Announcing GrantED, a New Project to Strengthen Grantmaker-Grantseeker Relationships

NEW YORK, March 15 — Jewish Funders Network (JFN) today announced the launch of GrantED, a new project designed to strengthen relationships between Jewish philanthropists and the Jewish nonprofit sector.

A joint project of JFN and UpStart (with assistance from Hadar), GrantED: Stronger Relationships, Greater Impact (www.jgranted.org) produces and curates articles, tools, and other materials to inspire and inform grantmakers and grantseekers in the Jewish community. It also offers workshops, facilitated conversations and other programs.

Listen to Episode 20 of "What Gives?" the Jewish philanthropy podcast from JFN, in which Dena Libman of the Azrieli Foundation and Jack Wertheimer of JTS, discuss "Grantees and Their Funders" and GrantED.

 

GrantED was created following the 2020 study “Grantees and Their Funders: How Professionals at Jewish Not-for-Profits Experience Working with Grantmakers” by Jewish Theological Seminary Professor Jack Wertheimer. Based on interviews with 140 senior professionals at North American Jewish not-for-profits, this groundbreaking study found that, almost to a person, interviewees had very positive experiences to relate:

  • Many marveled at the continuing importance of personal relationships—with individual funders and with foundation board members and staff—as the essential ingredient for cooperative work. 
  • Others reported that funders have helped their organizations think through new initiatives, offering expertise and helpful advice. 
  • Several spoke about funders who understood that not all projects succeed and did not take disappointing outcomes as proof of failure, but instead learned from them. 

 

However, a number shared some concerns, for example:

  • Some funders condition their giving upon inappropriate demands. 
  • Grantseekers complained about time-consuming grant applications, cumbersome reporting requirements, and issues in the relationships with foundation staff.
  • Many funders regard overhead and operating costs as the responsibility of grantees.  Lack of support for these necessary expenditures severely affects the sustainability of institutions delivering needed programs.

 

“We’re thrilled that most Jewish funders have strong partnerships with the nonprofits they support and treat them with respect and empathy. The ‘Grantees and Their Funders’ report shows, though, that there is room for improvement,” said Andrés Spokoiny, President and CEO of JFN. “Through GrantED, we are setting standards for the field and sharing best practices so that all funders and grantees can be successful. The funding and nonprofit sectors are interdependent: While the community cannot function without philanthropic support, funders rely on the expertise and hard work of nonprofit professionals as partners in bringing shared goals and dreams to fruition. This project offers the possibility of addressing the issues and leveraging the positive to benefit the entire ecosystem.” 

Aliza Mazor, Chief Field-Building Officer at UpStart, said: "Grantmakers and grantseekers share a deep passion for the Jewish future, but it is often hard for them to share their perspectives with each other candidly and connect in an authentic way. We hope this initiative will open up channels of communication and remove some of the barriers to fostering impactful partnerships. The GrantED website provides inspiration, case studies, and practical resources that both grantmakers and grantseekers can use to start a conversation or deepen existing relationships."

Wertheimer, the author of “Grantees and Their Funders,” said: “It is deeply gratifying when one’s research spurs policy changes. I am grateful to JFN and its partners for embracing my report and taking next steps to strengthen relationships between grantmakers and grantseekers. GrantED holds the promise of improving the effectiveness of both funders and grantees. This can be a win for all who are involved in Jewish communal life.” 

The GrantED website contains a wide array of resources, both curated and original, with materials organized around these four core components of successful grantmaking partnerships: strengthening relationships, understanding and addressing power dynamics, sustaining impact, and effective communication. New content will continue to be added. Among the original content: 

  • Transcripts of interviews with Jewish grantmakers and grantseekers talking together about what makes their partnerships work and how they have overcome challenges collaboratively. 
  • Case studies illustrating how Jewish grantmakers and grantseekers have adapted or introduced new practices in order to partner more effectively.

 

To learn more about GrantED or to interview people involved in this project, contact Julie Wiener at [email protected] or 917-655-4586.

Jewish Funders Network is an international community of private foundations and philanthropists whose mission is to promote meaningful giving and to improve philanthropy in the Jewish world. Learn more at jfunders.org

UpStart inspires and empowers leaders to dream, build, and grow bold initiatives that enhance the vitality of Jewish life. Learn more at upstartlab.org

Hadar (which provided Jewish framing for the project) empowers Jews to create and sustain vibrant, practicing, egalitarian communities of Torah, Avodah, and Hesed. Learn more at hadar.org

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