Categories: Grantmaking

Six Ways Funders Can Embrace Transparency to Foster Stronger Relationships

Author Shaady Salehi

Excerpt from the sgENGAGE Blog

Philanthropy has had a history of being notoriously opaque and inaccessible to organizations seeking funding. In my years as a grantseeker and nonprofit consultant, I’ve waded through dozens of ambiguous foundation websites that make it impossible to know how to get even a foot in the door to be considered for funding.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our sector’s lack of transparency.

Even once a nonprofit makes it through the seemingly impenetrable barriers of accessing philanthropic dollars, they are often faced with a whole new set of challenges. Long waiting periods for grant approvals, uncertainty about grant renewals, hard-to-reach program officers, and sudden shifts in grantmaking strategy put nonprofits in a constant guessing game. Not only does this lack of transparency exacerbate the already uneven power dynamic that exists between funders and nonprofits, it also inhibits the possibility for a relationship rooted in trust and mutual accountability.

However when funders proactively model transparency, power awareness, and vulnerability, it can be transformative. By setting a tone of honesty and openness, funders create the conditions for a different type of relationship, wherein everyone’s time and contributions are valued – and more importantly, nonprofits feel safe enough to share openly about what is really happening in their organizations and in their work.

Read the full article on sgENGAGE

Ultimately, if we want to cultivate honest funder-grantee relationships, we must embrace and prioritize our own ability to be transparent and responsive. Join Us for a Webinar on Transparency as a Grantmaking Strategy to Build Trust and Mutual Accountability

Webinar Details:

In this live, online event, we’ll hear from leaders in the field about tactical ways to embrace transparency, the “faceplant” moments they’ve had along the way, and how they and their foundations have benefited from taking a more transparent approach.

Watch On-Demand


Shaady Salehi
Shaady SalehiExecutive Director
Trust Based Philanthropy Project
Lisa Maloney-Vinz
Lisa Maloney-VinzDirector of Global Community Relations
Ecolab Foundation
Lauren Scott
Lauren ScottExecutive Director
Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund
Drexell Owusu
Drexell OwusuChief Impact Officer
The Dallas Foundation

About the Author

Shaady Salehi is a strategist, facilitator, and network builder who has dedicated nearly two decades to social impact work. She currently serves as the executive director of the Trust-Based Philanthropy Project, a learning and advocacy initiative to make trust-based practices the norm in the philanthropic sector. Her work in the nonprofit sector has spanned many roles — from department head, to executive director, to board member — and her main body of work has centered on using film, media, and strategic communications to advance social change. Previously, Shaady was Managing Director of Distribution and Impact at ITVS, where she led a team to advance the reach and impact of documentaries on public television. Prior to ITVS, she was Executive Director of Active Voice, a pioneering organization that uses storytelling to catalyze social change. She holds an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Anthropology from UC Davis. 

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