Friday, December 21, 2007

Foundations & the Contradictions of Customer Service

Dahna Goldstein recently shared with me her essay, titled Foundations Should be More Like Public Companies, which she posted on Sean Stannard-Stockton's Tactical Philanthropy blog as part of its "One Post Challenge".

Dahna, thanks for sharing this piece with me. Allow me to make three (focused but somewhat meandering) comments in response to your writing:

1. Shared Ideas, Various Practices. In general, while I don't know if the overall parallel with public companies works for me, I agree with the type of behavior you seek from foundations. And I think many inside the foundation world would agree as well. In fact, in doing interviews with experience grantmakers about the challenges of foundation professionalism, scholars identified a broad consensus amongst interviewees around the following ideas and commitments:

1. Grantmakers take their responsibility as stewards of other people’s money seriously;
Grantmakers believe in promoting and serving the public interest, broadly construed;
Grantmakers believe in genuinely respecting grantees and applicants and acting in accordance with this respect;
Grantmakers are committed to operating strategically so the grants they make will impact the broader society as well as the direct recipients of services;
Grantmakers are committed to funding innovative ideas and strategies; and
6. Grantmakers are committed to some form of honest evaluation and feedback.

However, they found that translating these principles into one set of practices is more challenging than it might seem. In fact, they found contradictory practices stemming from these shared principles. I will quote here at length from their paper, as it is a worthwhile read:

Some [interview] subjects told us that it is "good" for grantmakers to be transparent about project failures. Others told us that "good work" means protecting grant recipients and therefore being circumspect about failed projects and transparency in general. And so, although we have found consensus around core ideals, the notions about best practices to reach these ideals exhibit contradictions and paradoxes.

A number advocate increased transparency in the field for reasons having to do with accountability, evaluation, and increasing the capacity of the field to learn from each other. Ray Bacchetti, formerly of the Hewlett Foundation, asserts that "Grants ought to be like good scientific experiments. Even when they fail, you learn a lot." Bob Long reiterates; "And ultimately, the final piece for me in terms of accountability is that you report what you learned back to that field." Still other subjects support protecting the privacy and autonomy of the field (and grantees) by limiting transparency to what is currently required. Dennis Collins, formerly of The Irvine Foundation, wondered aloud about the ethics of full disclosure to the field in tricky situations. When you have a troubled grantee or project; "To what extent do you engage in full disclosure about the circumstances of a grantee to others?" Controversy surrounds the paradox of transparency.

William Damon and Susan Verducci, CONTRADICTIONS AND PARADOXES IN BEST PRACTICES IN PHILANTHROPY, April 4, 2002, from The Project on Good Work in Philanthropy

2. Reasonable Reasons to Put up Walls? I agree that, as you say, foundations ought to be responsive to the 'stakeholders' of a broader public (beyond their core 'stockholders' - such as trustees). Yet we must acknowledge that sometimes private foundations, and the people inside them, place opaque 'walls' around themselves for relatively good reasons.

For example, the other day a young trustee joined EPIP. She found and joined us by searching the web and using our site, but when I searched for the foundation with which she is affiliated, I couldn't find a website or much information online. When we chatted by phone, I asked her about this. She said her relatives were interested in keeping themselves semi-anonymous, because many of the trustees were younger (even under-20) as the foundation was being established, and their elders did no wish them to face undue pressure from nonprofits and others in the community. Given this story,the Family Business -- as a complex blend of family and business -- provides a stronger corollary than the public company.

The question then becomes: How do we as a field help such understaffed family foundations create basic public accountability for the pseudo-public institutions, while addressing their legitimate family privacy concerns?

Some of the challenge may actually be generational perceptions. Foundation trustees from the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomer cohorts may not be comfortable even using the web themselves, and therefore would not understand how to design or host a site even if they wanted to have one. As new generations of donors and foundation professionals take on leadership positions in the field, I hope they will bring with them a comfort with the accessibility and informative nature of the web, and an excitement about sharing information and collaborating on projects with other foundations and philanthropists.

3. Hey Abbot, Who's Served First?

In your post, Dahna, you write:

Foundations need nonprofits – and need happy nonprofits – just as much as corporations need happy customers. Grants are a product of philanthropy, and nonprofits are the customers.

Here is a different point of view. Foundation president and philanthropic scholar Michael Lerner (not the well-known rabbi by the same name) writes at one point in his book, A Gift Observed:

The real client or customer is the foundation. The nonprofit is the vendor seeking to make a sale to the client.
This offers an important counter-narrative to the market equation analogy that you and others have proposed.

You are right that foundations would not have much to do without the organizations to fund. But foundations often act more like investors with their own missions - the organization in which they invest are the implimentors of that vision. In a sense, the foundation-customer may buy or contract-out the work they want to see happen to the nonprofit-vendor that they think can best make it happen.

Thus if we think of foundations as stake holders or stockholders in the nonprofits in which they invest to achieve their missions, what is the role of stakeholders and stockholders? To hold companies accountable for governance, legal practices, productivity, and achieving work toward mission. Not customer service. And not transparency.

I am not in any way endorsing this as the optimal model for foundation-nonprofit relationships. But I think Lerner provides a model for the actual operating principles by which many foundations behave today, rather than an idealized concept. Working from this realpolitik point of view may be most productive as we strive to shift the a power dynamic between foundations and nonprofits that is more balanced, ethical, and healthy for communities.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Live Chat Sponsored by the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Tomorrow, December 11, at 12 ET the Chronicle is sponsoring a chat with Holden Karnofsky, 26, who left the hedge-fund industry to start GiveWell and the Clear Fund -- a philanthropy he calls "the world's first transparent grant maker." Click here to register.

See previous post for more info on GiveWell.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

EPIP Emerges in the Heartland

I am happy to report that emerging philanthropic leaders are organizing powerful new Emerging Practitioners networks in communities across Middle America. This is a critical part of our work to bring our unique brand of leadership development to the Southeast and the Midwest, communities sadly overlooked by many national philanthropy organizations.

During Oct-Nov, Minnesota and Indiana chapters were officially recognized by the national EPIP organization. The leaders of these groups did initial partnership-building, organizing and programming for more than a year before applying to become official EPIP chapters.

More recently, a group of our members in Michigan began working with EPIP and the Michigan Council of Foundations - one of the premiere Regional Associations of Grantmakers in the nation - to lay the groundwork for an EPIP Michigan network.

And the EPIP buzz in Michigan has already begun.

Today an article about the group was published on "MI Life MI Times", a new website offering "a fresh discourse on life in Michigan for and by the young, creative people living in this state."

The site proclaims that "within Michigan’s philanthropic sector lies a group of new, young professionals hard at work. Their goal: to address the increasing need for a next generation of leadership."

Read the whole article online at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EPIP Feature: A View From the Field
by an anonymous program officer

"What's the best career background for a foundation program officer?" This is a question I've been thinking about a lot, as the foundation I work for begins to hire a new program officer. Naturally, the answer depends a lot on the foundation in question and how it does its work. That said, the question makes me think about my experiences and what's been most useful to me where I work.

I came to the foundation world a couple of years ago, so my experience is still pretty limited. Before that, I did lots of different things. I spent a long time teaching as a graduate student while (unsuccessfully) pursuing a doctorate in sociology. I was an evaluation researcher for hire. I worked in information technology for a large not-for-profit. Finally, I worked as a senior administrator for a large not-for-profit. Of these experiences, the skills I draw on the most as a program officer are those I developed while teaching at the college level.

Some of the relevant skills and awarenesses I developed while teaching college students include:
* learning about the responsibility associated with power,
* the ability to read critically,
* clear communication,
* self-reflection,
* the importance of universal standards,
* how to help without giving away the "right" answers, and
* getting comfortable with public speaking.

The guest blogger will address each of these skills separately in individual posts. Stay tuned for these updates!

Are you interested in serving as a guest blogger? Contact today!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Searching for the point in philanthropy 2.0

All of a sudden there is a flurry of discussion in philanthropy blogs and conferences using terms like "open source philanthropy", philanthropy 2.0, etc. See for example Fil 2.0: Facebook Filanthropy.

Full disclosure: I am helping out a bit with a conference session titled 'Philanthropic Models 2.0', which will take place at the May 2008 Council on Foundations Summit. I am very excited to hear what folks working in the social networking realm have to say about their nonprofit and philanthropic initiatives and technologies. But I am also perplexed by the emerging language to describe all this.

Is philanthropy 2.0 the "new new philanthropy"? It is difficult to parse out if there is a "there" virtually there.

In terms of open source philanthropy, a term I recently picked up when Peter Karoff spoke at the Minnesota Council of Foundations annual conference, I am still working to understand how the web can truly facilitate democracy in philanthropy, when -- if we are talking about foundations and grantmaking -- much of the power and a majority of philanthropic funds residesin the hands of people who do not have an online presence and may not even use the web themselves: unstaffed family foundations and individual donors.

Such innovation in this field seems to happen in this order:
  1. An exciting-sounding new phrase or concept gets coined to define the moment;
  2. People try to bundle their ideas under this ruberic, so it means everyone (and nothing);
  3. Researchers are hored to write reports that definition the term, so everyone can move on to a new confusing catch phrase...
Whatever happened to New Philanthropy? Venture Philanthropy? e-Philanthropy? Is Philanthropy 2.0 different or just an extension of these? We seem to create whole new categories and supposed trends, and they seem to disappear when the pundits discover something new.

The same can be said for social entreprenuarialism - it is very difficult to find agreement on what we are talking about when we use that phrase.

In fact, the basic words and titles for our field as a whole are very confusing. Are we the nonprofits, nongovernment, independent, or third sector? Or should we be dubbed civil society, the term more popular with scholars?

Michael Edwards of the Ford Foundation, a prolific writer on these matters, asks of the term civil society: "What is to be done with a concept that seems so unsure of itself that definitions are akin to nailing jelly to the wall?" I think this question apt for the concept of philanthropy 2.0.

So please, let's stop playing "Pin-the-2.0-on-the-Topic" and start using the web in practical and innovative ways to advance ethical, effective philanthropy. A good, basic place to start would be convincing and enabling a lot more non-staffed family foundations to get their information on the web, so that future grantees can find them more easily! The Foundation Center provides such a service.

Another solid idea is PhilanTrack™, an online grants management system for nonprofits and funders. This is an innovative online system for managing grant proposals and reporting that "enhances accountability, transparency, and efficiency."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm a "do-gooder."

This Washington Post article from Friday highlights the challenge of pursuing a career in the international non-profit sector: upward mobility (and labels folks working in the non-profit sector "do-gooders"). The Chronicle on Philanthropy's Daily Update linked this WaPo article to an article the Chronicle published in March on the YNPN survey, which found that 70 percent of young non-profit employees do not envision themselves as executive directors of non-profits in the future. Tell us what you think - can this change? What needs to happen for you to stay in the field?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hospitality, History and the Philanthropic Journey

Dear reader - below is a thought piece that attempts to connect a collection of recent thoughts and experiences. I hope you will read it in the spirit in which it meanders. - RMS

Philanthropy's Odyssey

If you remember your college English coursework, you will remember that The Odyssey - that classic story of the great journey home - featured many iconic images and themes. Odysseus and his men travelled the wine-red sea, facing many dangerous challenges along the way. But along with monsters and other threats, their journey was marked by hospitality at many ports - including hospitality shown by his wife, Penelope, toward the invasive suitors who pursued her to her dismay.

Hospitality, it seems to me is a key part of philanthropy. Treating "the stranger" and "the other" not only with tolerance, but with graciousness, warmth, and compassion, is a base-line for offering one's own resources to people in need who we do not know, and whom we may never know. This is a key theme in Sermon on the Mount - perhaps the closest Jesus comes to offering a living definition of philanthropy in the text.

Hospitality is Key to Philanthropy

All kinds of philanthropic endeavors rely upon hospitality. Peace negotiations, coalition-building, collaboration, community problem-solving. Door-knocking for organizing or fundraising campaigns. If no one ever answered their doors and let their neighbors in, we would have no community organizations, block associations, or religious congregations. Hospitality relies about human beings who trust one another even though they do not know one another enough to have good reason to trust one another. Why does this work? A social context based on social capital. The culture, community, political and economic context in which we are raised defines the rules of hospitality by which we operate. A simple example: in some communities, residents feel comfortable leaving their front doors unlocked. In other places this is definitely not normal.

This fall I have been doing a fall mini-journey around the country on behalf of EPIP - attending and presenting at conferences and EPIP chapter events. I enjoy the journey to conferences and meetings in ports - some strange to me, some now familiar. I don't get to cross too many wine-red seas. But I am always grateful for the hospitality shown me.

For example, I was in Ithaca, NY, for the Upstate New York Funders Conference, where EPIP was invited to lead a special session for young and new grantmakers (more on the session later). At the tail-end of the host event reception at a great local museum, I was talking with several other conference attendees whom I had just met, and they invited me out to dinner with them! Since I was attending the conference on my own and they were friendly and interesting, I jumped at the opportunity. It's a good thing they were so hospitable - I had missed the bus back to Cornell's Statler Hotel, and had no transportation of my own.

We drove around town and found a restaurant that was still open - apparently I am spoiled by the 24 hour nature of New York City. We enjoyed wine, Italian food and good conversation, and closed the place down. (Even though we were literally the last customers in the place, the wait staff did not rush us, or even indicate that they could be going home to sleep if we would just go already. In addition to my hosts, the wait staff were hospitable.)

All during my travel this month, I have been engrossed in a new philanthropy book called The Billionaire Who Wasn't, a page-turner biography about Charles Feeney, the previously-anonymous donor behind The Atlantic Philanthropies. Note: I have not completed the book at the time of this post, so I am not offering a complete review here.

As it turns out, Ithaca, Cornell and the Statler Hotel are a central part of the story -- Feeney went to college here and studied hotel management. The GI Bill and Cornell gave him his chance, and he has seen fit to give back to the University. He helped to re-build the hotel and the hotel management school where we had our philanthropy conference. In fact, Mr Feeney has given his Alma mater, Cornell University, more than $600 million, dwarfing all other donations from a single alumnus to an American university. He has championed higher education around the world, including in Ireland and South Africa. This support hits home for me too; The Atlantic Philanthropies funded the graduate program on philanthropy that I attended at Indiana University - another place where I benefited from world-famous (and very real) Hoosier Hospitality.

So here I was - staying in the hotel that Feeney built, participating in a conference of local foundations - that included some folks who used to anonymously work at the Atlantic offices in Ithaca -- and offering a session for people brand new to philanthropy. It was a fascinating and somewhat mind-twisting experience.

So somehow my journey, the journeys of the philanthropoids and philanthropists at the conference, the now-revealed story of Mr. Feeney, are all intimately intertwined in unfolding journey of philanthropy and hospitality - locally in New York, and around the world.

Feeney, like Odysseus, spent years traversing the globe, building a network of duty-free business at airports and downtowns in ports near and far. His fortune was built on offering tax-free liquor and other goods to travelers, putting a new light on the notion of the wine-red sea, perhaps? [As it turned out, one of the brand-new trustees who attended my session, worked for a donor who made his money selling liquor, and made his employee a primary steward of his philanthropic largess, and charged him with essentially creating the foundation. Another strange coincidence?] Like Odysseus, Feeney's team was loyal, although they had their internal conflicts, which are presented frankly in the book. Like Odysseus, when he arrived back home disguised so as to defeat the suitors through strategy, Feeney contributed under the disguise of anonymity until he felt the time was right to reveal himself.

His motivation for this secrecy seems to have been primarily a sense of humility. He did not wish "to blow his own horn." He was influenced by thinkers and philanthropists who believed anonymous giving was one of the highest forms, and who encouraged donors to give their resources away while alive. When in 1984 he signed over his fortune to the foundation (except for sums set aside for his wife and children) he broke the news to his children and gave them each a copy of Andrew Carnegie's essay on wealth, written in 1889.

Know Much About History?

It is interesting to read about a donor who is influenced as much by the literature of philanthropic studies as he is by the life experiences that shaped his immediate experiences. In fact, Joel J. Orosz, founder of EPIP's partner organization, The Grantmaking School, recently published an essay in the Chronicle of Philanthropy called Good Grantmaking Requires Expertise. In the article, Joel writes

"Far too many newcomers to philanthropy behave as if philanthropic history began the moment they stepped across the threshold of their foundation. They are certain that past foundation efforts have been mediocre at best and have little of value to teach them...

Foundation leaders create their own obstacles to effectiveness... chiefly by ignoring the lessons of history, slighting the value of experience, denigrating the importance of training in grant making, and denying the importance of professional associations that can make them more effective by helping them collaborate to solve problems that no single institution can tackle on its own."
Diana Sieger, the President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation (in the community where The Grantmaking School is based) writes to support Orosz' assertions on her blog.

It is clear that Feeney and his key advisers had studied the history of philanthropic ideas and practices, and that it had a dramatic impact on the management and approach of his philanthropy.

I am in general agreement with Joel. In fact, I think Joel's article might be a rallying cry for EPIP members to rally around!

There is clearly an either-or dichotomy in the discourse about "new vs. old philanthropy" - one is either defending the status quo, as some comments on the Chronicle website say - or throwing it all out to start fresh. In fact, the very term "new philanthropy" makes Joel's point. Without knowing history, the advocates of bringing business values to the practice philanthropy remain unaware that this was a major trend at the start of the century - the 20th Century that is. Back then it was called Scientific Charity, and it was all about how to bring the efficiencies of the manufacturing age into social work and charitable efforts.

This is not a particularly healthy dichotomy-based debate. We ought to begin talking about what "traditional" philanthropy can learn from "venture philanthropy" and vice-versa. We ought to be talking about the benefits of becoming a profession - including the value of having a strong recruitment, training and education functions in our field.

In my experience, emerging grantmakers are not stuck in an either-or framework. EPIP's members clearly want to learn from the past, while bringing fresh ideas, energy, and innovation to the table. We believe in taking philanthropy seriously, and acting professionally; at the same time, we think it is important to welcome new - and sometimes less experiences - voices to the philanthropic table, and not taking ourselves too seriously all the time.

To to the point: in a survey this summer by the North Carolina Emerging Leaders Working Group (a group of emerging practitioners affiliated with the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers and supported by EPIP), a majority of emerging foundation staffers in the state said that "mentoring from experienced professionals" was the professional development option that would be most helpful to them.

As a field, we ought to be working to make the foundation community itself hospitable to new and old neighbors alike - an inter-generational community, if you will. We ought to welcome strangers, whose ideas we do not yet understand. In that kind of environment, perhaps newcomers would feel comfortable enough to seek out knowledge from those who are all ready far along on their own philanthropic journeys.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

EPIP is a mentoring program?

In preparation for our monthly chapter leader call, we've considered multiple models for mentoring programs: one-on-one, cohorts, increasing fellowships, formal, informal. Then I ran across an article I had in an old EPIP file from Fast Company. What do you think of this concluding paragraph from the article - is EPIP in and of itself a mentoring program?

The most important lesson that the women's approach to mentoring has to teach: It's not about a mentoring relationship. It's about a mentoring mentality. "You don't need a single mentor who you keep throughout your career," says Otte. "What happens when your company downsizes and your mentor leaves? What you need is a mind-set that allows you to learn from those around you, no matter who they are."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Most of the attention about the coming leadership gap has been focused on the nonprofit sector and very little attention has been paid to how the philanthropic sector will react to those same generational demographics. In stark contrast to this trend, the Minnesota Council on Foundations did an entire newsletter this summer on generational changes in the field of philanthropy. If you are interested in this topic or are trying to develop strategies to help your foundation come through this transition with flying colors, check out the issue here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At EPIP, we have been busy planning for the upcoming year – chapter leader conference calls, more newsletters, website restructuring, revitalizing the blog (one result of this planning is this entry), and on…In doing research on other philanthropy blogs, I have read intriguing entries at GiveWell ( and - they both tackle one aspect of working in foundations: the decision making process for making grants. GiveWell identified 4 funding areas and are very open about their decision making process – indeed, writing about it frequently on the blog – the challenges, the specific proposals that are sent, the reasons for their decisions. Mysterious M writes about their experience as a program associate and the challenges of working inside a foundation (the foundation is going through a restructuring process in addition to grantmaking). Do you work at a foundation? What is your experience? To what extent is your foundation transparent? What, if any, changes would you make?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thinking about Philanthropy and its Roles

I read a post on New Voices in Philanthropy coincidentally the night the bridge collapsed in Minneapolis because I wanted to reference Trista’s blog in the upcoming EPIP newsletter. That night she had posted a question about what philanthropy should do in response and her question was embedded in my mind the day after as I listened to coverage of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Especially when I was driving around Denver and witnessed two news crews filming bridges over I-25 that were crumbling - ah, the sensationalist press.

I think another role not mentioned in her post is how foundations can affect policy change. Specifically, within the government's taxing structure, which continually has a negative spin to it by politicians and the press. The government needs money to prevent tragedies like this and the way government is funded is through taxes. Of course, some would argue that government wastes the money it has. Funding advocacy groups or watchdog groups who could step in with some oversight could be another role for philanthropy. Or, we could just rely on our systems of checks and balances.

What is your experience with public policy change? Should foundations have a role? If so, what should it be?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why Philanthropy Blogging is Important to the Future of Foundations

I started a blog about next generation philanthropy issues because I was having such a great time taking about the issues of the philanthropic sector at Minnesota’s monthly EPIP lunches and was very disappointed that there wasn’t another place where those conversations were happening. After talking to Jessica at the Future Leaders in Philanthropy blog at an EPIP conference about blogging’s role in developing a voice for this generation’s leaders, I decided to write my own. Creating my blog and interacting with the community it has created has not only been a great experience for me personally but I think it is part of a trend that is important to the sector as a whole. The top 10 reasons why blogs are good for the future of foundations:

  1. Traditional media doesn’t really give a hoot about what happens in the foundation world. Buffet gifts aside, it is hard to find consistent coverage of the sector, blogs fill that void.
  2. Blogs identify trends. New ideas that are bubbling up in the sector (or old ideas that are being reconsidered) first show up in blogs. Topics like rethinking the term “nonprofit”, should nonprofits play a role in election campaigns, and the public relations problem of Gen X are all being discussed on philanthropy blogs right now.
  3. Foundations are notoriously secretive and blogs are very open. Blogging about the field lifts that curtain so everyone can see Oz and as scary as that is, it makes us better at our jobs.
  4. Nonprofits are looking for clues about how foundations operate. Blogs give insight into the people behind the letterhead.
  5. Blogs invite participation. Participation creates new and better ideas than closed door brainstorming sessions.
  6. Blogs are timely. Traditional philanthropic media is usually monthly or quarterly, blogs can report quickly on things that are important to the field.
  7. Blogs give power to the young and tech savvy. You don’t have to have the budget for a newsletter to be heard anymore and that levels the playing field for young people.
  8. Readers vote with their clicks about what content is important to them. Good bloggers take reader statistics to heart and that increases the amount of relevant stories about philanthropy published over time.
  9. Blogs make writers become more introspective about their reasoning. Writing about your beliefs and decision-making process keeps you accountable and forces you to look in the mirror.
  10. Social Change is messy and so are blogs. You can’t change the world by making a proclamation from a mountaintop, you need to get in the mud and get to work. Blogs have an “all hands on deck” feeling and I think that is the only way we are going to make real change.

Trista Harris, Chair of EPIP-MN, is a Program Officer at the Saint Paul Foundation and is the voice behind, a blog about next generation philanthropy issues.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Intrinsic Value of EPIP:
(You get way MORE than what you pay for!)

I was recently asked my reasons for joining the EPIP Board of Advisors. Rather than mouth off a corny answer like, “it is a great organization” (which it is by the way!) I decided to put down on paper why I feel compelled to support an organization like EPIP.

1. In my personal view foundations (private, independent, and community) in general have a liberal connotation to them (despite the types of grants they make!) simply because of their definition. Given this feeling, one can assume that opportunities for leadership, professional development and personal growth must be abundant for foundation employees. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Opportunities for leadership and professional development vary from one extreme to another from one foundation to another and the mission of the organization has nothing to do with it. Real opportunities to work on projects that involve organizational sustainability, strategic growth and development are few and far in between. When I first viewed the EPIP Board nomination form, I saw these opportunities reflected there, ones that I greatly lacked in my existing position as an emerging grant maker.

2. A recent EPIP survey across various chapters showed that career guidance is an issue of tremendous interest. Given that the purpose of foundations is to give away money to nobler causes they often tend to be small in staff size to keep operating costs to a minimum. Emerging grant makers might not have access to mentors or career guidance in the form of their supervisor or coworkers. In light of this situation, a community like EPIP is extremely valuable where peers can share experiences and learn from each others successes and challenges. At the same time the networking benefits for career advancement are tremendous.

3. And lastly, EPIP’s mission to advance the field of social justice philanthropy is unique in itself. As mentioned above, foundations and philanthropy might conjure images of left wing ideologies. However, social justice philanthropy is about being fair in the way we give money and giving stakeholders in the process a voice and platform to be heard. This is crucial in order to bring about policy reform in the philanthropic sector and the field beyond.

You don't have to be a Board member to access these opportunities. Opportunities abound for all EPIP members to take on a leadership role in their local chapters, organizations and communities. These opportunities can take the role of recruiting new members, helping your local chapter grow (sustainability, strategic planning etc) or just being an EPIP ambassador!

So there you go folks, I am definitely making the most of my membership. Are you?

Pooja Joshi
EPIP Board of Advisors

Monday, July 30, 2007

Foundation Fellowships to be Highlighted at Community Foundations

Speaking of next gen programming at Council on Foundations conferences...

If you are headed to the Fall Conference for Community Foundations this September, be sure to check out our good friends from the San Francisco Foundation and their session on multicultural fellowships in philanthropy.

"This panel will explore foundation approaches to addressing the leadership deficit through a multicultural fellowship lens."

The San Francisco Foundation has been running their apprenticeship program -- bringing diverse young people into the foundation field -- for 25 years! Let me repeat that. 25 YEARS. The program is older than some EPIP members! So big props to the golden gate crew.

Philanthropy's Next Gen Reach Toward the Summit

Greetings once again from EPIP headquarters. I have exciting news!

EPIP and our colleague colleague orgs, Resource Generation and 21/64 , are taking a lead to ensure there is excellent programming and outreach geared toward emerging and next gen leaders at the "Philanthropy Summit" (May 4-7, 2008 in the Washington, DC area).

The Summit will be a "mega-conference" that will, for the year 2008, replace the Council on Foundations traditional three meetings [the family foundation, community foundation, and annual conferences].

Our groups are working in coalition with the Summit-planners to design pre-conference activities, concurrent sessions, and side programs that meet the needs of emerging leaders, and raise the important (inter-) generational issues of the day in the broader conference discussion.

This is exciting news for emerging practitioners, and for the field. As the workforce and leadership implications of generational change have slowly dawned on the nonprofit and philanthropy establishment in the last year (slowly becoming urgent), our networks -- established by Gen X and the Millennials philanthropic practitioners over the last 5-10 years -- are now well positioned to partner in such efforts.

You will be hearing from us over the coming year with more information as the next gen reaches toward the summit -- the Philanthropy 2008 Summit, that is.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ford, Kellogg & San Francisco Foundation Leaders Headline Intergenerational Discussions at Council Conference

It was a breath of fresh air. Amongst the vast sea of classroom set-up conference rooms, stuffy panels of Baby Boomer talking heads, and heavily abbreviated Q&A sessions, here was a room of emerging leaders seated in a circle, talking informally -- with plenty of time for real questions and conversation. And the speakers listened first, and offered no written speeches or canned opening comments.

Susan Berresford, President of the Ford Foundation; Sterling Spiern, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Sandra Hernandez, MD, President of the San Francisco Foundation, and Barbara Eirenreich, the esteemed author and journalist. These four leaders met with emerging philanthropy leaders for inter-generational dialogue at a series of "Emerging Leaders Salons," a new feature that premiered at the Council on Foundations 2007 Annual Conference in Seattle this April.

Conceptualized by Conference Chair Ralph Smith (Annie E. Casey Foundation), the Salons were co-sponsored by the Council on Foundations (COF) and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP). These intimate sessions created new unique and valuable networking and inter-generational learning spaces for next generation foundation leaders.

Discussion topics included foundations and race in America; moving agendas through foundations; engaging young professionals in foundations and grantmaking; building meaningful and effective careers in philanthropy; staying grounded while sitting at the top of funding institutions; and striking the balance between work and life.

Speakers were selected from the Conference's confirmed speakers by polling leaders of EPIP to learn with whom they would most like to talk.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's Springtime, and EPIP is Blossoming!

It's the first day of spring 2007 in New York City that really feels like spring. The nor'easter has gone east of the East Coast. The sun is out, umbrellas and gloves are in their drawers.

In addition to flowers, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy is blossoming. Last week, we convened our 2007 national gathering of our chapter leaders (we call it our Chapter Leader Gathering, for obvious reasons).

The first day of the Gathering offered a "big picture" of philanthropic theory and practice. We heard from Robert L. Payton, Professor Emeritus of Philanthropic Studies at Indiana University... in fact, as he emphasized, the first-ever professor of Philanthropic Studies. As much as philanthropic traditions and ideas are integral to our society, they have only become a (inter-disciplinary) field of study in the last several decades. We also discussed EPIP's in-housed Philanthropology curriculum, a pilot effort to offer boundary-breaking indepth philanthropic studies specifically for emerging grantmakers.

Our second day was focused on building up skills and offering program and partnership ideas for chapter leaders to bring to their communities.

Sessions on ethics in grant making and fundraising were led by folks from The Grantmaking School and The Fund Raising School, respectively.

There were interactive trainings on Member Recruitment and Chapter Governance. A discussion on how EPIP Chapters can and do work with Regional Associations of Grantmakers featured staff from Indiana Grantmakers Alliance and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

An important roundtable on ideas and tools for "racial justice philanthropy" featured staff from Resource Generation, and

A special series of roundtables focused on how EPIP chapters can leverage their networks to increase philanthropic investment in next generation leadership for nonprofits and social change. Chapter leaders had the chance to learn about the work of EPIP partner organizations working on these issues: Nonprofit Sector Workforce Coalition, Public Allies, Resource Generation, and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network.

On day three, we focused on reflection and planning, to help chapter leaders bring their newfound ideas, skills and connections back to their local EPIP networks.

Many thanks to our host and convener, the Third Millennium Leadership and Philanthropy Initiative of the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy.

Thanks to the folks who staffed and facilitated the Gathering: Dr. Diane Johnson, Kalpana Krishnamurthy, and Jennifer Kramer-Wine.

And thanks to our sponsors and supporters: Lumina Foundation for Education, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The Lilly Endowment, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and Indiana Grantmakers Alliance.

This summer we will make a report available on our website that provides more detail about the education and skills-building that took place at the Gathering.

We already know about two online outcomes:

New Voice of Philanthropy Blog
One of our chapter leaders, Trista Harris of EPIP Minnesota, was so inspired that she planted the seeds of a new blog called "New Voices of Philanthropy."

Troubling Questions on Future Leadership for Nonprofits
Jessica Stannard-Friel is one of the founders of the blog Future Leaders in Philanthropy, and she is a New York City EPIP chapter leader and a new EPIP Board of Advisors member. Taken by the next generation nonprofit leadership issues addressed during the Gathering, Jessica posted a two-part article on the site OnPhilanthropy, where she discusses the challenges facing next generation leadership in nonprofits and philanthropy.

Some photos from the Gathering:

Over 50 chapter leaders and other EPIP leaders and partner organization reps had a productive, effective, outcomes-oriented meeting. Oh yeah, and we had fun too!

At the end of the Gathering, the EPIP Board of Advisors met in-person for the first time in 2007.

As a part of the Gathering, we had a pre-conference of our Professional Development Fund Awardees. Patrick Corvington of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Tina Gridiron Smith of the Lumina Foundation for Education, talked with the awardees on a panel of senior foundation leaders of color.

Willis Bright of the Lilly Endowment, one of the Gathering's sponsors, offered thoughtful comments at our opening reception. Here EPIP's Rusty Stahl presents Willis with an EPIP-branded shoulder bag stuffed with EPIP goodies.

Photos: Mark A. Lee, Great Exposures