It is often the case that our unthemed issues have a theme that emerges post hoc from the submissions. That is true with this issue, as all of the articles address some aspect of foundation learning.
As we begin the debate about the future of the Affordable Care Act, Hoag, Lipson, and Peebles evaluation of the KidsWell campaign demonstrates the important role of state policy in achieving better health care coverage for children.
Foster, Harrington, Hoag, and Lipson share their lessons about how to evaluate policy and advocacy work. They note
that some ambiguity is inevitable; policy change is often a complex process with many contributing factors. However, with comprehensive data and integrated analysis, it is possible to evaluate and learn about effective practices.
While learning from other foundations’ work is important, for most foundations, learning from their own work is still a struggle. Leahy, Wegmann, and Nolen explore the structures and tools that can support organizational learning.
One of the emerging practices in philanthropy that requires learning by many stakeholders is the practice of impact investing. Gripne, Kelley, and Merchant describe their approach to providing education, training and coaching to various audiences. CO Impact Days and Initiative demonstrated how to educate and connect foundations, individual investors, social entrepreneurs, nonprofits and other stakeholders.
Foundations who want to support their grantees’ learning often provide technical assistance in some form. Lyons, Hoag, Orfield, and Streeter provide considerations for funders in developing strong TA programs, based on their evaluations of two state-based TA programs.
The final article includes Franklin’s review of American Generosity: Who Gives and Why by Patricia Snell Herzog & Heather E. Price. This book is one product of the University of Notre Dame’s Science of Generosity initiative.