Friday, June 13, 2008

Wear my shoes

I know someone who is a foundation program officer and an individual grant recipient from another foundation. This person simultaneously wears both hats - grantor and grantee.

Is it any coincidence that this person is one of the most respectful activists on behalf of grantees when it comes to "interpreting" the rules about proposals, reporting, protocols, etc. to make life easier on them? I don't think so.

The simultaneity of roles puts this person in a fundamentally different position than even those foundation program officers who used to be grantseekers and those grant seekers who once were program officers or foundation executives. Project Streamline is a great piece of work - it clearly spells out many of the steps that can (and should) be taken to "right size" the foundation proposal process. Whether or not those steps are taken will depend, I think, on whether or not decision makers are living with real empathetic incentives to make change happen.

Walking a mile in my shoes is helpful - but perhaps if everyone wore each others' (metaphorical) shoes simultaneously things would really change.

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