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.


Philanthropy 101

Philanthropy 101 provides an introduction to the sector for those new to philanthropy. Using a mix of short lectures, discussions, and experiential exercises, this two-day learning experience will help ground newcomers in the basics of foundations, nonprofits, and grantmaking.

Key concepts include:

  • Overview of the philanthropic sector,
  • Ethics and accountability in philanthropy,
  • Foundation governance and legal issues,
  • Equity as a practice in philanthropy,
  • Grantmaking philosophies and fundamentals,
  • Your role at your foundation, and
  • Implicit bias, power dynamics, and arrogance traps.

Proposal Analysis in Grantmaking

Proposal Analysis in Grantmaking 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 Proposal Analysis in Grantmaking 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.

Strategy and Evaluation in Grantmaking

Strategy and Evaluation in Grantmaking is a robust two-day learning experience designed to help grantmakers develop or refine grantmaking strategy and to develop evaluation approaches that support learning and strategy improvement.

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. Using case studies, small group discussion, and interactive activities, Strategy and Evaluation in Grantmaking 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.

Key concepts include:

  • Models for strategy development,
  • Leveraging a foundation’s toolkit to implement strategy,
  • Evaluation design and determining purpose and approach,
  • Using evaluation to learn about strategy, and
  • Managing external evaluation.