the gilliam foundation - charitable giving report 2013


To date the Gilliam Foundation has not publicized its charitable giving or its integral achievements in supporting civic efforts locally, nationally and internationally.  As such the intent of this report is two-fold.  First, it is to serve as a means of reflection and planning for the Foundation.  As the African proverb says, "Knowledge is like a garden,  it is not cultivated, it cannot be harvested'.  Secondly, it serves as an informational tool that allows others to share the Foundation's lens from which observations have been made and conclusions drawn.  Sharing the lens of the Foundation is expected to assist the non-profit sector in understanding the current intent of the Foundation and making sure future grant requests. 


​At its initial start-up in 198, the Gilliam Foundation was positioned well to be a support arm of a robust philanthropic sector within the state of Delaware. From its inception through 2008, The Gilliam Foundation made grants in excess of $2.5 million dollars.  A myriad of charitable organizations benefited from this giving and included those representing the sectors of education, the arts, housing, employment health, economic empowerment and social justice.

With the collapse of the U.S economy in 2008, bringing with it high rates of unemployment and governmental deficits in funding and services, human need elevated dramatically and concomitantly with it extremely high reliance on the non-profit sector to meet the ever increasing need.  During this time, it became a strategic imperative of the Gilliam Foundation to continue funding worthwhile projects, while at the same time maintaining viability. Hence, instead of its historical 'broad-brush funding" method, the Foundation decided to selectively fund projects that were looking to provide solutions to particular problems that concerned the Foundation the most.  Accordingly, from 2009 to 2011, the Gilliam Foundation primarily funded non-profit programs that were looking to solve issues or provide solutions to educational problems.  From 2011 to 2013, the Foundation funded programs that attempted to promote health-related solutions.  Funding these specific, targeted initiatives still resulted in the Foundation awarding grants of approximately $725,000 dollars. 

While the Gilliam Foundation takes great pride in the achievement of its benchmarks and goals which wholeheartedly aim at improving the lives of under served communities of color, it has now worked long and hard enough to assess the non-profit landscape where it has operated over the years.  What follows are some of the key findings that have come to our attention as funders of the work performed by non-profit agencies. These findings will gauge much of the future work the GIlliam Foundation considers moving forward. 


  • Non-profits continue to provide instrumental services and resources to the Delaware community that government and business cannot or do not provide.  There is probably very little question in anyone's mind about the significance of the non-profit sector due to the social service needs of the community.

  • Non-Profits provide ongoing opportunity for civic engagement around common concerns and social issues. This engagement often takes the form of volunteering, donating and advocay.  Although one of the fundamental questions that non-profits are facing today is "how do we survive and continue to provide quality services to the community under the current economic conditions?" few are engaged in cooperative partnerships that can potentially actualize a long term cost savings and substantive social impact. 

  • Non-profits work hard to be the public face for social need and services in the community.  A closer look at the boards of most, however reflect a homogeneous board of directors, rarely resembling the people the non-profits serve and raising questions about their cultural competence in service and care. 

  • Non-profits are mission-driven, seeking to crate public good and respond to the needs of the community persistently.  Although the intent and passion are evident, rarely are tools to define and measure programmatic impact and sustainability articulated. 


When the Gilliam Foundation has made great strides in giving since its inception, the above observations and reflections suggest a number of ways the foundation can strengthen itself and increase its impact in the Delaware community moving forward. Make no mistake the degree of experience in planning, giving and assessing its progress to date allows the Gilliam Foundation to clearly and unapologetically articulate its strategy of sustainability and social accountability in the approaching years.  We expect the following to be our guiding principles or funding decisions:

1. Partnerships/Collaborations that maximize impact.

  • ​In this instance, the Gilliam Foundation will be looking for and funding partnerships and collaborations between two (2) or more non-profits who get together to work towards common goals. Joint efforts of this nature are not only together beneficial funders but to non-profits, also, because they increase their reach and impact, increase potential for project sustainability, enhance access to resources, minimize duplication of services, and improve communication within and between organizations. While collaborations between non-profits who share similar missions is encouraged, it has been found that some of the most interesting and successful collaborations are often established between organizations whose ideologies are orthogonal to one another's - neither aligned nor oppised (Parkinson, 2006). "In fact, this sort of collaboration, through difficult, can be superior in terms of efficacy, as agencies with closely aligned visions, sometimes find themselves in competition for resources, both monetary and otherwise, which can foster problems and delays in implementation or in consensus-building as the collaboration unfolds." (Parkinson, p.6)

  • ​With collaboration being a funding factor in future Foundation decisions, the Foundation will do its part to assist in the collaboration process.  The Foundation will rely on its knowledge of non-profit organizations, their mission and needs to proffer collaborative opportunities to include meaningful dialogue within the non-profit sector.  It is expected that befitting funding will be an outcome for relevant, collaborative partnerships that are established. 

​​​2.  Board diversity that maximizes impact.

  • The Gilliam Foundation believes that board diversity even for non-profits is profitable - not necessarily from an economic sense, but from a practical one.  Organizations led by diverse boards that reflect the breadth of their constituencies and communities from which these constituencies come will result in more successful organizations.  These types of organizations are more in touch with their clients' needs and have a forum in the board room where client needs can be fully appreciated when agency service and funding strategies are being devised. 
  • While diversity may be viewed as having to do with gender, age, religion, etc., the Gilliam Foundation is intently committed to racial/ethnic parity on non-profit boards. Since we are primarily committed to funding projects that focus on people color it stands to reason that we believe that racially/ethnically diverse boards are better suited for building robust and sustainable agencies that meet the needs of their diverse client base over the long haul.

3.  Outcome/Impact analysis

  • ​Metrics are becoming more and more important in the non-profit world and the Gilliam Foundation will focus more on funding  non-profits that strategically plan for programmatic impact and ways to measure it.  While measuring social impact may be difficult and requires sustained effort for many non-profits, it keeps organizations' on task and everyone alert to the aims of the project.  As a funder, it is important for the Foundation to know both what agencies do and how well they are doing it.  If done well, it helps organizations tell their story and gives them reason to celebrate their accomplishments. 


​The Gilliam Foundation remains committed to the work that has been done and for the work that lies ahead.  We anticipate that as this report calculates, communities and the organizations that serve them are made more aware o the resolute design by which we will continue to work to improve the lives of those who are experiencing the greatest need.