More than money: Exploring the roles of funders in philanthropy

More than money: Exploring the roles of funders in philanthropy

Posted on April 29, 2016 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

Going beyond the check — it’s a philosophy we embrace at The Patterson Foundation as we invest time, energy and expertise working with our partners locally and beyond.

It’s also a methodology funders nationwide are executing through their work– from functioning as coalition builders and backbone organizations to influencing policy and communications through time and resources.

As an enterprise funder of the national Campaign for Grade-Level Reading since 2013, we invest more than financial resources by providing human capital through strategic communications that is helping the campaign strengthen its work by weaving a virtual network of its 240+ communities focused on increasing the number of children reading on grade level by the end of third grade. Since The Patterson Foundation strives to learn and share with others, we are highlighting eight funder roles that illustrate the “more than money” concept during a session at the GEO 2016 national conference in Minneapolis May 2-4.

We’ve learned this kind of philanthropic investment requires a longer-term commitment of time — one that helps partners appreciate the process as much as the outcomes. We’ve also learned that it takes leadership, willingness, readiness, capacity and cultural alignment among all partners to be successful. Without one of these elements, engagements beyond funding may not reach their full potential.

The examples of roles we will share during the session — which will be presented by The Patterson Foundation’s Director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Beth Duda and Dr. Sherece West-Scantlebury, the president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation — may be new ideas for some foundation leaders. These ideas are challenging many organizations to learn new skills and work in new ways as they discover what it takes to invest in philanthropy in this way.

Here’s a preview of the session:

  • Learn about eight roles funders are playing in the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s local efforts
  • Hear about examples of the impact of those roles in communities across the country
  • Receive a self-assessment tool to identify which roles might be right for your organization
  • Learn about ways you can use the self-assessment tool to increase impact, regardless of the issue areas you fund

Learn more about attending this session by visiting the GEO Conference page.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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