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Leveraging Grant-Making—Part 2: Aligning Programmatic Approaches With Complex System Dynamics

This is the second of two articles that focus on tools that enable foundations to increase the leverage of their grantmaking resources by working effectively with the dynamics of complex social systems. It emphasizes that “powerful questions” addressed to board, staff, grantees and other stakeholders can help transform thinking. It examines how foundations can align planning, implementation, and evaluation efforts with the behavior of the social systems they seek to improve.





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Leveraging Grantmaking: Understanding the Dynamics of Complex Social Systems

The purpose of this article is to enable foundations to increase leverage of their grant-making resources by working with the dynamics of complex social systems. The article explains why good intentions can lead to less than desirable results, distinguishes systems thinking from more familiar linear approaches, and explains how systems analysis can redirect our focus from addressing problem symptoms to dealing with underlying causes of these problems.