Tag: Naomi Smouha

Grantmakers share how nonprofits can deepen relationships beyond dollars

By Hudson Kaplan-Allen
WRAG’s 2016 Summer Intern

The second in WRAG’s Nonprofit Summer Learning Series, “Navigating the Grants Process: From Initial Contact to Long-Term Partnership,” focused on how nonprofit organizations can build and maintain strong and positive relationships with their funders after receiving a grant. The session was led by the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s (CFNV) president, Eileen Ellsworth, and featured a panel of experienced grantmaking professionals from across the Greater Washington region.

Ellsworth started the discussion by asking one of CFNV’s grantees to speak about her organization’s experience throughout the grant process. Jessica Fuchs from Serving Together shared her nonprofit’s relationship over the years with CFNV and made the point that, while the funding has been extremely helpful, “it’s really about the connections the [Community Foundation] has helped make.” She emphasized that the support and partnership CFNV has provided has helped validate and promote Serving Together’s work to other funders, individual donors, and the general public, and has helped expand the organization’s reach as a nonprofit organization.

The panelists — Timothy McCue of the Potomac Health Foundation, Danielle Reyes of the Crimsonbridge Foundation, and Naomi Smouha of Capital One — shared insights into the grantmaking process and gave examples of strong nonprofit relationships they have formed in their time as grantmakers. All of the panelists agreed that they find it important both to compare notes and best practices with their grantmaker peers and network within the nonprofit world to find the best partners.

Smouha compared the process to dating, pointing out that it’s smart to go on a few dates and get an idea of who she is working with before she “brings you home to mom.” Every quarter, Capital One hosts one-hour information sessions to allow potential grantees to get an idea of the partnerships they are looking for. They want to make sure they are being completely transparent every step of the way.

Reyes pointed out the importance of nonprofit organizations using Twitter to form connections with funders. At Crimonsonbridge, one of the ways they look to see who wants to partner with them is by checking their Twitter feed and followers. She uses the social media platform to research whose work best fits the foundation’s mission. “We don’t just follow back anyone,” she said.

All of the funders drove home the importance of developing and maintaining an honest and open relationship. “Don’t wait to tell your funder that something is going awry with one of your projects,” said McCue. “Be forthcoming with them.” On top of that, nonprofits are often tempted to follow the money. Instead, McCue said, organizations should be sure to stick with their missions. All three panelists said they use interim or progress reports to check-in with their grantees and make sure they are on track with their projects. If a nonprofit hits a roadblock and decides to change their approach after receiving a grant, they should be open with their funder about the changes. If you go through a staff turnover at your organization, give your funder a heads up that you are going through a transition, said Reyes. “Nonprofits should look at their funders beyond just a dollar relationship,” she said. Explore the partnership by asking questions and being open to suggestions. The next in the Nonprofit Summer Series, “Having Tough Conversations with Your Funder,” on August 19, will address the ways that some of these more difficult conversations between grantmakers and grantees can be resolved and can be used to deepen the relationship.

WRAG launches new “Fundamentals of CSR” workshop

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

In the fall of 2013, WRAG, in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, launched the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility – an exciting new professional development program designed specifically for CSR professionals. Since then, WRAG has received more than 30 requests for information about the Institute from business students, aspiring CSR professionals, fundraising consultants, and nonprofit leaders seeking to better understand CSR for the purposes of, for example, launching a CSR career, identifying and building new corporate relationships, or strengthening existing corporate partnerships.

WRAG heard these requests and is proud to announce the launch of The Fundamentals of CSR: A Two Day Workshop. The inaugural class will be held on April 23-24, 2015 at Pepco Edison Place Gallery and will feature more than 15 speakers and panelists from some of the largest and most respected companies in the Greater Washington region.

Participants will have the opportunity to learn directly from CSR professionals about topics such as the history, key components, and recent trends in CSR; the breadth, depth, and variety of CSR disciplines; how corporate philanthropy and community involvement fit within a company’s overall CSR strategy; what it’s REALLY like to be a CSR professional; understanding a company’s community investment resources; how to think like a corporate funder; and best practices for building strong corporate partnerships.

There will also be a number of interactive sessions where participants engage with each other, stretch their thinking, and apply their learnings, including sessions on “Learning to make the CSR Business Case” and “Designing a Community Investment Strategy.” Each of these sessions is designed to help registrants think like a corporate funder and understand – from the inside out – what motivates CSR professionals and a company’s overall CSR strategy.

We’re proud to offer this new opportunity and would like to thank the members of our curriculum design committee for making this new program a reality:

Naomi Smouha (Capital One)

Pam Holman (Pepco)

Tracye Funn (Washington Gas)

Kelly Waldron (United Way Worldwide)

Lori Vacek (Freddie Mac)

Jeannan Peterson (Bank of America)

To learn more about the workshop or to register please click here. For questions about the program, please contact Katy Moore at moore@washingtongrantmakers.org.