Skip to main content

Navigating Relationships in Philanthropy-Consulting Partnerships

Navigating the power dynamics between consultants, grantees and funders is already a challenge with any consulting engagement. Add to those relationships a partnership and consultants’ existing relationships with funders and grantees, and communication and transparency between all parties become more important than ever.

By Natalie Blackmur

A funder should not assume that each consultant in a partnership has the same experience, relationships and allegiances. In addition, the nature of the consultancy may put the team more clearly working on behalf of the funder (e.g., supporting the grantmaking process) or as an intermediary between funders and their grantees (e.g., convening a learning community). In either case, though, the consultants are ultimately accountable to their client: the funder.

In any of these situations, the key is to clearly articulate roles and relationships across all parties. It is important not to assume that the consultant team is one and the same entity. Just as consultants enter the consultancy from different vantage points, they may also bring distinct roles and the responsibilities.