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Inspire Grant Opportunity Enhances Communications for Foundation

Inspire Grant Opportunity Enhances Communications for Foundation

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Published by Jill Allison Warren

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Published by: Jill Allison Warren on May 06, 2011
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An UncommonApproachto Grantmaking
A Case Study for Foundations
One foundation’s approach to a new grant for the new economy
520 East Berry Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802260.422.2900 phone • 260.422.9436 faxinfo@foellinger.org www.foellinger.org
Inspire
Grant
©2010 Foellinger Foundation, Inc.
 
PAGE 2
520 East Berry Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802260.422.2900 phone • info@foellinger.org • www.foellinger.org©2010 Foellinger Foundation, Inc.
Forward
An Idea Worth Sharing
There is no substitute for inspiration.The job of a nonprofit leader – perhaps the most important job – is to inspire others to help fulfill the organization's mission.Staff. Volunteers. Funders. Clients. Leaders must inspire confidence and motivation to help an organization realize its fullpotential.But who inspires the leaders? Where do they draw and renew their energy, passion, and innovation?That question led the Foellinger Foundation – a private foundation in Allen County, Indiana(see page 15) – to invest in a new type of grant, called the Inspire Grant. For theFoellinger Foundation, it was an experiment, but one consistent with the Foundation'stradition of investing in leaders of strong organizations.What would happen if we provided leaders of local nonprofits with a grant designed to support their own professional andpersonal growth and renewal? What would happen if we simply said, "Show us what you would do – if you had the funds –to make yourself a stronger leader by investing in yourself?"Significantly, we also asked how these leaders would institutionalizewhat they discovered in order to strengthen their organizations.The purpose of this case study is to share with other foundationssome of the benefits and lessons learned thus far as our granteeshave implemented this unconventional type of grant. As thisexperiment in grantmaking continues, we'll update this document toshare with other foundations some of the ideas and insights that are emerging.Sincerely,
"Significantly, we also askedhow these leaders wouldinstitutionalize what theydiscovered in order tostrengthen their organization."
Cheryl Taylor, PresidentFoellinger FoundationFort Wayne, Indiana
Inspire
Grant
 
PAGE 3
520 East Berry Street, Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802260.422.2900 phone • info@foellinger.org • www.foellinger.org©2010 Foellinger Foundation, Inc.
The Inspire Grant initially was, for the Foellinger Foundation, an entirely new way of conductinggrantmaking. The venture was undertaken as a way tocommemorate the Foundation's 50th anniversary withsomething that, for our community, would be new andinnovative – a forward-looking grant model as acelebration of our past.Inspire Grants of up to $25,000 each were awarded tolocal nonprofits, with grant amounts totaling a half-milliondollars. The Inspire Grants were initially created as a one-time opportunity as part of the Foundation's anniversary,but it became clear quite quickly that these grants hadsignificant potential to benefit not only the individualorganizations but the broader nonprofit community.These grants have two phases: the Inspire Phase and the Action Phase. During the Inspire Phase, leaders have anopportunity to look beyond their daily duties, to renew their energies and to provide development opportunities for keyboard and staff leaders.During the Action Phase, the results of this newfoundinspiration are put to work to make their nonprofitsstronger. Furthermore, the organizations are required toparticipate in Learning Circles – formal and informal – toshare what they learn with each other, further leveragingthe grant funds.Based on 50 years of experience, the Foellinger Foundation has learned that investing in strong leaders isamong the most effective long-term uses of Foundationgrants. Alot has changed in the last 50 years, but theneed for strong leadership in our community is eternal,and these grants are intended to support and strengthenthe leaders of today to help pave the way for AllenCounty's future.The good news is that this new grant opportunity has thusfar exceeded the Foundation's most optimistic projections.During 2009, the Inspire grantees used their funds toresearch and discover new ways of working. In 2010, theyare putting that work into action plans.
The Inspire Grant: A Case Study
The organizations are required to participate in Learning Circles – formal and informal – to share what theylearn with each other, further leveragingthe grant funds.

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