As you know, the Council’s conference, Leading Together 2019, convened April 29-May 1 in Miami. During my opening remarks, I shared early thoughts on how we can all work together in service of the common good.
Many of us were called to philanthropy because of our passion for service or our desire to right the injustices of our age. But that’s not all. A common thread woven throughout the tapestry of our shared purpose is love. It is the beating heart of our sector. And when we back it up with actions that support change and make a difference, we witness the truest expression of that love.
However, even as we collectively strive to elevate the voices of individuals and communities who are underserved and under threat, our work – like every industry – is not without its critics. Recent critiques argue that some use philanthropy to enhance their personal wealth—or as a means of getting other forms of private benefit—rather than serving the common good.
As a sector, we must view this criticism as an opportunity to explore the ways we might productively respond to such critiques because such an exploration can only make us stronger.
I serve because I imagine a world where givers of all kinds are sophisticated and vital players in creating more equitable communities and a better world.
Achieving this vision will require that we as a field transform ourselves. We must operate with integrity and lead with love. We must serve as an example of how to work across divisions, even as our society becomes more polarized. We must forge stronger relationships, learn and grow together and serve as excellent stewards of philanthropic resources. All of this is required if we are to earn and maintain the public’s trust and realize the potential of our field.
This transformation will start at the Council. I am fully committed to leading this organization with integrity, hard work, and most of all, love. As a convener of grantmakers of all sizes, focus areas, geographies and, increasingly, those who are structuring their philanthropy in new and creative ways, the Council has an opportunity to serve as a leadership voice for our field, shifting the narrative and public perception of philanthropy and ensuring that all of us are working to elevate the common good and advance humanity.
But in order to do this, we need you. More specifically, we need your voice, your input and your ideas. For the remainder of 2019, I and my Council colleagues will be gathering information about how the Council can best serve you and your organizations as you do your important work. What’s your vision for philanthropy? And how can the Council, in partnership with other strong sector partners, be a part of making that vision possible?
This summer, I will be conducting in-person and virtual engagement sessions with members and friends across the Country. I’d love for you to attend one of these sessions to share what’s on your mind. If you’re not able to make one of these engagements, there will also be opportunities for you to chat with me one on one, or you can drop me an email at KathleenListens@cof.org.
I look forward to hearing your ideas for ways in which the Council can support your work and further the field of philanthropy in service of the common good and with love at the center.
Kathleen P. Enright
President and CEO
Council on Foundations