Working with Government

Guidance for Grantmakers


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Foundation-government collaborations seem to be on the rise as each sector looks to pool resources with new partners. How can grantmakers take advantage of the benefits while managing the risks of working on terrain that can be unfamiliar to all parties? The guide includes case studies, suggestions for finding changemakers in government, and advice on navigating roles and power dynamics. Government partners chime in with ideas for keeping things running smoothly.

  • Ways to work with government
  • Your reality/their reality
  • Philanthropic liaisons and how they can help

"It can be a great humbling experience, when the shoe is on the other foot. Things happen in government, their priorities change, and the reasons are often opaque. It's a reminder that foundations are often just as opaque to nonprofit grantees."

— An experienced  grantmaker working
in community development

"A government agency is like any other organization in that it is run by people and success is all about relationships. Set up a meeting, go to lunch, be open to talking about whatever possibilities there may be, and look for each other's strengths and challenges."

— A former program officer now working
as a government policymaker

"Foundations have to have a track record of working across the aisle independent of political party. We have to be willing and know how to work in a very pragmatic way with whoever's in power or has the ability to advance the agenda."

— A grantmaker on the value of nonprtisanship
working with government