Key Points

· Learning is a key tool for foundations seeking to improve their effectiveness, and they are beginning to use evaluation to learn about and improve their strategies. The Colorado Trust took this a step further and integrated strategic learning into a grant strategy, including supporting learning coaches for 14 of their grantees.

· The strategic learning framework consisted of three steps: systematic data collection, collective interpretation of information, and the use of that interpretation to improve strategies.

· This article reviews four of the cases, including three grantees and the foundation as a case, identifying methods of learning and resulting changes in strategies.

· Effective strategic learning in real time requires a comprehensive approach where each element of a funding strategy is aligned around the concept of learning and putting learning to use.