Good Neighbor Committee’s First Steps

  1. Create a Mission Statement.

  2. Define the geographic area you want to serve. It may be necessary to spend a lot of time at first thinking about how to define a community that was large enough to be diverse in needs and services, and yet still anchored by our location — close enough so that committee visits could be done at lunch hours or while walking to or from work.

  3. Decide whether to focus on certain topics. Will your Good Neighbor Committee make grants only in a specific field (e.g., youth development, education, the arts, etc.), or will you cast a more general net? For ideas on how to answer this question, look to your organization’s mission and what came up in the conversations around creating your committee. It helps to have subjects that committee members are passionate about.

  4. Choose whether to emphasize emerging organizations, or more experienced ones. Limiting your consideration to established organizations with a track record of success may provide safer bets for your money. And even large or well-established nonprofit organizations can benefit from discretionary funds to try a new or innovative idea.

  5. Will you accept unsolicited proposals? Depending on the size of your neighborhood and the other limitations you have decided to place on your grant making, you may wish to accept only proposals that you have asked organizations to submit.

  6. Decide on minimum and maximum grant size. Will your committee give several small grants or a few big ones? This will depend first of all on the size of your overall budget. But beyond that, you could try to benefit many organizations with small contributions, or make a big difference with fewer grantees.

  7. How long will you support a given grantee?

  8. Renewed or supplemental grants. Before making grant commitments, it helps to decide in advance about the expected length of the funding relationships you create. Will grantees be welcome to apply for continued or supplemental support for the same activities? For different activities? For how long?

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 Building Community Inside and Out.