Working with Intermediaries: Global Grantmaking Through Partner Organizations

Making grants through an intermediary is often the simplest way to fund internationally, and sometimes the most effective. GrantCraft asked a handful of experienced grantmakers and experts about the keys to finding, working with, and getting the most from international intermediaries. How does the relationship between donor and intermediary really work?

This conversation supplements GrantCraft’s guide International Grantmaking: Funding with a Global View. 

The term “intermediary organization” has no single, accepted definition in international philanthropy. Some grant makers prefer “funding partner,” or simply “partner,” to reflect the importance of collaboration in the relationship. 

In this document, written mainly with U.S. funders in mind, we define “intermediary” as an organization (not an individual) that provides specialized expertise to foundations and other donors, in particular through the regranting of funds to organizations and projects outside the United States. An intermediary’s expertise may include legal knowledge of U.S. and other governments’ guidelines, a deep understanding of a specific issue or region of the world, or capacity building and other support to grantee organizations. 

Reflecting on a funder’s relationship with an intermediary, Rob Buchanan explained, “An intermediary can be an advisor, an administrator, and a grant maker on your behalf. Some intermediaries are also program builders and network builders. They don’t just process grants. Topically focused intermediaries have their own strategies and objectives, and they fit your grant into that larger strategy. Other intermediaries are simply there to help you get your grant where you want it to go; they don’t have a particular strategy of their own, other than doing it in a professional and legal manner.”

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