Skip to main content

Making the Connection: Philanthropic Relationships in a Noise Filled World


Making and creating connections isn’t a complicated practice, but it takes work and commitment. It’s about keeping an open mind and being willing to go the extra mile in order to foster that connection, and the next, and the next. In our noise-filled world, how can funders simplify, communicate, and be intentional with grantee relationships?


By being creative, focusing on the bigger picture, and adopting the mindset that grantees are partners helping to further the collective philanthropic mission, funders can forge successful paths to stronger, more impactful relationships. On October 30, 2018, we’ll be hosting an educational webinar with three of our grantmaker clients and their grantees - Funder-grantee Relationships: Getting to Impact Together. The real-life funder-grantee relationships featured in this webinar have each found success in different ways.



We call our grantees "Grantee Partners" because we understand that we would not be able to accomplish our mission without them. We use personal meetings, calls, outside site visits, emails, community convening, attending meetings and conferences together, and grant reporting to engage with our grantee partners." 

John Amoroso, Lovell Family Foundation


When funder and grantee organizations take steps to be more responsible in their practices, they make the entire process easier for everyone. During our most recent Philanthropy Friday we welcomed our local YMCA CEO, Andrea Stevenson. Andrea spoke of working with other local area nonprofits to rely on one another’s strengths, rather than reinventing the wheel.


Similarly, funders can help nonprofits do what they do best by making the grant application process easier and better “matched” to the size of the grants they are offering.


Only ask questions for which you intend to use/do something with the responses. Before asking a charity for a piece of information, critically evaluate “how will this information be used to enhance the decision-making process?”

Frances Wilson, Acts of Grace Foundation


Humans deal with a lot of “noise” on a daily basis… emails, texts, pop-up ads, social feeds, blogs, videos, articles, push notifications… there are days when I’m not sure which direction to turn. I think of the noise nonprofit crusaders deal with… not only do they juggle the growing input from increasingly connected lives, they feel the ever-present hum of need in their communities. Why add to that noise with over complicated grant applications or unsupported requests for more data tracking. There are simpler ways.


Be very clear up front about what kinds of causes/projects the Foundation does and does not grant to. Use the LOI as a tool to help eliminate those projects that do not fit with the Foundation's granting priorities so that neither the charity nor the Foundation wastes significant amounts of time in reviewing longer, more detailed applications that do not align. 

Frances Wilson, Acts of Grace Foundation


One way funders can simplify the funding process and save valuable time - for themselves and their grantees - is to be intentional in figuring out the answers needed to make the best decisions. What data will give you those answers? And, therefore, what questions do you need to ask in order to get that data. Track that, and omit the rest.

Become an Intentional Data Collector: An actionable guide for funders

But making the process easier is only part of the equation. Communication before, during, and after the funding process is essential. Which means breaking through the noise in order to make sure connections are made and everyone is on the same page. The spark of a connection can be created simply by giving someone a few extra minutes of your time… and that’s where the relationship begins.


It always begins with being willing to listen and spend time with people. Acts of Grace has a value of using personal, easy to understand messages in all of our communication. We offer feedback sessions to all charities - both successful and unsuccessful. This helps all charities be more successful in future fundraising efforts.

Frances Wilson, Acts of Grace Foundation

We hope you’ll tune in to our panel of funder-grantee pairs on October 30th to learn how they have strengthened their relationships through mutual passion. 

About the Author

As Foundant's Content Marketing Manager, Kristin is passionate about sharing knowledge with the philanthropic community so they can maximize their impact. She enjoys collaborating with her highly creative and talented Content Team to continually deliver better, more engaging materials and sector education. Over the last several years, Kristin has found an additional passion for mentoring students through Foundant's evolving internship program - helping students find their strengths and passions in marketing as they begin their career paths. As an avid reader and writer, Kristin is fascinated with the written word and all forms of communication. In her spare time, she loves to read, write, swim, cook, and spend time with her comedic husband and children. Volunteering throughout the community and finding ways to get involved with fundraisers that make a difference is important to her. Kristin has enjoyed speaking at local nonprofit fundraising events including Thrive's annual Lily Ball in 2018 and various fundraising and awareness events for HAVEN, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence, through their End the Silence Speaker's Bureau - a group dedicated to educating the community through personal narrative. In 2018, Kristin was awarded one of Gallatin Valley's 20 Under 40 awards for her commitment to career and community. Drop her a line at if you have an idea for some inspiring content!

Profile Photo of Kristin Laird