Lessons Learned from the Great Recession

September 19, 2011 at 10:55 am Leave a comment

George EspyIt has been four years since the bottom dropped out of the stock market and America was plunged into the deepest recession in nearly a century. In its immediate aftermath, foundations took steps to reduce expenses, redirect giving and prepare for an increasingly uncertain future. Since then, organized philanthropy has had to adjust to an ongoing series of unexpected economic, social and political upheavals.

With little consensus about what the “new normal” will mean for philanthropy, and in an effort to prepare for what may yet come to pass, it may be useful to see what lessons OGF members have learned from the experimentation of the recent past.

Reflecting on your foundation’s decisions and direction over the last four years, what have you learned about grantmaking, operations and communications? What did you do that worked out well? And what would you change, if you could?

Let’s consider each of these separately:

Grantmaking: What did you learn about grantmaking during a time of recession? How can you ensure that changes in grantmaking don’t adversely impact the foundation’s ability to accomplish its mission? What did you learn about “strategic” vs. “responsive” grantmaking? “

Operations: What did the economic crisis teach you about the internal operations of the foundation? What did you learn about the relation between foundation efficiency and foundation effectiveness? Would you make the same operational changes again or react differently? How are you preparing for the next unexpected upheaval?

Communication: What did you learn about internal and external communications as a result of this crisis? Did your communication strategy adequately convey your foundation’s intentions? How did input from others affect your decisions? What would you change in your approach, if you could?

OGF members are always interested in upgrading their knowledge and skills. Please share the lessons you’ve learned in the last few years with your Ohio colleagues. You can email me directly or post your responses below. We will summarize your responses in an upcoming edition of OGF Connection. 

George Espy
President, Ohio Grantmakers Forum

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Entry filed under: Commentaries, Communications, Grantmaking.

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