Change Incubator Lessons Learned

At last month’s closing retreat for the Change Incubator, participants reflected on their own learning journeys, and we lifted up some common themes across the teams. While we learned a lot about grantee inclusion, we learned perhaps even more about change management and leadership. Here are five key lessons learned from our pilot program, along with examples from our participating foundations.

What Are Some Whys and Hows of Grantee Inclusion?

Justin Laing—program officer at The Heinz Endowments, a cohort participant of GEO’s Change Incubator—shares grantee inclusion practices co-created with two members of its Transformative Arts Process (TAP) Advisory Board.

The importance of community engagement

“Better solutions are created when organizational leaders spend the time to better understand the voice of community members and partner with their community members to address the problems.” Troy Bush-DiDonato, community engagement officer at Episcopal Health Foundation—a GEO Change Incubator cohort participant—explains how the foundation is building the capacity of its grantees and partners to […]

Winter Is Here, and the Wall Between Funders and Nonprofits Must Come Down

Grantmakers and nonprofits can face today’s pressing social issues only if we break down the walls between us and see each other as partners on the same side. Read the full article here.

Grantee Inclusion for Community Empowerment

Grantee inclusion can help correct the power imbalance not only between foundations and nonprofits, but also between marginalized communities and the broader power structures that perpetuate inequity. Read the full article here.

Start with a Shared Vision

True grantee-funder partnerships are based on a shared vision of the future. Creating a strategy to achieve that vision requires listening and clearly defining roles. Read the full article here.

Pleasantly Surprised by What’s Inside Pandora’s Box

It’s critical to test different approaches to grantee inclusion and to incorporate new learning along the way. Read the full article here.

Getting to the Heart of Healthy Funder-Grantee Relationships

Three practices successful social sector partnerships can adopt to improve their alignment and generate better results. Read the full article here.

Grantee Inclusion: A Step Towards Mutual Accountability?

Grantee inclusion is not sufficiently powerful to transform grantee-funder relationships, but it might present a vision for a sector that more evenly shares power. Read the full article here.

The Gift of Grantee Inclusion

Grantee inclusion requires learning, risk-taking, and letting go of cherished behaviors and ways of working to make progress.

Walking a Different Kind of Grantmaker Walk

By actively moving into the roles of advocate and partner for grantees, grantmakers can cultivate trusting, transparent relationships that ultimately translate into social impact.

Four Ways to Bridge the Grantee-Grantmaker Power Gap in Collective Impact

As grassroots and “grass-tops” groups come together to create collective impact, funders have the power to foster truly authentic engagement and co-ownership among all.

Four Dating Tips to Sustain Strong Grantmaker-Grantee Relationships

Relationships take work—and those between grantees and grantmakers are no exception. Read the full article here.

Ask Questions, First to Learn but Then to Act

Now, more than ever, grantmakers are asking questions and working to learn with and from their grantees. But whatever grantmakers learn from grantees, the lessons matter only if they inform future action and if grantmakers report back to grantees about the impact of their input.

Who’s Getting Paid to Advance Grantee Inclusion?

It’s time to recognize how inequity shapes funders’ choice of partners. Read the full article here.

Grantee Inclusion: What’s It All About?

Including grantees in decision-making, program-building, and strategy is critical to effective social impact. While the things grantmakers “do” are important, authentic inclusion also requires that they embrace a new mindset.

Funders and nonprofit leaders need to get on the same side of the table…and share a beverage

When he declared July 8, 2016 “Get a Beer and Undo Nonprofit Power Dynamics” Day, Vu Le tapped into something really important. Many trustees, program officers and nonprofit leaders are pretty terrible at having real conversations with each other. Imagine how powerful it would be if we could sit together over a beer and discuss the real challenges at hand.

What Grantee Inclusion Means to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation faces a significant reduction in its annual grantmaking dollars. In light of this shift, the foundation feels it is critical to hear from its grantees about what the foundation can do to remain a key partner and further the nonprofits’ work despite a smaller annual budget.

Placing Big Bets with the Change Incubator

When GEO launched the Change Incubator last year, we were making three big bets. Six months into the first cohort, we have plenty to feel good about, but we are very much in the “messy middle” and many questions remain.

How I Lost My Job

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation is one of four Change Incubator participants, and six months into the program, Brad Cameron lost his job. But he got a new one! Brad transitioned to a "mirror holder" role, managing the foundation’s data and holding it up as a reflection, sharing what WRF is learning and trying out with its grantee partners and communities, as well as gathering feedback from them.

Change Incubator — What are we learning so far?

A critical insight is the importance of understanding the difference between adaptive and technical challenges. While technical work happens in the head, adaptive work takes place in the heart and in the gut, and understanding this difference is especially important in the context of strengthening relationships with grantees.