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What's New? Blog

Welcome to GEO's forum to contribute to conversations on learning and evaluation surrounding The Learning Conference 2011, held in Baltimore in June. We will use this blog to share information, insights and ideas from members of the GEO community. We are so pleased that many of you were able to join us in Baltimore to participate in this important dialogue. Even if you did not attend the conference, we still encourage you to read and comment on the blog posts below.

Looking to GEO 2012: What’s on Your Mind?
on June 14, 2011
Sidney Hargro, Executive Director, Community Foundation of South Jersey; and Chair of the Planning Committee for GEO's 2012 National Conference


Of the 420 tweets sent out regarding The Learning Conference 2011 this week (using hashtag #2011GEO), 37 tweets came after the close of the conference which was held June 6 - 7 in Baltimore, MD. As the graphic shows, 10 of the tweets came one full day after the event during the 10 a.m. hour alone. As the chair of GEO's 2012 National Conference planning committee, I am left to wonder, "What did I miss?" What were the topics that compelled these tweeting attendees to continue their engagement online several days after the event?
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A Growing Appetite for Learning about Learning
on June 10, 2011
Posted by Guest Blogger Jessica Bearman, Bearman Consulting

As part of the team working to develop LearnPhilanthropy* — an emerging field-wide hub for grantmaker learning — I’m partial to the topic of learning in philanthropy. GEO’s conference was all about learning, so I wasn’t sure there’d be appetite for yet another conversation once sessions were over and conference go-ers could escape out to Baltimore’s harbor for a little fresh air. So, I was happily surprised when my roundtable (focused on… um… learning) was joined by eight enthusiastic grantmakers, all eager to talk about how they were building learning into their foundations, and the challenges of making it stick.
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Changemakers for Organizational Effectiveness?
on June 08, 2011
Posted by Bob Hughes from The Patterson Foundation, a member of GEO's Learning Conference Planning Committee

I'm on the train home after an energizing conference — trying to practice what we talked about: reflecting and synthesizing the experience. It's challenging to pull out only a few ideas and connect them, given the many stimulating sessions and hallway conversations. As I think about the meeting, the idea that sticks in my mind the most comes from a remark Eugene Eric Kim made in his thought-provoking opening session talk on collective intelligence: "I don't think of you (in philanthropy) as grantmakers, but as changemakers." That was nice to hear — and different.
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Thank you and safe travels!
on June 07, 2011

Thank you to the more than 200 members of the GEO community that participated in The Learning Conference 2011. Conference attendees came from all over the U.S., parts of Canada and even Switzerland and South Africa to talk about evaluation and learning for improvement. Thank you also to our amazing partner, the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, for their dedication to making this event a great experience for all attendees.

We hope you all enjoyed the conference sessions and will stay tuned to the blog and twitter (hashtag #2011GEO) to be part of the continuing conversations. You can also share your conference updates and comments by e-mailing photos, questions, comments or material for blog posts to Danielle Yates at yates@geofunders.org.

During the closing plenary session Kathleen Enright mentioned our new learning publication wiki and we hope you will weigh in. Because obtaining insights and resources from peers can help empower grantmakers and partners to improve practices, GEO’s upcoming learning publication will feature the deep learning and evaluation knowledge of folks from the GEO community. On the wiki we are hosting discussions, developing ideas and collecting resources for how grantmakers can build effective infrastructure and systems for learning and manage data and metrics needs.

You can find all session-related and speaker resources by visiting the resource section of this site. We have most of the speaker handouts and presentations already posted and are aiming to make the rest available within the week.

We are very interested in hearing from you! Please take a moment to fill out our online conference evaluation to share your feedback on the conference sessions and content. Your feedback helps us to continue to provide innovative programs and to improve our content offerings at future convenings.

We hope you will check out our other upcoming events and plan to join us in San Francisco in October for Growing Social Impact in a Networked World: A Grantmakers' Gathering on Networks and in Seattle in March 2012 for GEO's National Conference.

Thank you!
The Challenge and Potential of Transparency
on June 07, 2011
Posted by David C. Colby, Vice-President, Research and Evaluation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Eugene Eric Kim of Blue Oxen Associates (follow him on twitter @eekim) opened the 2011 GEO Learning Conference telling us that problems are quickly becoming more complex than we are able to handle. The input, expertise, and synthesis required to adequately address problems is quickly becoming more than one individual—or even a small group of individuals—can manage. No one person, no one group has the expertise in all areas needed to solve many of today’s multi-faceted, complex problems. Kim argued that we must collectively become smarter. Solutions must come from all areas, and a large number of people need to participate in them. Complex problems must involve collective intelligence. We must draw on the wisdom of crowds to solve these problems we address.
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Join the (Online) Conversation
on June 02, 2011

Do you want to be part of the conversations and contribute to learning beyond The Learning Conference 2011? We encourage you to join the GEO community on Facebook, Twitter (use #2011GEO, the official twitter hashtag) or The Learning Conference Blog to share your questions and comments about learning and evaluation.

GEO has assembled a conference social media team comprised of experts from across the philanthropic sector to contribute to the online discussions and share their observations and insights from the conference with the entire GEO community. GEO's social media team will be posting live updates throughout the conference and highlights will also be shared through GEO's Web site afterwards.

Special thanks to the following members of the conference social media team for their contributions:

  Jessica Bearman, Bearman Consulting
  Beth Bruner, Bruner Foundation
  David Colby, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  Roberto Cremonini, Cremonini Consulting Network
  Marilyn Darling, Signet Research & Consulting
  Adam Donaldson and Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers
  Peter Laugharn, Firelight Foundation
  Molly Martin, Lumina Foundation for Education
  Hallie Preskill, FSG
  Cindy Rizzo, Arcus Foundation
  Albert Ruesga, Greater New Orleans Foundation
  Susan Zepeda, Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky

Share your stories

Share your conference experience with the GEO community by participating in a short Flip Video interview — visit our video booth on-site, next to the registration desk. Attendees can also share their updates from the conference by e-mailing photos, video clips, comments or blog posts to Danielle Yates at yates@geofunders.org.
Was this our Win? What We Know and Don’t Know About Success
on June 02, 2011
Posted by Cindy Rizzo, Senior Director, Grantmaking & Evaluation, Arcus Foundation

In 1993, a new law was enacted that no longer required the US military to ask its servicemembers if they were gay or lesbian. Known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the law instead forbade open service by these men and women, effectively preserving an outright ban, and forced soldiers, sailors and marines to serve in silence. Many did, and when their sexual orientation would become known to others — through a variety of circumstances — they were discharged.
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Learning is Only as Good as the Action
on June 01, 2011
Posted by Guest Bloggers Johanna Morariu, Ehren Reed, and Veena Pankaj, Senior Associates, Innovation Network

Innovation Network is excited to partner with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and to facilitate the closing plenary of The Learning Conference 2011!

Innovation Network is a nonprofit evaluation, research, and consulting firm. We provide knowledge and expertise to help nonprofits and funders learn from their work to improve their results. Note that our mission statement doesn’t end after “learn from their work.” It goes on to say “to improve their results” — that part, we would argue, is even more important!
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Welcome to Baltimore! Where Collaborative Philanthropy is Part of the “Charm”
on May 31, 2011
Posted by Guest Blogger Betsy Nelson, President, Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers

The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers (ABAG) is excited to partner with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and to help bring The Learning Conference 2011 to Baltimore!

A membership organization of 135 foundations, donor advised funds, and corporate giving programs, the mission of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is to maximize the impact of philanthropic giving on community life through a growing network of diverse, informed and effective grantmakers.

And, we are pleased to welcome all of you to our city.
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Humility and Real-Time Learning
on May 26, 2011
Posted by Marilyn Darling, Founding Partner, Signet Research & Consulting

My cappuccino machine keeps me humble. I proclaim that I make the "world's best coffee," but me and my machine know better. I have one of those all manual machines. All it does is heat up the water. The rest is up to me. That means there are lots of moving parts and lots of variables to consider: How fresh are the espresso beans? How much moisture is there in the air? In the beans? How hot is the cappuccino maker? Given all of that, how finely should I grind the beans? How many ground beans should I put in the filter? How much should I tamp down the beans? How hard should I press the water through the filter?
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