Grantmaking, Tools, and the Long View

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Mary Galeti, Vice Chair of the Tecovas Foundation.

By:  Mary Galeti

Someone recently sent me the following quote :

The problem I have with philanthropy is that most people think of themselves as grant-makers.  And if you think of yourself as a grant-maker, the tools that you have available to you to advance the mission of your institution are pretty much limited to making grants.                                                               – Jed Emerson

So what new terms should we, as grantmakers, be defining by?  Are we change agents? Are we Access Enablers?  There’s got to be another way to think of ourselves so that we’re not limiting the tools we give ourselves access to.

One of the concepts I’ve heard echoed over and over again throughout the conference has been “the long-view”. We need to be more intentional and comfortable with the long-view theory of change. Are we using all the tools we have available to us to implement on the long-view?  What, besides our “grant-making” helps us make big, impactful change for the long term?

2 thoughts on “Grantmaking, Tools, and the Long View”

  1. Hi Mary,

    I have always thought as grant-making as one of the functions of someone who works in philanthropy just like facilitating, collaborating and sponsoring, conducting and disseminating research findings. It is a strategy that in and of itself does not reflect values nor intent.

    Does ‘philanthropist’ not fit As a reminder of sorts about why this work?

  2. I think ‘philanthropist’ can be complicated- while within the field, it certainly makes sense and there is consensus about what it means, I’m less convinced that externally ‘philanthropist’ translates (or that many people even see it as nuanced and thoughtful term we see it as).

    I know that we, as a field, need to do a lot of work around how we talk about what we do to the wider community, and maybe adopting ‘philanthropist’ proactively and publicly, along with a more intentional outreach strategy is the solution.

    I think what the quote really prompted for me was a feeling that there are other skill-sets and tool-sets that we might not include in our kits because we’ve limited ourselves to thinking in philanthropy terms and not entrepreneurial terms or ‘p.r.’ terms, or innovation terms, etc.

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