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Peer to peer: At the heart of influencing more effective philanthropy

Posted By Elisabeth Hyleck, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A new report by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation highlights the critical role of peer-to-peer- learning among foundation staff and trustees.

When looking to solve a problem or learn about a topic, foundation staff and board members indicated that they first go to a trusted peer or colleague. They also cited peers and colleagues as their most trusted source. Funders described trusted sources as people who are honest, open, and discreet. Trusted sources often have some shared characteristics like working in similar foundation roles or in a foundation of similar size, values, or geography. Interviews further confirm that peer validation is often what helps get knowledge to actually be used inside a foundation.


When asked about how they connect with peers, in particular, funders cited regional associations of grantmakers as being helpful in connecting them with one another.

The study also found that while not highly used now, social media may become a more important channel in the future for foundation audiences. Program staff, who tended to be younger, are more likely to use social media than foundation leaders, as illustrated by the fact that 27% of program staff cited social media as a primary way they seek out practice knowledge compared to 17% of foundation leaders. Do you connect with ABAG on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or ABAG's Adventures in Philanthropy Blog? We regularly share member news, reports, and other resources for the field.

When asked in an open-ended question to list their top three practice knowledge needs, 44% of survey respondents said evaluation and assessment. Respondents also expressed a desire for more information about best practices and information about what doesn’t work.

Our Association takes seriously our role as a convener, resource for Grantmakers, and the network for givers. We know our members like to learn together, in person, and from one another. We take care to provide ample opportunities for members to connect with one another, learn about best practices, and share information. Several upcoming events are providing such opportunities: Impact Investing: Setting the Stage, A National Perspective on Impact Investing; Racial Equity & Philanthropy: Achieving Equity…How Exactly?; and a Funder Conversation about Immigrants and Refugees.

We hope to see you at one of these or other upcoming programs. Or feel free to reach out to any ABAG staff member if you would like to talk with a peer about a specific issue.

We’d love to connect with you!

Tags:  Adventures in Philanthropy; philanthropy; ABAG mem 

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