Led by a group of 50 volunteer philanthropist women, the Hestia Fund is an unusual grantmaking foundation in Boston. Each of these women contributes about $6,000 a year for a three-year membership term ensuring that all members are on equal footing and no individual member has more power than anyone else. This foundation is all about transformational change to women and children in need, and the primary focus is on in-school and out-of-school programs for Boston’s youth (Read Hestia Fund: Boston Grants).
I recently spoke with one of Hestia’s members, Kathy Huber, to learn a little bit more about how Hestia approaches philanthropy and where its priorities lie. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re a nonprofit providing youth services in the greater Boston area.
Hestia Does Not Accept Unsolicited Proposals
The Hestia Fund does not accept unsolicited proposals and doesn’t have a process in place to respond to requests from nonprofits seeking grants. Hestia members reach out directly to potential grantees that they think the members would be interested in. Current grantees sometimes recommend other new potential grantees to Hestia’s members too. So if your organization collaborates with a current grantee, take advantage of that connection. The Hestia grant cycle begins in June, grant decisions are made the following February, and funds are released in April or May each year.
Hestia Prefers Program Support over Operating Support
Shortly after establishing the Hestia Fund, Susan Priem told Harvard magazine that her foundation didn't intend to focus grantmaking on standard operational costs, like support structure, staffing, and professional training. Although Hestia members today award different kinds of support for different kinds of nonprofits, most of the support still goes toward specific programs. For example, Hestia has supported various Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention programs for eight years. This most recent $15,000 grant went to AIP to pay for full-time mental health clinicians in 18 high-need Boston schools.
Hestia Members Remain Actively Involved with Grantees
Hestia members pride themselves on being active participants in philanthropy and staying in touch with grantees long after the checks have been written. After the pool is narrowed down, every potential grantee receives an initial site visit, and grantees receiving $40,000-$50,000 (the high end for Hestia grants) often receive two site visits per year.
“I have gotten to know my city of Boston far better because of Hestia,” wrote one Hestia member about her experience. “Our grant partners are located in every corner of the city - in schools and community centers and churches that I might never have known about were it not for the site visit opportunities."