Does Your Network Reliably Bring You Valuable or Unexpected Information or Ideas?

Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, program officer at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation: Sometimes panel members give us a heads up about something that’s going to happen. For example, for the last few years we’ve had someone on the advisory panel who’s involved with a workers’ center. Hearing the issues that he and his clients have been dealing with on immigration — and we regularly work with immigration issues — and having that perspective were really valuable. He’s from an area of the state where there are a lot of immigrants but their voices don’t always get represented. Another example has to do with water quantity issues. A few years ago, before anyone was really paying attention and North Carolina was on the verge of a drought, we had an advisory panel member who was interested in water quantity. She alerted us to the problem before it hit the papers and before anybody else was really thinking about it. We were able to gather information and convene folks around the state who had a stake in the topic.

Mary Kaplan, vice president of program at the Endowment for Health in Concord, New Hampshire: The major trends we hear about through our listening sessions have always been a surprise. At around session four or five, when the same issue comes up again, we say, “This is going to be it.” For example, about three years ago, people were talking about issues affecting the elderly. Today, they’re talking much more about voice, advocacy, and policy. It’s a rare thing in New Hampshire for foundation staff to come and say, “I really want to hear, tell me what’s going on,” and then sit there and listen. The people who attend the sessions come out feeling empowered. One of the other good things that happens almost every year is that there are conversations that should have gone on in the community that were not happening until our session. We leave the community in a better place just by having been there and holding that session.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Scanning the Landscape 2.0.