June 2006

Seeing differently? Donors as learning organizations

Volume 11 , Number 2

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June 2006

Seeing differently? Donors as learning organizations

Volume 11 , Number 2

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Funders talk about listening to their grantees and their beneficiaries, and spend time and money on evaluating their programmes, but what lies behind the rhetoric? Do they really absorb the lessons that their work throws up or is organizational learning simply one more item on the list of neglected good intentions?

In this Alliance special feature, guest editors Jenny Hyatt and Allan Kaplan set out their ideal of a learning organization and suggest that many funders are failing to live up to it. In response, a number of donors look at their own organizations and describe the means, formal and informal, by which they seek to profit from their own and others’ experience. Contributors include the Bernard van Leer Foundation, Dutch organization SNV, the Carpathian Foundation, South Africa’s Social Change Assistance Trust, Oxfam and IBM. Lizzie Zobel, founder of the Philippine Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation, looks at the issue of learning from the grantee’s point of view.

The issue also includes Jo Andrews explaining the nature and purpose of the newly established Sigrid Rausing Trust Strategic Funds, Celso Grecco on his attempts to replicate the Brazilian social stock exchange, and Michael Liffman on the Asia-Pacific Centre for Philanthropy and Social Investment’s grantmaking course.

Guest Editors' Article

Space for learning?

1 June 2006
Jenny Hyatt and Allan Kaplan

How do we really make a difference in the world? We act, we reflect, we learn and we change. This is particularly important for donors as they control resources that can enable or disable social change. Too often, however, reflection and learning are neglected out of organizational complacency, fear of failure, and a paradigm of impact which is over-reliant on what can be counted rather than what counts. This article looks at a number of …

 
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