Leading By Example

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Leading By Example

A Message from the President of Philanthropy New York, Ronna Brown, published originally in the New York PhilanthroPost Monthly August 2017 edition.

Our national political scene has had rare moments of humor, but for most Americans we have faced months of disturbing and dispiriting behavior on a national level designed to divide us into opposing factions. We have seen leaders intent on unraveling core values and principles.    

So, it is wonderful and energizing to see leaders and groups behaving beautifully with a shared goal to serve the common good.  After decades of calls for greater coordination and partnership among Philanthropy Serving Organizations (the new “it” acronym, “PSOs”) showing leadership by example and coming together in new ways that are both meaningful and structurally significant.

Two weeks ago, we published in our Insights column a piece by Dave Biemesderfer announcing the new name for United Philanthropy Forum, a name that denotes the expanded mission and membership of the organization that used to be the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

In the Forum’s own words:

“The Forum is in the beginning stages of implementing a new vision to be the place where philanthropy’s infrastructure comes together. We are creating a new kind of philanthropic network that brings together regional PSOs' deep regional roots and connections with national PSOs' deep content knowledge and reach.”

Following through on the promise of a strategic plan announced last year, The Forum is now a network of 60 PSOs, including Regional Associations and national issue-based, identity-based and practice-based affinity groups.  And this year’s annual conference in San Francisco – where the new name of our network was unveiled – showcased the amazing amount of “binding together” that is happening within and across this growing network.   

At the conference, I and my PNY colleagues were thrilled to connect more deeply and plan new work with our fellow PSOs. Last year, Philanthropy New York worked in partnership (mostly to create or co-host programs) with no less than 48 different PSOs, including:

  • Center for Effective Philanthropy
  • Communications Network
  • Council on Foundations
  • Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy
  • Environmental Grantmakers Association
  • Exponent Philanthropy
  • Funders for LGBTQ Issues
  • Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
  • Grantmakers in Health
  • Media Impact Funders
  • Mission Investors Exchange
  • Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
  • Philanthropy Roundtable

We expect to increase not just the number but the depth of our PSO relationships throughout 2017 and beyond. We were also delighted that so many new colleagues want to work with us!  

We believe this new vision will create better learning and networking opportunities for Philanthropy New York members, more connections across funder networks and a stronger voice for the entire philanthropic sector.  But the modeling of civic discourse and forging common bonds is just as important as the practical outcomes for PSOs and their members.  

One of the other important threads from the annual conference was a consistent focus – among PSOs of all shapes and sizes – on racial equity and the imperative for philanthropy to be active and committed leaders to achieve racial justice. We know that we have many partners now to support Philanthropy New York’s own work on racial equity.  

At a time when too many of our national leaders seem intent on division, philanthropy is growing more united.  We hope to lead by example.