nonprofits,local leaders & Grt.New Haven business sharing information
What should nonprofits boards expect from foundations?
I propose: very little. There's a paradigm I recall hearing about the purpose of foundations: 1) identify "issues"; identify solutions to issues; test the solutions. Three years is a norm. After all this is done: the nonprofit should get supported by the public.
So, today's reality? Except for the public support, yes, I believe this is indeed what nonprofits who think foundation money is a great source, should expect. And of course, there are differences between community foundations, family foundations and private foundations but I think it's generally true that three years is a fair grant period length.
The lesson for nonrpofit boards: don't expect long-term support from foundations. More importantly, nonprofit boards, at any stage, would do well to always be thinking "beyond the foundation grant". This means thinking about what and how well their story is told and to who their story is distributed. This means providing lots of opportunity for the community, to become supporters, be it lemonade sales to big galas. This means that the full spectrum of sustainability sources should be annually examined with a three-to-five-to-fifteen year picture in mind.
Nonprofit sustainability is not achieved overnight and certainly not through foundation giving. Foundations kick-start. This is what should be expected of them.