While many funders seek to build strong relationships with their grantees, sometimes barriers prevent them from doing so. One of the biggest barriers funders cited is failing to acknowledge the power dynamic between funders and grantees.
In an Exponent Philanthropy blog post, Lori Heninger described how this power imbalance works:
“There is a power imbalance between those with the funds and those asking for the funds, and because of the nonprofit’s commitment to the mission, the staff live with it and do the best they can.”
Funders shared a few of those barriers:
- A perceived lack of time
- Not wanting to put any unnecessary burden on their grantees
- A fear that close relationships would lead to an expectation of funding
- Nonprofits not always being ready to engage in relationships, especially when other funders have broken their trust in the past
Funders also shared a couple of barriers unique to staffed and unstaffed foundations. For example, unstaffed foundations shared that limited time was their most significant barrier to building stronger relationships. On the flip side, some staffed foundations found that board members took an inconsistent approach, preventing them from building stronger relationships with grantees.
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How Lean Funders Build Stronger Relationships With Grantees
Building strong relationships with grantees doesn’t happen overnight. But from our research, we know that lean funders are perfectly positioned to develop these strong relationships, and provide more significant support to their nonprofit partners. Download the primer >>