 30 years of experience in management, training, and program development for nonprofit organizations. Follow him on Twitter @andycarrollexpo, and check out his Catalytic Philanthropy Podcast. 

Hannah Smith is content marketing manager at Exponent Philanthropy. She’s responsible for managing editorial projects; working with staff and thought leaders to create and update content maintaining the voice of our CEO and organization; and upholding editorial quality and brand consistency.

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