Letting Go: The First Step to Greater Impact - Exponent Philanthropy

Letting Go: The First Step to Greater Impact

Somehow, the operations of grantmaking has eclipsed the more engaging and fulfilling people-centered and learning-focused work of philanthropy. 

Streamlining: Why It’s Essential To Catalytic Leadership and Impact

Over time, many grantmakers find themselves drowning in elaborate funding processes. Well-intended steps to responsibly steward resources and minimize risk accumulate over time. Gradually, paperwork and processes crowd out people, relationships, and time to learn, reflect and evolve.

In reality, the IRS requires very little for foundations making grants to public charities.

In fact, philanthropists have the unique freedom to take risks. They’re positioned to look across communities, able to take the long view, and are not beholden to customers, shareholders, or voters. Funders can test new ideas, commission research on urgent issues, mobilize coalitions, speak out and advocate. They can be daring and bold.

Join us to learn practical ways to re-focus your grantmaking process, and center learning, engagement, relationships and creativity in your work.

This Workshop Covers:

  • Steps to reframe and transform your work from a process of reviewing, sorting and deciding on written applications, to a practice of learning, inviting conversations, nurturing relationships, and seeking ideas from grantee partners and community stakeholders.
  • 10 ways to streamline your giving to free you up for transformational giving, reducing the burden on nonprofits. Examples include right-sizing, having conversations instead of requiring written reports, and asking for financial documents in the applicant’s own formats.
  • Clarity on what you need to know to make grants decisions. Begin to ask, “What do we really need to know, and what can we stop asking for?”
  • Three ways to get feedback from applicants and grantee partners on how long it takes to complete your application and reporting requirements. You’ll also learn how to use this information to streamline.
  • Calculating the “net grant” to help you and your board understand the costs your processes impose on applicants and grantee partners.

Learn how streamlining and letting go can transform your day-to-day work and enable your foundation to have more impact, engage more deeply with your community, expand your circle of partners, advance equity, and achieve greater fulfillment in your philanthropy.

In this workshop, you will also:

  • Gain perspectives from experienced funders whose practices are important to having impact and making change
  • Learn options for what to let go. Cut through and free yourself from the philanthropic clutter to reclaim your agility, creativity and edge
  • Meet in small groups for discussions and exercises to audit processes and ponder key questions to reduce your paperwork

This is the second program in Exponent Philanthropy’s Catalytic Leadership Academy. This four-hour workshop, presented in two sessions, prepares you to take initial steps to be a change agent in your foundation. The training also offers opportunities for connecting and community-building with your peers. 

Dates and Modules

Session 1: Thursday, September 22, 2022 | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Session 2: Thursday, September 29, 2022 | 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM


Prentice Zinn
Director, GMA Foundations

Prentice Zinn is a director of GMA Foundations, a philanthropic services firm. He manages several local, regional, and international foundations. Prentice is known for start-up work with new donors, planning for multi-generational philanthropy, guiding boards in rethinking mission and focus, and identifying high impact funding opportunities.

Guest Speaker

Patricia Kelly Leo
The Florence M. Muller

Patricia Kelly Leo (she/her/hers) has 25 years of philanthropic experience. She joined The Florence M. Muller Foundation in 2018 as the foundation’s first executive director and added the role of executive director of the Emil Muller Foundation in 2019. She serves with several early childhood-focused collective action efforts and as the NY Funders Alliance president.


Registration Fees

Participant Type Entire Series
Member Price $135
Non-Member Price $250

Cancellations and Other Policies

Substitutions are accepted at any time. Cancellations before the start of the program on September 22, 2022, are subject to a $75 processing fee. Cancellations after September 22, 2022, are non-refundable. Please submit all substitutions or cancellations by e-mail to info@exponentphilanthropy.org, or by calling Exponent Philanthropy at 202-580-6560. By registering for this program, participants are agreeing to Exponent Philanthropy’s Participant Guidelines.

Who Should Attend

This program is designed for those who are leading conversations at their foundations among board, staff, and family (i.e. everyone from board chairs to executive directors to next gen members.)

Platform and Accessibility

This program uses Zoom; automated closed captioning is available. We can provide additional accommodations upon request (e.g. live captioner, ASL interpreter). Please contact Lauren Kotkin info@exponentphilanthropy.org or call 202-580-6560 by September 15, 2022 if you need any accommodations.

Recordings will only be provided to registrants for 30 days after the program.