Category Archives: #cof10

Why Being Next Gen is a Good Thing

This is a guest post by Jillian Vukusich, Director of Community Investments, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.  Follow Jillian on Twitter:  @JCVukusich

by:  Jillian Vukusich

I’ve recently returned from a two-day session with the Council on Foundation’s Next Generation Task Force. Largely a time to brainstorm about strategies for inclusion of the next generation within the Council and the philanthropic field in general, the conversation often turned to a deeper, thoughtful conversation about why.

Why should it matter? Why should boards and staff be multigenerational? Why is it important to the field? Why is it important to be thoughtful about our role in giving? And how can we help?

These questions I hold deeply. We all giggle about our anecdotes of the “hey kiddos” and “you look so young” and “how old are you?” and “don’t you want to have more kids?” We all know that the quips are well-meaning and well-intentioned so we do our best to overlook them. However, our sector has another problem. We have to look deeper and we have to look further. We have to plan and we have to be strategic. All of those things that we ask of our grantees. What’s OUR sustainability plan for our sector? What will the world of community foundations look like for the bicentennial? What will the field of philanthropy look like?

We are a field built to last. We all know the community foundation mantra: For Good. Forever. Thing is…I really believe in that statement. I believe in the model. I believe in the power of endowment. And I deeply believe that it is my humble privilege to serve a community of individuals who are willing to work together to create incredible impact in our communities.

So the thing is: Yes, we get criticized for asking for too much. Leadership. Technology. Access. A seat at the table. But there are SO many benefits and opportunities for our generation.

  • Sometimes I think our biggest opportunity was the crash of the economy. Yep…it helped us. As a generation. I know it helped me ask questions about investment strategies, spending policies, business models, board oversight, philanthropic services. The list goes on. Questions I didn’t think of when the grantmaking budget was handed to me all crisp and clean with a full spending policy magically in place. I hope that this experience will be an incredible learning point for our generation to come. When to take risk and when not to. We won’t always be right but we’ll be informed.
  • The current leadership. The abundant body of knowledge and experience within this field are incredible. To learn from those who came before. I can’t even begin to imagine the possibilities of the knowledge we will be able to share with those coming after.
  • The network. How fortunate are we to be able to connect virtually and regularly? To sit at a table with young (yep, we’re young) leaders, engaged in dialogue that transcends process and policy, is…well, energizing. I am so hopeful for our future. I’m so hopeful for the opportunity we have to build on such an incredible foundation in this sector. And the true privilege is knowing that these colleagues share the same passion for this work as I do. The greatest benefit of being Next Gen? I almost can’t believe how fortunate I am to count such incredible leaders as friends and colleagues.

And it isn’t just those at the table. Who else is out there? Part of our job as the Next Generation Task Force is to help identify other emerging leaders in philanthropy. Where are you? Stand up. Be heard. Be strategic. Get involved. Please, I urge you, fill out the Next Generation profile.

So, all-in-all, being Next Gen isn’t so bad. And, hey, call me kiddo if you want…I won’t be 31 forever so I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.

I can’t finish this post with saying thank you to the leadership at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties for encouraging my participation and growth.  And thank you to my Next Gen Task Force colleagues for your laughter, your inspiration, your knowledge and your leadership.

Blog Team Coverage of the Fall Conference for Community Foundations

Philanthropy411 recently covered the Fall Conference for Community Foundations with the help of a blog team. This is a list of all posts published for this event. You can also view the Council on Foundation’s blog team coverage on their blog Re: Philanthropy.

1. Announcing Blog Team for Community Foundations Conference
By: Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting; Twitter: @philanthropy411

2. Anticipation
by Brian Frederick, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County

3. Sleepless in Charlotte!
by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation; Twitter: @GRCommFound

4. A Bird’s Eye View
by Jillian Vukusich Director of Community Investments, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties; Twitter: @JCVukusich

5. Thoughts on Community Foundations
by Barbara D. Kibbe, Vice President, Client Services at The Monitor Institute

6. Diversity and Inclusion in Community Foundations
by Nicole Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer, East Bay Community Foundation

7. Powering Communities – A Great Beginning
by Monica Patten, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundations of Canada

8. Babies and Bathwater
by Mike Batchelor, President of The Erie Community Foundation

9. Mixing it up with CEOs and Trustees
by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation; Twitter: @GRCommFound

10. What if Each of Us Knew What All of Us Do?
by Mike Batchelor, President of The Erie Community Foundation

11. Powering Communities – A Great Beginning
by Monica Patten, President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundations of Canada

12. The Elephant in the Room
by China Brotsky, Senior Vice-President at Tides

13. Fierce
by CJ Callen, Program Director at CFLeads

14. Conference Attendees are Helping Students across the Country through DonorsChoose.org!
by Katie Bisbee, Senior Vice President of Marketing at DonorsChoose.org; Twitter: @DonorsChoose

15. Joining up the Dots Across the World…
by Jenny Hodgson, Executive Director of the Global Fund for Community Foundations

16. Community Philanthropy Values
by Brian Frederick, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County

17. Of Cars and Communities
by Nick Deychakiwsky, Program Officer at The Mott Foundation

18. Trading Power with the Next Generations
by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation; Twitter: @GRCommFound

19. “Following is Sexy”: The New Mantra in Community Leadership?
by CJ Callen, Program Director at CFLeads

20. “Failing to Win”: Community Foundations as Risk-takers and Change-makers
by CJ Callen, Program Director at CFLeads

21. Philanthropy Can’t Ignore Technology
by Lynn Luckow, President & CEO of the Craigslist Foundation; Twitter: @craigslist_fndn

22. Your Tools May Not Be What You Think…Get Out of Your Way!
by Jillian Vukusich Director of Community Investments, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties; Twitter: @JCVukusich

23.  Outcome-Based Evaluation in Community Foundations
by Lisa Bottoms, Program Director for Human Services and Child and Youth Development at The Cleveland Foundation

Outcome-Based Evaluation in Community Foundations

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Lisa Bottoms Program Director for Human Services and Child and Youth Development, The Cleveland Foundation

By:  Lisa Bottoms

I attended a session at the Fall Community Foundations conference called “Making It Count: Incorporating an Outcomes-Based Grant Approach,” given by Hal Williams, Senior Fellow at The Rensselaerville Institute.  Mr. Williams asked us funders the difference between the following words:  benchmarks, indicators, goals, objectives, outcomes, results and impact.  So many words are used differently based on the many outcome frameworks and are often used in grant reporting documents.

Because of this, many non-profits approach outcome frameworks as a form of procedural compliance.  Basically they say, “tell us what to say and we’ll say it.”  If an outcome framework is to become a way in which we track success, it has to be more than fundraising and reporting.  It has to be about success for those that the non-profit helps.

During the session we were challenged to look at grant making through an investor’s lens.    Funders often see themselves as distributors of money vs. investors looking to build human capital as a result of the project funded.  Often, evaluation has become marginalized, happening at the end of a project when we are unable to make revisions. It is also viewed as costly vs. looking at outcomes and what was achieved as a result of the program success.  Instead of looking at measureable outcomes, funders should be asking what are we buying, what are the chances we will get it, is this the best possible use of money, was the result achieved and would it have happened if the program was not there.  Mr. Williams stated that this doesn’t have to be complicated.  If a non-profit organization can answer three questions for its programs then it has an outcome framework.  The questions are:

  1. How do you define success: meaning, results from your services?
  2. How do you know for sure when success has been achieved?
  3. Half way through your program, how do you know that you have enough time and money left to get to the success you have defined?

The first question asks you to be clear about results, not just activity and process.  This means you can tell investors what results you are committed to achieve.  The second question asks for clarity on the evidence to be used to confirm success.  You know now how to verify.  By answering the third question, you have a way of tracking progress not just against budget categories and work plans, but against participant progress to the gain they are to achieve.

Mr. Williams makes the point that very little of the traditional proposal content addresses results, but focuses on process instead.  Looking at outcomes in this way will change how foundations invest in programs and leaders as well as how funders operate.  This session was not only persuasive on the need for change, but it provided clear and practical ways on how to achieve it

Your Tools May Not Be What You Think…Get Out of Your Way!

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Jillian Vukusich, Director of Community Investments, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.  Follow Jillian on Twitter: @JCVukusich.

By:  Jillian Vukusich

Tuesday night I had the pleasure of visiting the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center to catch a show with my cousin. My thought was that the show, Mary Poppins,  would be a bit of an escape from loaded discussions and engaged interaction. Don’t get me wrong—this has been an incredibly energizing conference. However, I was thinking a little “spoonful of sugar” would provide some respite. Well, I was wrong, in a good way. (The show is incredibly dynamic by the way! Be sure to see it if it is coming to your town.)

So, in the first act, the young Banks children visit their father at his office…a bank of course.  As a client leaves Mr. Banks’ office after being denied a business loan, he hands a sixpence to each of the children and says something to the effect of, “The value of money is not its worth but rather what you do with it.” Boom! The rest of the show was about philanthropy to me.

At every session, in every discussion, even at a show about a woman who walks around with an umbrella in tow—we talked about change and using all of our tools in an effective way. Aside from financial resources, we have TONS of other tools such as:

  • Tool #1: Staff – The Next Generation conversation (blogged about by the vibrant Diana Seiger here) discussed how our staff members are an incredible asset. Find them. Grow them. Use them. Trust them.
  • Tool #2: Ability to convene – Secretary of Education Arne Duncan providing advice to community foundations. Our moral, neutral standings in our communities present incredible opportunities for convening.
  • Tool #3: Ability to innovate – My favorite quote from author Jeff Jarvis, “Do what you do best and link to the rest!” We’re all getting to the roots of our services and now is the time for partnership and innovation.
  • Tool #4: Leveraging – The presentation on workforce solutions provided excellent examples of how spending a dollar that leverage 60 times that is much more effective than spending sixty dollars that will never turn itself over. (Kudos to Chicago, Erie, Cincinnati and South Wood!)
  • Tool #5: Technology—Love it or hate, we have to use it. Technology came up at almost every single session I attended.

The list could go on. And this list isn’t new. But very rarely did the discussions turn to how much money it would take to accomplish x, y, or z. We need to get out of our own way. We need to be open to changing how we do business. We need to strengthen this sector so that instead of focusing on the Centennial of Community Foundations we can rest assured that the Bicentennial will be greater because of the decisions we make and actions we take now.

“Anything is possible if we can get out of our own way.” –Jane Banks

Some changes can be made.
You can move a mountain if you use a larger spade.
Jelly isn’t jelly till you set it.
[My favorite line!]

If you reach for the stars all you get are the stars.
But we’ve found a whole new spin

If you reach for the heavens
You get the stars thrown in.

Anything Can Happen, Mary Poppins

Disclaimer: In no way does this post advocate for drugging your kids so they’ll clean their room…with or without sugar. 🙂


Philanthropy Can’t Ignore Technology

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Lynn Luckow, President & CEO of the Craigslist Foundation.  Follow his organization on Twitter – @craigslist_fndn.

By:  Lynn Luckow

Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do? spoke at lunch today about why philanthropy can’t ignore technology or the lessons learned from key technology organizations.  He reinforced the power of people connecting to one another and to the institutions they trust.  Q&A revealed both support and ambivalence by foundations to fully embrace new  technologies.

The keynote and discussion made me even more confident that a new platform being developed by Craigslist Foundation to connect people in communities and neighborhoods to themselves and to useful tools, resources, and organizations, and to stories of success, failure, and innovation in community building is necessary.  Funded so far by the Knight Foundation and craigslist, the platform prototype will be tested in early 2011 and work across sectors and silos to capture useful stories and promising practices in addressing the central issues that communities and neighborhoods face: education, environment, crime,
safety, homelessness, job creation, and actually knowing who lives in the next block over.

You can keep tabs on this initiative at www.craigslistfoundation.org.

Of Cars and Communities

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Nick Deychakiwsky, Program Officer at The Mott Foundation.

By Nick Deychakiwsky

Last night I got a macho ego boost when I compared my NASCAR race car simulator best lap time with COF staffer Will Heaton who is originally from North Carolina and a self-described NASCAR fanatic.  When I showed him my best lap time, which was a couple tenths of a second better than his, he jokingly humphed, “Well, you’re from Michigan!”  Yes indeed – though I still proudly hang on to my Cleveland roots.  And while I think Ohio and Michigan really aren’t that different (sorry, OSU and U of M fans), in the 7 years I’ve been living in southeast Michigan I really do notice the car culture.  Especially when driving through all the vacant land in Detroit or in Flint (think about that for a sec).  And after the latest downsizing, sure feels like there is a love-hate relationship between the auto industry and the people of Michigan.

Which is why Steve Gunderson’s speech Tuesday morning comparing community foundations to auto dealerships initially struck me as, well, unusual (but maybe, upon reflection, not so unusual given the previous night’s reception at NASCAR).  In his Midwestern homey style, Steve traced his family history from grandfather farmer doing car repairs to four brothers as auto dealers and then drew out lessons of success applicable to both industries:  1) reputation matters; 2) quality matters; 3) service is 24/7; 4) speed is important; and 5) location matters.  A bit strange, but not stretched, this comparison…..It rang true, the idea that long-term success is all about caring and responsiveness.

The Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures (MCFV), The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) and the C.S. Mott Foundation have been talking about how we might work together to help community foundations in small and mid-sized ‘auto cities’ better contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities, in a way that addresses three Es – not just Economy, but Equity and Environment as well.  And in a way that brings in everyday community residents into the process, particularly those that are in greatest need.  This resonates a lot with what I’ve been hearing over and over in practically every session I’ve been in at this conference so far – the imperative of engaging citizens for community foundations to really be community leaders.  We’re not yet sure what will come of this, but it promises to be a fun ride.

Trading Power with the Next Generations

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.  Follow her foundation on Twitter: @GRCommFound.

By Diana Sieger

Subtitle: I can feel your hot breath on the back of my neck!

This morning I participated in a session entitled “Trading Power” dealing with the “importance of multigenerational involvement in philanthropy.”  In other words, how to involve all ages in the decision-making and learning at foundations while we gain insight on the generations coming up!

Two Council on Foundations staff leaders, Dori Kreiger, Managing Director, Family Philanthropy Services and Andrew Ho, Manager, Global Philanthropy designed and organized this session .  It was purposely designed to encourage audience participation and the participants were arranged in a fishbowl fashion surrounded by a circle of attendees.  A key feature of the session involved role playing situations.  It worked well!  Jillian Vukusich, Director of Community Investment at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Audrey Jacobs, Director of the Center for Family Philanthropy at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and I acted out the scenarios.

In the first scenario, Jillian played the “seasoned” Executive Director who was meeting with next gen “program officer” played by Andy Ho.  They acted out a negative and much more positive version of the scenario as Andy was looking for more leadership opportunities.  In the second scenario, I played the seasoned Executive Director speaking with Audrey who was the seasoned Board Chair as I was trying to set the stage for bringing some younger leaders on the community foundation board.  The Good and the Bad were played out here as well.  Oh my!  What an experience!  The session attendees did talk . . . a lot!  Great conversation!

Highlights:

  • This is multigenerational not just about the “next gen”
  • Leadership needs to be shared and opportunities need to be broadened
  • Communication is changing (has changed!) rapidly – including social media
  • Work habits different and the next gen may see their careers as a “train making several stops”
  • Philanthropy needs to offer ways to show what great leadership can look like

I strongly urge everyone to go to www.cof.org/tradingpower to find a rich resource of articles, books as well as the report Trading Power. The report includes interviews with 18 philanthropic leaders and their thoughts on the next generation and the exchange that can ensue between the generations and indeed, sharing power.

As a boomer who has been the CEO of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for 23 years, I know that the key thing is to create real situations to spread the power, authority and responsibility to staff as well as new opportunities to relate to upcoming generations of donors and all levels of community leaders.  We have involved youth grantmakers on our board for the past 8 years – one a year with the next one in the wings.  They have all the rights and responsibilities of any of our trustees PLUS they do participate in my performance review!  We are actively looking for the best people who can help us reach our lofty goals and address our future strategies.  It takes people of all ages, backgrounds and experience.  The key thing is that we are looking for people who have great passion for our communities!

To my fellow boomers, Embrace the new leadership and don’t be fearful to share power and leadership.  And yes, to our next gen leaders, I DO feel your hot breath on the back of my neck.  I’ll turn around to guide and involve you don’t worry.  I am not retiring for quite a few years though so learn all you can from me and I’ll learn from you as well.