About This Resource Guide

The complex problems facing society today are deeply embedded in a web of intractable issues, fragmented relationships, and unpredictable events. To create lasting and effective change, we need to impact the bigger picture at the systems level.

We call grantmaking that analyzes and influences systems and learns about systems change, “systems grantmaking.” This is not a new type of grantmaking. It is a way of thinking about and approaching the grantmaking philanthropists already do.  

The Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide will help you unpack a systems approach so you can apply it to your work and, in doing so, break through obstacles, craft new habits and change your processes to successfully transform systems.

This guide provides a selection of the most used and relevant systems assessment tools, frameworks, and processes for grantmakers and the social sector. It includes guidance on how and when to use these tools as well as examples of how they have been applied in the field. In addition, there is an introduction to systems grantmaking and a systems mindset. We recommend you start by taking the Systems Change Self-Assessment or reading more about Systems Grantmaking.

As you explore these resources in the field, we invite you to share your experience with us.

We are excited to share this resource guide, which consolidates and describes a set of tools, frameworks and processes that analyze and make sense of systems.

Like many funders and nonprofits, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation is continually evolving as we explore new ways to make lasting and effective contributions in the areas we care about most: improving the lives of children, enabling the creative pursuit of science, advancing reproductive health and conserving and restoring the earth’s natural systems. Thinking big is part of how we do our work, and so systems thinking is an important part of our approach.

Read the full invitation from Jamaica Maxwell, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

This Guide Was Co-Created By:

Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

We are diverse community of more than 500 grantmakers working to reshape the way philanthropy operates. We are committed to advancing smarter grantmaking practices that enable nonprofits to grow stronger and more effective at achieving better results. The GEO community provides grantmakers with the resources and connections to build knowledge and improve practice in areas that have proven most critical to nonprofit success. We help grantmakers strengthen relationships with grantees, support nonprofit resilience, use learning for improvement and collaborate for greater impact. For more information and resources for grantmakers, visit www.geofunders.org.

Management Assistance Group

We co-create the capacities and conditions needed to share resources and power within and across systems in just ways. We provide consulting, coaching, and research services; run innovation labs; and facilitate movement networks and cross-sector systems change initiatives – addressing structures, strategies, hearts and minds. We have worked with over 1,500 networks, grantmakers, nonprofit organizations and other social sector actors to bring about a vision where everyone has the opportunity to realize their potential, live life fully and sustain a healthy planet. To learn more, visit www.managementassistance.org.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation

The Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide was produced with funding provided by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.packard.org.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to creating this guide! Contact us if you have questions.

This publication is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial 4.0 International License. To obtain permission for additional uses not covered in this license, please contact GEO at 202.898.1840 or info@geofunders.org