The Council on Foundations and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers jointly announced today the launch of, as a platform to spearhead wide engagement from leaders and practitioners in philanthropy around the issue of grantmaker learning and professional development.

The public portal is the latest feature in the grantmaker education initiative sparked by the Forum and Council and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The initiative, now involving many other national and regional groups in the field of philanthropy, seeks to engage all the stakeholders of grantmaker learning in what could amount to a recreation of the grantmaker education marketplace.  The initiative includes an invitational leadership Symposium on Grantmaker Education this summer as well as the public portal.

“We’re building on the good work in professional development done by many organizations in our field over the past few years. The idea is to keep working together to create a stronger, more rational, and less fragmented system for grantmaker learning than we have today — one that builds a new culture of professional development in the field and works better for the individual learners involved in philanthropy and the many groups and organizations that provide learning programs and resources to them.” — Michael Litz, President and CEO of the Forum will use a project wiki, blog posts, and other tools to invite ideas from the field on professional development for grantmakers and seek input at all stages of the Symposium planning. “We need ideas, comments, questions, and most of all the vigorous debate on what professional development really can be in our field, and how it can be supported,” Council on Foundations President Steve Gunderson, added.

The Symposium this summer will bring together about 75 invited leaders from organizations across the country who represent the stakeholders groups that develop, provide, present, or invest in grantmaker education. Four working groups composed of representatives of regional associations, affinity groups, national infrastructure groups, education content providers, and funders have been assembled and charged to develop preliminary recommendations and requirements, in each of their areas, for a possible system.

The July meeting is a decision point for a conversation that has existed in many forms over many years.  Equipped with the rich body of data and ideas gathered from and the recommendations of the workgroups, Symposium attendees will be asked to debate the reports, recommendations, and field input; to determine whether a field-wide system can and should be created; and—if yes—to define the broad requirements for the system and indicate their willingness to participate in a coordinated effort to seek the funding to build it.

In 2008, the Forum and the Council—two of the largest membership groups in philanthropy—announced a Strategic Alliance to better serve the nation’s foundations and other philanthropic donors.  Shortly thereafter they announced the formation of an education design team to explore the possibility of developing an improved and field-wide system for grantmaker education.   That team, representing the Council, Forum, affinity groups, and partner organizations, mapped the initial vision of the system that guides the work groups and the Symposium planning.   The desired system, as defined by the design team:

  • Serves the needs and interests of grantmakers who may be individual donors as well as foundation representatives, paid staff members, and volunteers/trustees from all size foundations pursuing the full range of funding interests.
  • Creates a marketplace for providers and presenters, and preserves their brand identity.
  • Provides access to learning events and knowledge resources created or sponsored by many providers and presenters.
  • Is anchored in best practice.
  • Supports connections for social networking and peer learning.
  • Supports a common field-wide calendar.

The Grantmaker Education Initiative is co-chaired by David Campbell, President of the McGregor Fund in Detroit, MI, and Joyce White, executive director, Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington, in Portland, OR,  and led by a steering committee of Campbell and White, along with Michael Litz, president and CEO of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, Kristin Lindsey, executive vice president and COO of the Council on Foundations, and Marcia Sharp, Principal of  Millennium Communications Group in Andover, MA.

For further information on the Grantmaker Education Initiative, go to


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