In my experience, the most effective
foundations do one thing without fail - they ask the question guaranteed
to save time and money, and achieve results. That question is this: "If
you could do it all over again, what would you do
If you ask that question of your grantees,
other organizations working on the same issue, and other foundations
that have attempted to do what you're trying to do, I guarantee you will
reap the benefits. Listen to what they have to
say, implement their suggestions, and you will save your
foundation staff time, financial resources, and headaches. You will also
have a much more successful grantmaking program, and it will happen
much faster than if you hadn't asked the question.
Here are a few times when asking "If you could
do it all over again, what would you do differently?" will help you. Ask
this question when you are:
an environmental scan to plan your next funding initiative (you could
ask this of other communities, other funders, nonprofits, potential
the best approach to evaluating your grant portfolio and what qualities
to look for in an evaluator (you might ask this of other funders who
have conducted evaluations of similar
portfolios or of similarly complex funding efforts).
the impact of your grantmaking strategy and determining what "phase 2"
might look like (you could ask your grantees, partners, stakeholders,
and even your own staff).
your foundation's organizational practices, such as how you review
grant proposals, communicate with grantees, become a Lean organization,
or improve your customer service (you could
ask this of your staff, and of other foundations who have undertaken
similar improvement efforts).
It's simple, right? Ask the question, listen to
the answers, implement the suggestions, save yourself time and
resources, get faster results, and have greater impact. I guarantee it
Let me ask you a question: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? E-mail me your stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be sure to share them so that we can all learn from each other, act efficiently, and get the best results.
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