The Guardian family came to GMA with a heartfelt but untested theory of change: happy, supportive families are the key to a successful life. They quickly learned that philanthropy has traditionally focused on programs for individuals within families rather than programs for the family as a unit. Eager to engage in high-impact giving, the Guardians found themselves in a lonely spot with few peers funding whole families in the local or even national giving community.
Advisor Identifies High-Impact Giving Opportunities
The Guardians retained GMA’s advisors to explore the various ways in which philanthropy and larger government programs assist families. Programs are usually geared to assisting disadvantaged families through youth enrichment, education, and economic development. GMA identified a newer wave of programming that is, like the Guardians’ theory, more holistic, taking a two-generation and asset-based approach. The family met with leading proponents of this newer approach, including experts from a leading academic center on child development with a rich network of nonprofit partnerships. This center’s theory of engaging the whole family helped to inform the Guardian family fund’s new guidelines, which have begun to attract competitive proposals from a range of nonprofits.
The grantmaker’s guidelines and criteria are clear, requiring, among other things, a focus on core capabilities such as self-regulation and executive functioning, intra-family goal-setting, and the use of scientific knowledge and measurement as a means toward achieving success. Through the family’s work with a philanthropic advisor and its key partnership with researchers, the Guardians’ mission has moved from the margins to the center of a new movement, serving as an example for other funders and as an important new funding prospect for the nonprofit community.
Note: The family name Guardian is used here to protect our client’s privacy.