Leveraging Learning Communities to Scale Impact with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

Despite working on common issues and encountering similar challenges, nonprofits often work in isolation.

Strategic support from grantmakers can help nonprofits significantly expand their impact by developing and sharing knowledge in a community of peers. From helping local health clinics become community health centers to serving as the springboard for the first nonprofit association in Massachusetts, learning communities have demonstrated their potential to amplify grantmaker and nonprofit efforts and transform the fields in which they work.

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, a coalition of more than 3,000 members representing over 400 grantmaking organizations committed to building strong and effective nonprofits, selected RCLA to study learning communities as a vehicle to support grantee learning.

The research offers insights into different types of learning communities, their common challenges and their role in helping scale effective practices.

Six case studies offer guidance on designing learning communities for maximum value, establishing a fluid structure that allows the community to evolve, and recognizing and communicating about multiple – and often unexpected – kinds of success.