Generating ideas, connections, and action

2014 Funders & Evaluators Circle

Funders and Evaluator Meeting

LLC has a rich history of innovation, collaboration and working across silos.  From the very start, LLC, recognized a need for a different type of leadership to make progress on pressing social challenges.  The research, convenings, collaborative learning, scans & analysis represented the breadth of the resources LLC has provided to help organizations move to a new understanding of leadership – one that is more inclusive, networked and collective.


To support new models for leadership development, LLC hosts two signature events every year.  Creating Space, hosted in May, engages practitioners, funders, researchers and others passionate about leadership development for social change.  This year’s theme, Tools for Transformation: Supporting Inclusive, Networked and Collective Leadership, highlighted innovations in the field and sparked connections that have evolved into Communities of Practice, which will be the foundation for developing modules for network leadership.  The other group that came out of Creating Space formed a Community of Practice for Racial Equity Leadership.  Stay tuned for more on the Communities of Practice!

LLC’s other signature event, the Funders & Evaluators Circle, was launched nearly 12 years ago as a way to engage the philanthropic community in collaborative learning and addressing questions related to investing in leadership.  The Funders & Evaluators Circle has been hosted by philanthropic partnerships over the years including the The California Endowment, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Archibald Bush the the Northwest Area Foundation, Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.


In the early years, the Circle brought together only funders.  But as these individuals came together, questions about how to assess the return on investment began to arise; the evaluation field was quickly engaged as a way to strengthen the partnership between funders and evaluators around the critical questions for the field. .  The balance of funders and evaluators is critical to this meeting, as perspectives from both fields inform one another, where each holds a particular experience and knowledge that is important to the bigger picture: how to effectively invest in leadership strategies that are contributing to large scale change.   This innovative format aligns directly with LLC’s mission to promote a more inclusive, networked and collective understanding of leadership.

Both the philanthropic and evaluation communities are leaders in this work and are engaged to identify cutting edge ideas for leadership development that has a direct result and impact on their grantees – and the communities they serve.  Thought leaders in philanthropy who are grappling with questions to be addressed during the 1 ½ day Learning Lab, as well as evaluation experts and researchers who   gather and make meaning of evaluation data and evidence, are well positioned to provide strong thought and practical leadership to the field.  LLC understands that leadership is multidimensional and is intentionally bringing together those who invest in and evaluate leadership development to harvest learning and experiences that will advance the way leadership development is invested in and evaluated in the long term.

To prepare for this Learning Lab, LLC will be interviewing funders and evaluators to gather information including:

·       Strategies for investing in leadership and capacity building

·       Understanding the intended results or desired goals of their investments

·       Identifying leadership strategies that are most promising for catalyzing place-based and systems level change that lead to population level impact

·       How to strengthen strategies for assessing and documenting place based change and the contribution that leadership investments have made to that change

The interviews, along with relevant research from the field, will be distilled into a white paper to be distributed to participants in advance of the Learning Lab.  The paper will be an anchor for the Lab, and will be expanded to include the findings of the meeting, as well as follow up survey responses.  The intended result will be a publication – web based and potentially in print – that will serve as a resource guide for investments in leadership and evaluation of leadership development strategies.  Further, it will support the infrastructure of the larger field of leadership development as it will make recommendations for incorporating lessons about high impact leadership strategies and effective evaluation approaches into the leadership development grant making and evaluation work.  Participants will become champions for high impact leadership development by sharing and promoting models that have demonstrated significant results through conference presentations, webinars and journal/digest articles.  Our hope is that participants will become advocates for the use of leadership evaluation frameworks and strategies that are focused on achieving collective impact and that funders and practitioners to tell a more compelling story about the impact of their leadership development efforts.