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Flexible Funding Leaders Cohort

If you’re a senior leader at a philanthropic funder seeking to implement changes to their grantmaking to better align with the data-backed practices of effective philanthropy, this cohort will help explore how to amplify your impact through maximally flexible funding.

Registration is Closed.

Flexible Funding Leaders Cohort

Multiyear grants. Operating support. Streamlining. Trust. You’ve heard the rhetoric. But what’s realistic and applicable in the context of your work? What actually works to achieve goals like yours? And how can you adapt these ideas to the realities of your structures and stakeholders? How can you push forward changes — big or small — at your organization?

Decades of CEP research have shown that flexible funding approaches can maximize nonprofits’ ability to use funds to fulfill their missions and plan for the sustainability of their organizations, programs, and services. Yet, CEP’s research has also shown that while attitudes of foundation leaders towards flexible funding have shifted, practices have lagged.

Participants are strongly encouraged to join with at least one colleague, and in groups as large as three per foundation. Each participant should have some responsibility for influencing or implementing strategy, and at least one participant should have a senior leadership role at the organization. In similar past cohorts, participating groups consisted of individuals holding C-level, Vice President, or Director roles, occasionally accompanied by close colleagues at the Senior Program Officer level.

In this cohort, you will: 

  • Learn from CEP research and peer funders about nuanced approaches to multi-year grants, operating support, flexible reporting, and trust-based practices
  • Set and pursue goals in your organization’s context
  • Build a deep network + leverage peer leader support
Cohort Welcome: Jan. 18, 3-4:30pm EST
  • Cohort overview
  • Meeting your cohort and your peer partner
Why Flexible Funding?: Feb. 15, 3-5pm EST
  • CEP President Phil Buchanan discusses CEP’s research and implications with Jesús Gerena, CEO of UpTogether
  • Small groups: current practices at your organization and your goals for change
The How of Flexible Funding, Part 1: Considering General Operating Support in the Context of Your Strategy and Grantmaking Portfolios: March 14th, 3-5pm EST
  • Guest speaker Jamie Allison, Executive Director of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund discusses a compelling story of change.
  • Small group discussions:
    • Decision-making criteria and equity considerations when determining which grantees and/or funding areas are a good fit for operating support
    • Considering the optimal mix of grant types in your portfolios
The How of Flexible Funding, Part 2: Flexible Reporting Processes that Fit your Context: May 9, 3-5pm EST
  • Philosophies and examples of reporting processes for operating grants, renewals, and other funding decisions
  • Small groups: processes tailored to GOS grants
Budgeting for Multiyear Grants: Common Challenges and Approaches: June 20, 3-5pm EST
  •  Practicalities of different grant lengths in the context of your budget, structure, and strategy
  • Planning in a volatile stock market
  • Earmarking for emergency grants
  • Progress check on your individual cohort implementation goals
  • Small groups: considering opportunities for experimentation with grant length and/or flexible renewals at your organization
Endowment Gifts as a Tool for Racial Equity: Aug. 8, 3-5pm EST
  • CEP research and guest speaker on granting to nonprofit endowments as a tool for racial equity
  • Small group discussion of implications in your context
Making the Case: Sept. 12, 3-5pm EST
  • Guest speaker(s) on making the case to your Board and funder examples of success
  • Dispelling commons myths and tips for change management
Capstone: Oct. 10, 3-5pm EST
  • Tying it all together with pro-tips and career advice from seasoned Program Officers
  • Celebration!

Session Details

This cohort will meet monthly January through October 2024, with two breaks. Breaks will allow time for participants to engage in individual reflection, have one-on-one brainstorming and accountability conversations with their peer partner, and experiment with implementation at their organizations.

Each session will include a presentation of research on data-backed practices, funder examples, guest speakers, and structured time for discussion, reflection, and peer-supported learning and coaching. Participants will be assigned a peer partner for the duration of the cohort who will serve as a resource and support outside of scheduled sessions.

Registration is Closed.

Guest Speakers

Check back for updates on additional speakers!

Elisha Smith Arrillaga

Vice President, Research, CEP

Phil Buchanan

President, CEP

Amber Bradley

Director, Learning Institute, CEP

Jamie Allison

Executive Director, Walter and Elise Haas Fund

Jesús Gerena

CEO, UpTogether

Kevin Bolduc

Vice President, Assessments and Advisory Services, CEP

About the Learning Institute

CEP’s Learning Institute offers cohorts, workshops, and custom trainings for foundation staff and leaders to support your learning and implementation of data-backed practices.