Listen Up: Maximizing the Impact of Your Strategic Giving

How do we measure impact throughout the grantmaking process? Often, we find that foundations we work with give with meaningful intent but otherwise remain in the background of grantmaking. To help shift that narrative, Glenmede has begun to assess how our clients’ missions align with their strategic giving. One of the easiest ways to measure the impact of grant dollars is to facilitate opportunities for funders to connect directly with their grantees. These opportunities create a forum for funders to do something innovative—they begin to listen.

Enhancing partnerships between funders and nonprofits to maximize giving

“How do we measure the impact of our grantmaking? Can we improve the relationships we have with our grantees?”

At Glenmede, foundation clients are increasingly interested in understanding the effectiveness of their grantmaking. By building a direct connection with grantees, funders are given a more meaningful way to measure impact while simultaneously developing true partnerships with the nonprofits they support. We further enhance this process by facilitating innovative opportunities for funders and their grantees to listen, learn, and collaborate together.

By putting grantees and funders in conversation, funders are given a powerful lens for understanding how their dollars directly effect change. When funders understand their grantees’ need, their gifts can have more or greater impact. This approach has led to positive changes in our foundations’ grantmaking platforms and giving strategy. Often, these relationships evolve to become collaborative partnerships, with grantees directly informing the grantmaking process.

Funders are given a more meaningful way to measure impact while simultaneously developing true partnerships with the nonprofits they support.

Active listening is critically important for this partnership, and happens when funders can have meaningful interactions with their grantees. At Glenmede, part of the unique role we play is creating these opportunities for engagement. We hosted a dynamic dinner in Philadelphia with the goal of integrating funders and grantees. Through this event, we created a platform for three nonprofits to present directly to their funders and an audience of engaged philanthropists.

Bartram’s Garden, lauded as one of the oldest gardens in the United States, has made amazing strides in a mostly urban community toward education, horticulture, food sovereignty, and sustainability. During Bartram’s presentation, its funders were able to see, feel, and appreciate first-hand the direct impact of their grants. From the presenter:

It was an honor for Bartram’s Garden to have the opportunity to speak with those individuals who help us accomplish so much, and we are looking forward to working more strategically with our donors and partners to help them understand what we need most from their generous funding.

Starting these conversations and actively listening to grantees can become a catalyst for foundations to reflect on their current giving strategies and implement enhancements to further their grantmaking. As a result, we have seen funders develop a deeper understanding of the actual needs of their partners, while grantees improve their knowledge of the foundations’ giving priorities. Funders are then able to give more collaboratively, more meaningfully, and their grant dollars become more intrinsically tied to their missions and to their communities.

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