Some grantmakers urge caution when deciding whether to join a funder advocacy collaborative, pointing out that it can be a big investment of foundations’ time and money. For foundations that already know what they want to do and are set on doing it, being in an advocacy collaborative will probably not be of interest to them. Individual foundations may want their own work on an issue to be the signpost for their institution, rather than that of many other institutions.
One grantmaker tells colleagues who are considering becoming a member of a funder collaborative to think carefully about whether and how funding through this mechanism will add value beyond their own efforts. “If they can’t come up with a better reason than ‘it makes me part of a bigger pool,’ that may not be sufficient. We all care about this issue, we believe in these strategies and tactics, that’s good, but I think you need to have more than a common interest in an issue. You have to be able to let go of my need to drive your foundation’s own agenda and believe that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
In recent years, there has also been the emergence of new types of funders who prefer to develop and implement their own initiatives and strategies. As one intermediary director notes, “Lately, I’ve seen a few of the newer foundations, which tend to be more directive and less collaborative, wanting to do it themselves. Engaging them in these kinds of collaborative funds is difficult because they don’t see the value in them. Maybe we haven’t done a good job in talking about them or because they’re coming from a different place or because we lack a shared language and vision with them. The sector-wide associations also aren’t facilitating these conversations, and newer players aren’t initiating them. Whatever the case may be, if we want to see advocacy collaboratives grow in strength and impact, we’re going to have to figure out some venues in which to have these conversations.”
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