Understanding the Intermediary Infrastructure in St. Louis

The Gateway Center for Giving through funding from the Missouri Foundation for Health commissioned a study to identify and learn about nonprofit intermediaries working in the St. Louis region.  The goal of this report was to address common questions about the nonprofit intermediary system in hopes of figuring out how philanthropic funders can better support these organizations in the future.

Click here for the full report.

The infrastructure of nonprofit intermediaries in St. Louis is largely unknown and misunderstood due to the lack of available information about intermediaries in our region.

The Center has identified 30 intermediaries working within the St. Louis region with a specific focus on the areas of the arts, culture, and health. The key findings of this report include different perspectives about intermediary work from both funders and direct service providers. The report finds that in general the St. Louis community is divided regarding the value of intermediary work. Much of this skepticism is on the part of direct service providers. This report identifies the value of intermediaries in St. Louis to solve problems at a broader level and the power of bringing together entities working toward the similar over-arching goals. The Center’s research also finds that the success rate of an intermediary is highly dependent upon its ability to draw in funds, establish strong organization structure, and show added value. In general, larger intermediaries were able to secure more funds and establish their presence within the St. Louis nonprofit community.

Included in the report is a directory of the identified intermediaries as well as a list of resources on the topic of intermediaries.

Producing this report was just phase one.  Today, we presented to a group of 28 grantmakers in the St. Louis Community the findings of the report and engaged in a conversation about the intermediary system in St. Louis.  The conversation was lead by Christy Gray (Whitaker Foundation), Elizabeth George (Deaconess Foundation), and Kendra Copanas (Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition).  The grantmakers were clear- they want more!  They have requested information regarding best practices when it comes to actually measuring the outcomes of intermediaries.  Many funders know that the outcomes of a direct service providing nonprofit are very different from that of an intermediary but they don’t know what appropriate outcomes for intermediaries are.  Phase two of this project will hopefully involve an in depth look potential outcome measures for intermediaries and we again look forward to working with funders, nonprofits, and intermediaries in the community to gather this information.

A special thanks to the Missouri Foundation for Health for underwriting this report.  It would not have been possible without the hard work of our intern Amber Yun, a Masters student at St. Louis University School of Public Health.  Additionally we would like to thank the over 100 individuals and organizations that took the time to complete our surveys and meet with Amber to gather the information for this report.

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