Tag Archives: Council on Foundations

Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 1

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Jorge Cino, Social Media Fellow, at the Levi Strauss Foundation .

by Jorge Cino

“You’re here to connect storytelling to social change,” Daniel Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation, bluntly told me during our introductory work meeting in January.

It was a tall order. He believes––as he states on his blog post, “Mutual Frontiers”––that, in the context of social media, storytelling can serve as a handmaiden to advance the Foundation’s goal of communicating its work in original and better ways.

Program staff knew their portfolios were brimming with compelling narratives. They were eager to shine the spotlight on the pioneering work of the foundation’s grantees.

The challenge was how to tell these multifaceted stories in an accessible, succinct and engaging way—no doubt, in a manner that resonates with my “Millennial” peers, who are defining the zeitgeist of the online social marketplace.

We initially held a series of meetings to introduce me to each grant manager’s portfolio. Daniel urged the entire team to attend each session and collaborate on the vetting process.

As the Foundation’s writer, my first charge was to ease the team into “storytelling mode”—in short, to persuade each member to begin talking about their work as they would to family and friends.

In two forthcoming posts, I’ll detail how this project is coming to fruition. Next up, I’ll outline how I helped grant makers parse their portfolios and enter the “mindset” of storytelling.

I would also like to welcome the input, comments, or questions of any and all readers. Is your organization interested in entering the social media space? What are some of the strategies and practices you’re implementing?

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Mutual Frontiers: Social Change, Storytelling and the Blogosphere

Philanthropy411, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director of the Levi Strauss Foundation.

by Daniel Jae-Won Lee

In my view, the core capability of foundation professionals is the craft of framing. Day in and out, we’re called upon to “make the case” – for a compelling issue or cutting-edge approach (logic models, anyone?), to a particular audience (our donors and boards, for the most part) and for a specific outcome (resource flow: ka-ching!). But we don’t perform the work described in proposals. And the money we disburse is not our own.

We wield metrics, social analysis and stories to advance our cause.  We play the translator, the anthropologist, the sociologist, the statistician, the policy wonk, the lawyer. We emerge as “class commuters”—traversing disparate social, economic and cultural boundaries in the course of a day.

No doubt, storytelling is core to the art of framing.  But if there were a talking “Philanthropy Ken” or “Philanthropy Barbie” doll, it might confess at the tug of a string, “Storytelling is hard.”

Let’s face it:  the technical writing called for in our profession doesn’t lend itself to fluid transposition to the social media landscape.  Amid the zeitgeist of the blogosphere, the language of our grants is dry, wordy and academic. (What’s more, it doesn’t resonate within the visual, tactile culture of a fashion apparel company.)

At the Levi Strauss Foundation, we are keen to share the remarkable stories of our grantees:  casting the spotlight on their pioneering spirit and ambitious change agendas.  We’ve always known there’s a trove of stories in our grant portfolios—but until recently, we’ve lacked the wherewithal to tell them.

While our program managers will wax rhapsodic about the courage and innovation of the pioneers who foster our work around the globe, the charge of capturing this essence in a gripping, accessible manner – all within the scope of 400 words – has proven daunting.

In short, narrative storytelling—while a ‘clincher tool’ in the utility belt of philanthropic framing—calls for a skill set most grantmakers haven’t honed.

We knew we couldn’t go at it alone.  In January, we brought aboard a Social Media Fellow to help us craft pieces about the pioneering work of our grantees for the new corporate blog at Levi Strauss & Co., Unzipped.  A native of Argentina, Jorge Cino is a talented, young creative writer who brings unique acumen – the skills of a storyteller and fluency in the blogosphere—to the task at hand.

Catch a glimpse about how Jorge is working with our grants team and applying the narrative lens to our philanthropy here.

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.


Announcing Blog Team for Community Foundations Conference

I’m thrilled to announce the 2010 Philanthropy411 Blog Team for the Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations in Charlotte, NC! We’ll be blogging from Saturday, September 11th through Friday September 17th, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy will be re-posting many of our Team’s blogs on their Conference Notebook blog. The Council on Foundations also has its own blog team covering the conference, so be sure to check it out as well! The hashtag for this year’s conference is #cof10.

As many of you know, a Philanthrophy411 Team blogged from the Council on Foundations Annual Conference from Denver earlier this year. We will also be managing a Blog Team for the Communications Network conference at the end of September, so stay tuned!

Here is your Philanthropy411 Blog Team:

Mike Batchelor
President, The Erie Community Foundation


Katie Bisbee
Senior Vice President, Marketing, DonorsChoose.org

Lisa L. Bottoms
Program Director for Human Services and Child and Youth Development, The Cleveland Foundation

China Brotsky
Senior Vice-President, Tides

CJ Callen
Program Director, CFLeads

Nick Deychakiwsky
Program Officer, The Mott Foundation

Brian Frederick
President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County

Linetta J. Gilbert
Senior Program Officer, The Ford Foundation

Jenny Hodgson
Executive Director, Global Fund for Community Foundations

Barbara Kibbe
Vice President of Client Services, Monitor Institute

Marilyn S. LeFeber
Interim Project Director, Grantmakers in Aging

Lynn Luckow
President & CEO, Craigslist Foundation
Twitter:  @craigslist_fndn

Monica Patten
President and Chief Executive Officer, Community Foundations of Canada

Kris Putnam-Walkerly
President, Putnam Community Investment Consulting
Twitter:  @philanthropy411

Diana R. Sieger
President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation

Twitter: @GRCommFound

Nicole Taylor
President and Chief Executive Officer, East Bay Community Foundation

Jillian Vukusich
Director of Community Investments, Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties
Twitter:  @JCVukusich

Blog Team Coverage of the Council on Foundations Conference

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, recently covered the 2010 Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a list of all posts published for this event.

  1. Kick off of Council on Foundations Blog Team, posted by Sterling Speirn, President and CEO, WK Kellogg Foundation
  2. Thoughts from the Pre-Conference Institute for Trustees & CEOs: “Insights for Philanthropic Leadership,” posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  3. A Lesson on Managing Risk, posted by Raymond Colmenar, Senior Program Officer, The California Endowment
  4. The New Meditation, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  5. Nits Make Lice, posted by Mike Roberts, President, First Nations Development Institute
  6. Walking Around Philanthropy, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chair of the Tecovas Foundation
  7. 5 Things We Know, But Keep Forgetting, posted by Crystal Hayling, Winner of the 2010 James A Joseph Award from the Association of Black Foundation Executives
  8. Listen, posted by Aleesha Towns-Bain, Program Associate, Rasmuson Foundation
  9. Health, Equity, and Growth, posted by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
  10. On Fire, posted by Rebecca Arno, Vice President of Communications, Denver Foundation
  11. Choices, Choices, posted by Kim St. John-Stevenson, Communications Officer, Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland
  12. So Many Great Sessions, So Little Time to Blog, posted by Sterling Speirn, President and CEO, WK Kellogg Foundation
  13. Thoughts on a Session – Social Justice: From Here to 2030, posted by Teri Behrens, Editor, The Foundation Review
  14. Charity AND Change; Social Innovation AND Social Justice, posted by Paul Connolly, Senior Vice President and Director, TCC Group, and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  15. Grantmaking, Tools, and the Long View, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chai, Tecovas Foundation
  16. Happy Birthday AAPIP!, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  17. Standing Ovation Generation, posted by Jacob Harold, Program Officer in Philanthropy, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  18. Social Justice Philanthropy, posted by Mike Shaw, Program Assistant, Annie E. Casey Foundation
  19. The “Yes-And-And” Strategy: Equity as the 21st Century Growth Model, posted by Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder and CEO, PolicyLink
  20. Celebrating AAPIP’s 20th Anniversary Year-round, posted by Sokunthea Sa Chhabra, Director of Interactive Communications, Case Foundation
  21. Information and Power – Thoughts on Al Gore’s Speech, posted by Kathleen Reich, Program Officer, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation
  22. Is Institutional Philanthropy Structured to Support Successful Social Change?, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO of the Draper Consulting Group
  23. Ah-ha Moments and Social Media (aka Why YOU Can and Should Use Social Media!), posted by Kim St. John-Stevenson, Communications Officer, Saint Luke’s Foundation of Cleveland
  24. Wish You Were Here…Al Gore’s Keynote Speech on Climate Change, the Imperative of Civic Engagement, and Philanthropy’s Opportunity to Play a Role in Shaping the Future, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO of the Draper Consulting Group
  25. Blowing Up The Conference Model, posted by Sean Stannard-Stockton, CEO of Tactical Philanthropy Advisors
  26. Where Are the Arts?, posted by Lee Draper, Chair, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers and CEO, Draper Consulting Group
  27. Living History: Amanche & Sand Creek, posted by Richard Woo, CEO, Russell Family Foundation
  28. Learn Essential Skills and Strategies in Philanthropy, posted by Cole Wilbur, Trustee of the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Steering Committee Member, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  29. Memorable Mentions, posted by Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation
  30. Afraid of Losing Control with Social Media? Guess What, You’ve Already Lost it!, posted by Sokunthea Sa Chhabra, Director of Interactive Communications at the Case Foundation
  31. A Foundation’s Freedom – And its Responsibility, posted by Kristin Ivie, Program Manager of Social Innovation at the Case Foundation
  32. What’s Next for Diversity in Philanthropy?, posted by Henry A. J. Ramos, Principal at Mauer Kunst Consulting and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  33. Sitting at the Intersection: Affinity, posted by Colin Lacon, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers
  34. Myth Busting, posted by Rebecca Arno, Vice President of Communications at the Denver Foundation
  35. Becoming Masters of the Brand of Ourselves, posted by Mary Galeti, Vice Chair of the Tecovas Foundation
  36. Social Justice: Bringing it Home, posted by Henry A. J. Ramos, Principal at Mauer Kunst Consulting and member of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  37. 5 + 3 Ain’t Small Change, posted by Colin Lacon, President and CEO, Northern California Grantmakers
  38. Respect & Resolve, posted by Richard Woo, CEO of the Russell Family Foundation
  39. Racial Justice is Everybody’s Issue, posted by Rosetta Thurman, President of Thurman Consulting
  40. In Search of the Mind-Blowing Conference Model, posted by Philanthropy411′s very own Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, and Vice Chair of the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers
  41. Learn Essential Skills and Strategies in Philanthropy, posted by Cole Wilbur, Trustee of the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Steering Committee Member, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers

Special thanks to the Council on Foundations for their support of our Blog Team!  Check out their blog, re: Philanthropy, to read about their blog coverage of the conference and to stay abreast of the field!

If you found this blog post useful, please subscribe. On Twitter? Follow me @Philanthropy411.

Posted by Kris Putnam-Walkerly © Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Philanthropy411, 2010.

Learn Essential Skills and Strategies in Philanthropy

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, recently covered the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a post-conference submission by Cole Wilbur, Trustee of the The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Steering Committee Member, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers.

by:  Cole Wilbur

All day Saturday and on Sunday morning before the COF Annual Meeting, some 26 people new to philanthropy, took the time to learn the basics at the Council’s Essential Skills and Strategies workshop .   These included the big picture,  rules and regulations, communicating between board and staff and with grantees, managing the grant portfolio, making a difference and rewards and tensions in the field.  This is not everything one should know by any means, but it is a good start.  Far too many in this field of philanthropy feel it is going to be easy and they do not bother to learn anything other than what their lawyer tells them they have to know.  Those with experience in investments, think grantmaking should require the same approach.  There are similarities, but also major differences.   Some come into the field from academia or consulting and with virtually no training feel that since they know their own field they must understand philanthropy.

Much money has been wasted and little change made because CEO’s, program officers and board members do not understand how to use their foundation’s money to really make beneficial changes.   Awarding grants is relatively easy, changing some portion of the world for the better is difficult.  Grantmaking is not competitive.  One can be arrogant, ineffective and inefficient and there is no loss of market share or assets and there will still be a line of applicants waiting.  All of us can improve and I find myself continuing to learn when I read about, listen to and watch others who have a different experience and know more than I do.  If you do not have the time to attend a Council meeting (there are three a year), find a good consultant to help you learn.  The best of them help you to improve and learn and in turn you will be able to change the world for the better.  Go to bed at night realizing that the lives of people in this world have improved because of what your foundation is doing.

In Search of the Mind-Blowing Conference Model

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a post by Philanthropy411’s very own Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting.

By:  Kris Putnam-Walkerly

In his post Blowing Up the Conference Model, Sean Stannard-Stockton suggests a significant re-thinking of the traditional conference.

I don’t disagree, although I am left wondering what it could look like. I learned a great deal at the Council on Foundations conference (including from this Blog Team coverage) and met many interesting people I am excited to follow up with. But it can always be better.

Maybe I’m suffering from sleep-deprivation after returning from a 22 meeting/event marathon  (and being up since three o’clock this morning caring for 4-month old twins). Maybe I’ve been to so many “standard” conferences that I don’t know what a mind-blowing learning experience would feel like. Am I so focused on deadlines and diapers that I can’t imagine a new way of engaging with and learning from my peers?  Apparently!

At our consulting firm, some of the first questions we ask when we start a new project include: Has anyone else figured this out already?  Do new models and practices exist so that we don’t have to re-invent the wheel? Who has already thought about this topic that we should talk to?

With that in mind, I assume that people more creative than me have been thinking about, designing, and practicing unique and innovative methods of engaging people to learn from each other – I just don’t know what they are.

So I ask YOU:

  • Have you been to a “conference” lately that blew your mind?  What was different about it?
  • How else can we support “networking” among individuals and groups at professional gatherings besides cocktail receptions?
  • What are the “best practices” in adult education and learning that we should incorporate in our convenings?
  • How can social media be used to support learning and engagement before, during and after a conference?
  • How can we move from “learning and sharing” to “creating and advancing”?
  • What other industries or fields are doing this better than philanthropy? What can we learn from them?
  • How can we incorporate the voices and ideas of those unable to attend a philanthropy conference (often due to financial barriers or because they aren’t funders)?

Please share any experiences or ideas you have – the greater detail the better! We will be sure to pass them along to Council on Foundations conference planners.

Racial Justice is Everybody’s Issue

Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team. This is a guest post by Rosetta Thurman, President of Thurman Consulting.

By: Rosetta Thurman

With a group of 100 young grantmakers concerned about social justice, it’s no surprise that the word “love” would come up more than once. Daniel Lee from the Levi Strauss Foundation opens his remarks at the lunch plenary at the EPIP National Conference with a compelling quote:

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” – Martin Luther King

Melissa Johnson, the new Executive Director at the Neighborhood Funders Group moderates the social justice philanthropy lunch plenary with the heady subtitle, Racial Justice and Philanthropy: Experiences from the Field.

Here’s what the panelists had to say:

Ron Rowell, Common Counsel Foundation

Social justice is not a new concept. This is about people working with people. It’s about the golden rule – treat people how you want to be treated. There needs to be a call for a culture of true generosity – too often foundations look for a way to say ‘no’ when we need to be trying to figure out how to say ‘yes.’ There’s this strange psychological game we play with grantees. There has to be more transparency.

Cynthia Renfro, Marguerite Casey Foundation

Philanthropy is pretty conservative. You have to spend the time and understand the polical culture. Just because they know who you are doesn’t mean they embrace your values. Don’t go anywhere alone – find your allies. Get advice for how to smooth out an idea or find a new way to approach it.

Lori Villarosa, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity

While diversity is critical and essential, it is not sufficient. We’re talking about racial justice. Often see a disconnect between communities organizations are serving and the strategies they’re using. We need to have more space in grantmaking to have these conversations. A working definition of racial justice: recognizing that you’re talking about equity in outcomes, not just intent. Racial justice talks more about power and who’s got a voice.

Victor De Luca, Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation

Foundation change is incremental. Change comes over time, through being persistent, strategic, and working it through. There are ways to move your institutions to get more money to organizations that are making structural change. We need to be thinking about our values in philanthropy. We have to be funder activists.

I loved the conversation about “finding our allies” in this conversation about racial justice. It is, indeed, everybody’s issue, not just one that concerns philanthropy leaders of color. We have a grand opportunity through social justice philanthropy to move this work forward – together. So, white allies have a place at this table, too. I just wish there were more of them.