Managing Relationships with Government Partners: Sustaining Good Relationships

Let government own the agenda: A government official who doesn’t fully embrace a reform agenda won’t be able to ensure that the strategy is well-enough executed to “stick” over time. The potential for resistance is enormous if an agenda is viewed as imposed on government by a foundation. A situation like that, one grantmaker cautioned, is “untenable and unwinnable." Another grantmaker noted, “It always helps to make people look good. And so whatever support you can give people in government to do their jobs better and know a lot about something, the better.” Some foundations choose to play a low-key, behind-the-scenes role, preferring results over who gets credit. A foundation president with experience working with a state legislature offered this perspective on why it’s important to let public officials take the credit: “The more accurate you are about the role you played, the more the public officials are going to ask who the heck you are anyway, because you’re not on the line, they are. They get uncomfortable seeing a foundation take credit for this work. And they’re right.”

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 Government.