What Respectful Philanthropy Looks Like


RespectLast week, I wrote about the small – but troubling – culture of disrespect that I’ve observed bubbling up in the field of philanthropy. In that post, I shared examples of grantmakers who disrespected colleagues, grantees and partners by doing things like intentionally double-booking their calendars, purposefully making grant applications lengthy, or refusing to shoulder their share of the cash flow.

I also said that the culture of disrespect is still the exception rather than the rule. This week, I’d like to share a shining example of what respectful philanthropy can look like.

This example comes from one of my clients, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. It’s a statement of Grantee Experience Standards that the Foundation developed after asking for and listening carefully to grantee feedback about the grantmaking process:

Grantee Experience Standards

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation wants all grantees to have a positive experience working with the Packard Foundation. We promise grantees the following:

  • You will be provided with realistic expectations about the proposal process and timing.
  • You will receive a response to your email or phone inquiry (or a notification that the Foundation staff member you are contacting is out of the office) within three days.
  • When you speak to a program officer, you will receive clear communication about the subprogram strategy and where the work of your organization fits into that strategy.
  • You will receive a response to your final report within 60 days in which we acknowledge and comment briefly on the substance of your work.

We greatly value grantee communication directly with our program staff to provide feedback on any part of the grantmaking process. If you would like to provide feedback to us directly….

You get the picture. The Packard Foundation makes it clear that they view each grantee’s time and expertise as every bit as valuable as their own staff time and expertise. As the statement continues, they even offer both direct and confidential portals through which grantees are encouraged to provide feedback on their experience – with the promise of a foundation response when appropriate.

That is a great example of the culture of respect that should pervade every philanthropic institution. Kudos to the Packard Foundation, and to all of the rest of you who make respect a core part of your daily work.

If you have other examples of how foundations cultivate a culture of respect, please share them with me. I may even feature you in an upcoming newsletter!


Kris Putnam-Walkerly is a global philanthropy advisor and was recently named one of “America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers.” She will be speaking next at Exponent Philanthropy’s Annual Conference on September 28th in Chicago on “High Risk, High Return Philanthropy“, and is the featured speaker at the North Carolina Network of Grantmaker’s Health Legacy Foundation Board Summit on October 17th in High Point, NC.

“Kris ‘gets’ philanthropy in a way that few consultants can match. I find her voice and ideas refreshing, inspiring and always a bright spot of common sense in a sometimes crazy field.”

Shawn Dove, CEO, Campaign for Black Male Achievement

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