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Funder Education

One of our core competencies is our commitment to educating fellow funders and professionals in the field. Since 2002, we have done so in a variety of settings.

Institute offerings: For the first time since our inception in 2002, our Institute for Wise Philanthropy will be offering our own branded workshops and seminars, starting in Autumn 2020. For now, the offerings will be 100% virtual, and each will be limited to a small cohort of participants.

I. Philanthro-ethics and Equity: Racial, gender, class, and financial justice are the driving questions in our field at this time. This highly interactive workshop, which has been a key offering of our curricula for many years, offers a series of regularly updated proprietary scenarios and case studies that address these and other related issues. They help funders clarify the differences between law, ethics, and best practices, and enables an informed conscious use of self as funders deal with best practices for their own funding practices and their relationship with grantees.

2 half-day sessions: $600/registrant. $500 for members of WRAG, Exponent Philanthropy, WINGS, and NNCG..

II. Collaborations, Partnerships, Mergers: Collaborations as a funding approach are hot, and can provide a much-needed method to address both local and systemic challenges. Too often, though, they don’t work as intended, and some funders become disillusioned. This workshop will describe different types of collaborations and partnerships, and will provide information on what should be decided before entering into any such arrangements, what the differences are between types of collaborations, who or which foundations are not suited to be a partner, what kinds of governance arrangements apply when, and what are the most viable exit strategies. Over the last 15 years, the material in this workshop has been the most requested in our entire repertoire of funder education documents.

1 3-hour session: $350/registrant. $300 for members of WRAG, Exponent Philanthropy, WINGS, and NNCG..

III. Strategy Process vs Strategic Plans: Why do so many strategic plans gather dust on a shelf or are out of date the moment they are completed? We think it is because they start in the wrong place, and don’t adequately address implementation. This distinct model developed exclusively for funders turns the standard strategy process upside down – beginning with a “deep-dive” into individual and organizational culture and ending with an articulation of “mission/vision.” The approach is now utilized by many consultants, firms, and foundations. Invariably this unit is rated the most mind-changing take-away of our multi-day training programs.

1 3-hour session: $350/registrant. $300 for members of WRAG, Exponent Philanthropy, WINGS, and NNCG.

IV. Problem solving consultations: Since March 2020, in response to the challenges to funders in this time in history, we have been offering a one-time gratis consultation session for any funder anywhere. This is not intended to replace a full strategy process nor to provide any legal or financial advice – only to help with addressing a current challenge.

Among the proposed future offerings are sessions on “Whose Money Is it?”Do laws and ethics diverge?”; “Evaluation Methods that Funders Must Understand”; “Policy Setting“; “Exit Strategies”; “Changing Roles for Philanthropy – How should funders respond?

For most of its history, the Institute provided its educational offerings either on contract to or in collaboration with affinity groups, regional associations, foundations, individual philanthropists, etc. around the world. We continue to be very open to doing so and would invite your inquiries.

UPenn Center for High Impact Philanthropy [CHIP] has offered week-long courses for trustees, principals, and decision-making foundation executives since 2015. As the high-end state-of-the-art offering for funders, this program provides an introduction to the ecosystem, decision making, ethics, evaluation, exit strategies, investment approaches, the distinctive CHIP methodology to determine impact, and more. Application required. Next offered: Feb 2021; NB: this offering will be 100% virtual.AS


New York University: (2000-2018 ), This program was discontinued by NYU when it closed its Center for Philanthropy. It was the first and the longest continuing university course for funders at all levels. When these courses were offered, approx. 2000 funders from 27 countries participated. Originally developed in collaboration with the Council on Foundations, National Center for Family Philanthropy, the Forum of Regional Associations, and the Association of Small Foundations, and became the basis of a number of educational modules offered by several regional associations. The