A client commissioned a report on how its foundation could increase the impact in its field of interest. The foundation's main challenge was that it had relatively few funds to distribute annually compared to the size of the problem. One step that the foundation had already taken to improve the possibility of meaningful impact was to restrict its distributions to a specific city. We were tasked with recommending additional strategies to raise the impact of the foundation's grants.
We began by interviewing leaders in the field and past grantees. Next, we analyzed relevant programmatic and field data. We synthesized this information to generate a strategic report for the foundation. We recommended a multi-pronged strategy that highlighted, among other strategies, how the foundation could strategically promote collaboration among certain key grantees to ensure that the foundation's investment could be leveraged to the greatest extent possible. The collaboration would allow for natural synergies to occur as well as for natural competition on the part of the grantees to advance the cause.
The process of generating the strategic report was important not only for the foundation, but also for the grantees. By including grantees in the report generation, the foundation demonstrated its interest in their opinions and planted the seeds for ultimate buy-in by the grantees. The process also alerted the grantees that the foundation might be changing its funding approach— a very important element of funder communication.
Finally, the process reminded the grantees of the foundation's desire to make change for the better in the field, and re-solidified the joint purpose between the foundation and its grantees to stretch each dollar as far as possible toward their joint cause.