Understanding the Need

  • Consult widely. It is a good idea to talk with practitioners, experts in the field, and other funders to see if a new organization makes sense.
  • Check for talent. Even when the need is real and the timing propitious, a start-up makes sense only if the right people are already involved in the project or interested in participating. One grantmaker summed up the need for able and committed partners: “You can have the most brilliant ideas, but if you ain’t got the horses, don’t bother.” “You need a visionary leader,” the head of a corporate foundation said. This idea may seem so obvious that it’s easy to overlook, but this grantmaker argues that the skills of the prospective leader demand the most careful consideration before moving forward: “Who we choose to grant to has everything to do with the people. It’s not what you fund, it’s who you fund.”

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Working with Start-Ups.