Challenge Your Assumptions: 2011 Conference Agenda Now Available

What does it take to really move from data to impact?

I’m pleased to share with you the agenda for our May 10-11 2011 conference, Better Philanthropy: From Data to Impact, where we will bring together leading thinkers to try to answer that question.

This conference, designed exclusively for foundation CEOs, trustees, and senior leadership, builds on the success of our past conferences and will challenge attendees in new ways  — pushing thinking on the toughest issues facing philanthropic leaders. We’ll hear from experts from outside philanthropy on decision-making traps and how to mine data to determine the best ways to deal with our toughest challenges. And we’ll be sharing exemplar and cutting edge practices within the foundation world.

Highlights will include:

  • Assessing Foundation Performance: The State of Practice
    How do foundation leaders assess, and how have those practices changed since CEP first studied this topic in its inaugural research project 10 years ago? How do exemplars approach the challenge of gathering the right data, learning from it, and improving practice? This session will feature CEP’s Phil Buchanan and Ellie Buteau, Irvine Foundation’s Jim Canales, and Wallace Foundation’s Chris DeVita.
  • Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
    No one intentionally makes bad decisions. Yet we make them all the time. In fact, some of the worst disasters in recent history — the collapse of major investment banks, the global financial meltdown — were the result of seemingly reasonable decisions made by a lot of smart people.” How does this happen? This session will explore the answers to this question with Michael J. Mauboussin, author of Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition. The session will be moderated by CEP Board Member Crystal Hayling.
  • The Power of Data in Decision Making: Esther Duflo
    The leader of a group of economists that Bloomberg BusinessWeek has dubbed “the pragmatic rebels,” 38-year-old economist Esther Duflo has brought a data-driven, analytic approach to poverty reduction efforts. Duflo has been named one of Fortune Magazine’s “40 under 40,” included in Foreign Policy’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers,” and has been the subject of profiles in The New Yorker and other major publications. She will share her thinking on the approach needed to determine the best solutions to our most pressing societal problems and engage in a dialog with foundation leaders. She’ll be joined by Ford Foundation President Luis Ubinas, who will facilitate a discussion about the implications of Duflo’s work for foundation leaders.
  • The Challenge of Foundation Strategy
    How does Jeff Raikes, the leader of the largest foundation in the world, think about the challenge of developing, implementing, and assessing strategy? What has worked and what hasn’t when it comes to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s strategies? What lessons can be drawn from the Gates Foundation’s experience? CEP Board member and Public/Private Ventures President Nadya Shmavonian will interview Raikes.
  • Driving Toward Impact: What Funders Can Do To Support Nonprofits’ Performance Management
    CEP’s research has shown that one of the greatest frustrations among program staff about efforts to assess performance is a perceived lack of capacity among nonprofits. How can funders best support the development of relevant performance data that will serve both funders and nonprofits as they seek to maximize their impact? How aggressive should funders be in their demands on nonprofits? What kinds of approaches to strengthening nonprofit performance management systems work best? This session features David Hunter, Founder and Consultant, Hunter Consulting LLC; Tiffany Cooper Gueye, Chief Executive Officer, BELL; Daniela Barone Soares, Chief Executive, Impetus Trust; and Kate Robinson, Producer,  “Saving Philanthropy: The Voyage from Resources to Results” (CEP is hosting a special screening of Kate’s documentary following the opening reception on the evening of May 9.)
  • Brighter Sunlight: Linking Transparency and Effectiveness
    Foundations face increasing pressure to be transparent about their work — as well as increasing pressure both to be effective and to demonstrate their effectiveness. What is the link between transparency and effectiveness? Do initiatives like Foundation Center’s GlassPockets promise to change philanthropic practice for the better? What role do technological changes play in the march to greater transparency and effectiveness? Are transparency and effectiveness ever in tension and, if so, which one should trump the other? This session features Bradford K. Smith, President, Foundation Center; Paul Brest, President, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Diana Aviv, President and CEO, Independent Sector.

Foundation CEOs, trustees, and senior leaders dedicated to effective grantmaking are engaged in extremely difficult work. The challenges of philanthropic leadership are daunting and it the realities of foundation leaders’ jobs can be isolating. We hope that you will join us for an opportunity to learn from each other and network with your colleagues.

More information on the event is available on CEP’s website, and a printable pdf of the program is available here. Foundation executives and trustees can register for the conference at

We intentionally keep out conferences small, to allow for spirited and candid exchanges.  We always sell out.  Sign up while there is still space.

Alyse d’Amico is Vice President – Programming, Communications, and Development, at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

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