Organizational Updates: Removing Barriers in Order To Be a More Responsive Partner

AS PART OF OUR ONGOING COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, equity and inclusion and to becoming an anti-racist organization, the foundation made several organizational changes (some in response to the pandemic) that aim to remove power dynamics and potential barriers for our partner organizations. Our Grants and Programs teams led the charge in adapting our partnership processes — and they are actively working to do more.

A few highlights from this year include:

  • Moving away from cost reimbursement and toward funding with larger advance payments to ensure that partners have financial support and flexibility at the onset of our work together
  • Moving away from overly prescriptive and rigid activities and metrics to allow for opportunities to pivot as needed to achieve outcomes and to implement new learnings to an approach or strategy
  • Readily offering additional resources or consultants to further support the work at no additional cost to partners, all to ensure they can accomplish their goals
  • Monitoring agreed-upon metrics of success and having ongoing conversations with partners — to adjust timelines or goals based on lessons learned and to serve as thought partners, as appropriate

“With many of these changes, we want to make sure our partners have money at their disposal to do what they need to do to get to the end result,” says Michelle Kumi, Grants Manager at the foundation. “We’ve always aligned on outcomes, and now we’re working to build in more flexibility. We don’t need to lay out every step of every day.”

We are also working to reduce any potential burden for partnering with us. “Before we made these changes, our partners would need to have enough of their own funds before they could begin work with us,” Kumi says. “This wasn’t helpful. Fewer and larger payments acknowledge that our partners need more resources to get their work done. We will trust and support you, and we won’t make you prove yourself financially first.”

Beth Conrad, Senior Grants Manager at the foundation, concurs. “We want to support our partners, not tell them exactly how to do things. And these changes better reflect who we want to be as a foundation and as a responsive partner.”