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New Grantmakers Institute

NCG's New Grantmakers Institute helps build your understanding of best practices for equitable, ethical, and effective grantmaking and helps you place yourself within the philanthropic ecosystem.


If you're new to philanthropy, or interested in sharpening your skills, the New Grantmakers Institute (NGI): Grantmaking for the 21st Century, helps build your understanding of best practices for ethical and effective grantmaking and helps you place yourself within the ecosystem that you are now a part of.

In this seven-week series of virtual weekly training, participants will get a 101-level introduction to the art and craft of grantmaking. You will have the opportunity to hear directly from seasoned philanthropic leaders and become familiar with the opportunities facing philanthropy today. In addition to top-notch faculty, participants will begin to develop a network of peers as we grapple with what it means to practice effective and equitable grantmaking in the context of ongoing racial injustice, global climate catastrophe, economic turmoil, and social unrest, all amidst the backdrop of a century pandemic. This series of workshops will also guide you towards resources available to support your continued professional development as you get started in the field. 

Asynchronous Learning Circles

As a participant in the New Grantmakers Institute, you have the option of taking part in an asynchronous learning circle. These smaller groups of 4-5 people will meet at least once in between each session to explore the content shared in the NGI sessions more deeply through the lens of your experience and your organization, and to build relationships with others who are beginning their time in philanthropy. After each session, the NGI program staff will send a series of prompts to help you begin your conversations. 


  • Session 1: Introduction to the FieldIn this first session of NGI, participants will receive an orientation to the field of philanthropy, exploring the origins, history, and timeline of the field, the relationship of philanthropic change with social movements, and different types of foundations and grantmaking approaches and trends. Participants will learn how to situate their organization within the philanthropic ecosystem
  • Session 2: The State of the SectorThe State of the Sector  is a panel of seasoned and opinionated (!) experts who will share their experiences of the field of philanthropy today. Members of this panel will reflect on the state of the sector and its evolution over the past several years, as well as how they grapple with equity, humility, accountability, and power dynamics. They will comment on how they see the rest of the field managing the challenges that philanthropy is trying to positively impact, and share where we are living up to the intentions we set for ourselves, and where we still have some growing to do.  The content of this conversation, given our current reality, will be set against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social uprisings associated with the pervasive injustice of racism in our country. 
  • Session 3: Your Roles in Developing Equitable Relationships with Grantee Partners In this session we’ll explore how to develop authentic and generative relationships with grantee partners, working to disrupt embedded power dynamics and practices, in the context of grant sourcing, proposals, and reporting. We’ll also explore what a matchmaker and talent scout have in common, or a strategist and an administrator. In other words, we’ll think about the different roles we all can play in the philanthropic process, including how those roles translate into effective and equitable relationships with grantee partners. 
  • Session 4: Full Cost, Equity, and Impact | Across the nation, there has been an increased focus on supporting equity, inclusive economies, and opportunity for all.  For grantmakers that means moving beyond outdated fundraising practices that focus solely on programs, neglect investments in infrastructure, and undermine scale.  When funding doesn't cover the full cost of doing business, nonprofits close the gap through sweat equity – they overwork and underpay their people. Staff are asked to deliver on a wide range of funder, government, and board expectations while using outdated computer systems, with poor internet service and leaking offices. Aiming for "opportunity for all" through exploiting the employees of nonprofits is no path to success. Supporting equity and economic opportunity is not just about what you fund but how you fund. By better understanding what it really costs your grantees to deliver on mission, grantmakers can better leverage their resources to support a more just, equitable, and sustainable society. 
  • Session 5: The Art of Advocacy: Philanthropy's Role in Public PolicyPhilanthropy operates within a complex, interconnected civic landscape—working alongside business, government, nonprofit institutions, and academia. These other sectors can seem foreign to many of us, none more so than government entities, most of whom spend more money on any given issue than all of philanthropy combined. Public policy, politics, and advocacy have simultaneously earned a bleak image of ineffectiveness and corruption, or a comedic cynical view of government. Reality, however, paints a vastly different picture. Through this interactive session, learn the rules of engagement for effectively moving your foundations’ agenda forward. We will explore the fundamentals of advocacy and its critical function in advancing the goals of philanthropy in public policy through a discussion of the importance of public policy, communicating your policy preferences, and collaborating with government. 
    • We will also connect the work of philanthropy within the larger civic landscape, and the transformation that can occur when we connect our work as grantmakers, relationship builders, and responsible brokers of social influence to the power, urgency, challenge, and opportunity that comes from working in the wider civic context.
  • Session 6: Navigating Your Journey in PhilanthropyIn this session, you will hear from two individuals who have both been in the field for 15+ years, and who met at the beginning of their journeys in philanthropy. They both began in junior positions and have advanced to some of the most senior roles in their foundations. They will share stories and lessons that have shaped their careers, and reflect on what they feel has made it possible for them to be successful in philanthropy.
  • Session 7: Meet the Community LeadersIn this session, we'll bring all of our learning together, hearing from nonprofit leaders about their most successful relationships with funder partners. Moderated by Shaady Salehi of the Trust-Based Philanthropy project, three nonprofit leaders will share their best (and worst) stories as they've worked to create financial sustainability within their organizations while advancing towards their missions as well. We'll hear what it means to go beyond the grant, and what behaviors funders can practice that most support their grantee partners to achieve their goals. 


Kate Seely Headshot

Kate Seely, Senior Director of Leadership, Culture, and Community, Northern California Grantmakers

For more information about NCG"s New Grantmakers Institute contact: