Grantmaking. For us, it’s personal.

When you work for an organization committed to providing an exceptional customer service experience for every person who walks through its doors, it’s easy to understand why its charitable arm operates in the same way.  At Liberty Bank Foundation, we’re focused on being a partner to our grantees, not just a funder. In fact, we’ve developed our entire grantmaking process around building personal relationships. 

Prospective grantees visiting our website are greeted by a STOP sign. At first blush that may seem counterintuitive, but here’s why we’d like to stop and chat first. We want to have a conversation with prospective grantees – not just meet them on paper. Their time is valuable, and we don’t want them to fill out our grant application unless we know we’re a great match.

Let’s say an organization gets the green light to submit an application. What’s their expectation following this step?  Out of sight and out of mind? Not here. We’ll get in touch to let them know that their application didn’t fall into a deep, dark hole. They’ll get confirmation that it’s arrived in one piece, or is missing their most recent 990. Either way, they will have a status update: all is well or here’s how you can make it right.  And we’ll also tell them the date when they’ll have a decision.

As our team reviews an application and questions arise, prospective grantees can expect to hear from us again and again, if necessary. We don’t rubber-stamp anything.  That’s because we’ve already determined we’re a great match, so we want to see them succeed. We’re willing to do our best to make that happen. 

At the end of our grant cycle organizations shouldn’t expect a decision by mail. First, they’ll hear from us by phone.  We view grantees as our customers, so their experience is important, regardless of the outcome of our decision-making.

When we’re not reviewing grant applications, you’ll see us around town – it’s all part of being an active community member. We like to be at the table when tough issues arise. Whether it’s a community coalition to end homelessness or a meeting to find options for youth employment, we want to be part of the solution.

It’s through our customer service approach that we get to know our grantees, get a read on what’s truly valuable, and get more done. At the same time, grantees know they can call on us in times of need and find a flexible, creative, and understanding partner.  How does your foundation foster authentic relationships with your grantee partners?

About the author(s)

Program Officer
Liberty Bank Foundation