This is a guest post by Christine Riley Miller, Senior Director of the Joy in Childhood Foundation
We know funding is a core tenant of keeping charitable partners in the business of solving social issues but we also know that so much more is needed to make a lasting impact in our world. The most successful partnerships begin with one critical first step – finding the right grant partner. This step ultimately ensures the overall success of any relationship. So, what are the best approaches to ensure you find the right partner? And then how do you determine whether or not the partnership is successful?
At the Joy in Childhood Foundation, the partnerships we create with our grantees are much more than just “checkbook philanthropy.” We know that to make a lasting impact, we need to think long-term and invest in grant partners that share in our commitment to bring joy to sick and hungry kids. The following are a few simple guidelines that foundations can follow to help ensure that their partnerships reach their full potential:
- Collaboration begins with a shared mission. It is crucial that the mission of your potential grant partners aligns with your foundation’s mission and goals. This will ensure that the connection between your foundation and grant partner is authentic. For the Joy in Childhood Foundation, it starts with aligning with charities like Starlight Children’s Foundation and Feeding America whose missions align with our commitment to bring joy to sick and hungry kids. Through a three-year, $3 million commitment, we will work with these grant partners to address some of the biggest challenges we face today: childhood health and childhood hunger.
- Maximize opportunities for involvement. Identifying multiple ways that your foundation can get involved with its grant partners strengthens its commitment to the overall mission. This can include engaging employees and empowering them through initiatives such as volunteerism so that they can personally make a difference and feel a stronger connection to your foundation’s mission.
- Understanding the scope of the partnership. To help ensure a strategic partnership between your foundation and any grant partners, it is important to have a clear understanding of how you’ll achieve your goals together. Will your foundation simply provide funding? Will you co-create scalable, community programs? What is the timeframe of the partnership? Through our work with Starlight Children’s Foundation and Feeding America, providing children living with life-threatening illnesses and food insecurity with access to innovative programs will make a positive impact on their lives.
- Defining and measuring success. To help ensure that partnerships reach their full potential, foundations and their grant partners should always work together to set expectations and actionable goals and agree on the elements that will clearly define a shared vision of success.
Strategic partnerships can do so much for your foundation (and your grant partner!), but it’s important to fully understand how you’ll support one another from the start. Once that partnership has been solidified, it’s time to see how you can work together, measure the success of your programs, and above all, work collaboratively so that you make a lasting impact.