Finding & Flipping Orthodoxies

The Monitor Institute's What's Next for Community Philanthropy initiative aims to engage the field in thinking about the future of the community foundation model in a way that builds on past successes and explores new approaches for serving your communities moving forward. As part of the initiative, we are developing a set of tools-to be released early next year-that will help community foundations challenge traditional assumptions and think creatively about both what your organizations do and how you do it. To stay posted on the initiative as it progresses, please make sure to sign up for our mailing list here, if you haven't already.

In the meantime however, we are sharing the first of the tools we have developed for the project: an exercise we call FINDING AND FLIPPING ORTHODOXIES.

ORTHODOXIES are deeply held beliefs about "how things are done," that may or may not still be true, but that often go unstated and unchallenged and can become blind spots over time. Every organization and every industry has orthodoxies, including-and maybe especially-community foundations.

The materials included here are all of the elements you need to run a thought-provoking exercise on FINDING AND FLIPPING ORTHODOXIES with your community foundation's board or staff that will help challenge some of the unspoken assumptions about how you do your work.

The materials include:

  • A short introductory video that can be played for your board or staff to introduce the idea of and practice of challenging orthodoxies, or a brief deck of presentation slides that you can use if you want to do the introduction yourself.
  • The master file for a deck of cards focused on the orthodoxies of community foundations. Print the file onto cardstock and cut the cards to make a deck for yourself.
  • A simple template that can be used to help a group of people walk through what it would look like to flip an orthodoxy that you've identified.

NOTE: If you use the orthodoxy cards at your community foundation, we would like to know. We're trying to document how people use the tool so we can refine and improve it over time. Please e-mail any feedback about your experience to us at

And if you want to learn more about orthodoxies, you can find additional information in this article written by our colleagues from Doblin.



To learn more about the initiative you can watch Gabriel Kasper's recent speech at the Council on Foundations 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations.