Field experts answer burning questions newcomers and those new to their role have about the journey in which they are about to embark.

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Expert Q & A: How Can a Young Professional Prepare for Advancement?

FavoriteBy: Karen McNeil-Miller, former president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Identify a potential role/level you would like to attain and seek out several people who already have those roles.  Find out the competencies/behaviors/skills needed to be effective in the role currently and in the future Be intentional in your career to seek roles along the way that can offer you an opportunity to develop those skills and competencies. Join relevant philanthropic associations such as EPIP (Emerging Professionals in Philanthropy), ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives, HIP (Hispanics in Philanthropy), communications networks, etc. Volunteer inside and outside your organization to develop your Read more

Expert Q & A: How can African-American philanthropy professionals network more effectively?

FavoriteBy: Karen McNeil-Miller, president and CEO of the Colorado Health Foundation Find/Create a network of other African-Americans as one of the many professional/social/personal networks you seek to form. Join and become an active member of ABFE (Association for Black Foundation Executives) Intentionally seek out and request one-on-one conversations with: Several experienced African-American executives to provide perspective; Executive Director of ABFE; Prominent African-American philanthropists in your town. Don’t allow yourself to be viewed as solely responsible to represent and be sensitive to the minority perspective in your foundation.

Expert Q & A: How can grantmakers best read and analyze nonprofit financial statements?

FavoriteBy: Chad Gorski, Senior Internal Auditor at Howard Hughes Medical Institute Understand the goal of the statement analysis and consider the risk assessment needs of your organization: What part of the required due diligence process does it fulfill? How much risk is acceptable? What red flags will impact decision-making? Is a ground-up analysis necessary or can third party info be used? See Project Streamline’s guide on Grant Budgets and Financial Reports, which helps grantmakers think through what information is really needed to make a grant. The Due Diligence Done Well guide from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations is also very useful. Understand the accounting Read more

author Lynn Wooten

Expert Q & A: How can philanthropic organizations create a learning culture even while “leading under pressure?”

FavoriteBy: Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, David J. Nolan Dean and Professor of Management and Organizations for Cornell University’s Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management; co-author with Dr. Erika Hayes James, Leading Under Pressure: From Surviving to Thriving Before, During, and After a Crisis For the last decade my co-author, Erika James, and I have researched how organizations lead under pressure and especially in crisis situations. Although most organizations do not frequently confront crises, leading under pressure has become a new norm. Pressurized situations can be the result of budget constraints, time limitations, stakeholders’ demands, shortage of resources Read more

Expert Q & A: How can we make learning fun for new grantmakers?

FavoriteBy: Jessica Bearman, principal, Bearman Consulting I went to Google and did a quick search on “Fun and Learning” and quickly noticed that with or without the quotation marks, all the hits were resources for kids. Searching on Adults Learning and Fun yielded a bunch of websites devoted to icebreakers… as though fun can be part of learning, as long as it’s contained at the beginning of the meeting or workshop. And so then I asked myself: “What makes learning fun and how can fun make learning better?”  Based on what we know about how adults learn, here are some quick Read more

Expert Q & A: How do learning needs and styles differ across generations, and how can family foundations teach philanthropy to the next generation?

FavoriteBy: Sharna Goldseker, Executive Director at 21/64 From your work across multiple generations in philanthropic organizations, what are you seeing as key learning needs? Much of the work we’ve been doing at 21/64 since we were established in 2002, coincides with research that shows each generation brings a unique set of values, skills, and experiences to the philanthropic table. The first key learning need is around values clarification, which we believe leads not only to better working relationships among funders but also to more effective philanthropy. Beginning to uncover one’s own values and learn what values motivate others is critical to bridging the generational divide. Read more

Expert Q & A: Strategic, Emergent, or (fill in the blank) Philanthropy: What’s the Right Approach?

FavoriteBy Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting Over the last century or so of philanthropic practice, multiple pathways for achieving results have emerged. Two of the most widely adopted  (and most recently debated) are “strategic” and “emergent” philanthropy. Both have deep roots in the field, as well as a range of adherents and even skeptics. Other approaches in various stages of experimentation, adoption, or rejection include “philanthrocapitalism,” and “venture,” “catalytic,” and “high engagement” philanthropy. What’s a grantmaker to do? Which approach, hybrid, or combination of approaches is right for you/ your program or initiative / your organization? How can Read more

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?

FavoriteBy: Judy Mohraz, trustee, Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, updated 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: Mark Constantine’s Wit and Wisdom: Unleashing the Philanthropic Imagination; Joel Fleishman’s book, The Foundation:  A Great American Secret; Harvard Business Review articles on shared value and strategy written by Mark Kramer, Michael Porter, and others. 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 Read more

Expert Q & A: What can someone working at a corporation in an area unrelated to corporate philanthropy do to orient himself or herself when joining the corporate citizenship team?

FavoriteBy: Ann Cramer, senior consultant with Coxe Curry & Associates 1.   Get a basic orientation of your own corporate culture, values, and direction – corporate philanthropy and citizenship today is a lot different than employee engagement (volunteerism) with “tee shirts and balloons,” or even community relations and contributions.  Use local corporate donor groups as well as the Council on Foundations and United Philanthropy Forum affiliates to learn with and from colleagues. 2.  Read some of the really key/basic works.  For example: The work of Michael Porter, Mark Kramer, John Kania on  foundation strategy, collective impact, shared value; and Monitor Institute by Deloitte’s work on alignment of corporate Read more