Council on Foundations 2009 Annual Conference

For those like me who were unable to physically attend the Council on Foundation's 60th Annual Conference, you could still get some of the great information shared at the Conference via blogs and tweets.  Of course, you would have missed out on the commingling, networking, and energy associated with the Conference.  Here's a taste of my Conference (mostly virtual) experience:

  • Attended Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) pre-Conference reception and membership meeting in Atlanta.
  • Passed by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic Site (including his birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, and his gravesite).  Thanks Kori!
  • Read Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson's post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the Association of Black Foundation Executive (ABFE) special session. Dr. John Powell "argued that foundations must play an active role through public policy and advocacy in shaping how the stimulus money is directed.  His final point was that universal programs that do not address race will continue to maintain disparities rather than eliminate them.  How, when and where will the broader field of philanthropy begin to have these urgent discussions in addition to the affinity groups?"
  • Read Headwaters Foundation for Justice Executive Director Trista Harris' post on Tactical Philanthropy regarding two themes of the Conference:  (1) pessimism ("it will take most foundations until 2017 to get to 2007 asset levels, assuming a healthy (and unlikely) 10% return"); and (2) change ("Stimulus dollars are coming to our communities and foundations across the country are coming to the table to make sure that the new dollars don’t exacerbate current inequalities, foundations’  traditional Lone Ranger approach to grantmaking has been replaced with a renewed spirit of collaboration and an honest look at the root causes of systemic issues, and economic challenges have made all of us look for new ways to streamline and improve our business model.").
  • Read Harris' post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the session – Philanthropy's Role in Linking Social and Personal Transformation ("individual transformation is key to organizational and community transformation").
  • Read Ensemble Capital Management director Sean Stannard-Stockton's post on Tactical Philanthropy asking where are Philanthropy's rock stars.  Philanthropy's inability to effectively spread ideas leads it to being ignored.  Sean explains, "I don't want a pop star philanthropy that encourages celebrity status, I want a passion filled philanthropy that is energizing, dynamic and larger than life."
  • Watched Day One keynote speaker Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, wow the crowd.  Lewis stated that foundations need to emulate the civil rights movement and "get in the way," "get in trouble."  Stannard Stockton tweets: "Just found my rockstar."
  • Read AAPIP member Kaberi Banerjee-Murthy's post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the session – Helping Nonprofits Through Economic Tough Times (quoting Dione Alexander (Nonprofit Finance Fund), "You need to come out of the recession different and stronger.  This is the new normal.")
  • Read COF Manager Sarita Venkat's post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the session – The Serve America Act – An In-Depth Discussion ("It's ironic that government it often criticized for its slow-moving ways.  Philanthropy now will have to keep up.")
  • Read Venkat's post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the session – Praise and Skepticism: "Philanthropy At Its Best" and the Future of the Sector.  The debate on the NCRP Report (discussed in an earlier post), which set forth the organization's criteria for philanthropy at its best (including 50% of grant dollars to lower-income communities, communities of color, and other marginalized groups) continued.  My reaction:  it's time to discuss the very important issues raised by the  Report and not get stuck on the debating the merits of the Report itself.
  • Read PG&E Vice President of Civic Partnership and Community Initiatives Ophelia Basgal's post on Re: Philanthropy regarding the session - Integrating Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility ("… listened to a fascinating discussion by reps from Waste Management (WM) and on how they've completely integrated their giving programs into their business operations.  No more checkbook philanthropy.")
  • Read Give2Asia Director of Philanthropy Dien Yuen's post on Asian American Giving (and Tactical Philanthropy) on the sessions devoted to international grantmaking.  Fascinating to learn more about the joint Council on Foundations and TechSoup Global initiative "to create a database of international organizations that were vetted and were determined to be the equivalent of U.S. charitable organizations."  "According to the initiative's study, funders would increase their international grant-making by 16% if the platform was in place."  Outsourced equivalency determinations to encourage more international grantmaking for about $2,000 per organization.  Wow!
  • Read TCC Group Senior Vice President Paul Connolly's post on Tactical Philanthropy regarding the rapidly expanding ways foundations may be held accountable ("Look Out Foundations – Here Comes Everybody").  Connolly states: "New social media technologies will heighten the scrutiny of foundations by a broader range of engaged constituents. … The power imbalance between funders and grantors will probably always exist, but dynamic technological tools will close the gap at least a little."
  • Read Grantmakers for Effective Organizations CEO Kathleen Enright's post on Tactical Philanthropy regarding the dangers of the government stimulus package.  Because "most government contracts reimburse only 60 or 70 cents on the dollar," how will nonprofits awarded with stimulus money recover the rest of the costs?
  • Watched the closing keynote address by former President Bill Clinton.  Clinton challenged nonprofits to be creative ("When you and I finish our work and we look back on it, our success will be determined on how we answered the 'how' question.")  He also said about the recession: "It isn't very pretty to watch but everyone's going to get out alive."  Contrast this to NYU Professor Paul Light's prediction that at least 100,000 nonprofits will die this year.