My Giving Story

Hurricane Sandy has once again brought disasters—and the desire to help—to the forefront. Media attention has been critical to the nation’s preparedness efforts and in bringing immediate relief to affected communities. But lives will be impacted long after the storm has passed and media attention has faded. This is where private philanthropy can do its best work. It is critically important to long-term recovery because of its flexibility, ability to be forward thinking in every funding area, and capacity to complement public dollars.

Have you ever had to present a large amount of data to time-crunched colleagues? Instead of using tables or spreadsheets, think about using an infographic to tell your story. An infographic is a visual representation of data or information. Instead of making your audience do lots of reading or comb through tables full of numbers, an infographic helps you get your point across efficiently and in a visually pleasing way.

Telluride, Colo., a picturesque historical mining town perched just below 9,000 feet in the San Juan Mountains, has a rich history of innovation, invention, and reinvention. The well-known collaboration between LL Nunn, Nikola Telsa, and George Westinghouse in 1891 forever changed the delivery of energy. The mining era transformed the region into an economic engine that produced hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and employed thousands. And the 1970s and 1980s brought about the region’s transformation into a world-class skiing and tourism destination.

Since I became Council president and CEO, I have spent many hours talking with our members and other leaders engaged with philanthropic giving around the country. Many of you shared that the diversity of interests of Council members would be among my biggest challenges. I disagree; I think it’s our biggest asset. Yes, philanthropy often groups itself into categories such as family, independent, community, operating, or corporate grantmakers. But at the core, all of us seek to have an impact in the communities we serve, creating hope and opportunity when neither seems possible.

As the practice of impact investing matures, evolving from a peripheral concept to a mainstream practice, the momentum around this nascent industry is growing. At a time when governments, foundations and donors look to do more with less, impact investing offers a means to generate social and environmental value with the potential for financial returns. However, this opportunity has often been limited by an overall weak capacity on the demand side of the equation and a resulting lack of investment-ready projects. These limitations undermine the impact investment industry’s quest to reach maturity, scale and sustainability.

There are 717 community foundations in the United States making grants of about $4.6 billion in their communities. I know because it’s on the cover of a publication about community foundations.

Our world has become increasingly dependent upon content to attract people’s attention. This content ranges from blogs on the Internet to television shows. Due to global shifts in our economy, economic developers have to work harder to attract companies and individual entrepreneurs. What used to be local efforts to attract job creators from neighboring cities and regions has shifted to competition with states located across the United States and foreign countries.