Have you been to Central Market lately? If not, you must check out the olive oils. There must be hundreds of them all lined up in rows. Many of them are irresistable. Delizioso e buon sapore .
Unlike yesterday when there one brand that we knew and trusted, today we have unlimited choices that can be confusing when you are pressed for time. You are looking for the perfect olive oil with the beautiful color and rich taste to put out on your table tonight with freshly ground pepper, red pepper flakes and served with fresh crusty bread.
So, first you walk up and down in front of the rows of olive oils as your eyes scan quickly across the long aisle and stops at the one with the clever packaging..... simple and yet elegant. Hmmm....does it really look Italian? Holding up the bottle to the light, is there a nice even green color. OK good, as you tilt the bottle you see the glass is indeed clear the olive oil is truly a nice green color. You can actually see what you are buying.
There are only a few bottles left. Thats good because it means other people bought all the rest. You’ ll take it home and try it right. Yes, this is the perfect bottle of olive oil to buy. They packaged it just right to attract your attention and you want to taste it.
Choose me! Choose me!
The same goes for grantees. There are ever so many organizations doing exactly the same thing. How do you take a deep breath, take stock, and make a good choice by figuring out what is truly important to you? How do you choose just the right organization that can collaborate with you to accomplish your mission? After you learn about an organization, do you Google them to see what you can find out about them and look for news and history. Stories, press releases, announcements, .but make sure you look for new ones because old ones can be deceiving. Look at them from different angles just as you would a bottle of fine olive oil.
Another way is to see which ones your colleagues chose to support. Once one funder buys you and takes you home and you perform competently with great integrity and prove how much you have successfully accomplished, then you have your own clever packaging with a foundation s stamp of approval. Once a supporter chooses a great grantee and shouts it out to the world, others follow. It s all human nature, as we all want to be part of a winning team.
What organization should we give to? What cause should we support? If big change is to happen it’ s the duty of a foundation to give funds for change, and to create the environment where even more funders can step in to participate, and tell everyone how and why they did it.
Moreover, it goes vice versa
One last point. The same goes for grantees looking at potential big donors. Before you agree to work with a funder, it might be in your best interest to do your own due diligence to see if they are the group with which you want to collaborate. Their reputation may be easy to find. Google them, check out their 990PF's, ask some of their grantees about them, check them out. You might find some interesting data that tells you that you are in fact not a good match. They may not have the right color, or the right taste, or the same goals that your organization has.
A nonprofit professional commented, "One of the greatest concerns in the nonprofit field is the situation when a donor makes a gift to an organization for a program or project and then tries to control it by telling the nonprofit how to run the project or program. Not only is it completely contra to the best practices of fundraising, but it is currently of concern to the IRS. A donor's gift is only 100% charitable if it is not "controlled" by the donor after it is given. Control is a debatable term, but the IRS is urging that donor control be highly regulated."
In Taking Philanthropy Seriously: Beyond Noble Intentions to Responsible Giving by William Damon and Susan Verducci, James Allen Smith writes, "Many acts of charitable giving fail in their stated goals and some are actually harmful. How do you equip philanthropists to do good work to those that build a domain of philanthropic knowledge, ethical codes, and best practices." He continues, "The greatest harms occur when gifts are bestowed haphazardly, without forethought, without regard for their effects. Such as occurances of fundamental flaws in the manner and method of giving. The motovations are giving can be dishonorable, unscrupulous, or simply self- serving. The relationship established or not established between donor and recipient can be problematic (often the gift-giving ritual is merely an assertion of the donor’ s power or a very public manifestation for the disparities of wealth and class.)"
Summing it all up, there are perfect matches made in heaven, and those that are not. Considering recipients and funder ’s needs, frustration, and hope for collaboration is something we learn. Funders and grantees....don’t beat yourself up if you’ ve made a bad match. Keep looking for the right one because they are out there. Food for thought.