The Johnson Center was the first to offer a national, university-based program for learning the techniques and ethics of grantmaking. Designed and led by leaders in the field, our program helps professionals bridge research, knowledge, and good practice. Courses are available for your whole staff or individuals, and we offer standard curricula as well as customized learning experiences.

Our standard courses are listed below — view our calendar for upcoming courses, or contact us to customize a course for your organization.


Advanced Proposal Analysis

Advanced Proposal Analysis intentionally focuses on the essential skills of proposal review, recommendations, project management, and other core competency areas. We strongly believe that mastering this work is the key to excellence in grantmaking.

Key concepts include:

  • Assessing proposals more efficiently,
  • Spotting financial red flags,
  • Finding and closing any gaps in your due diligence process,
  • Using specialty grants within your organization’s mission,
  • Assuring transparent and ethical behavior,
  • Grantee relationship management, and
  • Capturing the knowledge from grantmaking.

The Advanced Proposal Analysis course is specifically designed for foundation professionals seeking to deepen their knowledge and skills on proposal assessment.

Financial Analysis in Grantmaking

We know that financial issues impact programmatic results. As a part of routine due diligence, many grantmaking organizations conduct a financial review after the programmatic review. We strongly believe only the assigned program officer has the ability to understand fully the context, implications and impact of financial issues upon the success of any grant.

In response, we created Financial Analysis in Grantmaking. This course does not attempt to transform program officers into financial professionals. Instead, our intent is to provide grantmakers with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct a comprehensive and effective analysis of organizational and programmatic financial information to improve funding decisions.

Key concepts include:

  • Creating a culture of comprehensive financial analysis for grantmaking,
  • The relationship of financial condition to effective grantmaking,
  • Fundamentals of grant financial review and analysis,
  • Financial audits and the IRS Form 990,
  • Connecting grant budgets to funded program activities,
  • Process for conducting a financial analysis, and
  • Financial accountability in the post-grant process.

Evaluation for Grantmakers

Evaluation for Grantmakers is an intensive two-day learning experience for individual grantmakers and their foundations.

Philanthropy is evolving quickly, presenting new opportunities and challenges for grantmakers. Effective evaluation at your foundation can help you overcome those challenges with new solutions for your work and that of your grantees. The Grantmaking School’s Evaluation for Grantmakers gives you the opportunity to examine the history, strategy, design, and theory behind the process of evaluation and get equipped with the tools you need to respond to the diverse nature of evaluation in foundations.

Using case studies, small group discussion, and interactive activities, Evaluation for Grantmakers gives grantmakers a unique opportunity for peer-to-peer learning and facilitated discussions led by The Grantmaking School’s expert evaluation instruction team.

Key concepts include:

  • History of evaluation,
  • Evaluation in strategic grantmaking and different types of grants,
  • Articulating program logic with logic models and theory of change frameworks,
  • Evaluation design and determining purpose and approach,
  • Building a dynamic evaluation team, and
  • Managing external evaluation.

Strategy Development in Grantmaking

Strategy Development in Grantmaking is an intensive two-day learning experience designed to help individual grantmakers and their foundations develop or refine a strategic lens to grantmaking and leverage improved program results for deeper impact. By defining strategic philanthropy and reviewing models and tools for strategy development and implementation, resources will be provided to guide and inform your foundation strategy. You and your colleagues will move through a series of individual and group activities and discussions, allowing for both interactive and personal reflection throughout the session.

Key concepts include:

  • Understanding what strategy means within a foundation’s culture and how it applies to your role within the foundation,
  • Defining strategic philanthropy,
  • Utilizing models for strategy development,
  • The role of evaluation and the importance of incorporating continuous learning,
  • Leveraging a foundation’s toolkit to implement strategy,
  • The role of strategic communications in ongoing strategy development,
  • Grantmaker techniques and cautions in providing value and ensuring alignment, and
  • Sustaining outcomes and overcoming obstacles with strategy implementation.