GrantAdvisor is a web service that facilitates open dialogue between nonprofits and grantmakers by collecting authentic, real-time reviews and comments on grantseekers’ experiences working with funders to encourage more productive philanthropy. GrantAdvisor will launch simultaneously in California and Minnesota in June 2017, with new locations and partnerships to be announced in 2018.
Feedback is shared anonymously and once a funder receives 5 reviews, the data on that funder will be posted publicly and funders will have the opportunity to respond to reviews.
In addition to aggregating feedback on the grant application process, GrantAdvisor will provide a forum to share views on how funders influence their field. This allows funders to understand how they are perceived as leaders and influencers, not simply as grantmakers, and (not that the analogy isn’t obvious enough):
If you’re going on a trip, you check TripAdvisor; if you’re going to apply for a grant, you check GrantAdvisor! If you’re a hotel, you check TripAdvisor to learn valuable customer feedback you can’t get any other way!
Jan Masaoka is the Chief Executive Officer of the California Association of Nonprofits. She is a leading writer and thought leader on nonprofit organizations with particular emphasis on boards of directors, business planning, and the role of nonprofits in society.
Jan also founded and managed Blue Avocado magazine, to which 63,000 people have subscribed online, and which has been described as the second-best read publication in the nonprofit sector. Jan has been named eight times as one of the “Fifty Most Influential People” in the nonprofit sector nationwide.
Perla Ni is the CEO of GreatNonprofits, and has executive experience in corporate, academic, and nonprofit sectors. She was the founder and former publisher of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the leading journal on nonprofit management and philanthropy. Prior to her work at SSIR, Ni co-founded Grassroots Enterprise, later acquired by global public relations firm Edelman.
Jon Pratt is the executive director of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, an association of 2,000 organizations that sponsors research, training, lobbying and negotiated discounts to strengthen Minnesota's nonprofit sector. Jon has worked with MCN since 1987.
He has also worked at Minnesota Public Interest Research Group as an attorney and lobbyist, as regional director at the Youth Project, and as director for the Philanthropy Project. Jon has consulted with nongovernmental organizations on the development of NGO associations and services in Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Serbia and Turkey. Pratt has a law degree from Antioch School of Law, and a M.P.A. from Harvard University.
“We heard from TripAdvisor that when they opened in Ireland they were surprised to see relatively low ratings for Irish hotels. But two years later, Irish hotel ratings had dramatically improved. Why? We suspect that the hotels learned from the feedback they received, and the whole industry raised its own bar. This is our hope with GrantAdvisor.”
Jan Masaoka, CEO of California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits)
"GrantAdvisor will help nonprofits to save time and focus on their work. And it'll help foundations get honest feedback. So basically, it's as awesome as general operating funds."
Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps
“There is a longstanding need for greater accountability, transparency, and accessibility in the philanthropic sector so that foundations don’t end up marginalizing the underrepresented communities they would like to help. It is critical for grantmakers to hear the perspectives of nonprofit leaders and take part in an open discussion of community needs. GrantAdvisor is a welcome addition to provide a public platform for nonprofits to frankly voice their concerns and propose ways that grantmaking can be more successful in impacting their communities.”
Aaron Dorfman, CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
“One of the most important differences between nonprofit organizations, businesses and governments is the way they receive their funds. Because the U.S. grants economy relies on third party decision makers and intricate application processes, there is a high need (but great variation) in access, timeliness and clarity of available information.
When nonprofit leaders try to piece together and assess potential foundation sources of support, they often ask about the experience of other organizations in the same position, gaining ad hoc insights from multiple angles (not just from the funding source). However, this disorganized network of friends and text messages can produce incomplete and haphazard advice (though it comes from the heart!). The goal of GrantAdvisor.org is to elevate the reliability and depth of this external grant information through crowd sourcing, pattern recognition and public peer exchange to make the whole process clearer and more transparent.”
Jon Pratt, Executive Director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
GrantAdvisor is an initiative of the California Association of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, and GreatNonprofits. The project is in partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals and Social Media for Nonprofits. Advising Foundations include the Peery Foundation, GreenLight Fund Bay Area, Open Road Alliance, and Thomson Family Foundation.
Janet Camarena serves as the Director of Transparency Initiatives for Foundation Center, working to champion greater foundation transparency. A key part of her responsibilities include providing leadership to Glasspockets.org, which she helped to create and found inside Foundation Center in 2010, and which provides foundations with a variety of tools and features designed to encourage greater philanthropic openness. Prior to taking on this role, Janet served as Director of Foundation Center’s regional office in San Francisco for 15 years.
She was among 48 nonprofit leaders selected for the American Express Nonprofit Leadership Academy. She completed her undergraduate work at Mills College and received a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University. She serves on the boards of the Alameda County Library Foundation and Community Initiatives, a fiscal sponsorship provider and volunteers teaching art and art history at her son's elementary school.
Aaron Dorfman is president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a research and advocacy organization that works to ensure America’s grantmakers and wealthy donors are responsive to the needs of those with the least wealth, opportunity and power. Dorfman, a thoughtful critic, frequently speaks and writes about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy, the benefits of funding advocacy and community organizing, and the need for greater accountability and transparency in the philanthropic sector. Before joining NCRP in 2007, Dorfman served for 15 years as a community organizer with two national organizing networks, spearheading grassroots campaigns on a variety of issues.
Robert is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers fresh fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care or incarceration. He is also the CEO of Strong Food, L.A. Kitchen’s social enterprise business, which employs graduates of the L.A. Kitchen training program.
Robert pioneered this model during his 24 year tenure as the President of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen”, where donated food is used to fuel a nationally recognized culinary arts job training program. Since opening in 1989, the Kitchen (which is a $11 million a year, self-sustaining, social enterprise) has produced over 30 million meals and helped 1,500 men and women gain full time employment.
Kathleen P. Enright is the founding president and CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. GEO is a diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers working to reshape the way philanthropy operates. They are committed to advancing smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and achieve better results.
Kathleen speaks and writes regularly on issues of nonprofit and grantmaker effectiveness at national and regional gatherings of executives and trustees. Publications include Investing in Leadership: Inspiration and Ideas from Philanthropy’s Latest Frontier and Funding Effectiveness: Lessons in Building Nonprofit Capacity. She is also a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post.
Michelle Greanias, Executive Director of PEAK Grantmaking, is a passionate advocate for efficient and effective grantmaking and is deeply committed to elevating the value of grantmaking practices in philanthropy. Hired in 2008 as the organization’s first employee, Michelle has led the explosive growth of PEAK Grantmaking, making it one of the largest networks in the field.
Michelle has spent most of her career in corporate philanthropy, leading grants management teams to implement efficient, effective grantmaking practices. She has also overseen program-related investments; engaged in projects to facilitate socially responsible investments in housing and community development, increasing capital available to nonprofits; and managed employee giving programs.
Casey is the founding executive director of GreenLight Bay Area. Prior to GreenLight, Casey completed a fellowship at Room to Read, an international NGO focused on literacy and girls education in developing countries. Casey’s background has been working with literacy and education-focused nonprofit organizations in California, Massachusetts and Washington, DC, including Raising A Reader, a GreenLight Fund portfolio organization in Boston. Casey earned master’s degrees in education from the University of San Francisco and in English from Brooklyn College.
Vu Le is the Executive Director of the Rainier Valley Corps, an organization focused on communities of color in Seattle's Rainier Valley. Vu’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work. Known for his no-BS approach and irreverent sense of humor, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts, which you can read at nonprofitwithballs.com.
Megan McTiernan has spent over 15 years working in organizations focused on youth and the working poor. She is the Senior Vice President of EARN and previously served as the Executive Director of the Thomson Family Foundation, establishing the Foundation and identifying workforce development and asset-building projects in the San Francisco and Dallas areas.
McTiernan serves on the steering committees of the Bay Area Asset Funders Network, the North Texas Asset Funders Network and the Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative. She was a 2009 KIVA Fellow in Mexico, analyzing the impact of microfinance. She is a volunteer with the local CASA program serving youth in foster care and also serves on the California Council for IGNITE, bringing political and civic programs to young women. Megan holds a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies from Tulane University and an EdM from Harvard University.
Jessamyn Shams-Lau joined the Peery Foundation as its first staff member in 2009, helping to shape the foundation’s initial strategy and portfolios. Currently, as Executive Director, Jessamyn is responsible for supporting the Peery Foundation team, guiding overall strategy, and developing a grantee-centric approach across the foundation’s portfolios.
Jessamyn utilizes her experience as part of the founding Ashoka U team in her hands-on role as a Board Member of BYU’s Ballard Center, where she has created curriculum now taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Jessamyn has a BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Arts London and an MBA from Brigham Young University.
Ritu is the CEO and Co-Founder of Social Media for Nonprofits, an organization committed to bringing social media education to nonprofits worldwide. She convenes thought-leaders and leading practitioners in the social media space in the unique TED-meets-Twitter style conferences in 14 cities in three countries.
She writes a blog at the Huffington Post on the intersection of social media, social change and leadership. She has received several accolades for her work including the Social Innovation Award from the World CSR Congress.
Bruce R. Sievers is a visiting scholar and lecturer at the Haas Center for Public Service and the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, which he helped found in 2006, at Stanford University. Previously, he served as the Executive Director of the Walter and Elise Haas Fund from 1983 to 2002 and as the founding CEO of both California Council for the Humanities from 1974 to 1983, and Montana Committee for the Humanities from 1972 to 1974. In addition, Mr. Sievers is a Consulting Director of the Skirball Foundation and a Senior Fellow Emeritus with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Mr. Sievers was a Fulbright Scholar and received a B.A. in International Relations, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University.
Colburn “Cole” Wilbur is Trustee Emeritus and former President and CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. He was also interim President and CEO of The California Wellness Foundation, helping the foundation through a difficult time. Cole was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foundations and in 1999 received the Distinguished Grantmaker Award. In 2005 Cole served as interim President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. He also served as Executive Director and CEO of the Sierra Club Foundation, ran a computer center, and was in banking.
He has provided advice to foundations around the U.S. and internationally. These include the California Community Foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, Heising-Simons Foundation, Playa Foundation, Craig Neilsen Foundation, Global Fund for Women, Baker Foundation, and many others.
Maya Winkelstein is Executive Director of Open Road Alliance where she is responsible for the organization’s overall investment strategy including finding new ways to deploy capital to achieve maximum social returns. Winkelstein has worked with Open Road since the organization’s inception in 2012. Prior to her role as Executive Director, she worked with Open Road as an Associate Director with the consulting firm, williamsworks. Former affiliations also include The Corporate Council on Africa, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Institute of National Strategic Studies (INSS) at National Defense University (NDU), and Exclusive Analysis Ltd.
Winkelstein holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan; MSc in International Relations from the London School of Economics; and a Diplôme Internationale from Sciences-Po in Paris, France.