The closing plenary session at the conference, “What’s the Big Idea? Vignettes About Philanthropy,” rocked! I was very impressed with each of the presenters, as well as with the refreshing approach the Council and the session developers took in designing the session. Absent were the drawn-out, never-ending monologues and dialogues. Instead, it was a fast-paced, entertaining, and informative way to present stories from the field of philanthropy, views on charitable giving, and the sharing of knowledge. I’m certainly not saying that traditional panels are not effective, but this was a fantastic model to follow once in a while. Thank you for your creativity to do something fresh and new. I hope to see this again at future conferences.
I also was struck by the incredible knowledge and insight that many of the conference presenters brought to their sessions, but not surprised. The conference featured many of the smartest, most experienced, and most well-known foundation leaders participating as panelists, moderators, and session designers. As an attendee, I wouldn’t want anything different. There are times, when hearing about the incredible work being done in the world, that I came out of a session thinking, “Gee, I don’t really do it that way, but would love to try,” or “I’ve never thought about it like that before.”
It’s not the projects being funded, implemented, measured, and renewed that I always think about. Rather, it’s the courage and conviction that many funders have toward an issue or project. As funders, most of us need to exhibit that courage more often, try things that might not succeed the way we first thought, and be open to the fact that even when outcomes are not great we’ve learned something new. Many sessions confirmed to me that “what” you fund is much more impressive than “who” you fund.
Thank you to those who participated at the conference and to those who helped create a great experience for all.
Craig Cichy is program officer at the Entertainment Industry Foundation.