Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The first-ever Animal Conference sought to inspire and inform those who are personally and professionally part of the animal-wellbeing community, including nonprofits and foundations. Held in Oklahoma City and hosted by the Kirkpatrick Foundation, the conference brought together a wide range of participants from across the country, some of whom are ideologically-opposed to one another: participants from animal shelter workers to farmers, ranchers, veterinarians and animal-science professionals. Advocates and policy leaders worked to find common ground in the interest of improving the safe and humane treatment of animals. Speakers addressed the critical importance of working together, noting the incredible rate at which the world is losing species.
Encouraging and promoting the ability of nonprofit organizations and foundations to work collaboratively to address animal welfare was highlighted in a session moderated by Lucille DiDomenico, Philanthropy Southwest’s Executive Director. Panelists Paulette Black, Program Officer of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Roger Haston, President and CEO of Animal Assistance Foundation, and Terese Stevenson, Senior Program Officer of Rees-Jones Foundation, offered these thoughts on how best to work toward effective, productive partnerships:
Make sure there’s a fit:
- Nonprofits: Before making contact with a funder, panelists said, nonprofits should be clear about what they want to accomplish, the approach they’re taking, and understand the focus of the foundation – what a foundation will fund and what they won’t fund. Check back periodically, too, to see whether a funder may have made changes to the areas in which they fund or in the process they use.
- Foundations: Funders should be careful to provide clear information about what they seek to achieve to help grant seeks understand how they might fit into the picture. When funders don’t see a fit, panelists recommended they take time to communicate with grant seekers, providing advice and suggestions about other potential supporters and approaches.
Provide compelling information:
- Nonprofits: Foundations want strong data, evidence of a nonprofit’s ability to achieve goals, and an emotional connection. Stories and personal connections can significantly move foundation staff and facilitate easier appreciation and understanding of the work of the nonprofit. Know your story, know it well, and be able to say it succinctly and in a compelling manner, focusing on the impact you seek to achieve and your proven ability to bring about change. Panelists also urged grant seeks to be confident in asking for the support needed to achieve the changes they seek, and not to compromise their efforts by building a lesser plan based on the amount of money they think they can receive.
- Foundations: Recognizing that many of the societal changes they seek to bring about are beyond the ability of any one organization, funders have an opportunity to provide information and resources to frame the issue as a whole, while also being clear about their own niche and the specific types of support they provide. In conveying this information, funders should model the types of information and communication they seek from nonprofits by providing clear, compelling and engaging stories, data and examples of impact.
Build mutually beneficial relationships:
- Nonprofits: In working to build relationships with foundation staff, consider their personal backgrounds and areas of expertise, using this information to help frame your interactions with them. In addition to the passion they have to help bring about change within the areas they fund, keep in mind that foundations are increasingly hiring staff with specific issue-area expertise.
- Foundations: Funders consider the knowledge, experience and community connections nonprofits have to offer. They understand how important it is to establish strong, mutually beneficial relationships in order for each to accomplish their goals.
For information on hosting foundation-nonprofit relationship building and information sharing dialogues, contact Lucille DiDomenico, firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about The Animal Conference, visit http://www.safeandhumaneoklahoma.org.