Giving Compass' Take:

• Ben Liadsky and Andrew Taylor give five key tips for grantmakers to cultivate strong learning relationships in philanthropy and grant applicants. 

• Communities are dynamic, evolving, multi-layered networks, fueled by people and relationships as well as ideas and evidence. How can philanthropists use these tips the best way possible?

Learn about the benefits of collaborative philanthropy. 

Leonardo DaVinci once said that the greatest deceptions we suffer arise from our own opinions. In grantmaking, as in life, we learn best when we engage with others who have different points of view and challenge our preconceptions.

Through our research on this issue, we have come to the conclusion that evaluation is much more likely to lead to learning if grantmakers work to cultivate strong learning relationships with grant applicants before they begin talking about what will be measured. We’ve identified five key tips for grantmakers to make this happen:

  1. Start early.
  2. Get good at learning.
  3. Understand organizational culture.
  4. Set and communicate learning goals.
  5. Ask different types of questions.

Start early. One of the best ways to cultivate partnerships that promote learning is to seek out new partners that have the potential to help us learn. In traditional granting processes, discussions about learning are not raised until quite late in the process. They might only show up as one question among many in a report somewhere along the way.

Read the full article about learning in philanthropy by Ben Liadsky and Andrew Taylor at Johnson Center for Philanthropy.