Philanthropy as a Lab for Learning
Through the exchange of ideas and approaches to funding nonprofits, discussions around sound governance, and strategic investment of philanthropic dollars, the philanthropic sector can be to be a laboratory for risk and learning.
As the public, private and nonprofit sectors seek to serve similar communities, there are opportunities for cross-program connectivity and learning from best practices.
Though not without its own varied group of stakeholders to whom foundations must be accountable, the philanthropic sector generally has some flexibility and can exercise innovation in funding priorities. When grantmakers take risks to innovate and increase impact, the public sector has an opportunity to learn from these best practices and lessons learned.
"Successful leaders in the philanthropic field are required to balance a number of creative tensions...philanthropy has an opportunity to seed innovation; however, its stakeholders also expect impact."
- Katherine Fulton, The Monitor Group at NCG's 2010 Annual Meeting
How Does it Work?
Philanthropic organizations are recommended to document both successes as well as failures. This practice ensures not only that institutional knowledge is advanced, but also that there is inter- and cross-sector awareness of these innovative approaches.
Highlighting innovative strategies and processes (and learning from the missteps of others) can encourage effective grantmaking practice and offer cross-sector value to move the needle on addressing societal problems. The resources on the right represent some progressive approaches that NCG members and valued partners have contributed for consideration via reports, books, and opinion pieces.