There has been a lot of discussion on the Communications Network blog and on Twitter about the legitimacy of employing crowdsourcing methods within philanthropy, sparked by a presentation by Jim Surowiecki at the Communications Network conference. The Forum network has been working in collaborative knowledge management for a number of years now so I thought I might offer some concrete examples of how our methods fit the crowdsourcing model.
Before I get started, let me say that there are two important factors that make our system work, not covered in Surowiecki’s outline of the conditions for good crowdsourcing: 1) community trust and 2) shared goals. These elements might seem in conflict with Surowiecki’s conditions that a wise crowd contains a diversity of opinion and a willingness to embrace arguments, but in reality they are only modifications. Like in any family, conflicting opinions can still work together to accomplish positive outcomes.
10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week, Joyce White, Executive Director at Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington.
You’ve put in a lot of work on the LearnPhilanthropy initiative. Can you tell me a little about your involvement?
LearnPhilanthropy started out as a project tied to the strategic alliance between the Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers. The idea was to build on prior joint initiatives – primarily Essential Skills and Strategies and the Grantmaker Education Framework (PDF) – to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations. An Education Design Team was formed and from the very beginning, the shared vision was for something bigger – a system of grantmaker education where learners of all kinds – program officers, CEOs, trustees, donors – would have access to the high-quality knowledge, skills, and connections they need.
The journey that started with that early vision for a field-wide collaboration came to an inflection point in July. Over 70 philanthropic leaders with an interest in grantmaker education gathered following the Forum conference. For two days, they worked with an exceptional team of consultants to answer a threshold question: Could we begin to co-create a field-wide system for grantmaker education? Continue reading
Have you been watching the good work of the LearnPhilanthropy team? You should. They’ve recently revealed the results of their initial field-wide user needs surveys and the data is very interesting. Finding out what people want is a pretty good way of finding out what you should do. Consider this a glimpse of the future.
- Respondents want a multi-focused system: field-wide catalog (67%); education and training outlines relative to common career paths (59%); and providing education or materials in addition to what currently exists in the field (58%). [HART]
- Respondents expect to pay ala carte for each offering (73%) but also expect membership fees (54%), and grants (50%) to support a field-wide system. [HART]
- Most organizations (56%) do not have someone formally tasked with training and learning. In organizations with 10 or fewer staff, the Executive Director/President is mentioned as the most frequent decision maker (40%). In organizations with 11 or greater paid staff, supervisors are cited by 25% of the respondents as the decision maker. [HART]
- Learning that includes networking seems most popular. In the last two years, professional development for respondents has included: Conferences (89%) and Informal Networking (82%). Online webinars and workshops (81%) are also preferred. Face-to-face instruction (61%); blogs & publications (51%) and tools or kits (28%) were mentioned less often. [HART]
- Networking (20%) and General management/leadership skills (20%) were also considered the most beneficial kind of development with other topics ranging from 10-15%. [HART]
- Leading and Managing is of greatest interest to respondents with more than 10 years experience in philanthropy (52%). Those with less than 10 years experience also rate leading and managing high (50%), but they seek opportunities to learn grantmaking (57%) most of all. [HART]
- Less than 50% of all respondents say they have access to quality learning opportunities with the exception of those with more than 10 years experience who say they do have access to quality grantmaking learning opportunities (53%). For the same subject, only 32% of those with less than 10 years experience can say the same. [HART]
- In both surveys, respondents rely on “self-directed” to guide their development and training activities (75/72%). Affinity Groups (54/54%); National Associations (53/50%); Regional (49/37%) and Local Associations (48/33%) were also mentioned.
- The top preference for a field-wide grantmaker education system is that it include a digital library of downloadable tools and documents specific to learning needs (69%). A central catalog/list of online and offline offerings from multiple providers is the second most popular feature (65%). [HART]
- Less experienced staff are more interested in having a place to post questions and share information (53%). They also prefer 48% to 36% having a jobs board and a system for matching mentors and mentees (48% to 33%) compared to more experienced staff. [HART]
- Independent (32%) and Family (26%) make up half the respondents. Community (14%), Public (12%), Corporate (6%), Private (2%) make up the other half. [HART]. We had somewhat greater participation from Corporate (11% vs. 6%) and Community Foundations (17% vs. 11%) in the LearnPhilanthropy.net survey vs. the HART survey. 95% of those responding to HART and 93% to LP.net are paid staff.
- In the HART survey 53% of the respondents come from foundations with assets of less than $100 million vs. LP.net at 57%. In the HART survey 54% come from organizations with fewer than 11 paid staff and on LP.net it was similar with 55%.
- 44% of respondents are in grants management/administration roles and 39% are program officers or other program professionals. The next highest response came from CEOs (17%). [HART]
- 57% of those responding to the HART survey belong to an Affinity Group; 47% to COF; 47% to the Grant Managers Network; 38% to Regional Association of Grantmakers.
Find out more at LearnPhilanthropy.net. You can also follow the initiative on Twitter and Facebook.