Friday, June 27, 2008

"What's your vision of philanthropy...?"

At May's Council on Foundations Philanthropy Summit, next generation leaders gathered at a party no one at the Council had ever seen or expected: Philanthropy 2.0. Event sponsors 21/64, American Express, The Case Foundation, Changemakers, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, the Goldhirsh Foundation, the John and James L. Knight Foundation, Jewish Funders Network, Resource Generation, and the Third Wave Foundation, brilliantly transformed one of the Gaylord Hotel's meeting rooms into a club: DJ, lights, couches, bar, the whole deal. All around the room were tables introducing club-goers to important next generation leadership groups and computer kiosks featuring the latest online resources.

For a few hours, it was the unauthorized concurrent session I'd been waiting for - only with music. It was my new Resource Central - only with traffic. Maybe it's just that they had the bass turned up, but I could feel things shift ever so slightly under our feet. And at Resource Generation's area, I got to tell them where I thought things were shifting.

If you happened to stop by the Resource Generation table, you were asked, "What's your vision of philanthropy? What does Philanthropy 2.0 mean to you?" You slashed your answer into a piece of paper and posed smiling for the waiting digital camera.

The folks at Resource Generation compiled the photos for Youtube here: Visions of Philanthropy: A Photo Project by Resource Generation (hey, who disabled the embed?).

That's my ugly mug with the sign that reads: "The Aristocracy of Everyone."

I pilfered the phrase from Benjamin Barber and his defense of public education as preparing young people for citizenship.

Philanthropy can sometimes seem like the last remnant of aristocracy. It's something other people - usually very rich people, their children, and close advisors - get to do.

Philanthropy is about privilege - but that privilege, the honor and joy of giving, can be shared. Philanthropy is about nobility - but the nobility belongs to anyone who donates time, talent, and treasure and, with his or her fellow citizens, helps create the world they want to live in. If philanthropy is an aristocracy, at least it's an "Aristocracy of Everyone."

"What's your vision of philanthropy?"

Send Mike at Resource Generation your own pictures or leave a note in the comments.

No comments: