Deal Maker | Deal Breaker

Multi-Player Version
A lively game to explore grantmaking and foundation openness.

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  • 4 - 5 players is the best size, but give it a try with larger and smaller groups.
  • Separate the green cards (Deal Makers) from the blue cards (Deal Breakers) and place them in stacks on the table where all players can reach them.
  • Deal Makers represent grant seeker strengths.  Deal Breakers represent grant seekers challenges/concerns.
  • Pick the player who’s been in philanthropy the longest to be the first "Funder."
  • Everyone, except the Funder, takes 3 Deal Maker Cards and 3 Deal Breaker Cards.


THE Deal Makers:
Using what you know about the Funder, pick a Deal Maker to create the best grant seeker you can for them.
Starting with the player to the left of the Funder, each player plays their Deal Maker Card and reads the card out loud to the table.

THE Deal Breakers:
After all Deal Maker are read, and beginning once again with the player to the Funder’s left, each player plays a Deal Breaker onto the player to their left.  Now, each Deal Maker (strength) card, has a detracting Deal Breaker (challenge) card.

Deal Breaker.png



Now the players argue why the Funder should pick their Deal Maker to fund and reject the other candidates. The Funder must imagine that they will fund this organization long-term.

Based on the arguments, the Funder selects the grantee (a blue and green card pair), and keeps all of the Deal Breaker and Deal Maker cards played.  

Repeat until everyone has been a Funder a few times.   The player to the left of the Funder is now the new Funder.  After each round, all players draw another blue card and green card.   


Discussion Guide

Thinking about the game

How did a person know what to play for you when you were the Funder?
How did you decide what to play for the different people at the table?
How would a grantee know what to play for you as a funder?  What are the openness clues that don’t show up in typical openness practices from earlier in the morning?

Thinking about Funder Openness

On the note card, write down the three most important factors in your decision making about which grant seekers to fund. Place the card in front of you so the table can see it.  
How would having this information change the game?
How could you make this information more readily accessible to your applicants and grantees?  What makes it difficult to do this?
What is the experience of a grantee who doesn’t understand what’s on your note card?

Thinking about my own behavior as a Foundation leader

Take all of your Deal Breakers and quickly sort them into 2 piles:   Forgivable | Unacceptable
Reflect: Why might you be more and less frustrated by different behaviors? Why did I place them in different piles? What difference do these patterns make to your foundation’s effectiveness?

Take all of your Deal Makers and quickly sort them into 2 piles:  Okay | Awesome
Reflect: Why might I be more and less excited by different characteristics? Why did I place them in different piles? What difference do these patterns make to foundation effectiveness?

Thinking about my role in grant seeking behaviors
Pick a few Deal Breaker cards that are particularly frustrating to you.  What are possible reasons the grantees/applicants exhibit the behaviors that we’ve reacted negatively to?  What behaviors could you change that might change this scenario? How do you remain open when frustrated? 

Persona Sharing
Look through your piles for "suits" (S, M, E, D).  These suits relate to grant seeker personas discovered in our research.  The first letter of each persona’s name relates to the letter on your card.  Review the persona research information.  Do you have more of one type of each persona in your piles?

Discussion:   How do these personas show up in my calendar? In my request list? In our grants?  Why does this persona cause me excitement/intrigue more frequently than the others?  Why do certain personas seem to frustrate? Is it style or substance?  How could I help close the openness gap for each Deal Breaker persona?