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SYMPOSIUM 2023 RECAP

Our third Virtual Symposium for Inclusive Philanthropy is in the books. Below are summaries of each session based on notes taken by our founder, Dave Moss.

Feedback on the Feedback Session

This was our fourth time conducting the Unfunded List favorite session, “Feedback on the Feedback,” where we invite proposal authors that we have reviewed to give us tips on becoming better reviewers. For this session, we had Jen Storm-Jenkins, who submitted a proposal in one of our very first rounds on behalf of a collegiate organization she was involved with as a student. Jen would later become an evaluator and join the Unfunded List board of directors. This year, she will be stepping off the board. Replacing her will be Sarah McIntosh of Mary’s Center, who has submitted multiple proposals to the Unfunded List and has served as an evaluator since our founding.

Jen and Sarah each talked about how the feedback they provide changed as a result of their experience being reviewed. Jen received a review from us before she joined the committee and because of that she has always focused on trying to make tangible suggestions as an evaluator because that is what she found useful as an applicant. Sarah reviewed for several rounds before submitting and found that the tone of the feedback she provided changed and her suggestions became more specific after she had been on the receiving end of the feedback. Both agreed that there was tremendous value in participating in our process as both a reviewer and a reviewee.

Jen and Sarah also discussed how they used their reports in their respective organizations. They walked us through the process of sharing the report internally and talked about the meetings they held to discuss their feedback. Mary’s Center has submitted every round for a few years now and Sarah elaborated on how she has helped to make receiving our report a repeatable, actionable step in their own evaluation process.

In closing, both agreed that reviewing for Unfunded List is a healthy response to watching the news and being depressed by it. No matter what problem there is in the world, there is a grant proposal somewhere waiting for an evaluator’s suggestions. They closed with a couple of tips for evaluators: first, to make use of the primer material provided (the How To Review videos, Symposium videos, and background info on the organizations) and second, to always put yourself in the other’s shoes. If you are reviewing, imagine how you would receive the feedback you are providing. And if you are writing proposals, imagine how a reviewer would criticize what you are writing. 

Storytelling, Privacy, and LGBTQIA Fundraising

Although we were unable to schedule this session during the symposium week, we are pleased to present the recording now. It was moderated by Unfunded List Founding Board Member and Donor Advisor Christine Leviseur Mendonça and with guests Ian Madrigal, an activist and Unfunded List Board Member, and Narrative Strategist Felicia Perez. Together, the group discussed the nuanced, often frustrating, and usually deeply personal experience of fundraising for the LGBTQIA community.

Ian Madrigal, aka “The Monopoly Man,” has been an activist for consumer rights and against corporate shenanigans for a number of years.  This was Ian’s third time speaking with Unfunded List and we were pleased to welcome him back. He started off by reminding funders looking to support trans leaders that they aren’t always working on trans issues – you can find them in other spaces and funding their work where they are is going to be a great strategy for supporting trans leadership. In a conversation with Felicia ably moderated by Christine, they had an informative and candid conversation about using storytelling to raise money and they shared some of the frustrations and joys of their own fundraising experiences. Funders looking to diversify their portfolios should focus less on collecting data about their grantees. “A diverse portfolio of grantees will speak for itself.”

They also gave tangible tips for fundraisers concerned with their own privacy. Whether you are raising money for the LGBTQIA community or looking to increase your grantmaking in this area, this session is a must-watch. 

Meet Impala: A Powerful New Platform for Grantmakers and Grantseekers

David Fox-Estrin attended our very first event, the Evaluator Summit of  2018, as a proposal author but later joined our evaluation committee to review proposals. Today, he works for impala, which provides research tools for grantmakers and grantseekers.


Far more than doing a simple tech demo, David showed us how impala works and also provided real tips on how to conduct foundation or grantee research, how to look for trends in the sector, and how to find the information you are looking for. David has experience on both sides of the spectrum, as both funder and fund seeker, and was able to provide a lot of actionable advice for both grantmaker and grantseeker. During the Q&A after the training, we discussed how the Impala tool could also be useful for journalists, teachers, and other civically-minded folks looking for information about the third sector.

Unfunded List evaluators and Symposium guests were also invited to try out some of Impala’s premium features. Impala’s free version is robust, but they are also making the full platform available to our community until September 1.

Special Offer from impala


The symposium introduced our community to impala, a groundbreaking FREE platform that provides access to insightful profiles of every funder and nonprofit in America: grants, impact, people, financials, and much more. We’re thrilled to share that Unfunded List community members can enjoy free access to impala’s premium tools until September 1, 2023. Simply email support@impala.digital to let them know you’d like an invite and that you’re affiliated with the Unfunded List. Essential data for both grantseekers and grantmakers has never been more accessible and actionable. Please take advantage of this opportunity!

From Going Bust to Donating Busts: Adventures in Museum Philanthropy

A distant relative of mine was instrumental in the creation of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. His gift was significant enough that they named the museum after him (his name was Edward Rose). Four decades later, facing a budget crisis, the university tried to violate the original gift agreement, close the museum, and sell the art in order to fill the deficit created by the financial crisis of 2008-09 and pay general operating costs of the university. Members of our family appealed to the Massachusetts Attorney General, who blocked the museum closure and the sale of the art collection.

Many decades later, my mother discovered that a marble portrait bust that had been passed down to her through her Rose family was actually an unsigned piece by notable American artist Mary Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907)tcal. Our family agreed that the bust belongs in a museum but the Rose Art Museum incident was definitely top of mind as we navigated the process of donating a significant piece of art to an institution. The bust, labeled “Arrowmaker,” has now been donated to the Colby College Museum of Art. The donation was spearheaded by my mother (and Unfunded List Board Member) Professor Jane Moss, who tells us the full story and talks about her considerations as she pondered where to donate a piece of art.

Rural Philanthropy Brainstorm for the Open Door Philanthropy Podcast

During this session, we were pleased to announce that the Open Door Philanthropy Podcast’s Sixth season, launching later this year, will be focused on Rural Philanthropy. To help plan for that season we invited professionals from rural-serving organizations to help us brainstorm topics for discussion.

Eryn Baldrica-Guy is an Unfunded List evaluator and Assistant Director of Grants for California Rural Legal Assistance. She was joined by Vichi Jagannathan, a co-founder of Rural Opportunity Institute.

Open Door Philanthropy is currently recording the fifth season of our podcast focused on the burgeoning field of professional philanthropy consultants. We continue to actively seek out interviews with giving advisors and philanthropy consultants and will continue to produce episodes for the remainder of the year. Our first season featured wealthy individuals, the second season was held live at a philanthropy conference, our third season (Season Sh3) was focused on women philanthropists, and season four was on collaborative giving. All episodes are available for free wherever you get your podcasts.

Common Grant Proposal Questions

This was our second edition of this session. During our 2021 Symposium, we listened to three experienced grant writers discuss five commonly asked questions on grant applications. For this session, we were joined by Unfunded List Board Member Ashley Lahoud and Unfunded List Evaluator Diane H. Leonard. Ashley is a development director and has hired Diane as her grant writing consultant. We listened to them review these five commonly asked questions and they talked through how they approach answering them.

  1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?
  2. What is your impact on the target population and how do you track it with metrics?
  3. How are you different from other organizations tackling the same problem? That is, “How are you innovative?”
  4. If awarded, how will you spend the funds?
  5. How does the organization sustain itself (the dreaded sustainability question)?

This was a fun session as it was also an inside look into a working relationship between a development director of a nonprofit and a contracted grants consultant.

Human or AI?: Workshop on Grant Writing with GPT

Our Thursday session was an interactive workshop with Kyle Schutter of Grant & Co. Kyle raises money mostly for African entrepreneurs and companies and he walked us through some cases of how he uses ChatGPT to craft grant proposals. 

The session had our highest attendance of the week, with lots of audience participation and questions. Many of our participants have been using ChatGPT as well in their grant writing and shared many helpful and specific tips. We talked about some of the ways it still falls short.

Of particular interest to me is that Kyle’s grant writing firm is not replacing any staff with AI. Quite the opposite, he is actively hiring more people in order to better leverage the new technology. 

Are you a grant writer looking for work? Kyle is hiring!

Unfunded List Evaluator Q&A with Dave and Margaret

We have held dozens of Q&A sessions and we love them because it is an opportunity for us to meet and speak directly with our evaluators. To keep the conversations candid, we usually do not record our Q&As. But people often ask us for a recording so we took some time on Friday morning to go over some FAQs, show some videos, and walk current and prospective evaluators through our process.


Collaborative Giving: Giving Circles in 2023 (and beyond!)

Giving Circles were a formative part of my own philanthropy education. Here at Unfunded List, we have held multiple co-review partnerships with Giving Circles and Season Four of the Open Door Philanthropy podcasts was focused largely on giving circles. Two of my guests from that season, each with considerable Giving Circle experience, joined us for our closing conversation.

We discussed the pros and cons of Giving Circles, what “democratization” means, compared Giving Circles with other vehicles like foundations, gave tips for fundraisers targeting circles, exchanged thoughts on impermanence, and, talked about the benefit for Giving Circles that choose to co-review with Unfunded List. 

Read this far? Still interested?

Learn about and watch our previous Symposiums from 2021 and 2022.

Our First Symposium

Our Second Symposium

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