Profiles in Partnership
A series on best practices and sound advice for developing and maintaining successful partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations
BB: What would be your recommendation to someone, nonprofit or business, that has an issue they want to address within their community, locally or anywhere else for that matter and they see the Marin Community Foundation as a partner, facilitator, or potential funder?
TP: Read first. Go on to the website, www.MarinCF.org and first and foremost look to see if their interests and the general categories of our funding match. Dig in deeper there. There’s page after page in the web description as you get more specific about some of the areas that we either have been funding in or looking to fund in. There is a full logic model for each of the areas that we fund. But that’s really the beginning of it because then we definitely encourage individual groups to call.
Then the key is have a direct discussion, which we encourage. We are one of the largest community foundations in the country, with 1.3 billion dollars’ worth of philanthropic resource under wing, and we make about 60 million dollars’ worth of grants a year, all of which is substantial in the world of philanthropy.
Sometimes we’ll say we could participate in a funder’s circle with other funders at the table and other times the best we can do is to make a recommendation say, look, interesting idea, interesting area, we’re not able to participate right now, here’s at least some of the other funders that we would recommend you look into.
BB: Is there crossover between the Foundation’s grant programs and the donor advised funding? So someone comes in with whatever the issue might be and you think there may be particular donors that are interested in that topic.
TP: We let donors who have Donor-Advised Funds at the Foundation know periodically where there are some really great investments to be made. Mostly, though, our interactions are very personal, very much based on what the knowledge and interest and passions of individual donors are. So the answer to your question about co-funding between Buck Trust and other of our funds, we definitely do it, it’s not a predominant funding pattern but there’s oftentimes parallel funding. For example, in Novato in some pre-K to 3rd grade educational efforts where several of our donors have been very interested in participating deliberately in the Buck Trust funded efforts that we have underway and so we’ve been able to magnify and increase our outreach on some of those efforts.
BB: Can people directly approach a Donor-Advised Fund?
TP: No, I have a division that is devoted exclusively to our relationship with donors but here’s the reality. Many of our donor families come here and have funds here precisely to have a kind of knowledge partner, thought partner, as well as back office support of the foundation. They are not interested in direct solicitations and we have found that honoring that zone of privacy is best. Our donors appreciate having some independent thought of whether that is a topic area of some interest, of some passion, of some sense of strategy and impact. Perhaps the more direct model of our services is of private banking, a concierge model where our donor staff have individual portfolios. I think concierge fits – to pick and put together the best services and the best contacts for a donor, Sometimes it’s a conversation, sometimes it’s passing along information. We always welcome groups to give us executive summaries of the work they’re doing and the impact that they’re having and we can pass that on and do pass that on regularly on a weekly basis.
Coming up, Part 5: Advice for nonprofits in these challenging economic times
For more information on developing highly successful partnerships please visit: www.bruceburtch.com