A wealth of knowledge

Although this blog is bought to you from Nick Gandon’s account it was written by our intern Michael Heighway.

It is great to see the report published in March 2011 by New Philanthropy Capital called Foundations for knowledge which shows that, when used correctly, the combined knowledge of funders can be worth millions. The report explains that by learning from their own work and that of their peers, funders can make better informed decisions. Equally, a fund that shares what it knows can have a wider field of influence, ultimately ensuring that best approaches are adopted by other funders, charities and government.

Aside from enabling better decision making, knowledge-based funding can also eliminate the duplication of staff efforts and avoid the repetition of mistakes. Funding that is the product of well-informed research and knowledge will be able to effect a much wider change.  Better staff expertise will be developed, and the more effective the funding the greater the funders’ satisfaction. Knowledge sharing can only be a good thing.

Initiatives such as this are what the sector needs if it is to make best use of its knowledge and expertise

None of this is rocket science of course but we can only welcome the joining up of what can often be described as a fragmented sector. A pilot website called Knowledge sharing has been developed by the Association of Charitable Foundations and NPC, which provides funders and charities a centralised database of information.

Initiatives such as this are what the sector needs if it is to make best use of its knowledge and expertise. Funds need to have greater transparency, particularly given our culture which demands ‘good news’ stories – a bad news story can be of great use to other funders and charities. It is not good enough just to produce endless evaluative project reports, or indiscriminately upload information onto the internet. Knowledge sharing must be strategic; funds must realise what knowledge they need and how that knowledge can specifically help their funding. They need to find effective ways of showing what they know, and an area of need must be identified which can be addressed through knowledge which in turn will lead to fairer distribution of funds and strategic decision making.

Successful funding is rooted in the application of learning; an effective fund is not only cash-rich, but also intellectually wealthy. Cause4 sees funds as multi-dimensional organisations that have more to offer than simply cash.  It will be great to see the impact and growth of the Knowledge sharing site – let’s see more please funders and perhaps joined up evaluation on the strategic funding decisions that might emerge as a result as learning for Government, funders and charities alike ….

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