Last year, the Council on Foundations did a lot of listening. In conversations across the country with those who generously helped to crystalize the Council’s vision for the future, one thing was clear. These philanthropic leaders are devoted to the missions and communities they support and are constantly looking for ways to do more.
That’s one reason I was thrilled to join the Council as President and CEO in March of 2019. I am regularly awed by the many ways philanthropy is making our world better and I am motivated and inspired by our potential to do even more. I want to be part of a collective effort that makes philanthropy more widespread, high-integrity and relevant.
The Council on Foundations helps philanthropy be a trusted partner in advancing the greater good. Our membership community includes grantmakers of all sizes, types and areas of focus, from urban centers and rural areas and increasingly, those who structure their philanthropy in new ways, both in the U.S. and abroad. Our pluralism is a unique and powerful strength.
As we look to the future and ask how we can best serve our members, partners and the field more broadly, our emerging vision for the Council on Foundations is tied to what we hope is a shared vision for the future of our sector—one where philanthropy is able to support more good for more people and causes more consistently over time.
We want to position ourselves to support the field now and as it evolves in the decades ahead. After listening to hundreds of current and former members and partners, we understand even better the work our members have long valued—specifically our work related to public policy, legal support, and our consistent attention to global philanthropy. In these areas we will continue to lead. And we also see opportunity to grow and explore new opportunities to serve the field for the future.
In the years ahead, our members and partners hope that we can:
- Provide a Clear and Compelling Leadership Voice for the Field. The Council is well positioned to elevate the importance of philanthropy to our society in order to draw more people to philanthropic pursuits and to create a more supportive ecosystem for philanthropy in the United States and around the world.
- Represent Philanthropy in National Policy and with Legal Resources: With our national sector partners, the Council will provide a robust policy presence for philanthropy in Washington, DC. As we set a policy agenda in consultation with members and partners, we will move beyond a protectionist posture to look for values-driven ways we can affirmatively support policies that will advance the greater good. Additionally, we will continue to build relationships and connections for members to Executive Branch agencies and use our legal expertise to shape a productive regulatory environment for the sector.
- Convene Conversations Across Difference. We see the diversity of the Council’s member community as a strength to leverage amid insularity and polarization. The Council can elevate important topics about which reasonable people may disagree with the hopes of both modeling a way to listen carefully to one another, generate broader understanding and hopefully arrive at solutions that find a middle ground and advance progress.
- Support Individual Professional Development and the Professionalization of Our Field. In coordination and collaboration with our colleagues who also serve philanthropy, the Council can help make sure philanthropy has a skilled, integrity-filled and diverse workforce well equipped to lead in the decades to come. We can also support new entrants into the field so that they are learning from the lessons of others and ensure that existing philanthropic entities are operating with high integrity.
- Enhance Collaboration. In addition to working in broader collaboration with our peers, we will work to enhance the connections and collaboration between our members, particularly those who may not otherwise find one another so that they can benefit from the extensive expertise of the Council’s member community. Additionally, we will ensure those of our members who respond to disasters, work with veterans, invest in Opportunity Zones and hope to draw federal resources to their areas locally have the appropriate connections to Executive Branch agencies and to colleagues from whom they can collaborate and learn.
Philanthropy is as diverse as this country, part of the fabric of democratic society, and an enduring and important part of what makes America unique. We have a chance, in this moment, to ensure that philanthropy is a strong and trusted player in advancing the greater good. We can only do this if we are all putting the best interests of our communities and mission first.
At the Council we are positioning ourselves to better serve you, both in what we do and how we do it. As we do this work, with our mission as our guide, we partner and share generously with others in the philanthropic ecosystem so that we are best positioned to collectively help philanthropy succeed. We look forward to your engagement, input and leadership in the journey ahead.