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Vice President's Message: April 2014

We are pleased to share Weingart Foundation’s FY 2015 Program Plan Assumptions. Our assumptions highlight our assessment of the environment that the local nonprofit and philanthropic sectors will be operating in over the next 12-18 months. As a responsive grantmaker, it is critical that we understand the real needs, challenges and opportunities facing our local nonprofit sector in order to develop and prioritize our grantmaking strategies for our upcoming fiscal year.

Our process for developing these assumptions includes ongoing communication with applicants and grantees, primarily through the review of letters of inquiry and applications. We also hold a number of focus groups or listening sessions with our grantees, which allow for deeper conversation outside of the application review process. For example, during the last four months, our President/CEO, Fred Ali, and I met with almost 50 nonprofit leaders through six focus groups held in San Bernardino, Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties. In addition to geographic diversity, these organizations varied in budget size and area of focus. We also held our first ever Small Grant Program focus group meeting with eight executive directors running organizations with annual budgets under $1 million.

What we are hearing and seeing is that high demand for services, especially among human service organizations, combined with reduced government funding and a very competitive fundraising environment, are continuing to pose significant challenges for nonprofits. Our grantees also tell us that limited unrestricted dollars prevent them from investing in basic infrastructure — let alone new strategies to improve fundraising, innovate, or strengthen programs. These findings reinforce for us the importance of providing flexible, multi-year unrestricted funding and capacity building support.

We are greatly interested in your thoughts and reactions regarding our FY 2015 Program Plan Assumptions. For example, are these findings consistent with your organization’s experience, or do you have a different perspective? Are there important trends or factors that we are missing? Please click here to provide your feedback.

We will post a summary of our FY 2015 Program Plan on the Foundation’s website in July following its approval by the Board of Directors. The Plan will include updated assumptions and key strategies we intend to pursue in the upcoming year. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

Belen Vargas
Vice President, Programs