Susan Wolf Ditkoff

The National Center hosted a special webinar on the topic of “Avoiding Leaky Pipes: Enhancing Donor-Grantee Collaboration” this past October. On the webinar Susan Wolf Ditkoff, a partner in the Boston office of the Bridgespan Group,  provided a “litmus test” one can use to determine if you have an effective collaboration. The two major components one must address are shared goals and a productive working relationship. She provided a list of 10 suggested questions to help you determine if you have an effective collaboration.

4 Questions to determine if you have shared goals:

  • If my grantee and I were separated and asked “what is an ‘A’ for this initiative”– what would we each say?
  • Do I really understand what my grantees’ top priorities are? Is my grant accelerating them? Or a distraction?
  • Do I agree with my grantee on where they fit into the broader change landscape?
  • Who else is funding this organization, and how am I collaborating (or not) with them?

6 Questions to determine if you have a productive working relationship:

  • How often do they call me for advice?
  • Do we help each other learn? (Do we measure to learn, or are we still arguing about learning to measure?)
  • Has my grantee offered me feedback that has made my grantmaking better?
  • Do we have honest and candid conversations (constructive feedback, sharing of real problems or issues)?
  • How frequently do we connect?
  • All else being equal, would this grantee prefer me or another funder?

To learn more about effective collaboration and tips to avoid the grantee trap, Friends of the Family and other subscribers to the Family Philanthropy Online service may watch the webinar replay or read the transcript.

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