A Word on Partnerships and Our Regional and State Philanthropic Associations

Editor's Note: This month the Council is focusing on Leading Together through strong partnerships. Director of Community Philanthropy Brad Ward kicks off the month with the following reflection.

We live in the age of partnerships, and nowhere is this more apparent to the Council than through the work we do with our peer philanthropic support organizations.

Partnerships need to be cultivated and constantly worked. There are times to go it alone and there are times to do things together. The best partnerships leverage the best of both parties.

Strong innovative partnerships can help deliver top-notch community philanthropy programming and resources, something I recall firsthand from my time as CEO of an Indiana community foundation.

For the Council, a prime example of this is our upcoming Legal Matters workshop in Raleigh, North Carolina, on July 27. We are co-hosting it with North Carolina Network of Grantmakers (NCNG), and from the first day we conceptualized what we wanted to achieve with this event, I have been greeted with hospitality and decency that rivals my own Hoosier roots. Just last week, I was responsible for a specific task but within a half an hour of a coordination call, I received an email indicating it had already been taken care of by my partners in crime at NCNG.  

It is such shared ownership and a joint focus on the common good that makes these partnerships work. The same was true when we hosted a Center for Community Foundation Excellence Fundamentals course in Sacramento, California, with the League of California Community Foundations earlier this year. It is also true of our relationships with the Councils in Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota as we coordinate future offerings together.  

When I needed an expert on the ground to survey what is transpiring locally with community foundations, I called on my colleague and own former mentor, Terri Johnson of Indiana Philanthropy Alliance, to join us in Indianapolis for our Community and Economic Development workshop this past April. When crafting the Pennsylvania Public Policy Conference, the Council, of course, wanted the personal perspective of Barbara Taylor, Executive Director, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania. Opportunities for new programming in 2018 will benefit from the insights of Karla Fortunato, the new President of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, and the wealth of experience she brings as she returns to her home state. 

Examples are too numerous to mention them all, but partnerships come down to two important factors—people and purpose. As I seek to support community foundations across the nation, I’m proud that the Council—the largest body representing the interests of community foundations in the United States—is keenly focused on partnerships that advance the work of all of us. 

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