Introduction to Systems Change for Philanthropists

Introduction to Systems Change for Philanthropists

Be part of a collective effort to shift the funding paradigm! This is a facilitated 6-session journey for philanthropists and funding organizations who wish to deep dive into principles and practices to advance a systems change approach to funding.

The 2024 edition of this course has now ended. Stay updated on the next edition of this course by signing up to our Newsletter.


About the learning journey

Social entrepreneurs’ most impactful endeavors—the ones that address systemic issues—are often the least financially supported. This poses a critical dilemma for our collective efforts to tackle systemic problems. Simultaneously, it represents a substantial opportunity for funders to exponentially increase the efficacy of their contributions by enabling social entrepreneurs to engage in this transformative work. 

Through this journey, you will connect with a community of funders to share opportunities and challenges, you will deep dive into systems change learnings from the world’s most innovative social entrepreneurs, and navigate Ashoka’s funding opportunities with Marie Ringler, Member of Ashoka Global Leadership Group. 

Why a journey for Philanthropists? 

The potential for funders to champion the evolution towards a sector focused on systemic change is exceptionally compelling. Given their influential position, any new principles and practices embraced and promoted by funders wield substantial influence throughout the broader sector. This influence carries with it a responsibility to continuously explore strategies with the greatest potential for social impact. When funders undergo a shift, the impact is nothing short of transformational, unlocking the vast potential for more organizations to engage in this impactful work.

Learning objectives:

  • Gain insights from Ashoka's extensive research and experience on shifting funding strategies towards a more systemic approach, deep diving into concrete tools and frameworks to shift from funding traditional projects to longer-term strategies and missions. 
  • Be guided to work on a concrete strategy to apply to your funding practices.
  • Share successful experiences and learning opportunities with a community of peer funders. 
  • Meet some of the world’s most innovative social entrepreneurs and get inspired by their experience. 

Who this is for

This journey is for Philanthropists, Leaders of Foundations, High-Networth Individuals, and Leaders who run corporate philanthropy and CSR initiatives, and who wish to explore, expand, or champion a systems-change approach to social change. 

Registrations are now closed. Stay updated on the next edition of this course by signing up to our Newsletter.


Practical information


  • 6 live sessions to deep dive into experiences, opportunities, and challenges for funders to engage in funding systems change.
  • The first session is a workshop designed for funders only to start exploring the funding systems change framework. 
  • The following four live sessions will be open to other social entrepreneurs and changemakers and are designed for participants to build their systems change strategy. 
  • The last session is a closing workshop for the community of funders only, to share insights, learnings, and the next steps in their funding practices.
  • Bonus Session with Marie Ringler, Member of Ashoka Leadership Group. 
  • Extra videos and additional resources on systems change available. 


  • Introductory Funders Workshop: April 15th, 2024 | 15:30-17:30 CET 
  • 4 weekly sessions to design your Systems Change Strategy (also open to social entrepreneurs and other changemakers): April 16th, 23rd, 30th, and May 7th, 2024 | 16:00-17:30 CET 
  • Closing Funders workshop: May 13th, 2024 | 15:30-17:30 CET + Bonus session with Marie Ringler, Member of Ashoka Global Leadership Group: May 14th, 2024 | 17:30-18:30 CET 


This series intends to create a community of learning and practice. When registrations are open again, we encourage you to register if you can join all sessions.  


Introductory Workshop

April 15th, 2024 | 15.30 - 17.30 CET 

In this 2-hour workshop, all participating philanthropists will get to know each other, reflect on the framework of funding systems change and the individual challenges and opportunities as funders, and hear about successful experiences. 

Participants are invited to choose on which challenge they will work during the next four modules around Systems Change strategy: 

Module 1 - What Systems Change is and Why it Matters

April 16th, 2024 | 16:00-17:30 CET / 10:00-11:30 am ET

In this session, participants explore the key concepts of systems change and how they link together in Ashoka’s methodology. They learn about insights and challenges of working at a systemic level from the experience of a leading systems change practitioner.

Module 2 - Introduction to Systems Change Strategy Frameworks

April 23rd, 2024 | 16:00-17:30 CET / 10:00-11:30 am ET

In this module, we share and explore concrete tools that can be used to develop a systems change strategy to achieve greater, equitable, and longer-lasting impact. Participants will learn from an expert systems changer how these frameworks supported the gaining of a deeper understanding of the problem and system of focus and the development of a clear action plan.

Module 3 - Collaboration and Leadership for Systems Change

April 30th, 2024 | 16:00-17:30 CET / 10:00-11:30 am ET

This session will focus on the key ingredients for effective collaboration for systems change as well as essential qualities for Systems Change Leaders that are particularly powerful for enabling collaboration. In conversation with a leading systems changer, participants will reflect on the importance of acknowledging existing systems of oppression while doing systems change work and the leadership challenges that come with it.

Module 4 - How to Measure and Fund Systems Change

May 7th, 2024 | 16:00-17:30 CET / 10:00-11:30 am ET

In this session, we address two important topics in the context of systemic work: funding and how to evaluate it. We will look at why funding systemic initiatives is particularly difficult and some potential solutions. We will explore how impact measurement in the context of systemic initiatives takes a rather different and actually simpler shape than measuring direct impact. Participants will also hear insights and challenges connected to funding and measurement directly from an experienced systems changer.

Closing Workshop

May 13th, 2024 | 15:30-17:30 CET 

In this closing workshop of 2hr, all participating philanthropists share insights, learnings, and their next steps toward more systemic funding practices. 

In the last hour of this session, participants will meet Ashoka Leadership Group Member, Marie Ringler, to explore the funding opportunities Ashoka offers and start designing strategic partnerships. 

Support our work

Our learning journeys are offered to participants for free thanks to the generosity of our community. Please, consider donating to support this learning journey and help us develop new content accessible to more changemakers. The cost for producing this journey was calculated at roughly 800€ per participant and any contribution is deeply appreciated.

The experience helped me consolidate and develop my ideas. Lots of the thoughts from the process are going to be part of our new strategy.  The materials like the videos, the workbooks and the huge number of other links and resources were excellent.

Systems Change course participant

The experience enabled us to rethink our theory of change, gather the team around this new vision and broaden our activities to advance toward systemic change for women and LGBTIQ+ people. It also connect me with amazing changemakers, the Ashoka Support Network network, and the Ashoka team.

Systems Change course participant

Module Leaders & Facilitators