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CE Is Launching a Pilot Training Program for Grantmaking Foundations

CE training program  for grantmaking foundations

CE is building and running a foundation program, and we are keen to connect with foundations who might be a good fit to attend.

Why a program for foundations?

Starting and running a family foundation or other grantmaking organization is challenging. Decisions are often high-stakes with significant uncertainties. Few resources teach how to run an evidence-based and highly effective foundation.

Over the past 4 years, at CE, we have helped launch 18 new nonprofits, several of which are on track to becoming field leaders in their respective areas (e.g., recommended by GiveWell). An unpredicted learning from this work is that our content, approach, and handbook have been useful to a number of foundations and grantmakers. They have improved their prioritization, decision-making, their clarity of mission and, ultimately, their impact (particularly in the early stages of setting up a foundation or granting department).

With this in mind, we incubated 1 grantmaking foundation in 2021, which proved successful. This, combined with the number of interested foundations, has led us to launch a grantmaking-foundation-focused program specifically for 2 to 6 foundations in 2022.

The Purpose

The goal of the program is to help you take your grantmaking foundation from just starting out to an established field leader in its respective area.

The How

Leveraging our experience, this month-long intensive bootcamp will focus on building solid frameworks for making key decisions when the stakes are high and more information is needed. We will look at:

  • How to have an impact across a number of cause areas

  • How to distinguish between high- and low-quality research and experts

  • Cost-effectiveness analysis

  • How to compare cause areas, interventions, and people

  • Hiring early-stage staff

  • How to evaluate the opportunity cost of funding

  • How to coordinate with other funders

  • How to evaluate early-stage projects (one of our particular areas of expertise)

We will favor broad heuristics and general rules over techniques specific to a cause area or single value set. We will share tools, frameworks, and examples, but we are not the arbitrators of a foundation’s values.

The learning will be active and practical with highly applied assignments, discussions, introductions to experts, and 1 to 1 coaching (backed up by video-based and written materials, readings, and podcasts).

Who might be a good fit for this program?

Given our historical focus and expertise is on early-stage organizations, our content and program will be best suited for grantmaking foundations either just starting out or undergoing a large-scale pivot.

We will aim for a pool of foundations that share some common cause-area interests, would be in a position to fill a key gap in the philanthropic ecosystem, and would benefit from high level interaction with each other. The program will be best fit for the founder of the foundation or the first program officer, although it might also fit new department leads or the champions of an interorganizational pivot. CE has already been approached by foundations interested in a structured and dedicated program, so we encourage you to contact us in the next few weeks if this is something you might fit with. We are still developing the details of the program (e.g. the month it will run) and initial conversations with foundations will affect the program as it builds on the needs of the attendees. The free program is open to foundations from around the globe and will run online.

Output of the program

A coordinated, talented group of foundations that have a sense of how to measure impact and create a particularly large amount of impact per dollar, as well as share opportunities and vet new ideas to a high standard.

If you are interested in speaking about this program and if it might be a good fit for you or someone you know, contact

P.S. Please note that the foundation program is for grantmaking organizations only (i.e., an organization distributing donations). If you intend to start a nonprofit organization, please apply for our charity Incubation Program.


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