Opening Up: Discussion Guide for Thoughtful Funder Reflection

These questions pertain to GrantCraft's guide, Opening Up: Demystifying Funder Transparency. Read the guide independently. Then, together with your team, dive into the following questions:

Big Picture:

  • On a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being very and 1 being not at all, how comfortable are you as a foundation with the idea of transparency?
  • On a scale of 1 to 9, with 9 being very and 1 being not at all, how comfortable are you personally with the idea of transparency?
  • What is one thing that you do transparently? What benefits do you see?
  • What do you think the biggest transparency struggle your foundation faces is?

Behind Closed Doors: Sharing Grantee Selection Processes and Grantee Data

  • What do you see as the greatest benefits to sharing more of your foundation’s grantee selection processes and grantee data?
  • What has kept your foundation from taking steps towards greater transparency around your grantee selection processes and grantee data? Is this historical rationale still relevant today?
  • What, if any, fears do you have about making your selection processes clearer? What can you do to address those fears?
  • How would you tackle the challenges cited by those interviewed in the guide?
  • What is your foundation currently doing in terms of sharing grantee selection processes and grantee data? What are some concrete next steps to take towards greater transparency?
  • If you are an executive, how will you get board buy-in for your organization to share more about its grantee selection processes and grantee data? What internal processes would you need to adopt? If you are a communications or program officer, how will you get senior staff buy-in?
  • Which examples in the guide spark ideas that your foundation could implement?

Is the Needle Moving: Sharing Performance Assessments

  • What do you see as the greatest benefits to sharing more of your foundation’s program assessments?
  • What types of assessments mentioned in this chapter resonate as ones that you could share, too?
  • What do you see as the biggest risks in sharing assessments more publicly? How could you address those risks at your foundation?
  • How could you share assessments to promote ongoing dialogue with grantees and others? What are some concrete steps you could take to help encourage that dialogue?
  • In what ways could you work with evaluators and other consultants to produce program assessments that could better engage key audiences?
  • What broader discussions need to take place in your foundation about the purpose and value of sharing assessments?

Improving Relationships: Strengthening Engagement with Grantees and Other Stakeholders

  • What do you see as the greatest benefit to strengthening engagement with grantees and other nonprofits?
  • Which of your foundation’s program areas or processes could benefit most from increased dialogue with grantees or applicants?
  • The power dynamic between foundations and nonprofit organizations can make it tricky at times to develop an open dialogue. How could you address this dynamic so that your foundation can have a meaningful dialogue with your grantees or applicants?
  • Do any of the examples described in this case study seem like ones you could explore at your foundation to encourage greater learning between you and your grantees?
  • By being more transparent about what you do, how can you help grantees to communicate better with peers?

Peers Helping Peers: Improving the Practice of Philanthropy

  • What are the biggest benefits for your foundation to sharing information with other funders?
  • Have you had an experience of sharing information with another foundation that resulted in a new collaboration, an insight, or the beginning of an ongoing, productive relationship? How did that experience come about? What worked about it?
  • What experiences have you had in sharing information about your diversity practices? What came out of that sharing? What challenges did you experience?
  • What fears, if any, do you have about adopting open licensing to the products you fund?
  • Could your foundation adapt or join any examples in this chapter?
  • What is a concrete first step that would make sense for your foundation to take to share more information with other funders?

Communicating Well: Connecting Using Every Opportunity

  • What are the biggest benefits to your foundation’s transparency efforts in improving communication and connection through various mediums?
  • Think about the words communication and connectivity. What do they connote to you, and how can using different channels improve your ability to do both?
  • What do you see as the challenges for your foundation in using new communication platforms to help it become more open and accessible?
  • What is a good, first (or next) step to making use of some of these tools at your foundation?
  • How can you democratize your grantmaking by incorporating new ideas or input from outside stakeholders, particularly using technology?