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

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