New Citi Foundation Report - Funding from a Place of Trust

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

New Citi Foundation Report - Funding from a Place of Trust

May 2020- A new Citi Foundation commissioned report with Synergos: “Funding from a Place of Trust: Exploring the Value of General Operating Support and Capacity Building Grants” highlights how now more than ever flexible funding is needed to support grantees and the vulnerable communities they serve.

The full report has just gone live and can be accessed here.

Watch Funding from a Place of Trust: Report launch virtual event

Report’s top insights include:

  • Long-term General Operating Support (GOS) grants coupled with Capacity Building (CB) grants may be a gold standard. They enable nonprofits to avoid a tradeoff between investing in capacity and in programmatic growth, helping ensure that new capacity acquired is sustained. Within our current climate, this is more critical than ever to support grantees through this tumultuous time.
  • Grantee readiness is an essential factor for effective GOS/CB funding results. Determining a non-profit’s readiness includes factors such as its leadership and stage of development to use GOS and CB funds to better fulfill a non-profit’s mission and impact.
  • Invest in GOS and CB funding early and for the long haul. This point cannot be overemphasized: It takes time to strengthen an organization and to achieve results. Grant terms of 5-7 years should become the new standard.
  • GOS is a form of “trust capital.” A trust-based relationship is established when funders provide GOS, re-balancing power dynamics between donor and grantee and creating an effective two-way communication in which both parties learn and adjust.
  • The establishment of a level playing field is an important intangible benefit of trust capital. This in turn leads to a more honest relationship and greater confidence on the part of the nonprofit’s leadership and staff in their own potential. It helps overcome a deficit mindset and serves as a license to innovate. These intangible effects manifest as a nonprofit shifts its culture and operates with a greater sense of agency.
  • Intermediaries can champion GOS and CB funding. Institutions that play the role of both grantee and donor are uniquely well-positioned to advocate for GOS. They understand the constraints faced by nonprofits and pass along either the burden of restricted funding or the advantages of GOS from their own donors to their grantees.
  • It’s difficult to trace the impact of CB and GOS funding on results. Grants and evaluations are often not structured with methodologies to link CB and GOS funding to outcomes. One promising new methodology known as “Outcomes Harvesting” – which begins with results and traces back causality in a collaborative process between donor and grantee – may be effective for monitoring, evaluating and learning.
  • GOS and CB funding have a key role to play in monitoring, evaluation, and learning. Social outcomes are difficult and expensive to measure, yet nonprofits shoulder the burden. Investments in GOS and CB funding can elevate monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) to a strategic level and generate data and insights to further boost nonprofits’ achievements. Cohorts of nonprofits can also serve as effective vehicles for identifying links between CB and GOS support and outcomes.
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