Conference Focuses on Continuous Learning

Conference Focuses on Continuous Learning

Supporting continuous learning is one of eight guiding principles shared by local philanthropy for the continued assurance of private philanthropic money for public good.

Through ongoing learning and engagement with recipient nonprofits, funders ensure that their grantmaking remains relevant, responsive and effective.

So I am very excited that more than 200 grantmakers from across the country will visit Baltimore on Monday and Tuesday for the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Learning Conference held in partnership with the Maryland Philanthropy Network.

This unique conference will explore ways to improve learning and evaluation so that grantmakers and nonprofits alike have a better understanding of what works.

For example, how can we engage stakeholders and community members in the development of learning and evaluation systems? And how can we ensure that both grantmakers and grantees are using evaluation processes to inform management of their organizations?

These technical questions about the practice of grantmaking derive from the desire to squeeze the value out of every dollar available to improve our communities. Everyone — whether government, corporate or nonprofit — has a smaller budget this year to meet greater need.

One way we will meet the need is to think about evaluating social programs not at the end of the year when the report is due or the program is over, but in a system of continuous learning that helps managers make timely decisions.

In philanthropy, we have been redefining the role of evaluation from tracking end results to learning how to do a better job. Evaluation can be used to prove a program or strategy works, but we can also support continuous assessment to make a program work better.

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is a national innovator in helping philanthropy build strong and effective nonprofit organizations. I am excited to welcome them to Baltimore and continue my learning.


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