Turnabout Is Fair Play

Last month we covered the taboo topic of those less than perfect funders in your lives and their often painful grant processes that drive you a bit nutty.

Well, the tables are turned this month, so hold on tight as we talk about a different perspective. If you’re a funder joining us, we hope you get a good chuckle as we uncover some of the things REALLY on your mind. And if you’re a nonprofit reading this, we’re hoping none of this sounds familiar. And if it does, take heed. You may want to consider changing your approach, so you’re not becoming THAT person the funder goes home and complains to their partner about.

Funders, have you found yourself falling asleep as you read yet another hum drum grant proposal that never really answers any of your foundation’s questions? Or how about the grant seeker that uses 500 flowery words to communicate what could have been said in 50? And aren’t you jumping for joy when that onslaught of crisis phone calls come in 5 minutes before the grant deadline because the technology seems to be failing for everyone who planned poorly and waited until the last minute to hit the “submit” button? Uh….hello….your emergency isn’t my emergency! Oh, and let’s not forget how special you feel when you’re reviewing proposals and notice how certain applicants seem to have forgotten your name and included the name of another funder instead. Oh dear, could it be a failed search and replace, another boiler plate template or early onset dementia? The good news is that for every grant applicant who doesn’t get your name right, there is another who loves you. Like REALLY REALLY loves you. These people are also known as psycho crazy stalkers—you know who we’re talking about. These are the individuals who conveniently bump into you in places outside of work or decide to “pop by” your office for a surprise visit and then leave a love note on your car.

We realize we are exaggerating and may sound a wee bit sarcastic. Here’s the thing, though. The grantor-grantee relationship is a tough one to navigate. Over the years the PiP team has had experience on both sides of the fence. And just like we all probably have a few skeletons in our personal closets, nonprofits (and the funders that fund them) are no different. We’re all human after all.

So, what do we do about this uncomfortable dynamic between those giving away the money and those seeking the money? Perhaps it’s simpler than we all think. Perhaps it starts with what we all deeply crave and often don’t get enough of —genuine relationships. Honesty from both parties about their challenges, their needs, and what’s working or isn’t. Candid conversations with feedback that goes both ways. A check-in about the relationship and what each party could do to strengthen it.

Add some empathy to the mix, and imagine the possibilities.