June 2006

Seeing differently? Donors as learning organizations

Volume 11 , Number 2

PDF - £10.00 Hard copy (£15.00)


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.

Special feature

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 …


A new-look Alliance?

Is this really Alliance? For eight years, our covers have featured faces from around the world – first the faces of anonymous potential beneficiaries of international philanthropy, then the practitioners from various different countries who we have interviewed. I’ll miss those faces, especially those of people I know, but we’re thrilled with the new colour cover and hope you like it too. As you look through the magazine, you will find many more changes – though perhaps not so conspicuous as the change in the cover. Why? We’ve done a good number of reader surveys over the years but until …


Afraid of mutual aid? A choice of strategy and tactics

Susan Wilkinson-Maposa and Alan Fowler

In the March 2006 edition of Alliance Andrew Kingman and Jonathan Edwards point readers towards the vexed issue of defining philanthropy. …

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