To all foundation contacts and “funding partners”:
Effective immediately, our nonprofit organization has reorganized and will henceforth do business as an Operating Grantee.® We’ve made this decision after extensive consultation with our board, senior management, other nonprofits, and external consultants. We believe that becoming an Operating Grantee® is the best way to serve our members, clients, and communities as well as our internal needs and the public interest.
Here are some key changes we’ve agreed on:
Program autonomy. We will no longer seek funding for specific projects of interest to the foundation community;? instead, all future grants will support activities at our organization’s sole discretion. This change will allow us to develop programs that best meet the needs of the communities we serve and provide for greater public input and accountability.
Creative control. We will design our programs and strategies for maximum impact. But we reserve the right to engage in creative work that has unquantifiable, nonmeasurable results and that is specifically not replicable or a model of any kind.
Evaluation. All activities will be evaluated by reference to our own program guidelines. We reserve the right to change these guidelines at any time. Assuming generous additional funding is available, external evaluators may be hired under contract to us and at our sole discretion.
Streamlined grant-application process. We send you an invoice, you send us the money. No staff or board review on the funder side. This streamlined approval process will reduce meetings and bureaucracy as well as free up foundation staff and funds for expanded grantmaking.
Budgets. Aggregate budget figures will be provided to you and, at our discretion, adjusted upward.
Personnel benefits. These benefits will be at least as good as yours.
Financial reporting. After the money is gone, we’ll send you a new invoice.
Media. Thanks for offering to help, but we’ll write our own press releases and send them out. We will formulate and execute the media strategy. You can review what we’ve produced when you see our coverage. Sorry, we can’t include any prewritten taglines, such as “Promoting genteel and refined culture for sensitive citizens since 1906” or guarantee that you’ll be mentioned at all.
Branding. All promotional activity will build our nonprofit brand, unless we choose to operate anonymously and do good deeds without callously claiming credit for them.
Web sites. The Web content we produce is for our site, not yours. We require a large grant-funded technology staff that’s at least twice as large as yours. You must link your site to our site prominently. We, on the other hand, will link to your site only if we wish to.]
Copyrights and patents. Have you read this far? The exclusive property of the Operating Grantee, of course.
Sustainability. We’ll just keep sending you invoices as needed. This is our problem to solve as a grantee, not yours. No “business plans,” “exit strategies,” “building to scale,” “diversification of funding,” “earned-revenue strategy,” and so on.?Given the size of your endowments, it looks like sustainability should not be a problem. After all, you have no problem staying in business. We also think that by seizing the programmatic initiative and changing the balance of power between grantors and grantees, we’ll have a good chance of attracting substantial future funding.
Capacity building. That’s for us to know and for you to find out about! Seriously, the Operating Grantee® system is all about capacity building. We estimate that the changes we’ve outlined here will free up 25 percent to 50 percent of organizational resources for programs and projects that can directly serve community needs. And we do it without time-consuming training workshops and expensive foundation-funded “technical assistance.”
Organizational effectiveness. You have to be kidding. At our sole discretion, of course. Frankly, on some days, we may just feel like horsing around on your dime. You better learn to live with it. (We can see this won’t be easy for you.)
Program officers. We like our program officers. For the most part, they are a convivial and jolly bunch, and from time to time we absolutely should still socialize. They may still take us to lunch at fancy restaurants and invite us to high-end conference centers for extended retreats. We don’t really see the need for such opulent facilities, but it seems to be a matter of cultural preference for foundation personnel. (Not to mention the lavish annual reports, and all that advertising on NPR.)
Program officers can also help process our invoices, and resolve all payment issues and problems. They have no other role and are specifically instructed not to inform their seni