The Foundant Knowledge Project: A Philanthropy Story Sharing Experience

In June of 2017, we hatched a plan. What if we created a “survey” to gather experience, advice, opinions, and knowledge from our grantmaker and grantseeker communities? What kind of response would we get? How could we use the information we received to further our mission to maximize the impact of the philanthropic community?

What started as the seed of an idea to create ten pieces of informational content we could share with the industry morphed into an inspiring, at times daunting, opportunity to shape the starting of a collaborative library of resources beyond our wildest dreams. Our “little survey” became longer and more in-depth than we had initially planned, but we went with it. What did we have to lose? And the response from our philanthropic community was nothing short of awe-inspiring.

Our grantseeker survey consisted of 13 open-ended questions on topics ranging from funder-grantee relationships to tracking outcomes, to efficiency advice. Our grantmaker survey was more than double that length and dove into further details on impacts and outcomes, general life advice, relationship building, how philanthropy has changed, what will shape the future of philanthropy, and more.

177 grantseekers and more than 40 grantmakers responded. We knew it was a big ask, and the response completely humbled us. The collective advice and experience from these passionate individuals who devote their time to this industry is heartfelt, inspiring, insightful, powerful, useful, and at times humorous.

Our commitment is to honor the time you, our community, took to provide this insight and craft it into resources you can use and share with your peers. We’re excited to share these thoughts, expertise, and experiences with the entire philanthropic sector.

This project has solidified our belief in the power of collaboration, and we look forward to using this “project” as a catalyst for story sharing.

Here’s a quick sample of some of the questions and answers born of this project. . .


How do you think philanthropy will look in the future?

I hope that in the future philanthropy will become part of the social norm. I hope it becomes commonplace, in that, everyone participates in philanthropy. I think as we, as funders, learn more about the benefits of funding collaborations we will see more of those partnerships happen in the future so we can address community issues from a multipronged approach. When collaborations occur, we accomplish more together. That is just true in life.


How do you form strong relationships with your grantees?

I strive to approach every grantee with respect, transparency, and reciprocity in dialogue. The stronger relationships tend to form with those who see the big picture of where nonprofits fit in greater society and, regardless of their level of knowledge on the grants process, practice transparency and a willingness to explore how to do good, better.


What are the top 3 challenges you face in the grantmaking process?

1. Not having enough resources - having to turn down good programs 

2. Trying to measure impact - especially when all of the agencies measure their impact differently 

3. Having enough time to do everything that needs to get done between when the applications are submitted, and the recommendations go to the board.

*As we create worthy resources from the information our community provided, we’ll share them here on our blog, in our resources section, with our partners, and across our social media sites.

Educational Resources from the Knowledge Project:

On Philanthropy: What's Changed in the Past Decade and What it Means for the Sector

Guide: Maximize Your Data Collection Efforts

On Philanthropy: Looking Ahead

Impacts, Outcomes, and Strategies for Sustainable Tracking


We would love to hear your thoughts, questions, or ideas for future content! Please email our Communications Manager, Kristin Laird at!


About the Author

Kristin Laird

As the Content Marketing Manager for Foundant Technologies, 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. 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 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. Kristin's kiddos - Camden (12) and Taylor (9) - enjoy being Certified Cat Cuddlers at Bozeman's local Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Drop her a line at if you have an idea for some inspiring content!

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