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Responsive Vs. Strategic Grantmaking: Which One Is Right For You?

Determine Which Approach To Grantmaking Works Best For Your Foundation

In philanthropy, there is much written about responsive and strategic approaches to philanthropy. Which approach is the most appropriate? Meaningful? Effective? Grantmakers have many roles to play in a community, and how they define those roles can vary greatly, so it’s important for foundations to understand both strategic and responsive options to determine which approach may be preferable.

Responsive grantmaking is being open to receiving proposals and ideas from any nonprofit and allowing the nonprofits to drive the agenda. Requests are initiated by the nonprofit, rather than by a funder seeking them out. This doesn’t mean that a foundation doesn’t have core areas of focus, but it does mean that within those areas it wishes to be responsive to the needs nonprofits feel most keenly. For example, a funder may focus on substance abuse but be open to supporting a wide range of prevention and treatment programs, as well as programs serving youth and families to address multigenerational factors that lead to abuse.


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