International Grantmakers Unite: Grappling with the State of the World

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

International Grantmakers Unite: Grappling with the State of the World
By Buff Kavelman, President, Kavelman Group Philanthropic Advisors and Patricia Moore Nicholas, Program Officer, International Program, Carnegie Corporation

It is easy today to be distressed, or even overwhelmed, by the state of many things around the world, no matter what our political and professional views may be. We live in a troubled time.

The International Grantmakers Network (IGN) provides a unique opportunity to effect positive change by working communally as philanthropic professionals to take advantage of this transitional moment.

Collectively, we work in different fields and address a great variety of issues. This diversity in the IGN is one of its strengths. Through the IGN, members share ideas and best practices and learn from experts in our programs. We discover that many of our issues are interconnected. We help each other develop essential partnerships across Philanthropy New York (PNY) and throughout the regions we serve. Equally important — we have fun and social time together, too! We believe this is a part of community building we often don’t make the time for, but is as essential as our work together.

Author and researcher Frances Moore Lappé, who revolutionized thinking about world hunger and democracy policy, writes that community isn’t a luxury or merely a “nice thing”; community is essential to our wellbeing. Even though social isolation, fueled by technology, is on the rise, we work better when we work as a group. What’s that age-old proverb?

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

So, as we settle into our fall routines, consider the opportunity to add community to your career. But don’t take our word for it; hear what our fellow IGN members have to say. Our colleagues quoted below come from some of our largest foundations, they are philanthropic advisors, they represent small individual donors, and they work at corporate foundations. Read how useful this network is for them, and consider making it useful for you:

A Safe Place to Share: “It’s very helpful to have a safe place to share and talk about the complications and complexities of our work, the successes we’ve had, and the mistakes we’ve made.”

New Relationships and Partnerships: “A new colleague we met in a funders’ briefing became an essential partner to help launch a major new global initiative.”

Learning and Building Capacity: “IGN programs related to global philanthropic trends and legal issues have been instrumental in informing our work with international grantees from three continents.”

Program Leadership Opportunities: “Membership has enabled me to propose, develop, and facilitate programs that highlight developments in the field, and to showcase several grantees who are doing emerging work.”

We invite any philanthropic professional active in international grantmaking — or considering it — to be a part of this growing group. To join, contact: Shamira Lukomwa, Public Policy Fellow,