Feeling stagnant? Overwhelmed with today’s societal problems? Concerned we’re not making progress and reaching our full potential? Well, please find solace in knowing that global philanthropy is growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, we’re giving birth to a new and improved philanthropy that will be a leading and lagging indicator of our social, human, and philanthropic development. We should not only be encouraged by these positive trends, but we should take copious notes because soon our students will be the teachers.
Saturday was wonderful preconference kick-off to what will undoubtedly be another great Council on Foundations event. Collaboration, common agendas, and community engagement were key themes for both the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) and Global Grantmakers. Each group delivered thought-provoking, inspiring programming - but unfortunately I was forced to choose between sessions. Similar to previous conferences, I was forced to make the mad dash between presentations and sneak politely in and out of conversations that were great independently but have the potential to be transformative together. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to mobilize to create a more perfect Council union.
During the second panel I attended, I really liked the New Field Foundation’s approach to grantmaking and their utilization of local advisers. It is very sensitive to every aspect of their work and the impact it has on all stakeholders. Bravo.
I attended a great panel this morning. It was called “The Future of Philanthropy and Development in the Pursuit of the Human Well-Being: An Update on the Bellagio Initiative.” The presenters were Asif Saleh, director of the BRAC Centre; Fabrice Serfati, managing director and CFO of IGNIA; Neelam Makhijani, chief executive of Resource Alliance; and Pesh Framjee; head of National Not for Profit Group, Crowe Clark Whitehill. It was moderated by Heather Grady, vice president of foundation initiatives at The Rockefeller Foundation.
In mid-March, following the news that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a warlord from the DRC, had been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC), activists lauded the long-awaited verdict, calling on the ICC and the Congolese government to implement the arrest warrants of others who are also suspected of serious war crimes committed in the DRC. These calls for justice were met with hostility by warlords and their supporters, including some from within the DRC’s armed forces. Activists who have long worked on campaigns to bring justice to their communities received messages to stop meddling—and veiled threats of violence—from powerful actors.
There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That’s true in life and true in philanthropy. Grantmakers are dedicated to working with nonprofits and community organizations to address the toughest challenges. There’s no doubt that the past several years have required grantees to be creative and nimble to stay afloat, and effectively serve the growing need in their communities. Grantmaker behavior has a tremendous impact on an organization’s ability to respond, adapt, and thrive.
Did you know illnesses resulting from water contamination are the leading cause of human sickness and death worldwide? In just the past decade, more children have died due to a lack of access to safe drinking water than all the people who have died in battle since World War II.
I landed in Cairo earlier today a few hours ago expecting to see significant changes. In many ways everything has changed yet on the drive from the airport to the hotel in Zamalek to across the Nile, Cairo is still the same. The wonderful energy, the crazy traffic with cars moving in a slow dance – it was Friday evening after all and people were out and about enjoying the beautiful evening. Traffic was snarled in some places with the Presidential campaign in full swing and supporters out in the streets waving signs and banners in support of their candidates. For life in a very big city it seems very normal. Yet for many their whole world has been changed completely. Many of us hope for the better but not everyone is that sure.
The International Youth Foundation recently released a report that looks at the growing education and social challenges facing youth around the world. Commissioned by Microsoft, it underlines the emergence of an worldwide opportunity divide among young people.
At the Council on Foundations Global Grantmaking Institute (GGI), participants grappled with the fact that wicked problems do not have single-sourced solutions, nor is there a clearly demarcated path leading to success in overcoming these problems. Our esteemed faculty gently but ever so consistently prodded us to accept that despite our best intentions as grantmakers, we will fail. This was no easy task in a room full of determined individuals representing foundations with mission statements that express the intention to end poverty and alleviate suffering.