Do You Share Proposals?

Go to Lucy Bernholz’s blog Philanthropy 2173 for good back and forth about the value of transparent data for donors and grantees alike. An added plus: you get to see the aurora borealis in quick-time. And see a story in Education Week on how funders are using the i3 registry, originally intended to help finalists for the federal i3 competition reach the required 20% match, to identify promising runners-up.

A program officer told us once about how she asked a colleague at another foundation to share the best from the “maybe” pile of a competition for possible support. It’s encouraging to see the i3 and SIF registries take that idea to a new level. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have a rule that all data should be shared, but it makes sense to say that the “default” is to share data rather than not do it. Context matters: there are often good reasons to keep an exchange of ideas or plans private, but the burden should be to explain “why not?” rather than to explain “why share?”

Have you weighed the pros and cons of sharing proposals during a grantmaking process? Have you ever run an RFP or competition where the final proposals were shared with anyone who was interested or with other foundations? Did it help advance the project’s goals and/or were there unexpected good or bad outcomes?

Comments