A Letter from Ronna Brown

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A Letter from Ronna Brown

Dear Members,

Every fall we eagerly await cooler weather and welcome the fresh energy and excitement that comes with a sense of a new beginning.

This September is unquestionably different. The list of what is on everyone’s plate is long. Nearly seven months into the pandemic, we are overwhelmed with those we have lost and facing worries about a second wave. Seven months into remote work in philanthropy, we are aware of the privilege of that work and still exhausted by the prospect of another six or nine months of it continuing. We must continue to focus, with laser like commitment, to working towards racial justice. And we are facing a critically important election amidst deep assaults to our democratic institutions and practices.

One thing we can all do, every day, is commit to the actions that are within our own control. At Philanthropy New York we have been focused on our commitments to each other. We are committed to intentionally building and nurturing an interdependent philanthropic community in a virtual world. We ask that you join us in this commitment.

The last six months have shown us what’s possible when strong working relationships exist within a community. Philanthropy New York members have come together to pool resources to address both immediate and long-term needs. And members have pushed each other to grapple with complex and nuanced issues and adapt philanthropic practices. Our work goes farther when we are in relationship with others, it’s time to take stock andbe intentional about how we move forward over the next six months. What kind of community do we seek to build virtually?

One small but powerful piece of building community is the commitment to showing up - showing up to learn together, showing up to align strategies, showing up to collaborate. And, yes, showing up to Zoom. Yes, Zoom!  We get it – the Zoom fatigue is real! As grateful as we are to have this virtual option, the number of hours we're on Zoom is exhausting. At some point every day, we each recognize that we have started to hit our limit. However, one thing we have learned over the last few months is that every person involved in a program or meeting, from the speakers to the participants, gets more value when we fully commit to being present. When circumstances permit, (and we know they do not always) we’re asking you to find that additional capacity to show up - share resources and questions via the chat, offer insight, and join by video when you can. While this seems like a small thing, we know that the sense of being part of a strong, engaged and mutually supportive community is anything but that. Building and nurturing relationships with colleagues matters because it strengthens all of our work.
Philanthropy New York will keep our activities primarily virtual likely into next summer. This is a long time to go without the wonderful impromptu hallway conversations and meet-ups with colleagues you haven’t seen in a while, and just frankly, being able to have more fully human connections during the work day. This fall we're going to experiment with different ways for all of us to connect and engage on a more human level. We will host PNY First Friday conversations over the next few months where members can pop-in and out to engage with peers in informal chats and check-in on each other. So plan now to join on us Friday, October 2nd, at 10:00am for our first PNY First Friday conversation.

Having a strong vibrant community around you supporting your work and stretching your ideas will help as we face, together, the complex road ahead. We are asking you to be brave enough to join us in these efforts – and then give us feedback. Additionally, we’d love to hear how you and your teams are coming together and any suggestions you have for Philanthropy New York to help facilitate the informal-but-meaningful conversations we’ve lost through the virtual nature of life right now.

Here’s to an energy filled season of supporting, connecting and sometimes simply showing up and working together.

Share your ideas for how PNY can nurture community in this time and space.
Best regards,

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