For more than 15 years, NEO has pioneered and innovated the collaborative fund model of bringing donors together around a common issue and shared vision.

Throughout NEO’s history it has designed and led large-scale collaborative grantmaking funds, connecting donors with aligned values to support work they could not fund as effectively on their own through 12 different funds. This support is currently supported through 2 funds, the Four Freedoms FundTM and State Infrastructure Fund.

NEO has helped a wide range of funders increase the impact of their grantmaking through our collaborative funds. NEO collaboratives awarded more than 2,500 grants totaling some $200 million to nearly 600 grantees across 44 states between 2006 and 2016.

Our collaborative funds allow donors to join forces with other likeminded colleagues for a wider and more immediate impact. They are a platform for donors passionate about an underserved issue to rally other donors, expanding the overall funding pool. With expanded funds, we can invest in long-term capacity building resources for grantees, such as fundraising coaching, organizational management and communications training, to build a field into a truly successful and coordinated movement. Because of NEO’s deep relationships with groups on the ground, our donors can more directly connect with potential grantees and efficiently engage in cutting edge and innovative grantmaking with like-minded colleagues.

NEO collaborative funds offer funders:

  • Pooled resources and the leveraging of those resources for greater impact;
  • Coordinated funding strategies that work across sectors to address problems in comprehensive and intersectional ways;
  • Opportunity for a true partnership among colleagues;
  • Mutual learning, strategizing and innovation; enriched donor dialogue with a diversity of perspectives;
  • Forum for new donors who are attracted to an issue to find their way into the work;
  • Capacity building resources that enhance the strength and effectiveness of the broader field;
  • Opportunity for national donors to “localize” their investments and for local donors to bring national funds to their communities;
  • Access to the expertise of a wide array of funders, grantees and highly skilled staff;
  • Grantmaking that is more nimble, flexible and timely; and a
  • Platform to raise the visibility and “buzz” on specific issues in philanthropy.

What funders and grantees have said about NEO collaborative funds

“My participation in [NEO] donor funds…has helped me gain greater understanding about the relationship between groups I fund at the national level and what’s going on at the local level. I don’t think I’d be as good a grantmaker without [NEO]. I don’t think I’d be as successful without the ability… to get strategic support to the ground.”

— Geri Mannion, Carnegie Corporation of New York, member Four Freedoms Fund and State Infrastructure Fund, two of NEO’s collaboratives.

“The learning opportunities at the Four Freedoms Fund [NEO collaborative] are a huge benefit to me. It’s one place where I can go and get up to speed, compare notes with other funders, learn about related issues, identify gaps and avoid redundancies.”

—Mayra Peters-Quintero, Ford Foundation

“Being part of the Four Freedoms Fund dramatically expands the knowledge and relationships I can bring into my own foundation, and allows me to spot trends and opportunities in ways I wouldn’t otherwise. And when we as a group of funders act together, we are more effective.”

—Taryn Higashi, Unbound Philanthropy

“As a small private family foundation whose primary grantmaking focus is on Long Island, NY, it’s still hard to believe that we became active partners with the biggest foundations in the country pushing for comprehensive immigration reform in less than a year from our incorporation. Despite the fact that we were one of the smallest contributors to the Four Freedoms Fund at NEO Philanthropy, The Hagedorn Foundation was always treated as an equal as we grappled with one of the thorniest contemporary issues of our day. Not only did this opportunity leverage our grantmaking dollars significantly but it allowed us to move a national issue in a substantial way. What’s more, it put us in touch with the best minds in the field and across the country which benefitted our local grantmaking in powerful ways.”

— Darren Sandow, Hagedorn Foundation


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