Case Study: McKnight Foundation

Enhancing Philanthropic Impact: Internal Transformation

Breaking down silos within conventional philanthropic practices.

Services: Research

Philanthropies play a crucial role in addressing society’s most pressing issues by supporting and partnering with grantees. However, to ensure effective support, organizations often need to assess their internal systems. The McKnight Foundation, a family foundation based in Minneapolis, MN, is committed to fostering a more just, creative, and abundant future. To align strategy and operations within McKnight’s programs, they established a Program Integration function to enhance alignment across programs and foster better communication within the foundation.

The McKnight Foundation partnered with Seiche to explore innovative approaches to breaking down silos within conventional philanthropic practices. This partnership supported the Director of Program Integration in developing the systems, processes, roles and responsibilities for alignment across programs.

What We Did

We helped the McKnight Foundation establish a successful program integration function.

Identifying Opportunities

We held conversations with people holding similar roles at other philanthropies and learned that many were wrestling with similar questions and challenges. Some suggested starting a learning community to explore these questions together. We shared this with McKnight, who decided to convene interested stakeholders for ongoing learning, connection and discussion.

Facilitating Peer Learning

McKnight asked Seiche to design and facilitate a Program Integration Learning Community. This initiative brought together practitioners from diverse backgrounds who held both formal and informal roles aligning strategy and operations within philanthropic institutions. The Program Integration Learning Community provided peer learning and support, providing connection and community for individuals who more often focus on weaving connections that support their peers.

A Long Term Relationship

McKnight was able to build on the experiences of their peers and their own team to evolve their program integration function, strengthening program alignment and outcomes.

  • Seiche also partnered with McKnight Foundation to support their Climate Team through program team and strategy transitions, develop long-term signals of progress and a data index, and engage communities in the clean energy transition in Minnesota.

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