Essential Skills and Strategies for Grantmakers

Essential Skills & Strategies (ESS) for New Grantmakers is a comprehensive educational program to help familiarize new and up-and-coming grantmakers to the foundation world and the field of philanthropy. Designed by experts in the philanthropic sector, ESS is the field’s standardized orientation for grantmakers. The sessions are designed to provide new grantmakers with the knowledge, insight, skills, and tools to be effective in their work. ESS has been endorsed by philanthropic groups and foundations staff around the country.

The ESS curriculum was developed by a volunteer leadership team that included representatives from the Council on Foundations (Council), the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (Forum), the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF), and Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania (GWP). Development of the ESS curriculum was supported by Council on Foundations grants from The Lumina Foundation for Education and the Ford Foundation.

ESS is meant to be used by:

  • Sponsoring organizations—grantmaking foundations and philanthropic infrastructure organizations, such as affinity groups, regional associations of grantmakers, nonprofit research and education organizations.
  • Faculty—experts and seasoned professionals in the field can use the information and resources on this website to present and teach the material to participants.
  • Participants—grantmaking staff, board members, and trustees who have up to two years of experience at a community, corporate, family, public, operating, independent foundation or giving program.

For-profit organizations and consulting practices are not eligible to use the curriculum.

See who developed the program.