Dear Members and Colleagues,
What if the philanthropic spirit did not exist? What would a world without philanthropic innovation look like? Had philanthropy not invested in the discovery of a polio vaccine, a national 911 system, Sesame Street, white lines on highways, and public libraries, what would the world look like today?
Philanthropy’s pioneering spirit saw HIV/AIDS as a global epidemic when it was otherwise regarded as a shameful plague. Philanthropy helps communities with immigrant populations turn diversity into a touchstone for a stronger society. Philanthropy empowers children by opening doors to quality education and fights to ensure that when those children grow up—no matter where in the world that is—they can realize a future with gainful employment, a healthy environment, and access to the arts.
What if we weren’t driven by an instinctive call to give, to do good, to be better? Who would lead? Who would drive change? It’s hard to contemplate a world without the advances, infrastructure, and institutions philanthropy has championed. Philanthropy, and what it makes possible, is essential, and the work you do every day is critical to the betterment of the world.
It is with this deep and compelling respect for organized philanthropy that I joined the Council on Foundations this week to serve a sector I am truly passionate about and genuinely believe in. I am excited, proud, and humbled to have this opportunity to be part of your daily work in support of the greater good.
I am fully committed to helping organized philanthropy reach its potential. Philanthropy has a proud legacy and an awe-inspiring focus on the future, but its most critical moment is right now. At a time when our world faces a storm of converging challenges with dwindling resources, philanthropy’s positive impact remains a mystery to far too many. Swirling through this storm is a lack of understanding about the role philanthropy plays in society as investor, innovator, leader, and partner. Yet we all know philanthropy is more relevant and necessary than ever. That’s why we must seize the imperative to help society better understand philanthropy’s impact and contributions. If we can’t imagine a world without philanthropy, we need to make sure those outside our sector recognize what an unlivable world that would be.
I am very much a believer in the concept that the whole is worth much more than the sum of its parts. In this spirit, I call upon all of you as members, colleagues, and peers to join us in our important work. We know that the Council is one of many important voices for the field, and we will need all of these voices to be forceful and clear. In short, with greater understanding of the role of philanthropy comes continued support and encouragement. And with encouragement comes a climate ripe for fostering the winning solutions we so desperately need. We have so much to accomplish together.
At the Council’s Annual Conference in Los Angeles this spring, I had a few opportunities to participate in important listening sessions and get to know some of you. Now that I am officially in place, I look forward to meeting with more of you, hearing about your priorities, and working with you at this significant time for philanthropy.
Thank you for your membership in and support of the Council on Foundations. I look forward to working with you.
President and CEO
Council on Foundations