In this guide, grantmakers from a wide range of funding organizations describe their experiences as supporters of new nonprofits, or start-ups. Find out how they negotiated the path from idea to organization, and what they learned along the way about how to solve problems and help an organization sustain itself into the future. Contributors to this guide also offer their recommendations for online capacity-building resources.
Susan Kenny Stevens is a consultant and author specializing in financial management and organizational development. A GrantCraft interviewer spoke with her recently about the financial challenges typically faced by new organizations.Read More »
Learn more about the funding interests and specialties of other funders. As one nonprofit director explained, “I hear from start-up grantees all the time who tell me that they asked their program officer where to look for funding and were told, ‘I don’t know. Go ask my other grantees.’Read More »
The initial grant to launch a start-up organization can be crucial for helping the organization develop a secure and sustainable funding base down the road. Meanwhile, though, it should also provide a start-up with the early security it needs to define its mission.Read More »
Technical assistance can’t solve everything. As one grantmaker observed, technical assistance is “no substitute for the three things you really need — a strong entrepreneur, a strong idea, and a strong market.” Even with those elements in place, he cautioned, it’s sometimes necessary to admit that external solutions won’t fix an organization’s problems: “I was a technical assistance provider before I came to the foundation, and I saw a lot of situations where advice was not going to solve the problem.”Read More »
Some grantmaking organizations prohibit staff members from serving on the board of any organization they support, to avoid potential conflicts between their role as a grantmaker and their role as a board member with fiduciary responsibility to the organization they serve.Read More »
When people say a new organization isn’t needed, it’s only sensible to take their caution seriously. Yet several contributors warned that a certain amount of friction with older organizations is inevitable. Some people will be negative, they argue, even if a new organization is sorely needed and the idea is sound.Read More »
Don’t fund a start-up unless it’s really needed. Many contributors questioned what they see as a basic premise of many start-up organizations: that there aren’t enough nonprofit organizations out there already. “It’s quite the opposite,” said one. “There are too many organizations as it is.”Read More »
This guide was developed to help a grantmaker or donor think through a decision to support a start-up organization — by definition a new venture, with a new mission and no operational or financial track record. In addition to questions about the risk involved and the need for a new organization, grantmakers confront questions about their own role in helping a new organization get started and ensuring it has ongoing support.
Besides grantmakers, other people involved in a start-up may also need to grapple with some of these questions. You may wish to share this guide with:
This guide may be helpful to them, or to grantmakers who need to frame conversations with them about start-up organizations.
Because it presents the words of grant makers describing an array of real dilemmas, the guide can also be a tool for training new staff about the approach, philosophy, and core values of a foundation or other donor institution.