Blog: Amplify

What the Family Conference Reminded Me

I had the pleasure of spending the past four days in Miami Beach at the Council on Foundations’ annual Family Philanthropy Conference.

There was alot to experience there, but I’d have to say that — as usual at these kind of gatherings — the highlight was spending time with my fellow attendees. 

The group was a great mix of large and small family foundation representatives. Some were family member trustees, some were professional staffers and some were both. The sessions were generally very well thought out, but the time in between the sessions was what made the conference for me.

I think there’s a tendency for those of us in the social sector to see ourselves as lone wolf idealists, who face issues that very few others could even begin to understand let alone help us resolve. But the reality is that we’re not alone. There are no shortage of caring people, people with the heart, skills, intellect and resources to partner with nonprofits and help bring the world huge steps forward. What a terrible shame it is that we so often fall into isolation mode.

I confess that I’m susceptible to this trap myself — even as someone who interacts with numerous foundations and nonprofits daily.

It was a great pleasure spending four straight days with representatives of dozens of family foundations, vendors to the sector, the Council on Foundations, National Center on Family Philanthrpy, the the Association of Small Foundations, the Center on Philanthropy at the Indiana University, the Foundation Center, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, the Johnson Center for Philanthropy, and on and on.

My big take away from the conference is that I need to lift my head more often and share my day to day struggles with others who are walking this same path. I’m not the only one in the world who believes that nonprofits can be exponentially more effective, that the nonprofit model is not the only solution, that strategic giving doesn’t have to mean severing the heart and brain. And more importantly, I’m not the only one doing something about it.

Of course I already knew that, and so do you — but it’s a good reminder to each of us that it is so important to catch your breath once in awhile and go spend some time with trusted colleagues. As I reenter my daily grind, I can feel already that I’m approaching my work with renewed creativity and recharged batteries.

It was an honor to be among the group this week. I am empowered and inspired by having been in your presence. Thank you!

Todd Sukol is the president and senior consultant at Do More Mission. This post originally appeared on the Do More Mission blog.

Add new comment