Rethinking the Role of Intermediaries in Strategic Grantmaking

by Chris Sturgis; J.D. Hoye

Aug 1, 2005

This paper seeks to explore the factors that contributed to the development of the intermediary model, examine implications for foundations, national organizations and local youth organizations, and suggest new directions for foundations wanting to significantly impact children and youth. Dynamic new opportunities exist for foundations working with intermediary organizations that occupy the "middle ground" between funders and local youth development.

Rethinking the Role of Intermediaries in Strategic Grantmaking
  • Foundation--not local organizations or communities--shape the programs and expertise offered by intermediaries by directly underwriting services. At time sit seems that the foundation is operating as investor and customer simultaneously.
  • Foundations and national intermediaries are expected to know, based on anecdotal information, the actual market demand for knowledge and services. Furthermore, understanding how the demand may differ across different segments of the market is rarely considered.
  • Technical assistance providers naturally offer what is known, not necessarily what is needed.
  • Information sharing and broader knowledge development is limited as some organizations attempt to carve out areas of expertise and attract funding streams.
  • National organizations do not necessarily have credibility with specific stakeholder groups and leaders. Thus, specific stakeholder organizations demand duplication of efforts in order to build knowledge in their organizations rather than tapping into what is available.
  • Inefficiencies in knowledge development and dissemination are created, as most foundations contract or grant to intermediaries within the parameters of their strategy, Those parameters create silos that define the knowledge, regardless if it is meaningful at the local level or not.
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