Top Learning Frameworks for Grantmakers

By: Dara Major, Principal, Dara Major Philanthropy Consulting

The specific learning needs of grantmakers can vary widely – depending on mission, goals, structure and context and, ultimately, individual roles and competencies.

We’ve scanned the sector for existing, high-quality learning frameworks that illustrate a range of perspectives on roles and competencies in a variety of operating contexts, with the understanding that most grantmakers work within multiple frameworks.

The examples below include a mix of knowledge (what grantmakers should know) and competencies (what grantmakers should be expected to do) – and are useful whether you are an individual program officer new to your role, or a learning officer developing talent across an entire team of staff.

Links are provided to each framework, for grantmakers who want to dig further.

  1. Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers: Framework for Delivering Education Programs in Your Regional Association: Ten Principles and PracticesThis framework highlights essential principles and corresponding practices for foundations of all types (independent, community, corporate, family, health-care conversion). Designed to inform educational programming at regional associations, it takes a thoughtful look at shared practices to strengthen grantmaking across the sector.

Forum Framework - Copy

  • GrantCraftA Map of the Craft– To help grantmakers “get beyond the basics,” GrantCraft examines seven common grantmaking challenges and the practices and skills to help meet them. Topics include: understanding my role, working with grantees, and finding allies.


  • The Bridgespan Group: Give Smart– For donors as well as staff, The Bridgespan Group identifies six questions that can be “extremely powerful in helping donors unlock their philanthropy’s potential.”  Topics include: what are my values and believes; and what is “success” and how can it be achieved?

GiveSmart - 6 questions graphic - Copy


  • LearnPhilanthropy: Real Simple Taxonomy(LearnPhilanthropy brings together the wealth of research, resources, and ideas on good practice from sources across the sector…. not unlike a farmer’s market: providing fresh products from a variety of producers, all in one place, as well as a gathering place where practitioners of all kinds can come together to exchange “recipes” and learning perspectives.  To help facilitate that kind of exchange, we’ve organized key learning topics for grantmakers – making it easier for you to browse the great content you’ll find at LearnPhilanthropy.

taxonomy on site


As you think about your work in philanthropy, what “big-picture” learning resources have been most important to you? What or who has been your go-to source?  Share your ideas with LearnPhilanthropy here.

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Dara Major



General Grantmaking Skills
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