Why Funders Should Pay for the True Costs of Nonprofits’ Work — Not Just the Direct Project Expenses

This content was contributed by the authors as part of The Bridgespan Group’s sponsored Chronicle of Philanthropy supplement on ending the nonprofit starvation cycle.

If foundations want to change the world, what should they fund?

Our answer may surprise you. As foundation program officers, we are motivated by — and have grant-making portfolios that target — specific issues. Norma works with African governments in using data and evidence to improve policy decision making and, ultimately, citizens’ lives. Marissa supports social-justice organizations and networks working to disrupt social, economic, and political inequality. And both of us are convinced that how we fund is just as important as what we fund. That’s why we teamed up with other funders to determine if we are sufficiently covering our grantees’ overhead costs.

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