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May 17, 2011 / Rebekah Seder

Creating a Road Map from Vision to Reality

By Rebekah Seder, Program Coordinator

It’s a no-brainer that you can’t fix a problem by simply throwing money at it. Likewise, grantmakers, no matter how deep their pockets, can’t really make a difference in their community with grants alone. It takes deep knowledge and insight into the issues that the funding is intended to address; a vision of the impact that the foundation wants to make in a community; and, most importantly, a clear road map of how to turn that vision into reality.

This was the lesson of “Planning for Impact,” a workshop co-hosted last week by WRAG and the Association of Small Foundations (ASF). According to co-facilitators Holli Rivera (Intentional Philanthropy, LLC) and Sara Beggs (ASF) the key to making a meaningful difference – and the starting point for all of the planning that it takes to get there – is finding a focus that all trustees, board members, and others intimately involved in the grantmaking process are passionate about. With several decades of experience in philanthropy between them, Beggs and Rivera have worked with plenty of foundations whose trustees’ disparate interests led to a mind-boggling array of funding priorities, and over time, a realization that they were effecting very little change on the issues they cared about. But when families and board members can come together and find one or two shared values and priorities, they can maximize the impact that a finite amount of resources can have.

Rivera and Beggs walked participants through the steps of finding that shared passion and thoughtfully and intentionally deciding the impact that they want to make. Participants, working together in small groups, then learned how to identify what changes in their community have to occur in order to make that impact possible, and how to define the strategies and craft a mission statement that will allow their grantmaking to effect those changes, and ultimately, to achieve impact.


Don’t miss the next skills building seminar, “Social Media: How and Why Foundations Should Join the Conversation,” on Thursday, June 9.

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