Scrolling through the daily barrage of philanthropy-related news releases, I often encounter numerous articles from large foundations announcing prizes, summits and fellowships. Indeed, these are all noteworthy organizations doing significant and impactful work, but should donors looking to support nonprofits only look to large foundations and ignore micro-philanthropies? Are prospective donors aware of the benefits of working with a micro-philanthropy when it comes to impact and engagement?
Following a Different Path
As the co-founder and executive director of The Good People Fund, I believe that too often donors overlook organizations such as ours that specifically address the needs of these small grassroots efforts, who by their very nature lack the means to be visible to larger numbers of donors despite the effectiveness of their work. With grants totaling nearly $8 million during the past eight years and a modest infrastructure, I like to believe that we are changing the philanthropic landscape.
The Good People Fund is an organization that works exclusively with small grassroots nonprofits started by inspiring individuals committed to changing the world. In the past eight years, more than 150 grantees, all small to mid-sized organizations, have benefited from our insight and support.
Each operates with low overhead and on a personal scale, developing creative solutions that address poverty, hunger, disability, trauma recovery, social isolation and other significant challenges, but whose work would otherwise go unsupported. At The Good People Fund our vision is clear: Help donors do a maximum of good with each dollar spent by connecting donors with the Good Person (grantee) whose work best realizes their personal giving goals.
Emphasis on Direct Mentorship and Guidance
What makes our work both unusual and highly effective is the strong personal relationships we build with grantees. I strongly believe in our 4S model: Scope (focusing on programs that address a wide range of social needs), Screening (carefully vetting each prospective grantee), Supervision (mentoring and guidance continues well beyond the issuance of a check) and Speed (working efficiently and with minimal bureaucracy).
What we emphasize to both grantees and donors about our philosophy is that a newly established or a smaller scale nonprofit has their best chance of success if they can take advantage of the benefits of a personal connection; a mentor to guide them in addition to the shared experiences of other successful nonprofits. This connection to direct mentorship and guidance is too often overlooked by donors. We are very closely tied in to the grantees’ work in ways that larger entities can not be.
With so many years of involvement with small nonprofits, I find donors appreciate the strategic perspective we provide and grantees appreciate the unique way we handle their needs. We have established a deep network and general knowledge of the nonprofit world and take pride in facilitating partnerships, connecting people and programs, and offering guidance and expertise.
“I have been supporting the work of the Good People Fund since it began back in 2008,” explained one long-time donor. “I believe in its mission and have seen first hand how my donation can directly impact this work. They are attuned to what is important to me as a donor and I appreciate the guidance they provide in selecting to support an organization that shares in my values.”
Traditionally, funders donate, step away and perhaps ask for a report on how their funds were used. The Good People Fund works on a much more personal level and believes that our model could play an even more significant role in philanthropy today. It is not just about site-visits and grant reports; relationship building, hands-on support and acting as a partner, collaborator, advocate and sounding board for both donors and grantees is essential to our model’s success.