by Jillian C. Vukusich
I love the theme of the Family Philanthropy Conference (kudos to whoever came up with it). As we all know, philanthropy changes its mantra every so often. We’ve heard collaboration and partnership and community building. “Fusion” would be a great next trend.
As you head down to Miami Beach in February, what you may not know could surprise you. In Palm Beach County alone, one in five children live in poverty and one in two children receive free or reduced lunch at school. These statistics in the same county that produces 10 of the top agricultural products in our nation are, frankly, gut wrenching.
Recently, funders, nonprofits, government, and many other entities in Palm Beach County have been working together to alleviate hunger in our communities. As a group, we have made some incredible progress toward lighting a spark that hopefully will turn into a stronger food access and distribution system in our region. But the impact is only part of the story…
The story lies in the partnership, the fusion, of many organizations coming to the table in the name of the cause. Countless meetings, phone calls, site visits, and parking lot conversations have led to a shared understanding. As a group, we faced our own challenges and setbacks. We had to bridge relationships and push one another to think outside of our own boxes. We had to think bigger about philanthropy and partnership. Not one of our institutions could have done this alone. Ultimately, what we were working for was trust, where each of us could be honest and transparent. This trust is translating into action and it’s incredibly exciting.
The world has changed and none of us can afford to go it alone. It will always be the potential of philanthropy to ignite change and make the world better that excites me. I hope that your time in Florida will provide an opportunity to connect with future partners and to think differently about who your partners might be. The time is now, so register for the conference today.
Jillian C. Vukusich is director of community investment for the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, a member of the Council on Foundations.