One of the format-busting features of the annual conference was "Common Spaces," a series of 10 roundtables created by a vote of conference attendees in advance of the proceedings. The winning topics, culled from a list of a few dozen, included public-private partnerships, green buildings, best practices in managing corporate philanthropy, international grassroots grantmaking, and disaster relief.
The top vote-getter was social justice philanthropy, and an engaged crowd offered their perspectives on the links between such philanthropy and grantmaking effectiveness. Led by Albert Ruesga of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, participants told of their foundations’ good works and the effects of the funding.
Ruesga lamented the lack of progress in marginal communities, noting "glacially slow progress" and a lack of urgency in solving problems at home and abroad. He distributed a handout he created to help grantmakers incorporate a social justice approach to their philanthropy. The one-pager listed the characteristics of social justice philanthropy and articulated the advantages of using a social justice approach. It addressed such topics as values, analysis, strategies and tactics, approaches to the work, community engagement, and impact analysis.
Ruesga focused largely on the comprehensive analysis on which grantmaking strategies are based, suggesting it takes a good deal of time and staff resources. Few grantmakers do this well, he said.