Our research into leadership and catalytic philanthropy shows that staff who make a deep and lasting impact are playing a different role than what philanthropy courses traditionally teach and boards value.

Some Exponent members are removing barriers that isolated them from the community. They’re diversifying how they learn, and relying less on paper proposals and formal grant reports.

These funders engage directly with grantee partners to nurture relationships, learn about unmet needs and opportunities, and respond with support. More and more, they invite conversations, center curiosity, educate themselves, and venture beyond their usual circles to support grassroots groups, organizations led by people of color, and social and environmental entrepreneurs.

Lean funders are finding new opportunities by centering engagement and learning. The journey leads some to engage community members in foundation decision-making, and advance equity more intentionally. Others venture into new territories, such as commissioning research, convening partners, catalyzing coalitions, building capacity in organizations, coalitions, and movements, making seed grants, speaking out on issues, and engaging in advocacy.

Read the full article about foundation staff by Andy Carroll at Exponent Philanthropy.