Why “rapid response” grants concern me

When foundations want to award grant funds, well, rapidly, they often create processes that get these funds to grantees in considerably less time than their standard grant processes will. This fast-track process is usually dubbed a “rapid response” grant process. And when this process is created, many celebrate, and others write articles praising the foundation’s ingenuity and ability to quickly move grant funding. It is an all-around high five heard throughout the sector.

After all, they are thinking of how quickly the foundation can now provide financial support to people in need and are marveling at how multiple departments and teams effectively collaborated to make it all happen.

I, however, grow concerned.

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Infrastructure Design as Innovation

Here is a well-kept secret: the most innovative, transformative foundations have the most robust infrastructure. In other words, the foundations that are the bravest, the most visionary, and become trailblazers in the philanthropic sector, take great care to design the most thorough organizational infrastructures. It seems antithetical to believe that the more a foundation embraces risk management, strategically integrates compliance into its operations, and focuses on the efficiency of its policies and processes, the more innovative it will become, but, that statement is entirely accurate.

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