Why Scan? Learning to See from a Funder’s Perspective

If you’re new to philanthropy, switching from the viewpoint of a practitioner to that of a funder means looking at the issues in a different way. Scanning techniques can help you understand what your potential role might be. As a new funder working in the area of children and families observed, “Before I took this job, I had worked for an advocacy organization in my field, so I knew what the issues were. But as a grantmaker, I had to think about things in a very different way. Now I had to think about, what’s the value added of our foundation’s money? How can our resources make a difference?”

“I knew that I had to spend my first year figuring out who the main actors were and what their organizations were and what they were doing... Good conversations are the place to start. “I basically met with just about anybody who asked me for a meeting,” one funder recalled, “because I took seriously what some people said to me, which is that the first year is exploring and learning and trying to figure things out. And unexpected connections get made when you’re open. Somebody walks in with an idea that you hadn’t thought about and helps you understand... hmm, if we looked at it this way, this is a really interesting approach.” One new program officer made a point of seeking out and talking to “everybody who’d managed my grant program for the last 20 years,” in addition to reading “all the exit memos my predecessors had written.”

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.