Foundations for knowledge: Sharing knowledge to increase impact

Knowledge is essential to charitable funders. It helps them understand and tackle social issues, decide what to support, and allocate funds effectively. By learning from their work, funders can make better decisions; by sharing what they know, they can widen their influence, and ensure the best approaches are adopted by others.

At a time when financial resources are stretched, it is vital that funders make the most of their knowledge to increase their impact. But at present learning and knowledge-sharing across the charity sector are not working as well as they might.

In Foundations for knowledge NPC suggests how funders could increase their impact in this way. By developing a culture of learning within their own organisations they can learn more through their own grant-making. By sharing their knowledge with other funders, charities and policy-makers, the rest of the sector can benefit from their experience.

Supported by City Bridge Trust and other funders, the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) and NPC are running a simple pilot website to share knowledge between funders. It will contain funder-specific search tools, a Q&A space, and a forum for topical issues. We are convening a group of funders to be part of this pilot—whether contributing resources, ideas or signing up to use the website. Please contact Matt van Poortvliet if you would like to be involved.

 Charitable funders are usually seen in terms of the money that they give out. But effective funders also have considerable intellectual assets — making the most of this knowledge is vital, especially when financial resources are stretched.

Matt van Poortvliet, report author