Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Learning Conference (2019)
May 29-30, 2019
GEO’s 2019 Learning Conference was designed to help participants make the leap from knowledge to action and to integrate learning into all aspects of their work. Speakers offered a range of perspectives and new ideas to go beyond the basics and support funders in engaging in more intentional learning practices both inside and outside of their organizations.
Realigning Foundation Trustees to Incentivize Learning
Foundation evaluation leaders know that a foundation’s board of trustees plays a critical role in shaping the evaluation and learning culture of the organization. Despite this and philanthropy’s growing awareness that complex change requires continuous learning and adaptation, few have cracked the code on exactly how the routines and behaviors of boards (and of foundation staff vis-à-vis their boards) get in the way of smart learning and adaptation. At best, board routines — from how accountability is operationalized, to how performance expectations are set and measured, to how staff focus and prepare board materials and presentations — send mixed messages to staff about navigating uncertainty and its inevitable hiccups. At worst, how a board functions can work at complete cross-purposes to learning. In this talk, Tanya Beer of Center for Evaluation Innovation explores ideas about how to shift boards’ mental models and reimagine board/staff conversations so that boards support, incentivize, and even participate in high-quality, transformative learning.