President's Message on Strategic Review and Grantmaking Changes

January 30, 2017 

As we begin 2017, we will be making reductions in our grantmaking and undertaking a strategic review of our work this year. As part of these efforts, we also will be streamlining our application and grant review process.

For over 40 years, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has championed innovative leaders and a broad range of initiatives toward more sustainable and creative communities across New Jersey.

Mrs. Dodge’s legacy is reflected in the thousands of acres of preserved open space and extensive efforts to safeguard our water. It lives on through the rich diversity of arts organizations and arts education opportunities for schoolchildren across the state. The poetry festival bearing her name offers transcendent experiences for people of all ages, and, thanks to her, New Jersey is pioneering a path for local news that is more participatory and responsive to the public’s information needs.

Mrs. Dodge would be proud that her foundation has awarded $465 million in grants here in New Jersey since 1976.

As the Dodge Foundation board and staff ask ourselves how we can protect and build upon this legacy, we know that we need to take a deep look at the lessons we’ve learned so far, explore the intersections of our program areas, and create a road map that will enable us to support communities across New Jersey for the next 40 years and beyond. We also know that as our endowment returns have not kept pace with our grantmaking and expenses over the last several years, the time has come to confront a declining endowment.

Although we regret having to make grant cuts, our goal is to craft an enduring vision and a concrete plan so that we can ensure our support for many future generations of leaders throughout New Jersey.

Dodge remains committed to being a respectful, responsive, and communicative funder, and will uphold core values and principles embodied in our mission statement. We also will continue our commitment to capacity building training programs, as well as other ways in which our foundation can support the nonprofit sector beyond our grant dollars.

What to expect for the year ahead:

  • We are condensing our three application cycles to two, and a majority of grant decisions will be made by June. This will allow program staff to focus on the strategic planning work with the Dodge Board in the second half of the year.
  • For those who have already submitted an application by December 1, 2016, program staff are in the process of reviewing your proposals.
  • For those who would typically apply by March 1, 2017, that deadline remains the same. For those who would typically apply by September 1, 2017, we will ask you to apply by May 15, 2017. Both March 1 and May 15 applicants will use a streamlined application that we plan to launch next week. Stay tuned for details.
  • While we know that reductions will be across all program areas, we do not know how they will affect each individual organization. We will make these determinations through the streamlined application and review process.
  • We expect our strategic review will be completed by year end.
  • We are actively planning opportunities for you to share feedback, ideas, and questions. We will reach out again soon with more details. I also welcome any responses to me directly.

Every day, it is an honor and a joy to work closely with the passionate and smart leaders of the nonprofit community in New Jersey. The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation board and staff are deeply appreciative of your work, your partnership with us, and all of the strides you make each year to improve people’s lives throughout the state.
 

Chris Daggett, 

President and CEO