Strategies for Sustaining Partnerships with Philanthropies
Rural programs can use different strategies for sustaining partnerships with philanthropies. There is
not a one-size-fits-all approach to sustaining a partnership with a philanthropy.
For rural programs currently receiving funding from philanthropies, sustainability
- Fulfilling grant expectations. One of the most important ways to sustain a
partnership with a philanthropy is to fulfill the expectations of the grant and achieve positive
- Staying in regular contact with the philanthropy. During the grant period, in
addition to fulfilling the philanthropy's reporting requirements, it is important to stay in regular
contact with the philanthropy. Perhaps quarterly, or when appropriate, rural programs may wish to
email the philanthropy a short update or success story (for example, “we had 1,000 people attend a
workshop you helped to fund”). This is a good opportunity to share an achievement and illustrate the
program's impact. Even after the grant has ended, philanthropies like to hear about the impact of the
programs they have funded. Additionally, rural organizations should ensure that they have more than
one contact at the philanthropy in the event their project officer or point of contact leaves the
philanthropy; the rural organization must focus on sustaining a relationship with the philanthropy as
- Building trust. If there are challenges with the project, or a need to adjust the
program, call the philanthropy to discuss the issue. Unexpected events, such as staff turnover or delays in the
timeline, can significantly affect the success of a project. Trust, honesty, and communication —
specifically, ensuring that the philanthropy is aware of any changes to the project — are critical to
sustaining a positive relationship over time.
- Staying aware of the foundation's current priorities. The foundation's priorities
may change over time. It is important to visit the foundation's website and review its newsletters
and publications, in order to be aware of current priorities and trends.
- Leveraging the relationships with the foundation to learn about other like-minded
organizations. Rural organizations can utilize their funder's knowledge and expertise to
learn about like-minded funders and help them to strategize for growth and sustainability.