New Case Studies, Videos, and a Note on Empathy

October was an incredibly busy month, starting with the launch of our new guide, followed by attending the values-driven Communications Network conference, running a 60-person participatory grantmaking institute at the Human Rights Funders Network conference, launching new research on infrastructure funding, and participating in an interesting Twitter chat about the word “intermediaries”. I’m sure your October was equally busy. (Why does all of philanthropy like to do things in October?!) When things are busy or challenging, it’s especially important to slow down, reflect on what you’ve learned, and take the time hear what others have to share. All of this can help unlock new ways of approaching key issues, and it taps our curiosity about how other people think about their work and the world.

To that end, we have some new voices for you to learn from this month. I’m thrilled to share two new case studies on capacity building, authored by Community Wealth Partners. So often, foundations bring on consultants to help move their work forward, and those consultants have a unique vantage point on projects that rarely gets shared. So to increase transparency and shared learning, we are piloting a suite of case studies authored by capacity builders who work with foundations. We have three more case studies in this suite coming, so start digging in and let us know what you think; if you like it, we’ll partner with more consultants on additional topics next year.

Second, we have some new videos and mechanics related to participatory grantmaking to check out. I love these content-rich, bite-sized formats for learning because sometimes reports and narratives can feel daunting to dig into. One way to use resources like these: start a team meeting off with a quick shared learning and discussion.

And lastly, my colleagues on our social sector outreach team continue to wow me with the fantastic trainings and programs that they put together. While some are relevant for funders, these are GREAT to share with your nonprofit partners.

And, while not a new resource to flag for you, I want to remind you all of one of our most important tools, empathy. Every day, the headlines around the world and in our own communities remind us how real the challenges are that philanthropy seeks to solve. It’s not just the people at the partnering or receiving end of our work dealing with the emotional toil; it’s all of us too. That’s the beauty and challenge of intersectional identities; people can’t separate the Black or Jewish or trans or queer or abused or immigrant part(s) of their identities. When these communities and others feel fear or pain, individuals in these communities tend also to feel that fear or pain. Empathy enables us to learn from one another and requires us all to recognize and acknowledge contextual challenges. To not employ empathy is to break down trust, which breaks down our ability to collectively accomplish much of anything. It lets our colleagues and stakeholders know that we care and we’re here to listen, learn, and support.

In learning and empathy we trust,

Jen Bokoff

This letter originally appeared in GrantCraft's newsletter. To stay updated with our newsletter and special alerts, sign up here.


About the author(s)

Director of Stakeholder Engagement