A Guide for Funders Who Believe Better Is Possible
About Modern Grantmaking
Our book is for anyone employed in the curious world of grantmaking, whether you work for a private foundation, a government funder, or a corporate donor.
We've written a practical guide that grantmakers can turn to whenever they need support. To make it quick and easy to use, we’ve filled the book with answers to real-world grantmaking questions.
But it’s about more than handy tips. Every grantmaker can and should be a reformer too. Our book explains why this is so important and how you can get involved.
Chapter by chapter
pg 9 Introduction
Who is this book for? · Is it even moral to work for Big Philanthropy? · Why should I pay any attention to your advice on grantmaking? · How do I use this book to improve my grantmaking? · Will this book tell me what causes and organisations to give money to? · What is the structure of this book?
pg 25 What is Modern Grantmaking?
What’s been brewing? · What are the weaknesses of traditional grantmaking? · What are the values that underpin Modern Grantmaking? · How do I know if I’m living up to these values in my grantmaking? · An exercise on Modern Grantmaking values
pg 45 What are the no-brainers of Modern Grantmaking?
Make most of your grants unrestricted · Adopt a clear mission and make grants that support it · Make more long-term grants · Don’t fund alone · Invest to make applying for your money easy and accessible · Say ‘no’ clearly and quickly · Don’t bounce grantseekers into doing things that aren’t their priorities · Don’t short-change your grantees · Take safeguarding seriously · Be transparent about what you do and don’t fund · Checklist
pg 75 What should I do about privilege?
What are privilege and power, and why do they matter to a grantmaker? · Can privilege undermine good grantmaking decisions? · Why haven’t funders tackled the problem of unchecked privilege and problematic power imbalances · What does it look like when funders actually check their privilege and power? · Can you give an example of how a funder tackles privilege and power inequalities in its grantmaking? · Checklist
pg 107 How do I help my funder develop a good strategy?
What is a strategy and why would my organisation need one? · Do you have real examples of funders with clear strategies? · How do I help my funder come up with a good strategy? · How do we gather views on what should or shouldn’t be in our strategy? · How do we actually make use of the new strategy to change things? · Is this the only way of coming up with a useful strategy for my funding organisation? · Checklist
pg 139 What big questions should all funders debate from time to time?
Should we be open to unsolicited proposals or be an invite-only funder? · Should we fund riskier projects with potentially higher pay-offs or less risky projects with lower pay-offs? · Who makes the final decision on who gets the money? · Should we worry about the financial sustainability of the organisations we fund? · How should we approach our own savings and investments? · How transparent and accountable should we be? · Should our funding organisation be permanent or should it spend down and close? · Checklist
pg 173 How can I improve the experience of grantseekers and grantees?
What causes bad applicant and grantee experiences? · How can I improve my organisation’s user experience? · What is human-centred design? · How do I improve our service quality if I work for a small funder? · How do I improve our service quality if I work for a larger funder? · Checklist
pg 205 How should I use research?
When do grantmakers need to think about research? · What is the connection between research and monitoring and evaluation? · What are the most common problems with the ways grantmakers use research today? · What steps should I take to make better use of research? · How to find useful research: a cheat-sheet for busy grantmakers · Checklist
pg 243 How do I manage well both upwards and downwards?
What does a good manager look like in a funding organisation? · What are the traits of a bad leader or manager of grantmakers? · Are there specific mistakes I should try to avoid as a manager of other grantmakers? · How do I manage upwards to a board or a founding donor? · How do I go about hiring new grantmakers? · Checklist
pg 267 How do I keep developing my skills?
Why is a lack of good incentives a problem for Modern Grantmakers? · What is the most valuable thing I can do to keep getting better as a grantmaker? · What activities will improve my skills as a grantmaker? · What grantmaking courses and programmes do universities offer? · Checklist
pg 287 How do I become a grantmaking reformer?
What are the most important lessons in this book? · What does it mean to be a grantmaker who identifies as a reformer? · Are there grantmaker reform movements I can join? · Is Modern Grantmaking a movement I can join? · How can I get started with Modern Grantmaking?