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November 12, 2009 / nick geisinger

Beyond dollars for *BIG* change

By Tamara Lucas Copeland, President, Washington Grantmakers

Today’s a big day for Washington Grantmakers. As our members gather at the National Housing Center for our annual meeting, we’re also releasing 1) new survey results, which show the effect of the recession on grantmaker assets and 2) a new report, which reveals how grantmakers can continue to effect “Big Change.”

Beyond Dollars: Investing in Big Change: How Washington Area Grantmakers Are Creating Lasting Impact, presents a series of recent case studies of Washington area “Big Change” grantmaking – initiatives that have, among other things, helped produce a drastic reduction in the local teen pregnancy rate, and helped access millions of dollars of previously untapped funding to feed the area’s hungry. The report is here.

The recession is spurring grantmakers to attack problems by going “beyond dollars.” That means putting all their assets to work, not just their money, but their ability to build partnerships, to be a strong voice for change, to leverage key resources, and to capitalize on timing and momentum. With today’s release of Beyond Dollars, we encourage grantmakers to capitalize on these strengths to fulfill philanthropy’s role as “society’s passing gear.”

“Grantmaking in 2009 & 2010,” based on a recent survey of Washington Grantmakers members, offers insights into how the recession has affected area grantmakers – in a word, harshly. But it also demonstrates that grantmakers are figuring out ways to do more with less. Next year, with grantmaking budgets shrinking still further, creativity in going beyond dollars will continue to be critical. The analysis of the survey results is here.

Taken together, the survey and the report point to a transformed grantmaking environment in the years to come, one that continues to address pressing short-term needs, but that also channels resources toward long-term solutions.

Finally—and this is a key point—this approach isn’t just a strategy for getting through the recession. Good philanthropy always maximizes the impact of investments by wisely marshalling the full scope of assets, monetary and otherwise.

We’re going Beyond Dollars in 2010. Stay tuned.

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