Are Nonprofits Funding Their Priorities

I have spent the last month meeting with grant makers with the purpose of trying to understand i) how they decide which nonprofits to fund, ii) what measurable goals are important to them, and iii) what financial changes would they like for nonprofits to make in the short-term. I'm tasked with the same responsibilities as other leaders - how do I better serve my constituents?

As it relates to our clients, the question is "How do we, as a company, add more value?"

One particular funder at a Baton Rouge foundation told me that she is primarily interested in measurable outcomes from her nonprofits. She doesn't want to simply know the number of clients served, but how did the nonprofit impact the client's life?

For example:

  • How many people obtain their GED?
  • How many homeless people were placed in substance abuse programs and re-entered the workplace?
  • How many battered women received counseling and left their abuser?
  • How many children within the tutoring program passed the state standardized test?
  • What is the life changing impact?
Simply trying to do good is no longer good enough. What lives are being changed as a result of your program?

The two most common observations arising from my recent canvassing were i) it is the responsibility of the nonprofit leader to demonstrate the impact of their mission to funders and ii) given scarce resources, funders want to support programs engaged in efforts that are demonstrably and measurably shifting the direction of the trends in our community.


Erica McGeachy Crenshaw, a former Wall Street equity research analyst with 16 years of finance experience, left leading global investment bank Goldman Sachs in 2002 upon purchasing the New York City rights to AmeriSpec Home Inspection Service, the leading home inspection company in North America with over 400 offices throughout the U.S. and Canada. She subsequently acquired four additional territories in Long island, NY. Within seven years, Mrs. Crenshaw grew the business at a rapid clip and be...

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