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Principles for Positive Relationships with Grantee Agencies


The members of The Chickering Foundation are honored to carry on the mission of prison reformer, Hannah B. Chickering by providing monetary grants to local social service agencies. We are aware that there is a history in philanthropy of power imbalance, which arises from the simple fact that grant-making organizations offer funding to organizations that depend on that funding to be able to carry out their missions. Chickering's goal is to treat all grantee agencies with sensitivity and respect. We understand there can be a difference between intent and impact: even with an indisputably good intent, communications can have an unintended impact. In that spirit, Chickering observes the following values in its grantor-grantee relations:


1. Respect. Chickering treats all grantees and all applicants for grants with courtesy and respect.

2. Trust. We honor the lived experiences of our grantees, trusting they know the actions that will serve their communities and clients.


3. Compassion. In our conversations, we avoid being judgmental. It’s entirely legitimate to inquire about the impact of Chickering funding; but, when it comes to asking potentially sensitive individual stories/details, particularly in respect to those who have experienced the harms that Chickering is trying to ameliorate, such as domestic violence or incarceration, we let grantees drive the conversation. When these stories are entrusted to us, we receive them with compassion and the utmost confidentiality.

4. Empathy. We gain understanding by “getting proximate,” that is, by getting closer to the people and environments our agencies serve. If we can visit their sites, we should try to do so, both to understand their work and to build connection and shared humanity.


5. Non-judgment. Given our mission, we believe in the principle of redemption and we strive to ensure that our interactions with grantees reflect that core belief.

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