Getting Diverse Viewpoints

Seek out contrary points of view. It’s essential to hear from people you don’t agree with, and to find out what they read, whom they talk to, and where they get their information. One funder explained his approach: “I’m always open to talking with people I don’t agree with because I want to learn what their position is. And sometimes — many times — you actually come up with projects you can fund.” “It’s important to have faith that the process of dialogue and discussion and dissent is an okay process,” said another. “I don’t have to agree with you to work with you.” A third offered this advice: “A strong grant program needs to include all kinds of organizations and viewpoints. It’s risky to have everything riding on one type of organization or one point of view.”

Ask contacts for their contacts. Colleagues, peers at other foundations, grantees, practitioners, and consultants can introduce you to people you may not know about. Hoping to find new projects in certain underrepresented areas of its home state, one foundation developed a list of “mavens — people whose names pop up everywhere and who seem to know everyone,” and began to tap their knowledge of their communities. “We asked them, who else should we be talking to? Who can help us better understand the community?”

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.