Staff Note | Elli Haerter | How relationships further our impact

December 10, 2019

Elli HaerterRelationships move at the speed of trust. Some of us have heard this phrase before; for those of us who live this phrase in our daily work, it’s a powerful truth. Since 2014, the Bush Foundation has partnered with Headwaters Foundation for Justice, South Dakota Community Foundation and The Consensus Council as intermediaries for our Community Innovation grant program, helping us reach further and have far more impact than we could alone.

When we launched the Community Innovation (CI) program, we knew we needed help to bolster it. Plenty of organizations who were doing community problem-solving work didn’t know who the Bush Foundation was, and we wanted to reach them. Many of them could benefit from grants at a lower dollar amount than the CI grants the Foundation was making. We also knew we could further philanthropy in the region by working with local folks to select grantees. We needed trusted partners who could help us build relationships and accomplish these goals. What we didn’t know is how much we could gain by having these three entities as our partners in this work.

Our intermediary partners administer CI grants under $20,000 and maintain deep relationships in their communities. Because of these partners and their connections across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations in the region,

  • Over the past six years, our intermediary partners have awarded over $6.2 million through 641 grants, reaching far more nonprofits than the Bush Foundation could have reached alone.
  • The CI grant program’s processes, from outreach and promotion all the way through selection, have improved because of our partners’ connections as well as their feedback.
  • More organizations are problem solving in new and different ways at all levels across our region.

map of the region showing CI intermediary grantees
Location of organizations that have received CI grants through our intermediary partners, 2014-2019. The pins show the locations of each grantee, but their combined impact extends much further. 

At the end of this year, as we reflect on this work and plan for the future, it’s important to highlight the hard work of our intermediary partners who make all of this possible. If you’re tackling problems with your community, I hope you’ll consider applying for a CI grant to kick start or continue your problem-solving efforts.

-Elli Haerter

In November, we learned of the death of a staff member of one of our intermediary partners. On behalf of the Bush Foundation and its intermediary partners, we send our condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Rose Stoller, executive director of The Consensus Council. Rose had a deep love and commitment for solving the challenges that face North Dakota through consensus building. She was a mentor and confidant of many people. Most recently she had shared news of her retirement and how she planned to spend even more time helping nonprofits. She will be deeply missed.