Responsive Grantmaking Fills a Gap
By Sarah Battersby, Senior Program Officer for Education Initiatives
Over the past few years, our Community Engagement team has worked hard to budget and plan for shifting many of our discretionary grants to what the nonprofit writer Vu Le calls “MYGOD” funding—Multi-Year General Operating Dollars. This not only gives grantees multiple years of stable funding support that is flexible, but also gives us as Program Officers multiple years to learn about their work and connect with their staff.
BUT, with this change, applications only open once every two or three years—and after the exhilaration of being able to say, “Yes! We have multi-year general operating grants!” wore off, we realized that now we were responding to inquiring nonprofits with, “Please check back in two years when the application cycle begins again.” Our team felt we could do better, so we put our heads together and realized we had flexibility to allocate funding for an additional grant program for nonprofits not selected for a grant in an open cycle, that missed the application period, or had started related work during the long gap between cycles. We named the program Responsive Grantmaking, and project-based applications are now accepted year-round from any nonprofit in the four counties we serve (Chatham, Durham, Orange, and Wake) that fits into one or more of our impact areas (Capacity Building, Cultural Arts, Education & Youth, and Sustainable Communities) but is not a current grantee. We review all applications received and make decisions quarterly, so nonprofits get a timely response.
In addition to not having to turn away nonprofits requesting support due to multi-year grant cycles, we also developed this program to have an explicit focus on organizations led by people of color and/or with annual budgets under $1 million. These preferences allow us to serve smaller organizations, many of which we have not previously funded, and that may not have grant writing support. In the impact area I manage, Education & Youth, this new program has allowed us to fund several organizations that are new to me, like Durham Success Summit, whose mission is “to increase access to business education, mentorship, and professional networking opportunities for young Black men between 16 and 24 years old in Durham.” In my personal life, I love working with this age group (and was recently accepted as a mentor to iMentor’s Amplify Scholars program), so it’s been wonderful to connect with Derek Rhodes, the Summit’s Executive Director, receive their frequent updates, newsletters, and videos, and watch their students celebrate internships, fellowships, and new jobs on LinkedIn.
I love being able to tell nonprofits, “Yes! We have a grant program that accepts applications year-round!” However, I also know that, as with all of our grant programs, we receive many more applications than we can fund (we were only had funding to support about one quarter of requests). We welcome support for the Responsive Grantmaking program to address needs that arise in our community throughout the year. Donors can make a gift to Fund for the Triangle to support the Responsive Grantmaking program through the Donate page or make an interfund transfer from their donor-advised fund through the Donor Portal.
Learn more about our grantees for 2021-2022!