Philanthropy and Mistakes: An Untapped Resource

Sign up for a free account to save resources for later or login.

Key points:

  • Sharing and leveraging lessons learned from mistakes is an important but underutilized resource to improve philanthropic investments and nonprofit performance.
  • Philanthropic mistakes extend beyond the results of program evaluations to include questions of mission, role, investment strategies, and implementation.
  • Distinguishing between “constructive” and “nonconstructive” mistakes focuses attention on those factors that shape the outcomes for even the most well-designed investments.
  • Sharing and reflecting upon mistakes has the potential to improve philanthropic capacities for anticipation, learning, and adaptation.
  • Philanthropy must recognize the sometimes blurry lines between success and failure, constructive and nonconstructive mistakes, and philanthropic and nonprofit sector accountability.

Go to Resource

Content Partner: The Foundation Review

Content Partner Website

Publication/Event Date:


Is your resource available to the public or only your members?:




Field/Sector Learning and Evaluation 

Leave a Reply