The Role of Failure in Philanthropic Learning

A Commentary on Chapters 1-3

This commentary by Robert G. Hughes, a Foundation vice president and its chief learning officer, pulls together themes from the three preceding chapters of this issue of the Anthology. Unlike the editors and authors, Hughes does not shy away from using the word "failure." He makes the case that, difficult as it may be, recognizing failure and calling it by its proper name is imperative if foundations are to learn from their program experiences. In Hughes' own words, "Critical and honest examinations of their work will help foundations become more realistic about impact and more effective at fulfilling their contributions to society."