In the first part of this series, we discussed some of the rookie mistakes my team and I made when we started working to end family homelessness in the Pacific Northwest. Our impatience for impact led us to skip some of the vital relationship building and buy-in processes vital to achieving our goals. Philanthropy works through partners, but sometimes we forget that means strengthening the partnership aspects first.
What are the lessons learned from this? First and foremost, it’s about the relationships and boundaries we need to maintain as funders. Our grantees will always take our phone calls and meetings, and always smile and nod when we share new ideas or express our sense of urgency – even when they may not agree with our thinking and would very much prefer that we back the heck off. Our shoe size is so large that it’s really easy for us to step on the toes of our partners; vigilance and patience is required, even as the pressure we feel to get to impact raises our anxiety levels.