Keep Learning

24
Aug
2017

Light After Dark

We cannot in good conscience jump into this newsletter without acknowledging what we’re feeling in the aftermath of Charlottesville: Can this really be happening in America?! Can history really be marching, in jackboots and loafers, in reverse? As an Italian-American whose father and uncles were looked down upon as immigrant trash and a Jewish American whose family tree was chain-sawed by the Holocaust, we’re not naïve about the dark side of human nature. Of course we know nativist fear and loathing are as much a part of America’s story as baseball and apple pie. And yet we’re still shocked that Nazis and Klansmen are goose-stepping out of the shadows with…

26
Jul
2017

Brain + Heart + Ears

Years ago, when we first started writing about what it takes to become a high-performance organization, we tended to emphasize logic and brainpower, as exemplified by our title Leap of Reason. We’ve since gained a deeper appreciation for the essential role of heart. Now, thanks to a group of Leap Ambassadors at the forefront of the “constituent feedback” movement, we’ve come to recognize that the ears are just as essential. In other words, you can’t be a high performer if you don’t listen carefully and systematically to the insights of the people you aspire to serve.

27
Jun
2017

Taking the Leap, Across the Pond

Last month, we shone a bright spotlight on Impetus-PEF, a London-based foundation that is doing a great job of investing in the performance of its grantees. The Impetus-PEF story is so rich with insights that we want to put more meat on the bones here. Impetus-PEF, the product of a 2013 merger of two like-minded …

24
May
2017

Some Pain, More Gain

Could a funder’s hands-on, impact-oriented process be too tough on grantees? In March, we focused our monthly update on Impetus-PEF, a London foundation “walking the talk” of high performance–not just by…

26
Apr
2017

‘Full-Frontal Philanthropy’

Let’s be honest: foundation presidents’ annual letters tend to be pro forma at best. But this month we found a lovely and rare exception, by F.B. Heron Foundation President Clara Miller. Hidden behind bland design and a boilerplate title, you’ll find a sharp indictment of typical foundation thinking and a bold prescription for “this messier, less compartmentalized, and more urgent world.”

22
Mar
2017

Impetus to Change

Yes, it takes a village to raise a child. Sometimes it also takes an SOB. If David Hunter were a rapper rather than a performance whisperer, his stage name might have been Notorious SOB. (He’s a good friend, so we don’t have to beat around the bush.) His tough-love workshops are infamous for reducing participants to tears. A few years ago…

23
Feb
2017

The Right Kind of Tears

Recently, we met with Jennifer Hoos Rothberg, the dynamic executive director of the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, to discuss how funders can pay careful heed—not just lip service—to what their grantees need for improving performance. EFCT is deeply admired by its grantees for practicing what they preach about supporting their pursuit of high performance. EFCT has taken a “fewer, deeper, longer” approach that allows them to…

26
Jan
2017

Playing Well with Others

Meetings aren’t usually the stuff of spotlighting. But the twice-yearly confab of Playworks, an organization that promotes safe and healthy play, demonstrated not just what’s possible when a high-performance nonprofit interacts in a high-performance way with high-performance funders. It gave us a glimpse of what it might look like if there were a whole ecosystem of high-performance funders engaging with each other for the benefit of grantees and the families they serve.

20
Dec
2016

Go Fast and Go Far

Our colleague Patty Stonesifer, Martha’s Table’s brilliant CEO, loves to quote this famous African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Last week, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) went public with a bold move that may prove that going fast and going far are not mutually exclusive. EMCF CEO Nancy Roob and Board Chair Larry Clark announced that the foundation is going to…

30
Nov
2016

Preparing for the Unknown

Just prior to celebrating the American Thanksgiving with our families, we experienced the professional version of the holiday when we hosted a convening of the Leap Ambassadors Community in DC. We are deeply grateful that so many of the Leap Ambassadors, thinkers and doers committed to high performance, made the time to come together for relationship- and community-building. And although we certainly didn’t plan it this way, the timing of the event allowed us to work together to start to unpack what the earthquake election in the States means for the people and communities we serve. The first thing we concluded is that…

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