Partnering With Grantmakers

Gaining the inside scoop on what foundations value can be invaluable in crafting your pitch and selling your work in the right way to the right people at the right time. “The Road to Financial Stability: Partnering with Grantmakers” doled out helpful advice from three regional health foundations.
Kelly Dunkin of The Colorado Health Foundation offered up insider tips on how to win over a foundation. First, don’t attempt to force a mission fit. Foundations, like nonprofits, are mission-driven and missions have to align. Secondly, foundations know they need partners to achieve their vision. Finally, said Dunkin, “We like to be wooed. Let’s get to know each other!” A cold-call may not be your best option in attracting future partners. The best relationships develop over time, she advised.



Sustainable nonprofits need “strategic, decisive, accountable leadership,” added Dunkin. Nonprofits should also strive to demonstrate the richness of their resources; these are the resources that will help deliver programs. 
Ann Monroe of the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York suggested that AF4Q Alliances look for health foundations as funders and partners because they will understand the unique work the Alliances do. Foundations offer more than funding opportunities. Health foundations have the luxury to dive deep into an issue, which can be a helpful contribution to a nonprofit organization. At the same time, potential nonprofits need to be able to demonstrate their savvy in the marketplace by demonstrating their results. “Define your value proposition,” said Monroe. “What do you deliver for what you cost? Make it clear.”
Denise San Antonio Zeman of St. Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, advocated for a “bigger tent” for nonprofits seeking grantmaker partnerships. “Our resources are not what they were with changes in governmental funding sources. Grantmakers need to find new ways to partner to get work done,” she said. The goal is to find new ways to reach mutually beneficial solutions. But, ultimately, stories get people to act. Zeman advised Alliances to lead with their strengths and tell the story of their successes. Zeman’s final thought: “Concrete results will get you noticed every time.”

Kelly Dunkin is the vice president of philanthropy for the Colorado Health Foundation. In this role, she leads the staff of the Foundation’s three philanthropy teams—Healthy Living, Health Coverage, and Health Care—in their work investing in nonprofits throughout the state.

Ann F. Monroe is president of the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York, an independent private foundation serving the Buffalo and Syracuse regions of New York that is focused on improving the health outcomes of frail elders and children in communities of poverty and increasing community health capacity.

Denise San Antonio Zeman has been president and CEO of Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland, OH, since January 2000. With assets of more than $175 million, Saint Luke’s Foundation has a strategic focus on healthy people, strong communities, and resilient families.

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 @CodyRBarnett: Being at the table isn't enough. People want to meaningfully engage at the table. Take advantage of those at your table. #AF4Q


@Bgavio: @COHealthFDN @KellySnowDunkin: Convince foundations that NOT funding you will have negative consequences #AF4Q #Sustainability

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