Saturday, January 10, 2009

I love funders that understand nonprofits!!

I attended USD's annual nonprofit governance symposium this past weekend. My favorite session was Ruth Westrich's (Westreich Foundation) session about the differences between nonprofit and for profit businesses. Her presentation is available on her Foundation's website. I really wish more funders were like her. I am not just saying this because she is an advisory board member of USD's nonprofit program, but Ruth really understands nonprofits.

Her key points were:
  • Funders should provide multi-year (3 year minimum) general operating support grants in large amounts because small grants do not help but often hinder nonprofit work.
  • Funders should take the time to learn about the nonprofits they are supporting and require outcomes data on these grants.
  • Nonprofits should make an effort to keep really good records to measure their successes. Typical measures of success might include: social change, public attitude or behavioral change.
  • Funders shouldn't just fund programs, but fund nonprofit infrastructure too.
  • Nonprofits should look for earned revenue income streams because they can't always rely on the same funders year after year especially in these challenging economic times.
Then later the afternoon our keynote, Luz A. Vega-Marquis CEO of the Marguerite Casey Foundation also spoke about the importance of providing general operating support grants. Her foundation's smallest grants are $100k for three years. Her organization's mission is to address poverity issues, however she and her staff understand they don't have the answers to solve these issues--the nonprofits do--so they partner with and fund nonprofits that are building movements in low-income communities. This is great!! I love how these funders understand nonprofits.

1 comment:

Alan said...

And I hope more funders will promote these ideas of funding the whole organization, not just pieces of it.