Margaret Huang, Presidentand CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, moderates a panel with...
Keeping It Real: Communicating Challenges in Our Work
This blog is part of a Q&A series with Executive Director, Bethany Maki, after and highlight Progressive Multiplier's efforts to :“IN DEVELOPING A RELATIONSHIP WITH A PROGRAM OFFICER, HOW DO YOU BALANCE YOUR BEST FOOT FORWARD WITH BEING HONEST ABOUT CHALLENGES IN DOING THE WORK?”A QUESTION FROM GEORGE CHEUNG, DIRECTOR, MORE EQUITABLE DEMOCRACY:
This is one of the few areas where having no professional background in institutional philanthropy before joining Progressive Multiplier actually helps me! I worked at large fundraising and marketing agencies, supporting nonprofit clients for the last ten years. Every client had a contract that made very clear their investment level, the results they expected from me and my team as well as the assumptions baked into the results to which we committed.
While this is far more transactional than our relationship with funder partners, I’ve approached building relationships in a similar way. The key for us has been the upfront conversations about the assumptions that the results of our proposed project are predicated on – we have to either have a good sense from movement groups of what they need, or we have to include a request for resources to discover them in our proposal.
Once the project is underway, I report back on results but also on which assumptions are holding and which aren’t. Grounding in the data this way takes a lot of the anxiety out of the conversation because I can point to why something didn’t work and what we’re doing to follow where the results data tells us to go. This is the same approach we take with our grantee partners as well. As long as we fail forward and the project gives us the data to know where to invest the next dollar to advance the mission, I think we’ve been ethical stewards of the money and partnership.