What are some creative ways funders can show appreciation to their grantees this Thanksgiving season?

Written by: Jack Rome

Date: November 21, 2017

Last year at Thanksgiving, we asked NCRP staff: What are you thankful for in philanthropy this holiday season?

While it is great to count our blessings and appreciate what we have, it’s also important to turn that thanks into something actionable. This year, we’re focusing on funders and how they can show that they value their grantees.

The gut reaction may be to think that grantees should be grateful to funders for the resources that fund infrastructure and projects, but it’s vital for us to realize that funders owe even more thanks to their grantees.

Nonprofits have their eyes and ears on the ground. They are in our communities providing services, organizing stakeholders, spearheading campaigns and more. Grantees provide funders greater understanding of the critical issues that funders and grantees care about.

So, what are some creative ways funders can show appreciation to their grantees this Thanksgiving season? Here’s how NCRP staff responded:

“Given that it’s the year’s end, I think funders could give surprise grants to their grantees, or others who narrowly missed being selected as a part of the year’s portfolio.”

– Jeanné Isler, Vice President and Chief Engagement Officer

“Introduce them to other potential funders, too.”

– Aaron Dorfman, President and CEO

“This might sound strange, but show appreciation by leaving them alone! Grantee organizations work really hard with often scarce philanthropic resources. The best way for a funder to show their gratitude this Thanksgiving season is by staying out of their grantees’ ways – let them do their work and be ready to have a conversation about more funding when the time is right.”

– Ryan Schlegel, Senior Associate for Research and Public Policy

“Funders can show appreciation to their grantees by first, thanking them for all they do and second, asking them: ‘What three things could I do that would help you be even more impactful?’ And of course, actually do some of those things.”

– Lisa Ranghelli, Senior Director of Assessment and Special Projects

“Post success themed ‘spotlights’ on social media on grantee organizations or individual people. It is a nice, simple way to show appreciation.”

– Sophia Cole, Events Intern

“Funders need to be intentional with their promises and put their money where their mouth is. Then, challenge grantees to hold them accountable. At this 2017 Thanksgiving, the X Foundation pledges to:

  • Listen more
  • Trust the expertise of community leaders
  • Make room at the table to include the quiet and the voiceless whom we serve
  • Really, really be intentional about the foundation’s representation of the mosaic
  • Understand that good leadership is shared leadership
  • Step away from behind the big desk and into the community more often”

– Beverley Samuda-Wylder, Director of Human Resources and Administration

“If you’re a place-based funder or have a set of grantees in a specific place, help build community by inviting them to a happy hour with free food and drink! Check out what Vu Le has to say about the power of happy hours.”

– Caitlin Duffy, Senior Associate for Learning and Engagement

“Be an advocate for your grantees’ work: Rally other funders and important decision-makers to join you in building power among folks who live daily with the problems they’re trying to solve.”

– Ben Barge, Senior Associate for Learning and Engagement

What are other ways funders can show appreciation to their grantees this Thanksgiving season?

Jack Rome is the communications intern at NCRP. Follow @NCRP on Twitter.