In 2019, we’ll be piloting a new timeline for our grants program: our Spring 2019 cycle operated as usual, with LOIs accepted from any eligible organization. Our Fall 2019 grant cycle will operate by invitation only (and most invitations will be extended to renewing grant partners from previous years).
Because we don’t have an actual office (our two employees work 100% remotely), we can’t host a typical “Open House” event to welcome you all to our space. So instead, we’re going to come to you. We’ll be hosting informal gatherings at coffee shops in each of our three main geographic areas of focus throughout the month of January. These are large chunks of time, intended to give past grantees, current grant partners, grantseekers, or any others interested in our work the opportunity to come by and meet with our Program Office, ask questions, and learn more about our work. No agendas. Nothing formal. Just a chance to meet in person and talk.
As part of our commitment to learning from our grant partners and continuing to grow and adapt as an organization, we recently distributed a survey to all of our past grant partners asking for feedback about our process and approach. Twenty-five partners responded, completely anonymously, and in the interest of full transparency, we’re capturing the response summaries below and sharing them here. In addition to responses, we’ve highlighted throughout where we have concrete plans to make changes, and where we acknowledge we need to make such plans (but have yet to finalize anything).
The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently ran an Op-Ed offering fundraisers advice for first-time meetings with a potential donor. While every funder operates somewhat differently, much of the advice offered there would not apply to a meeting with the staff or board of The Helen J. Serini Foundation. Our Program Officer wrote a response adjusting these "expectations" for funders entering into first-time meetings, but we thought it could be helpful to expand upon the response to give current (or prospective) nonprofits an idea of what to expect when meeting with any of our team, be it staff or board.