Foundation Friday: Both Sides Now

Yesterday the Nonprofiteer sent an e-mail to a community foundation about establishing a donor-advised fund; today she received two e-mails and three phone calls in reply.  Tomorrow, apparently, she’ll receive the document establishing the fund.

It would be unreasonable to expect that level of responsiveness from the program officers when she deals with this foundation as a supplicant on behalf on clients.  Still, it’s worth noting how much easier that interaction is for a donor than for a grantee, though it’s the grantees whose services make the community foundation a vessel worthy of donors’ attention. 

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5 Responses to “Foundation Friday: Both Sides Now”

  1. Anita Bernstein Says:

    Seems a tad unfair to the foundation, because its supplicants don’t really want “responsiveness:” they want $$$ and an imprimatur of approval. Well and good, but I don’t see how they’re entitled to receive money with no more hassle than a donor encounters when she gives it away. Just because recipients are as integral to any charitable transaction as donors doesn’t mean they should be treated the same.

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    Of course grant applicants should have to demonstrate need, suitability to provide services, etc.; but they’re mostly happy to do that–it’s being treated with contempt they mind. So in fact they do want responsiveness–as opposed to the (true story) program officer who says, “You can’t leave me a voice mail, you just have to catch me when I happen to be in my office.” Gatekeeping is one thing; throwing mud in the eyes of people standing outside the gate is something else.

  3. Anita Bernstein Says:

    Word!
    Today I, trying to give money away, had an experience on point: I actually rode my bike over to a nonprofit to demand some attention. They had been ignoring my calls and e-mails. Had to talk past a security guard and everything. I thought of the Nonprofiteer: hey, if I’m being hassled this way as a donor, wonder whether recipients take abuse? *light bulb goes on, dimly*

  4. janinsanfran Says:

    Thanks for this. Many individual program officers try to treat prospective grantees with respect. But too often foundations treat grantees as if they existed to generate meaningless paper on impossible schedules. I think, for example, of a foundation that kept making an outfit I work with rejigger its description of the racial groups represented on its board because the grant recording software the foundation used didn’t recognize the categories the board members used about themselves. The list had to be resent multiple times to enable the (all white, of course) office of the foundation to get their forms to work.

    This is the sort of thing grantees experience as disrespect.

  5. Nonprofiteer Says:

    It’s because of this sort of disrespect that the Nonprofiteer solicits nominees to the Foundation Hall of Shame. Contact me by e-mail and you can remain anonymous while ratting out specific named obnoxious funders.

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