Shine the Light on Your Non-profit 

DNA Creative Communications (DNA), in partnership with Hollingsworth Funds, Inc, the Community Foundation of Greenville and United Way of Greenville County, held an educational session, “The Funder/Grantee Dynamic: A Candid Conversation,” as a part of their “Shine the Light on Your Non-profit” series June 13 at the Kroc Community Center.

Over 130 funders, non-profit leaders and staff across the Upstate attended the seminar that focused on bridging the gap between Funders and Grantees to strengthen the relationships and provide understanding on both sides of the funding process. Executive and Development Officers engaged in topics that addressed clear communication between funder and grantee to avoid common misunderstandings and the pitfalls of power imbalance. Attendees learned how to become better stewards of resources while fostering productive and results-driven business partnerships.

Our non-profit panelists were Alan Ethridge with the Metropolitan Arts Council, Deborah McKetty with CommunityWorks Carolina and Suzie Foley with the Greenville Free Medical Clinic. Our funder panelists were Rhett Mabry with The Duke Endowment, Darrin Goss with United Way of Greenville County and Gage Weekes with Hollingsworth Funds. The panel was set up as three tables with a non-profit leader and a funder paired at each table, discussing the topics in front of the audience.
Pairing a non-profit leader and a funder together at the same table generated questions and comments that are often unspoken in the non-profit/funder relationship. Although these topics can lead to uncomfortable settings, the discussion was informative and at times amusing as the non-profit leaders listened to the funders, provided insight and vice versa.

“The workshop was, hands down, the best spent three hours of my week! The Shine the Light Funder/Grantee Relationship workshop was an ideal opportunity to connect with funders in a meaningful way and have constructive conversation with my peers in the non-profit sector.” – Katie Leckenbusch, Director of Development, The Warehouse Theatre

There were three topics for discussion at the seminar:
Discussion Topic I: General Operating Support, Overhead and Multi-Year Funding
Discussion Topic II: Communicating Effectively
Discussion Topic III: Accountability for Outcomes

Each topic was introduced first to the panel, generating conversation and setting the guidelines for discussion. The topics were then continued at the roundtable sessions as attendees brainstormed solutions to these problems and shared their concerns and questions. Some of the results from the table discussions include:

Funder Said:
“Build in over-head expenses with program expenses in funding regulations.”
“Report what is required of grantees to make sure they ask the right questions.”

Grantee Said:
“Initiate open conversations with funders before submitting a grant.”
“Add our current and potential future funders to our email and newsletter to stay informed.”

Both agreed:
“Invite each other to events that showcase what they represent and work towards.”

“The participants at each of my tables were very engaged and the conversation was very targeted, frank, but respectful. The format was clever and helped both get the information out there and cultivated the dynamic you were hoping for. Thanks for all you do with the Shine the Light series; it’s been a real gift to our community.” – Katy Pugh Smith, Executive Director, Piedmont Health Foundation

When asked what they would take away from the workshop that they will implement, the attendees responded:

“Working together (funder and grantee) will advance Greenville.”

“Initiating open conversations with funders before submitting a grant.”

“Looking at or reporting what we require of grantees and making sure that we are asking the right questions.”

“That funders have grown in their understanding of the non-profit community’s challenges and are flexing themselves to do/get more experience.”

The “Shine the Light on Your Non-profit” series was originally developed in 2010 as a resource to help the widespread communications needs among the non-profit community. The next session of the 2013 series is “Successful Public Relations: Telling and Selling Your Story.” It will be held on August 7 at the Kroc Community Center. To find out more or to register for a future seminar, visit DNA’s website or call 864-235-0959 extension 4. View more pictures from the event on our Facebook page.