Episode 108: Celebrating Failure to Create Social Impact

August 1, 2019 Blackbaud, Inc.

What’s the last thing you failed at? What did you learn from it? How you think about failure in the context of learning can make a big difference in future performance – both personally and as an organization.

Today’s guest is Kate Robinson, executive director of the film Failing Forward: On the Road to Social Impact. Kate talked to host Steve MacLaughlin about how nonprofits and social good organizations can use failure to make a bigger impact. Listen to the episode to hear what Kate Robinson has to say about learning culture, the questions that organizations should be asking to improve programs, and what role funders play in the process of failure and learning.

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • The purpose of Kate’s documentary, Failing Forward: On the Road to Social Impact
  • The characteristics of a learning culture
  • The pressure on nonprofits to appear effective
  • Using data as a tool to learn and drive decision making
  • Questions that organizations should ask to learn and improve programs
  • Overcoming resistance within organizations to “failing fast”
  • The dangers of not having a learning culture open to failure
  • The role of funders in adjusting perspectives to make learning from failure a bigger part of the equation
  • Building trust between funders and grantees to allow for more transparency 


Kate Robinson

Failing Forward


“I really set out to find an organization that I could use to kind of illustrate learning culture.” –Kate Robinson

“A learning culture puts learning as a very key priority for the organization.” –Kate Robinson

“To funders, I would say even if you think you’re being very extensive in your offer to hear what’s not working or hear the learning, I would say go even a step further” –Kate Robinson

Previous Article
Episode 109: The Finance Team’s Role in a Connected Office
Episode 109: The Finance Team’s Role in a Connected Office

An organization’s finance team is often one of the biggest overlooked strategic assets. However, in a conne...

Next Article
Episode 107: The State of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
Episode 107: The State of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising continues to be an increasingly important part of the fundraising strategy for non...

The 2018 Charitable Giving Report is Out!

Get your copy