Monthly Archives: January 2012

Pitching Partnerships to Your Members of Congress

Guest post by Robert S. Collier, President and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

“If we are not at the table, we run the risk of being on the menu.” How I remember that comment from last year’s Foundations on the Hill (FOTH). Sure enough, we had a close call this past season with efforts to trim the charitable deduction. This alone provides a major incentive for CMF and our members to again come together and join colleagues from across the country for FOTH on March 21–22.

Yes it is an election year, and political pundits say nothing gets done by Congress in an election season. However, this is actually a time when members of Congress are trying to look good to their constituents and partnering with philanthropy is good for their and the government’s image.

Therefore, we focus on public-private partnerships in our meetings with the Michigan Congressional Delegation. From local examples like Flint, where the C.S. Mott Foundation is helping the city address public safety issues, to regional examples like Southeast Michigan, where the 10 foundations supporting the New Economy Initiative are leveraging countless partnerships to support economic development, there’s no shortage of examples in urban and rural Michigan to share. Continue reading


Why You Should Join Me at Foundations on the Hill

Guest post by Kevin Murphy, President of the Berks County Community Foundation and Vice Chair of the Council on Foundations. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

On March 21–22, organized philanthropy will gather in Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill, two days of face-to-face meetings with our nation’s legislators.

It’s important that you be there. Shrinking government budgets put an ever-brighter spotlight on foundations. To some in Washington, we’re a big pile of cash waiting to be spent. To others, we are potentially valuable partners. But for most, we’re an enigma. Spending time with our legislators and their staff members is critical to helping them understand that our work directly improves the quality of life for their constituents. Continue reading

10 Questions or Less for Adam Donaldson

10 Questions or Less is a feature here on the Forum’s Forum in which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week,  Adam Donaldson, Member Services Director at Association of Baltimore Area GrantmakersIf you would like to suggest someone for a profile through 10 Questions or Less, contact Dan Brady.

You have a Masters in Public Policy and have played an active role in Foundations on the Hill. As we head into 2012, an election year, what issues should be at the forefront in regional associations staff’s minds?

All politics is local, which in this context is my way of saying regional association staff always have members at the forefront of their minds! So the questions are what are your members concerned about and what are you doing to engage and to listen to them? Have you established policies with your Board and members that allow you to advocate or lobby when opportunity or need knocks? In the Baltimore area, our members are anxious about government budget cuts and reduced private giving to nonprofits as a result of the economy. We are monitoring carefully the national conversation on charitable deductions and other efforts to gain government revenue from nonprofits and foundations.

You recently shared ABAG’s member renewal “thank you” letter on the Member Marketing listserve. ABAG seems to have a great relationship with its members, partially because of special touches like this. As the Member Services Director who also has a lot of other duties on his plate, how do make sure you get these important details right?

If I do get things right, it is precisely because I turn to the Forum network for best practices and rely on feedback from ABAG staff and long-time members (I believe in group writing). To focus my attention I rely on writing a fairly detailed annual plan and then pour my brain into my outlook calendar (my ring tone is “If I only had a brain”). Everything from reaching out to an unengaged member to taking my toddler to gymnastics happens because my iPhone buzzes. Send me a meeting maker anytime. Continue reading