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How will you change the world?

GMA Foundations helps you define a clear path to transformative philanthropy, and then walks the path with you as an ally and a guide.

We partner with individual and organizational donors as managers, advisors, and facilitators. With over a quarter-century of insight and field experience, GMA Foundations is changing the world by helping you change the world.

Help Nonprofits stay Nimble: Know the 9 forces of change


As experienced grantmakers, we know that nonprofit leaders operate effective programs by continuing to adjust and adapt to changing times while staying true to their mission. By understanding where the pressure to change comes from, funders can help nonprofits stay nimble, focused and operationally strong.

Seven leaders of Boston-area nonprofits joined us at GMA Foundations for lunch last month to talk about how to manage programs that stay rooted in an organization’s mission. Our guests shared stories of well-informed strategy and unforeseen hurdles. They all spoke of the frequent need to fine-tune their operations in response to a variety of pressures. To stay true to their mission, these leaders meet these forces with light-footed, self-assured, responsive management – management that looks more like a dance than a walk.

Forces affecting program operations

mission to program forcesAn organization’s mission tends to stay constant, but over time at least nine forces drive the need for program modifications.

Universally, these nonprofit leaders spoke of the changing needs of their own target populations and of the policy decisions of elected leaders as forces affecting the shape of their programs.  They also spoke of funders as mostly positive influences on program adjustments.  The anecdotes, both good and bad, demonstrated how open, honest communication can give funders a vital role in maximizing a program’s impact.

By identifying and understanding the pressures on their grantees’ programming, funders are better positioned to support effective operations.

Under Pressure:  Nonprofit leaders speak of the need to change

These three examples (shown in green above) of nonprofit leaders responding to the forces around them may shed light on other situations you may have faced (or will face) as a funder.

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Increases in our clients’ grantmaking profiled

Grants 2013 GMA Foundations’ Grants 2013 report released

Forty independent and corporate foundations and individual donors working with Boston-based GMA Foundations increased their giving in 2013 to a combined total of $37.3 million, up nearly 20% from the previous year. The philanthropic advisory firm’s newly released report describes the grantmaking reach of its clients, who awarded more than 1,500 grants to 1,100 nonprofits around the world.

Reflecting stronger investment returns, the amount of the average grant increased 9% over the prior year to $23,565. “We look to the nonprofit sector for innovation, agility, and strong connections to the community,” says Phil Hall, GMA’s Director of Grantmaking.  “Operating on a small scale, these nonprofit organizations are leading the way to social change, and we are proud to support them.”

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Follow your site visit with Thanks and more…


On the heels of a recent site visit, the group of trustees I was with wrote a check to the school. To be clear, our visit was not made in conjunction with a grant application. Their spontaneity impressed me and started me thinking.
Is it necessary to leave a tip for good learning?

A trustees’ learning tour…an educational site visit…a funders’ day out…a local nonprofit visit as an option at a national conference.  Such hands-on learning adventures have become commonplace in our field, and with good reason.  To better understand what nonprofits do, what their leadership accomplishes, and what may be possible with additional resources, there is no substitute for seeing with our own eyes. Site visits can even re-connect us
with our own mission.

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