Key Points

As society becomes more interconnected, the problems nonprofits are tasked with addressing require systems work. It is imperative for funders to adapt not only to the challenges faced by the organizations they fund, but also to the dynamic social systems within which they aim to effect change. This requires new approaches that are responsive to community needs and address the known challenges in grantor-grantee relationships.

This article offers a new perspective on the role of private foundations and four key lessons for strengthening funder support. These learnings build upon existing research and were gleaned from a qualitative analysis of data from interviews with 33 board members, executives, management, and front-line staff at nonprofit organizations with similar missions that serve vulnerable populations in the same locale, and with subsequently chosen funders that had relationships with those nonprofits.

The interconnected challenges facing our communities are demanding more from philanthropy. Funders that build partnerships, recognize and respond to grantee reimbursement models, ease reporting burdens, and leverage their power to convene will make significant contributions to improving the resiliency of those communities.

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Open Access