The Legler Benbough Foundation
Lessons Learned from
20 Years of Grantee Relationship Philanthropy

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The Legler Benbough Foundation has closed its doors.

From 1985–2021, we granted over $66 million to grantees who worked in partnership with us to make an impact in the areas that they served.

Our Model was a Three-Step Process:

  1. Focus on a specific area for grants
  2. Listen and begin the establishment of trusting relationships with people in the area you want to help
  3. Work together with selected grantees as partners over time to accomplish shared objectives

Advantages of the Model

By building inclusive, respectful and personal relationships with grantees and working directly with those grantees in making grants, you will be able to more effectively discuss and address issues of power dynamics, inclusion and inequality.

By building Foundation process and procedure that is respectful of grantees and inclusive of them and their objectives, you will demonstrate inclusion and equity (not just talk about it).

You will be able to respond effectively in times of crisis because of your ongoing contact with your partner grantees.

By having ongoing, trusting contact with grantees in the field of your support you will learn about and be able to take advantage ofunique opportunities for maximum impact. As a spend down, without limitations of perpetuity, your actions can be taken in a very timely manner.

By ongoing discussion with grantees over time, you will be able to effectively measure success and failure on an ongoing basis and thereby eliminate a lot of time and effort in the completion and review of reports to measure grant effectiveness.

By narrowing focus, dealing with fewer grantees on a continuing basis and simplifying the grants process, you will be able to reduce operating expense and thereby provide more money for grants.

By working directly and closely with grantees, you will demonstrate how foundations can work in ways and accomplish things impossible for government programs.

By developing these personal relationships with grantees, you will have the opportunity to get to know some of the most interesting dedicated people you will ever encounter.

We look forward to sharing detailed case studies of how this model worked and where it met with challenges. Nothing is perfect and the detail is important. We hope that this work is helpful to you in addressing the issues that you face.

Table of Contents

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