Expert Q & A: What can someone new to grantmaking, but joining a foundation in mid-career, do to accelerate his or her learning curve in this new field?

By: Judy Mohraz, trustee, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trustupdated in 2018 by LearnPhilanthropy

1.   Start by getting a handle on the soul of philanthropy, as well as the work of philanthropy. Read the key works, for example:

2.  Get some exposure, if you don’t already have it (and if you do, don’t let it lapse…) to non-profits and the pressure they live under every day.  Know the basic mechanics of good governance, in a non-profit context, and the essentials of non-profit finance.

3.  Subscribe to and read the Harvard Business Review, for ideas and trends that start in the corporate arena but are or will be important to social change in the nonprofit and philanthropic world.

4.  Go to meetings where you will be exposed to different kinds of foundations – meetings of regional associations, the Council on Foundations, affinity groups, local funder’s networks – where you will be exposed to the diversity of the field.

5.  Subscribe to and read The Foundation Reviewfor peer-reviewed research, evaluation results, and tools written by and for foundations and boards.

6.  Attend webinars, workshops, courses, or earn a degree to learn the techniques and ethics of grantmaking and gain a deeper understanding of the field to further your career and your organization’s mission.

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Judy Mohraz



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