19 June 2019

EFC Strategic Learning Network kicks off in Brussels

The EFC has launched a network of philanthropy professionals focused on strategic learning. Experts on strategy, monitoring, evaluation and learning from 23 foundations convened on 5 June 2019 at Philanthropy House in Brussels to embark on this new peer-learning journey.

The purpose of this new EFC network is to promote learning and knowledge sharing among peers on topical matters in a safe and trusted environment and advance strategic learning practice in European philanthropy. Rather than just looking at monitoring and evaluation, this initiative will tackle a range of information gathering approaches (including M&E) and then elevate the discussions to the level of strategy.

Several key questions that cut to the core of the discussions during this kick-off meeting: What do you measure? What do you communicate internally and externally? How do you evaluate your role in a complex system? How do you create a learning culture across organisations? How do you reconcile a data/evidence-based decision-making model with a strong social justice remit?

The meeting featured an opening plenary address by Lisa Jordan, who is the founder of Aim for Social Change and who has previously held senior leadership positons with Ford Foundation, Porticus and Bernard van Leer Foundation. Jordan hailed the creation of this network as an important milestone; shared with participants an overview of the European philanthropic sector’s evolution in the last ten years and why this matters; and highlighted participants’ individual and collective power and responsibility to transform their organisations and create meaningful impact.

In the other sessions of the programme through a blend of peer presentations and small group discussions, participants had the opportunity to learn more about strategic learning processes in place at peer foundations, discuss best practice for building organisational capacity for strategic learning, and surface initiatives to help trigger learning conversations about failure and improve future performance and impact.

The network has ambitious plans for the period ahead – including a benchmarking survey, a joint webinar with the EFC Communications Professionals in Philanthropy Network in Autumn, and an autumn/winter meeting.

For more information, please contact Stefanos Oikonomou, Thematic Networks Coordinator.