Monthly Archives: February 2012

New England Regional Association Retreat

Guest Post by Gail Pinkham, Director of Communications, Associated Grant Makers

Pictured, left to right: Mari Jones (ME), Ann Garchinsky (MA), Deborah Werner (CT), Susan Neupauer (RI), Jeff Poulos (MA), Jenn Lammers (MA), Laurie Allen (CT), Nancy Roberts (CT), Janet Henry (ME), and Gail Pinkham (MA). Not pictured, but operating the camera: Nate Marsh (MA)

The executive directors and staff of Associated Grant Makers, Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, Maine Philanthropy Center and Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island came together for a meeting of the minds at our first New England Regional Association retreat on Monday, January 30, 2012, at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in Wellesley, MA.  We met to share our successes and discuss strategies and business models for future programs as well as brainstorm about challenges we are facing in our work with grantmaking members and the nonprofit sector.  It provided a great opportunity to meet in person with our peers outside the office setting, to make connections with colleagues that have similar job roles and to collaborate with each other on future programs that may be of interest to all our members.

Engagement Snapshot: Aging in Connecticut

Guest Post by Deb Werner, Director of Member Services, Connecticut Council for Philanthropy

In January 2011, the Council joined the EngAGEment Initiative, becoming one of 16 regional associations participating in this program with Grantmakers in Aging (GIA). While the Council had been invited to join the EngAGEment Initiative when it originated, and again a few years ago, it was not until recently that the emerging “age wave” finally appeared on the radar screen of the Connecticut philanthropic community and our members.

The Council’s goal, supported by a Leadership Team composed of Council members, is to increase awareness and encourage funders to take an active interest in aging issues in their communities, and use their convening power, influence, knowledge and resources to assist in finding creative solutions. Continue reading

Corporate Philanthropy: Where We Stand

Guest post by Ann Cramer, Americas Director, IBM Corporate citizenship and Corporate Affairs. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

There has never been a more challenging time for philanthropy. Globalization, natural disasters, and economic turmoil have placed additional stresses on social safety nets already stretched to the max. In this environment, the philanthropic sector must be smarter, more adaptable, and more collaborative.

None of us has all the answers, but some innovative approaches to giving already have shown strong results. Our sector must focus on bringing about meaningful change to create sustainable value. In other words, we must move away from “checkbook charity” and toward an integrated approach to giving that includes volunteerism, contributions of expertise (including mentoring), and public-private partnerships that enable all participants to leverage their best assets in service to the greater good. Continue reading

FOTH: A Time to Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk … Comfortably

Guest post by David Biemesderfer, President and CEO of Florida Philanthropic Network. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

Florida Philanthropic Network is pleased to once again be leading the state’s delegation to Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), March 21–22. Although we coordinate visits with our members of Congress back in their home districts throughout the year, FOTH is a critical part of our annual public policy engagement work.

Because Florida is such a large state, FOTH offers a great opportunity for our grantmaking members from Miami to the Panhandle to gather in the nation’s capital for two days of focused interaction with our senators and representatives and their staffs. Our FOTH team members always walk away from the experience feeling energized and inspired by the collective voice we bring to Washington, on the statewide and national levels, and they enjoy the camaraderie that the FOTH experience always engenders.
FOTH is also a great model of collaboration between the Council on Foundations, the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, and the Forum’s members across the country. Our sector is much better served, and has much more power, when we all come together for the common good.

A highlight for us last year was our meeting with Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), who at the time was a new member of the all-important House Ways and Means Committee. Two years ago, it was our meeting with then-Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, which led directly to her introduction of a bill to extend the IRA charitable rollover. Talk about seeing our Hill visits make a difference! We always walk away from our days on the Hill learning something new, making new connections, and feeling like we moved the needle just a bit further in helping philanthropy to build a better Florida.

I’ve been involved with FOTH since the beginning, and my advice to our delegation members never changes. First, make sure you tell your story, in your own words, about the good work you’re doing in your communities. Second, always wear comfortable shoes.

Confessions of a Self-Proclaimed Policy Wonk

Guest post by Jordan Marshall, Initiatives and Special Projects Manager at Rasmuson Foundation. This post also appears on RE:Philanthropy, a blog from the Council on Foundations.

I admit it. I’m a policy wonk who happens to serve a foundation that understands the importance of public policy and advocacy work. We consider weighing in where our participation may be a catalyst for positive change in our state, our region, and our nation. That’s why the annual trek to Washington, D.C., for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH) is a highlight of the year. In addition to being a welcome opportunity for face-to-face meetings with our state’s congressional delegation and staff, it’s also a prime opportunity to visit with peers, team up with regional associates, and exchange stories and ideas about how philanthropy can make our communities stronger.

Rasmuson Foundation is located in Anchorage, Alaska, which is just about as far away from the nation’s capital as you can get and still be a member of the Council. And while there are many wonderful things that make Alaska unique, our quality of life is in many ways shaped by federal legislation, the tax code, and their intersection with the nonprofit sector—things we share with our peers across the United States.

FOTH is a chance for us to speak up for the causes that matter to us. It’s an opportunity to tell the stories of how our grants, convenings, and research make an impact back home. It’s a time to advocate on behalf of nonprofits, charities, and philanthropic organizations, as well as to share examples of innovative ways we and our grantees are tackling some of society’s toughest challenges. Part of the magic of FOTH is we receive direct feedback from policymakers, which helps in framing conversations and asking the right questions down the road.

Our commitment to participate in FOTH is grounded in a desire to strengthen the sector, speak up about our role as a funder, learn from other practitioners, and explain how we are making a positive difference in the lives of real people across our great nation, in our state, and in the very neighborhoods in which we live.