J.P. Morgan Private Bank: Ready and willing

J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Private Foundation Services, on behalf of its clients, works back and forth with grantees to identify readiness and willingness for capacity building: sometimes pushing a little, but always trusting grantees to know their organizations best. “Most often organizations come and know what they need, and we really trust them to know their own organizations better than we know them,” says Jonathan Horowitz, vice president. In some situations, J.P. Morgan’s Private Foundation Services staff work with organizations to determine if they are ready and willing to take on serious organizational opportunities that they haven’t brought forward directly. One example: “There was an organization that we were in conversation with for a couple of months about applying for a grant,” says Horowitz. “The organization’s staff came in with what they had identified as a need, but we had trouble seeing as a high capacity building priority. While we were having that conversation, the president of that organization, who had been leading it for decades, announced that he would be retiring. We know this organization really well. We have worked with them for years, and we knew this transition was going to have a fundamental impact on the future of the organization. The outgoing leader’s hands had been in every single facet of the organization. The staff, board, and funders have all gravitated toward him. His departure was something the organization needed to deal with in a serious way.”

Private Foundation Services staff put the issue on the table, to determine the extent to which the organization was ready and willing to face this capacity issue directly. “We had really honest conversations where we said, ‘What might be some ways you could address this leadership transition you're dealing with and how could we be helpful?’” says Horowitz. “The organization took time to have some conversations internally. Then it came back and said, ‘We thought we were prepared for this, but we're not.’ Then they brought forward a whole series of really great ideas of how capacity building support could actually make this a healthier transition.”

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