Why Scan? Finding a Strategic Direction + Hearing from Constituencies

Finding a Strategic Direction: Foundations differ dramatically in how, why, and how often they establish new priorities and guidelines. Whatever the circumstances, the quest for a new approach — whether precipitated by a perceived opportunity, a request from the board, the planned sunset of an existing program, or the appointment of a new president — usually starts with a scan.

  • Example: A new program officer at an American foundation with an environmental focus was “tasked with looking at domestic transportation policy as a potential area to work in. It was a very broad mandate,” he explained. An analysis of the funding environment showed that transportation was an area largely abandoned by foundations.

Hearing from Key Constituiencies: Some scans are designed to solicit the views of particular constituencies about what they see as the main priorities for their field or community. That type of scan can also be a chance to gather potential ideas for action and even get feedback on strategies that are under consideration.

  • Example: As part of a scan, an environmental funder hosted three convenings of practitioners, including potential grantees, to share some ideas her foundation had been considering: “It was an attempt to say, does this program idea make any sense, and how could it be improved?” 

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Scanning the Landscape 2.0.