Wednesday, April 7, 2010

sparkplug investing

"I was surprised to learn that there is no universally accepted definition of “grantmaking initiative”. I did, however, discover 10 attributes shared by many grantmaking initiatives. With this issue of IdeaMail, I pass them along to you in hopes they might guide you as you develop future initiatives."

Kristen Putnam-Walkerly, "10 Key Attributes of Grantmaking Initiatives," IdeaMail, Issue 11, April 2010.

This is a useful list but not too surprising. A foundation; people and organizations; time limited; significant resources;mission-related; research based; careful planning; outcome focused; multiple strategies; and unique form of grantmaking. It would have helped to define what a foundation initiative is not. We know it's more than an individual, one-time grant. Or is it?

What bothers me a bit about this list is that it's about defintions, not success factors. I suspect, in reality, there is a lot of variation for this list as it relates to specific intiatives -- or at least some elements stand out as more important than others. But what is key to success? One key success factor in my work has been identifying and supporting a core group of innovators,champions, change agents or sparkplugs. Initiatives usually are about change of some kind, not mentioned as an attribute, and change requires focused leadership.The People and Organizations attribute is another listing of categories,not a statement of capacity and forcefullness.

So, what's the quality dimension? And what are success factors? Good topics a for another list.

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