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What We Care About


Productive grantmaker culture is one that accelerates progress by supporting nonprofits to be successful.

Culture is the collective behaviors and underlying assumptions of an organization.

While there is no one “right” culture, GEO’s work shows that grantmakers who cultivate cultures based on collaboration and partnership; diversity, equity and inclusion; respect and humility; responsiveness; transparency and trust; and curiosity and learning are better able to adopt the smarter grantmaking practices that matter most to nonprofits.

Creating productive culture is the result of intentionality and constant tending — this means understanding what we’re trying to achieve and continually aligning strategy, operations, talent and culture in that direction. In order to do this, everyone within the organization must understand how her or his role and behaviors either reinforces or contradicts the culture we are collectively trying to create. By working together to understand and tend our culture, we can build stronger, more inclusive and more effective organizations.

Culture is built every day in every action you take. It affects how people think about your organization, whether they trust you, and their willingness and eagerness to work with you.

Stacy Van Gorp, R.J. McElory Trust

Helpful Tools and Resources

Stay informed of the emerging trends and promising practices from the field of philanthropy through GEO’s publications and research.

  • Perspective

    Keeping the Faith in Democracy: Why America’s Faith Communities Can’t be Overlooked

    The following is adapted from a guide for funders on investing in faith and democracy, co-authored by Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) and Democracy Funders Network.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • October 2023
  • Perspective

    Conferences as Collective Capacity Building

    Felisa Gonzales of The Colorado Trust, Laura Patterson of Metropolitan State University of Denver and Noelle Dorward of The North Face explain how conferences can be a form of collective capacity building for grantmakers and nonprofits alike.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • May 2022
  • Perspective

    Is Philanthropy Ready? End of Year Reflections from GEO President & CEO, Marcus Walton

    GEO President & CEO Marcus Walton reflects on the past year and asks if philanthropy is ready to become who society is calling us to be.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • December 2021
  • Perspective

    Community-Centered Leadership: Values, Boundaries and Rituals

    GEO program manager, Jaser Alsharhan, explains how principles of community-centered leadership can be leveraged to create safe, trusting and thriving communities.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • September 2021
  • Perspective

    Changing the Face of Philanthropy

    Denise Herrera, in her former role as Senior Capacity Building Officer at St. David’s Foundation, reflects on the importance of creating and cultivating a pipeline of future leaders who reflect the values and cultures of the communities they serve.

    • Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
    • July 2021

Upcoming Events

  • Conferences

    2024 National Conference

    Save the Date for GEO's 2024 National Conference held in partnership with Philanthropy California from May 20 - 22, 2024 in Los Angeles, California.

    • May 2024

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Perspectives on Philanthropy

Interesting thoughts and ideas circulating in the GEO community.

  • The exterior of a foundation building.

    Center for Effective Philanthropy

    The Ripple Effect of Foundation Culture

    "Building the right internal culture at any organization, foundations included, requires proactive attention from the CEO." Read more in this article from Kevin Bolduc, vice president of assessment tools at CEP.

  • Article Photo

    Community Wealth Partners

    Internal Culture, External Impact

    Amy Celep, Sara Brenner and Rochel Mosher-Williams share how a change-making culture positions foundations to transformational change.

  • Article Photo

    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Lead Your Culture.

    In this article, the Gates Foundation shares its perspective on strengthening organizational culture.

Related Topics


No matter the outcome we are working toward, our institutions and systems were built to advantage some but not all — and data shows that inequities persist to this day. These inequities become more apparent when we take race into account.

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Organizational Change

Knowing what works and taking steps to change your work for the better is easier said than done. But real change is possible when our organizations foster innovative and supportive environments where smarter grantmaking practices can thrive.

Learn More
Meghan Duffy


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