What Started as an Idea

The past three months have been a crazy time in our lives, and I don’t think that I have experienced such a convergence of cataclysmic cultural shifts in my entire life. There have been some amazing things that have arisen as we have navigated these challenges as a community. Whether it is beginning the collective work of owning the reckoning of anti-Blackness, systemic racism, and police brutality or pooling our resources in response to a deadly virus, we have stood in front of a bracing wind with change on our minds.

And through it all, the team at GOSW has been working to provide our members with the latest information to inform your thinking, to deepen your understanding, and to touch your hearts. In these final weeks of June we conclude the phase 1 of our most significant contribution, The Resource Connector. Through our partnership with NAO, we have accomplished a lot during multiple crises, and as is true with many things, with an ending, comes a new beginning.

The Resource Connector started as an idea that blossomed during several conversations about COVID-19 with Cynthia Addams from the Collins Foundation and Anne Kubisch from the Ford Family Foundation who helped flesh out the idea. With each passing day of the mandatory lockdown, we were imagining what we might do to support the growing calls of concern from fearful nonprofits about the effects of the pandemic. Then it happened. Through a few giggles about the inspiration for the idea (a profile-driven “relationship” website…but designed for philanthropy), we knew that we were onto something. GOSW reached out to our web developer and talked about a web-based system that would make it possible for nonprofits to connect with and make requests to funders about the impact of COVID-19. We knew that we needed to access the nonprofits in our region and the NonProfit Association of Oregon was a natural and obvious partner.

Our combined membership organizations generated a process that not only utilized what would be a universal application for nonprofits and funders, but we made a commitment to ask a direct question about how equity would show up in their efforts. We felt that it was important for funders and nonprofits to commit to equity when it came to the pandemic–particularly because communities of color were especially hard hit. Asking the question upfront ensured that equity wasn’t an afterthought. It was a requirement.
From the idea to the inception, we were able to launch Phase 1 of The Resource Connector pilot in three weeks.

Eight weeks later, we are about to wrap the first pilot phase of our collaborative effort. We have shared our benchmarks and outcomes that the GOSW/NAO team has made along the way…everything from how many organizations made requests each week to how much money has been given by our members. We have also learned a lot about what works, what improvements we could make, and how we can continue building The Resource Connector into a tool that will support our member’s grantmaking.

Because of all of this great data and endless possibility, we have decided that we aren’t done. The pandemic isn’t over, and the need continues to mount, so we feel that The Resource Connector is still necessary. With the support of The Ford Family Foundation and The Collins Foundation, we plan to spend the summer digging into the feedback, and working with our developer to focus on building out the new features In September, we will bring The Resource Connector back for Phase 2 of our pilot…this time with more features, bells, and whistles for your grantmaking needs.

For all of you who funded through The Resource Connector, thank you. Your willingness to use this tool has been invaluable to us, and most importantly, we know that it has created significant relief for the nonprofits who benefitted from your investment at the beginning of the pandemic. And for those of you who haven’t tried it out, there is still time to share some resources with the nonprofits on our list before the end of the fiscal year! We also want to give a shout out to Jeff Heatherington of the Heatherington Foundation for being the very first funder to fund through The Resource Connector. Thanks for kicking it off, Jeff! And finally, our most since thanks to Jim White and his awesome team at NAO for being the best partners ever. We couldn’t have done this without you.

– Kendall Clawson