Learning to Let Go, Decision-making for foundations, a new publication by MAVA

With the last grants approved at the end of 2021, grant-making at MAVA has come to an end. Decision-making is usually put into the corner of governance, which we recognise is one important aspect, but we believe that it is equally important to understand decision-making as a means of increasing impact.

Looking back over 27 years of grant and decision-making in our foundation, we see three distinct phases with changing roles and responsibilities within and between Board and secretariat. With an increasingly pro-active approach and collaborative programme development, we adapted our decision-making process along these phases to allow for credible and dynamic engagement with partners.

‘Learning to Let Go, Decision-making for foundations’, a new MAVA learning publication, sheds light on our three distinct decision-making models over the last decades, the roles of board members and staff as well as the centre of gravity for decision-making. Based on our experience, we provide pros and cons for each of the phases.

There is no single answer to the best decision-making model question. We do however believe that collaborative processes, adaptive management and speed are important factors for increasing impact and that the decision-making process needs to be build for that purpose.

Trust is an important ingredient for letting go power. We hope this new publication inspires our peers to build impactful relationships and projects on trust rather than power.

Download the publication here.


This publication is part of a series of MAVA learning products developed to reflect on and share the foundation’s learnings about institution processes and ways of working at foundation level, including challenges faced in carrying our conservation actions – to inspire donor strategies and best practices.

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