3 misconceptions about grantmaking

Posted on May 3, 2012

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3 misconceptions about grantmaking

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying: “When you know one foundation, you know one foundation.”

So true. We’re as diverse as the nonprofits we fund. I run into three common misconceptions about my work:

1) Large staff and office.
When people ask about my staff, I try not to snicker. I am a part-time employee, responsible for the Tellabs Foundation and several other duties at Tellabs. Much like our nonprofit counterparts in development, grantmakers often wear several hats.  I occupy the messy half of a Dilbert-style cube.

2) Free stuff is a great way to say thank-you.
It’s a nice thought, but keep gifts to a minimum. Because the Tellabs Foundation is separate from the company, we can’t provide any benefits to employees as a result of our grants. So, I can’t accept free tickets, services, memberships or other goodies for employees.

3) Grantmaking is an exact science.
We remain focused on our mission and apply criteria consistently. But certain external factors affect grantmakers’ decisions. For example:

  • How much budget is left?
  • What have we already funded?
  • How many requests address the same issue?

Answers to these questions give each meeting a different context.
Every foundation probably has a different list. What misconceptions have you discovered? Please share your insights in the comments.

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Posted in: Corporate giving