Published in THE CHRONICLE OF PHILANTHROPY | FEBRUARY 12, 2019
How grant-makers can tune in to what nonprofits need most
By Hilary Pennington and Kathy Reich
Too often in America, as people achieve success, they seem to think they need to listen less to others around them. That’s why we hear creeping bombasticism in politics, religion, business, and the world where we work: big philanthropy.
Indeed, both elite, old-line philanthropy, like our institution, the Ford Foundation, and the new donors who made their fortunes in high tech and finance suffer from the same malady: talking to peers in an echo chamber of ideas and theories about how best to put charitable donations to work to solve big problems. These conversations may or may not be grounded in the realities faced by the people and organizations we are trying to help. As a result, grants may be construed in ways that ultimately fail to meet the goals of the nonprofit and the donor.
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