Talking Grants With GE Foundation's Asha Varghese
Here are some of the keys from Varghese for fundraisers to keep in mind when seeking grants from funders such as the GE Foundation:
- Accountable partnerships. "Partner commitment is a key trait for any NGO," Varghese says. "We're looking for collaborators. In all areas of our focus, how are we leveraging GE's DNA with partnerships? Who are the organizations that can collaborate with us and compliment us? … We don't look at ourselves a funding agency. We look at ourselves as collaborators working with nonprofits to help design solutions."
- Knowledge of the funder. "Even though we say no unsolicited requests, we still get requests. What really stands out are the requests that have done their due diligence," Varghese says. "What does the GE Foundation stand for? Go a step further than just saying, 'You guys manufacture XYZ.' Show us, 'Here's where we could really make an impact.' When you see someone has done that due diligence, gone the extra mile, as opposed to a blanket request, those capture our attention if it's a good fit."
- Flexible solutions. "You don't necessarily need to have a complete package or solution form the very beginning to start the conversation. Think through the why's and how's," Varghese says. "We work with organizations as long as we see the commitment, passion and the leadership of the organization know we are working together. Sometimes NGOs invest so much time in finding the perfect solution and don't tend to veer from it. Then it becomes very difficult to maintain if it's not flexible. Be able to mold it based on needs. It's always necessary. Some of our best partnerships are able to make tweaks, and they're always more successful."
- Accountability and transparency. "They are the two big things we look for," Varghese says. "Passion goes without saying, but a lot of NGOs are passionate and are driven. So when we work with NGOs, it's very outcomes-driven. Data speak volumes. Showcase those components that will really speak to the impact of the program."