Funders need to change their grant-making practices
Most grantmaking today falls short of supporting sustainable jobs for organizers and other grantee staff in two areas:
How to use this toolkit to improve jobs funded by your foundation
1. Start with your values
How do your foundation’s mission and principles apply to the job quality of the staff of the organizations you fund?
If you have a commitment to racial equity, are you expressing it in terms of the well-being of diverse staff members at all levels (not just Executive Directors)?
Is there anything you want the beneficiaries of your grantmaking to have that some of your grantee staff don’t have (such as health care or secure housing)?
2. Invite feedback from your grantee organizations
Without burdening grantees with another reporting requirement, let them know you welcome feedback on any difficulties the foundation has caused them.
In particular, ask whether your grant covers their full costs of providing the outcomes that you’ve funded.
Add a field to your application form or proposal guidelines that asks for feedback on the questions and application requirements.
Review the 10 Key Area lists for nonprofits and gather information (in a non-intrusive way) about whether your grantee organizations can afford all the Basic Sustainable Practices.
3. Do a detailed self-assessment of your practices
Combine feedback from grantees with the recommendations in this toolkit, as noted on this page.
- Which Problematic Practices ring true?
- What Basic Sustainable Practices are missing from your foundation’s grants and communication practices?
- Of the Aspirational Practices, are any desirable or feasible, now or in the long run?
4. Make easy fixes
Are there ways you, within your sphere of influence, can make your foundation more staff-friendly? (For example, if you are in charge of the website or application form, could you add a statement that the foundation intends to support living wages and good working conditions at grantee organizations? If you are a grants manager, could you convey concerns you hear from applicants and grantees to decision-makers?)
5. Convene stakeholders to discuss bigger changes
Include in your discussions both the foundation staff closest to the applicants and grantees and the decision-makers who could change the application process and reporting requirements, and who set the budget.
Invite Staffing the Mission, All Due Respect or another philanthropy-serving outfit to contract with your organization for ongoing consulting to advise you on how to make your grant-making more staff friendly.
6. Implement changes
Consider forming an ongoing Change Team to guide the process over time, with members from all levels of the organization.
Discuss measurable benchmarks to assess the impact of the changes you make.
Remember to disseminate and celebrate any positive changes you make. Your foundation can be a role model for others!
7. Collaborate with other staff-friendly funders
When you attend conferences about equity in philanthropy, attend or convene sessions about nonprofit pay, DEI and personnel policies, and the roles foundations can play.
10 Key Areas
We encourage funders to review the 10 Key Areas for improving nonprofit jobs in order to understand what is needed for their grantees’ staff to thrive.