Being Available and Helpful After the Launch

Meeting the demands of funders can be difficult and confusing for the people involved with a start-up, especially if they’ve never run an independent organization or been accountable to an external grantmaker. You can help by explaining how your foundation works — how proposals and grants are reviewed and monitored in your organization and how long each step is likely to take.

New organizations also tend to struggle with a burden of work far greater than anyone expects. Many grantmakers who fund start-ups make a point of checking in frequently, if only to lend a sympathetic ear. A corporate grantmaker emphasized the importance of regular contact: “You need to call your grantee and say, ‘How’s it going?’ The grantee recognizes that you care. You find out about day-to-day activities that they didn’t plan to discuss with you, and you can help them.” The director of a family foundation makes sure his grantees understand that he’s available to talk with them when they need to, even if he doesn’t necessarily initiate conversations: “It’s about relationship. They call sometimes and ask for input. I don’t have time to make all those contacts myself, but they know if they call me I will make time to talk to them.”

Some grantmakers try to make it clear that they’re aware of the competing pressures grantees face — including pressures created by funders themselves — and that they’re willing to be flexible. Finally, an experienced grantmaker who has nurtured dozens of start-ups argues simply for the power of a funder’s sincere confidence: “One of the most valuable things you can give is your belief and expectation that the grantee is going to succeed.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Working with Start-Ups.