Impact Group Communities of Practice

Grantmakers for Education will offer three types of impact groups. These communities of practice encourage funders with common interests to learn and work together towards a specific impact on the field among its members with a variety of tools. Each community represents a different level of commitment from its members in terms of time and resources.

  • Virtual Learning Community
  • In-Person Learning Community
  • Capacity and Field-Building Community


Virtual Learning Community

In-Person Learning Community

Field-Building Community

Commitment Level




Cost Beyond Dues

None or Low




Virtual Learning Community

The virtual learning community is area of practice that aims to build knowledge and identify effective practices through peer learning among funders united by a common interest area, with a focus on virtual learning opportunities. A virtual learning community provides an opportunity for funders with limited time or resources to participate in collaborative learning that can strengthen your work, leading to insights and outcomes not possible on your own. An impact group based on the virtual learning community model may host calls with topic-area experts, produce webinars featuring a colleague’s initiative, host a discussion group on recent research, or provide other virtual learning experiences for the benefit of the group or the GFE membership at large.

Example: Impact group hosts quarterly or monthly web-based learning sessions. At each session, a different impact group member presents a sub-topic, invites an expert to reflect on progress and challenges in the field, and engages participants in live Q&A.

In-Person Learning Community

The in-person learning community is area of practice that aims to build knowledge and identify effective practices through peer learning among funders united by a common interest area, with a focus on in-person learning.  An in-person learning community provides an opportunity for funders with more time or resources to produce live collaborative learning opportunities for themselves and the GFE membership that can deepen knowledge and build relationships. An impact group based on the in-person learning community model may host site visits, learning series, conference presentations, networking gatherings, hands-on workshops or other opportunities for GFE members to learn and connect in a dynamic environment. In-person activities may be followed up with written products to reinforce and share learning outcomes.

Example: Impact group organizes a multi-city study tour. In each city, a group of members meet with district and state officials, local postsecondary institutions, legislators and students. The group analyzes the constraints and opportunities offered by the different contexts and seeks best practices that apply to the communities.

Capacity and Field-Building Community

The capacity and field-building community is an area of practice that aims to create resources and/or opportunities to advance the operations and strategy of the education grantmaking field or specific topic areas in the field. The impact group may publish resources, toolkits and other materials to foster best practices, expand research and investigate theories, and/or to explore opportunities for collaborative initiatives and pooled funding, and where appropriate, coordinate and advance those opportunities among the membership. Of the three learning communities, the capacity and field-building community represents members with the largest contribution of time or resources, which also enables the community to produce outcomes designed to have deep, broad and/or long-term impact on the field.

Example: Impact group identifies a sub-topic within their interest area that is in need of research to advance better philanthropy. Group pools funds to hire a researcher to analyze the state of the field and produce a research report. The resulting report is published and released with a robust communications strategy including a featured presentation at the GFE conference.

By delineating different types of impact groups, our intent is to drive a more concrete conversation about group goals and the support needed to reach those goals. Some impact groups may span more than one type.

Expectations for Participation

Impact groups are responsible for designing an annual work plan and learning agenda for the community, ensuring implementation of high quality activities, and interacting with GFE’s leadership to coordinate activities across the community or the GFE membership. Each community member is expected to:

  1. Participate in quarterly virtual planning meetings and other planning or strategy meetings as needed to ensure implementation of the work plan.
  2. Whenever possible, attend the activities hosted by the group and attend the GFE conference.
  3. Help guide the design, planning and implementation of the impact group annual work plan and learning agenda, within a community of practice. As appropriate, integrate impact group opportunities into ongoing GFE activities.
  4. Act as an ambassador and help identify and/or recruit new members for the impact group.
  5. Provide financial resources if possible and/or help to identify potential funding resources to support goals and work plan.

GFE Support of Impact Groups

Grantmakers for Education will provide a variety of services and support for each group. Basic support is included as a benefit of GFE membership. We will work with groups to assess costs in advance.

See this chart for details.

FAQs and Examples of Time & Funding Commitments