2018 Core Support Grant Funding: Reflections and Refinement

2017 has been an exciting year for the Satterberg Foundation. We launched our newest grant program, Core Support: a $300,000 multiyear general operating grant with a focus on advocacy and capacity building. Ultimately, our goal with Core Support funding is to provide flexible dollars to organizations that are highly aligned with Satterberg's mission of promoting a Just Society and a Sustainable Environment in order for them to do the work they do best.

As we map out the second iteration of Core Support funding in 2018, we would like to share a few reflections of what we have learned along the way, and how we are refining our goals and processes for the next cycle. If you would like to know the 2018 LOI application questions and submission dates, please read them on our Core Support page. We continue to uphold this program as being mission-driven, process-lite, and relationship-centered. From listening to our applicants (we read all of your survey comments!), to regular meetings between the Satterberg staff and Board, we continue to gauge how the Core Support program is taking shape, what we can do better, and how we can be more transparent in articulating the types of organizations Satterberg seeks to fund.

Here are some key points that we have learned over the past year, with some help from our applicants...

What we learned:

"It was difficult to provide all the information we wanted to provide given the word limits! We would have liked to provide more detail, and have more space to do so, but understand the value of brevity also."
The LOI might have been too process-lite. We strived to have a one-page, short-answer LOI that focused on organizations' alignment with Satterberg's mission. We have heard from applicants that the LOI was too short to fully explain their work.

"I am thrilled with the direction you are taking (mission-focused core support). I think this is the cutting edge of grantmaking; trusting organizations to know where they need to put their resources and releasing them from some of the pressure of serial project-focused grants."
There is interest and a need for general operating funding: Satterberg received nearly 500 LOIs during for 2017 funding. We expect the number of LOIs to increase as word spreads about Satterberg and Core Support Grants. This means the program will become even more competitive.

"Truly appreciate the level of candor, accessibility, and transparency both as part of the grant process and the approach to foundation relationships with grantee partners."
Applicants appreciated hearing directly from staff, putting Satterberg priorities and definitions into context through conversations.

"The grant criteria were so broad that what we said or did not say to be competitive is not easy to know."
Our first round of Core Support sought highly mission-aligned organizations. However, Satterberg has a very broad mission, and did not define clearly enough what we mean by "mission alignment." Ultimately, organizations that resonated most were those whose staff, leadership, and board were made up of the people they represent and serve. For reference, you can view the California organizations funded in 2017 here and those in Washington here.

What's different for the 2018 funding cycle:

  • The LOI is about two pages, with additional questions around advocacy and diversity. As Satterberg strives to better articulate what makes an organization strongly mission-aligned, we have found that advocacy, civic engagement, diversity, equity, and inclusion are all important considerations in our decision making.
  • The Core Support Grant will continue to be relationship-centered and staff will be available to answer questions throughout the process. We will once again conduct in-person information sessions and webinars throughout Summer 2017.
  • The LOI submission timeframe has changed to a two-week collection period via our online application system. Organizations will be able to send in their LOIs only during the appropriate California- or Washington-specific window. On our Core Support page, we have posted our timeline and LOI questions for organizations to consider before applying.

We thank all of the organizations that submitted LOIs and applications during our first round of funding, and for their patience as we continue to evolve and improve upon our process. We look forward to the second round of Core Support funding, building from this inaugural funding year and continuing to live into the overarching goals of the program and of the Satterberg Foundation. We have been thrilled to learn about so many wonderful organizations doing vital work for the community and the environment, and we are honored to partner with many of them.

At every step in Satterberg’s growth and evolution, we aspire to listen and learn from our community, funding recipients, and applicants. We invite you to share with us your thoughtful, candid, and constructive feedback on your experience with Satterberg and the Core Support Grant program. Please reach out to us with your thoughts and questions, or send us a comment here.

With gratitude,

The Satterberg Team

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