How do you build an organizational culture of learning?

Organizations that are impactful aren’t necessarily the ones that gather the most evaluation data or use the most sophisticated methodologies. They are the ones that are good at translating their evaluation findings into insight and action. In other words, they have strong organizational cultures of learning. Building a strong culture of learning takes skill, effort, and time. Below are a set of resources we developed to help grantmakers and nonprofits who are looking to develop relationships that are focused on learning.

We’ve worked with grantmakers and nonprofits in Canada and the U.S. to help them better understand the journey from learning to action and how they can centre learning in their relationships with their funder/grantee. Below are a set of resources we’ve developed as part of this work. Have questions? We’re happy to chat.

New report: Approaches to Learning Amid Crises: Reflections from Philanthropy

In interviews with seven foundations from Canada and the U.S. in the summer and fall of 2020, we applied the lens of organizational learning to how each of these foundations made sense of their reality, asked different kinds of questions to inform their thinking, and acted in new or different ways as a result of the twin crises of COVID-19 and the fight for racial justice. In our report: Approaches to Learning Amid Crises: Reflections from Philanthropy, we lift up examples of how foundations have reacted and specifically what and how they are learning. 


Resources

Guidebook


An in-depth guide
that explores strategies that grantmakers can use to lay the groundwork for meaningful evaluation. It defines the term learning culture and identifies key elements of learning organizations. Developed with the support of the Ontario Nonprofit Network.

Self-Assessment Tool


An 18-question self-assessment tool meant to help organizations identify and assess the state of learning in their organization. A starting point for discussion that can help identify areas of strength as well as areas for improvement.

Aussi disponible en français

Training Resource


A training tool to help staff better understand the importance of organizational learning and how to engage externally with others in a learning-focused way.

Question Bank

This Question Bank offers a variety of questions to start a dialogue with grant applicants or recipients on learning culture and goals.
 

Lastly, we’ve also compiled some additional resources related to this project from external sources that may also be of interest to organizations looking to learn more about learning cultures and organizational learning.


This works builds on TNCs past work with the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) to develop a Sector Driven Evaluation Strategy. In particular, the following resource might also be of interest:

A lot of evaluations involve more than one stakeholder group (like funders and grantees, board and staff, evaluators, etc.). When two or more of these groups get together to talk about evaluation, they often spend more time talking about the technical process and less time on why they want to do evaluation and what they hope they will learn. If you are meeting with another stakeholder group that sees evaluation a bit differently that you do, this guide may be a good way to learn more about each other’s perspective and identify ways to make the evaluation less frustrating and more useful for everyone.
 
 
 


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