Learning from failure in the nonprofit sector?

Nov 27, 2012 | Category: Events

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science 2012, Tobias Jung hosted a roundtable debate on ’Learning from failure in the nonprofit sector?’ at Cass Business School, City University London on 6th November.

Featuring presentations and commentaries by Peter Wells (Sheffield Hallam University), Andrew Cooper (The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund), Heather Petch (Heather Petch Consulting), and Martin Brookes (former CEO of New Philanthropy Capital), the debate focused on the paradoxical discourse on ’failure’. On the one hand, there is widespread agreement that failure can be an important source of knowledge; on the other hand, in a funding environment that focuses on impact, outcomes and accountability, failure is often conflated with ’fault’ and ’blame’. Consequently, failure is feared and organisations are reluctant to share knowledge on ’what’ and ’why’ something does or did not work, stifling innovation and growth within the sector. Key themes of the debate were the underlying reasons for nonprofits’ reluctance to share failure, the impact of payment by results on the sector and examples of how failure might be used and embraced in a constructive way.

A CGAP Briefing Note summarising the event will be available shortly.


Tobias Jung (CGAP and Cass CCE, Cass Business School)
Learning from failure in the nonprofit sector? (pdf)

Peter Wells (Sheffield Hallam University)
The marketization of funding for the third sector: evidence from the evaluation of Futurebuilders (pdf)

Andrew Cooper (The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund)
Learning from Failure: one foundation's perspective (pdf)

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