The New York Foundation: Using a Contextual Lens

The New York Foundation uses a rubric to examine a number of factors, including contextual, that impact grantee work. “We developed a rubric of questions,” says Maria Mottola, executive director. “Some of which came from the GrantCraft guide about funding startups. That was very helpful.” This rubric imagines over time what progress looks like. It measures organizational development progress, but also explores progress in other domains, such as the organization’s ability to navigate contextual factors. “Because of the kind of grantmaking that we do, we might have an organization that has an informal board that that's made up of people who share a common commitment to a mission or a passion for something,” says Mottola. “Groups like this aren’t necessarily trying to become half million or million dollar sustainable non-profits over the next hundred years. They're often trying to undertake a campaign or get something specific done. We don’t think developing a more professional nonprofit board matters as much in these situations. What’s more important to us is, do they understand the political landscape? Have they made progress on their campaign? Are they collaborating well with other groups?”  The foundation is using this rubric to help guide conversations with grantees.