Flexibility, accountability, and the grantmaker-nonprofit relationship

The Minnesota Council on Foundations engaged four of its member foundations and a representative of the nonprofit community in a roundtable discussion about general operating support. The age-old questions surfaced: How much is enough? What about measuring results? Why don’t foundations “get it”? Why don’t nonprofits “get it”? The answers from our roundtable participants might surprise you. The foundations represented in the conversation give varying types and levels of support: some devote nearly 50% of their giving to general operating grants; others give very little under the traditional general operating label, yet they provide flexible, sustained giving in other categories, such as capacity building.