Strategic, Responsive, or Both?

Editors Note: This piece was originally published


Responsive grantmaking开放的是从任何非营利组织中收到建议和想法,并允许非营利组织推动议程。请求是由非营利组织发起的,而不是由寻求他们出去的资助者发起的。这并不意味着基金会没有核心重点领域,但是在这些领域内,希望对非营利组织的需求敏感。例如,资助者可能会专注于药物滥用,但要支持广泛的预防和治疗计划,以及为青年和家庭提供服务以解决导致滥用的多代因素的计划。

From a positive perspective, responsive grantmaking:

  • 允许新想法进入基础
  • Allows for rapid response to new needs
  • Can support a wider range of issues
  • Helps a foundation learn about its community
  • 在某些方面更容易吗s, because it does not require a lot of planning or effort
  • Provides greater opportunities for funding for nonprofits

The cons of responsive grantmaking are that it:

  • Is less likely to make a deep impact in a specific area, because funding is widely dispersed
  • Makes it more difficult to assess and describe what a funder has accomplished with its portfolio
  • Is more likely that a funder will have to respond to a greater number of proposals


In general, responsive grantmaking makes sense when a funder is just getting started – either as a new foundation or as an established foundation that is wading into a new issue area. Responsive grantmaking also can be a way to show support to the community when a funder is not yet ready or able to put the required effort and resources into a strategic approach. And for some foundations, responsive grantmaking is simply the best fit for their missions – particularly those whose missions are very broad and highly localized.

Strategic grantmaking(也称为主动赠款)是具有更集中的目标的赠款,以及针对基金会如何实现这些目标的一组策略。筹款人驱动议程而不是受赠人,尽管最好将受赠人包括在创建目标和策略中。战略资助者通常认为自己对成功成果负责。例如,使用上面的药物滥用示例,战略赠款者可以决定专注于减少药物滥用的污名,并部署包括全州沟通运动,对AA和ALANON的支持以及对健康保险提供者的政策倡导的策略覆盖治疗。

The pros of strategic grantmaking can include:

  • 改善对特定问题产生影响的可能性
  • The ability to craft funding to utilize best practices or evidence based practices
  • Building deeper relationships and partnerships with grantees
  • Greater opportunities for partnerships, collaboration with other funders
  • Deeper learning about the target issue
  • More ease in communicating about progress and accomplishments
  • Signaling the importance of an issue
  • Enhanced reputation for the funder, or recognition for knowledge and impact in a particular issue area
  • Less time responding to proposals, since strategic funders often invite specific organizations to apply


  • Limit funding to specific areas, making a foundation less open to emerging needs or new ideas
  • Take time and resources to conduct research and develop strategies
  • Make it difficult to change direction


响应迅速和战略慈善事业并非互斥。In fact, most funders employ a combination of both. For example, within a particular program area, a foundation may devote a portion of its portfolio to one strategic effort and the balance to responsive grants. For example, the Firelight Foundation, which is committed to support children with HIV in Africa, strategically invests in programs to increase HIV resources and knowledge, but reserves a portion of grants for grassroots nonprofits, because the Foundation believes that they know best what will work in their community.

Other funders may use responsive philanthropy to power a “learning phase” of its work, then use its accumulated knowledge to develop a strategic grantmaking initiative for “phase two.”

And even the most strategic of funders can use responsive philanthropy to help change course or undergird a strategic investment. For example, a natural disaster or economic hardship in a community requires funders to respond to immediate needs. And within a strategic initiative, unanticipated challenges may surface that require responsive grantmaking, such as an unexpected gap nonprofit capacity among organizations that are part of that initiative.

The bottom line? Strategic grantmaking vs. responsive grantmaking isn’t an “either/or” proposition. Both approaches have value, and funders should always explore both as options in achieving their goals.