At CEP, we’ve advised hundreds of foundations. Through the years, many have made real headway shifting ways of working, significantly improving grantee experiences, and advancing their effectiveness as funders. Still, many struggle with how to implement changes — bridging that gap from understanding to action, learning to implementation. Foundation staff and leaders regularly ask us questions like, “What does CEP’s data suggest are effective practices, relevant to my context? What are other funders doing to make those changes? Who can CEP connect me to who has grappled with this and been successful?”
That’s why I’m delighted to announce CEP’s new Learning Institute, offering virtual and in-person learning opportunities to philanthropic staff and leaders. Based on decades of rigorous research and deep experience advising hundreds of foundations, our offerings are designed to help you and your staff implement real changes. I invite you to learn more about the Institute, including:
- Opportunities for custom workshops at your foundation, and
- Upcoming peer learning cohorts: the Flexible Funding Leaders Cohort and the Program Officer Peer Learning Cohort.
What’s behind the inception of this new Learning Institute?
CEP strives to be a trusted resource for data-based insights on effective practices in philanthropy. And in addition to rigorous research, widely attended conferences, and comparative assessments like the Grantee Perception Report, our staff have decades of experience providing custom workshops, implementation advice, and facilitating funder-to-funder connections. We’ve regularly heard from foundation staff and leaders that they’d like CEP to provide even more learning and implementation supports. And we’ve never been in a better position to do so.
In 2021, CEP received an unrestricted gift from MacKenzie Scott. Bolstering the notion that large, unrestricted gifts allow nonprofits to take risks and make bolder strategy choices about how to best advance their missions, the Scott gift was an opportunity for us to consider what new avenues or changes in our work could advance CEP’s ability to support funders in having the largest possible positive impact on the causes and communities they serve.
In 2019 we had already named as a strategic goal an intention to offer more learning opportunities, including communities of practice. In recent years we’ve offered:
- Custom workshops for funders seeking tailored trainings for programs staff;
- A peer cohort for recent Grantee Perception Report subscribers to support their data-informed improvement efforts;
- Virtual convenings for Donor Perception Report subscribers on funder-selected topics like engaging donors in diversity, equity, and inclusion learning and giving;
- And sold out Peer Learning Cohorts on Trust-Based Philanthropy Practices.
Our cohorts have reached funders of all types and sizes, including regrantors, community foundations, corporate foundations, and private foundations. In anonymous feedback collected by CEP, participants have lauded the “deep and nuanced examples,” opportunities to “learn from others about what they are trying, learning, and adapting,” and “applying what we learned to our own context.”
And we’ve heard from participants that our cohorts have allowed them to actually carve out time to do the deep thinking and knotty implementation planning required for organizational change — in the company of supportive peers. One pair who joined a trust-based philanthropy cohort as a team anonymously commented, “This cohort helped us prioritize working on this together and making headway.”
Supporting funders to make headway on data-backed practices is what CEP is all about.
So, building on these successes and momentum, I’m thrilled to be leading the new CEP Learning Institute, which I believe will enable CEP to go further in supporting foundation staff and leaders to enact real, creative, and effective changes in their ways of working.
As we build on these past efforts and develop additional offerings under the new umbrella of the Learning Institute, I hope that our cohorts and workshops will both spark and support the changes you and your staff are committed to implementing.
We’d also love to hear what you think. What challenges are you facing in your work and how might the Institute help fill gaps or support you and your colleagues?