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President’s Message
Conference Call with Grantees

As many of you know, we recently held a conference call with a large group of grantees of our Foundation. Thank you to everyone who participated. We had over 200 participants in a lively and informative discussion that I hope was as interesting and valuable to our callers as it was for me.

The purpose of the call was to engage current grantees as we develop our FY 2016 Program Plan. Each year, we solicit feedback from nonprofit organizations as part of our planning process. This year, however, was the first time we engaged in such a large conference call. Half of the participants were from human service providers, a quarter were from education nonprofits, 10% were health providers, 8% were arts education providers, and 10% were community organizing/advocacy groups. This was a great representation of our grantee pool.

Participants shared thoughtful and candid reflections about their needs and challenges, and how Weingart Foundation can continue to be responsive and supportive as a funder. These comments (including those emailed to us afterward), were extremely helpful and provided insight into how we can continue to support our grantees to be more effective and achieve greater impact. Three themes from the comments stand out for me:

  1. Grantees are increasingly sophisticated in their use of unrestricted core support dollars. They are using it not just to plug holes in program delivery, but to build capacity and to invest strategically in their organizations. These grantees are also using core support to respond to unexpected issues, support research and development, and build performance management systems and the necessary infrastructure to operate more effectively.

  2. Several grantees mentioned they are experiencing pressure from funders to reduce administrative costs, as well as an increased funding focus on specific programs – often at the expense organizational capacity. Callers were advised of new federal guidelines regarding indirect costs and referred to the Foundation website for more information.

  3. Grantees want Weingart Foundation to promote the philosophy of responsive grantmaking and unrestricted support to our philanthropic peers because, as one caller said, “core support is extraordinarily vital” to their work.

Not everyone during the call had a chance to share their comments due to the limited time, and I still want to hear from you. Also, since this was our first time using a conference call format to solicit feedback, we limited participation to current grantees. We know that many past grantees wanted to join the call as well, and I want to hear from you too. Please provide any comments or questions you may have by clicking here. We hope to hold more calls in the future that will provide additional opportunities for dialogue and feedback.

For anyone interested, a summary of the call can be downloaded here. As we continue to develop our FY 2016 Program Plan, we look forward to sharing our final set of planning assumptions. The new Program Plan will be released on our website this summer.

Fred Ali
President & CEO