Leap of Reason Updates Archive


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.


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 …


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…


‘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.”


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…


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…


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.


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…


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…


Bring Back Our Better Angels

For a decade, the two of us have been writing and speaking about seismic shifts that are shaking the foundations of our economy and society–from the breakdown of the social compact between employers and employees to the displacement of workers by new technologies to economic immobility that threatens to turn the American Dream into a mirage. As if these forces weren’t staggering enough, they’ve played out in ways that have…

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