Key Points

Strategic learning is a powerful tool for foundations to achieve greater impact, yet foundations have struggled to create practices and behaviors that effectively support them in learning about strategy. Given that many foundations are engaged in strategic philanthropy, where they have specific conditions in the world they are trying to change, it is critical that they have the capacity to effectively learn about and improve their strategies.

This article offers three principles for strategic learning, informed by the field of strategic learning and insights from practice across three foundations. Each principle is explored in terms of what it means and why it is important, along with examples from how it could look in practice.

By taking a principle-focused approach to strategic learning, this article offers a base from which to build a rigorous practice of strategic learning in any organization and to tailor the specifics of that practice to the organization’s unique context and culture.

Open Access