Tag Archives: #epip

Bringing A Narrative Eye to Philanthropy – Part 2

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

Note: You can access the first part of this post here.

While in Philadelphia for the national conferences of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and the Council on Foundations, I shared the Levi Strauss Foundation’s social media strategy with other emerging colleagues. Most were surprised to know we focused our efforts on blogging and not on “viral” tools like Twitter and Facebook. I explained that, like Beth Kanter suggests in her book, “The Networked Nonprofit,” we prefer to narrow our focus on one element of social media and concentrate on using it to its full potential.

To develop the unique and challenging art of blogging successfully, bringing program staff aboard and acclimating them to the process of storytelling has proven key.

I will expand on this format’s particular demands in my next post. In the mean time, I wanted to share how I helped grant makers look at their grant portfolios with a narrative eye.

I proposed the following method:

Which stories?

Which five grants in your portfolio immediately stand out to you? Focusing on a discreet number of grants served to reduce the intimidation factor.  By allowing us to examine each story opportunity in greater depth, it made the project more manageable. 

What makes each grant resonate with you? To help them think through this question, I suggested that grant makers consider the following lynchpins: 1) the people they met at the organization, 2) the personal stories they encountered on the ground, 3) the unique value or contribution offered by the organization involvement, and 4) the impact the grant or organization generated.

What story angle?

When you are able to convey: “Why does this grant matter to me, and why does it matter to people on the ground?” you have implicitly honed in on the “so what?” of each story.

The storytelling process has thus begun.

As you talk about a grantee, think about: 1) the particular work it is carrying out, 2) the persons who are making this happen, and 3) one or two revealing moments you witnessed while on-site.

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At the Levi Strauss Foundation, our goal was not to morph everyone into a natural storyteller; rather, it was to foster a collective sense of ownership and accountability over this project. As program staff participated in this culling process, we made it clear that it was my role to develop an original frame for each story, filter out jargon and connect the narrative to the organization’s core values (originality, integrity, empathy and courage), rich legacy (spanning 157 years) and pioneering spirit.

In the third and final part of this series, I will outline five guiding principles to bring a narrative eye to foundation storytelling.

Is your organization blogging? Who in your staff is encouraged to blog? Has your organization designed guidelines to maximize the use of this new media outlet?


Another Multiplier Effect: Invest in Talent Development – Part Two

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

by Daniel Jae-Won Lee

Foundation leaders are called upon to deliver on a number of fronts:  driving strategy, aligning programs, supervising staff, “managing up” to boards, cultivating donor and grantee relationships, and serving as the public face of an organization.  (I’m out of breath already.)

I am intimately aware of the rigors of navigating these multiple and competing demands – and it can be intimidating, especially at the outset.  Even with the best of intentions, philanthropic leaders may have a hard time carving out the requisite time and space to mentor their staff.

I saw the flip side of this when I had the privilege of meeting some of our field’s best and brightest at the national conference of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP)—one of the “pre-game shows” to this week’s Council on Foundations annual meeting in Philadelphia.

It was striking that many of these talented folks felt they needed to venture outside their organizations to seek mentorship opportunities and a broader understanding of the “issues of our day” in our field.  (It is terrific to see them finding these through EPIP and also through “next generation” programs at the Council on Foundations, Association of Black Foundation Executives, Independent Sector, and other grantmaker associations.)

Some openly wondered if their institutions were a “place to stand” to pursue their potential and passion—and how long they could stick it out if their trajectories proved stagnant.

I recently crossed the threshold into my forties (a granddaddy of inflection points!). Rusty Stahl, EPIP’s enterprising founder and executive director, generously assures me that by EPIP’s inclusive definition, I still qualify as “emerging.”  As the leader of the Levi Strauss Foundation, with a staff of nine people, I’m also looked upon to provide the perspective of a “seasoned” professional.

Even as I still receive valuable guidance on a daily basis, I’m convinced of the value of investing in the emerging talent in our midst.  In fact, it’s becoming clear to me that there’s a real opportunity cost to neglecting or failing to absorb the unique potential and contributions of those entering our institutions.

The tectonic plates undergirding the philanthropic sector are rapidly shifting, calling for new skills to propel success. We are called upon to adapt with celerity, demonstrate transparency, cogently communicate and leverage technology.

At the conference, it was evident that many EPIPers carry an instinctive sense of the power of “viral.”  They understand what it means to work in a networked way. They need no convincing that government and business are powerful partners—and that policy and markets (at their best) can serve as tools for social impact to build a better world.

I’m convinced that integrating the experience of seasoned professionals with the innovation of emerging leaders will strengthen our institutions and transform our field.

When investing in emerging talent— through quality supervision, cultures of learning or practices of mentorship—leaders must be prepared not only to be challenged, but also surprised and delighted. I can vouch that EPIPers are liable to return to their institutions fired up:  keen to push the boundaries of expectation and inspired to take courageous risks.

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.

Another Multiplier Effect: Invest in Talent Development – Part One

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

by Daniel Jae-Won Lee

What would happen if foundations invested – and invested seriously – in developing emerging talent within their own organizations?

(In homage to Roger Doughty, who leads the Horizons Foundation in San Francisco—an incisive leader and generous mentor—I thought it fitting to riff off the title and opening line of his recent post on Philanthropy 411.)

At first glance, the value proposition for investment in developing emerging professionals seems a no-brainer.  As foundation leaders, we hire the best and brightest. We cultivate them. They deliver.  And their rising tides lift many boats—notably, our foundations, our leadership and the organizations and fields we support.

Last weekend, at the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) national conference, I had a unique opportunity to put my finger on the pulse of the thoughts, aspirations and experiences of 200+ participants—a vibrant representative sample of the new talent in foundations. (It’s an experience I would highly recommend for so-called “seasoned” leaders in our field.)

I witnessed a rather disheartening common thread: by and large, EPIPers are experiencing a dearth of learning and mentorship opportunities within their own institutions.  Many feel their best ideas aren’t being heard.

When pent-up demand finds satisfaction, it often feeds into an electrified air. At the conference, the depth and richness of intergenerational dialogue and deliberation on the philanthropic “issues of our day” was off-the-charts.

It’s important to point out that what EPIPers might experience as difficulties in “speaking up” and fulfilling their potential is, in fact, a systemic (a beloved word in our field) issue.

Talent development plays out in an ecosystem:

  • First, there’s the level of the individual:  her capability, her ability to influence others, her ability to deliver against (and exceed) expectations.
  • There’s the malleability of the job description. Is this a “place to stand” to grow and contribute to meaningful change…or is the individual told to stand by the copier?
  • Finally, there’s the valence of the “porousness” of an organization to emerging talent.  Is there a commitment to mentorship within the walls of a foundation, and supervision standards to bolster this? How about currents of upward mobility—if not across the organizational chart, then within the trajectory of each position? Does the organization cultivate a culture of continuous learning?

In forthcoming posts, I’ll outline a value proposition for cultivating this kind of ecosystem, plus offer a few guiding principles of supervision (no doubt, where the rubber hits the road) that support a culture of performance, accountability and talent development.

As we gather at the Council on Foundations conference, and when we return home to our institutions and other philanthropy affinity groups, I hope that we can talk amongst ourselves about this important issue:

  • What’s the ROI for investing in talent development—whether through learning opportunities (like EPIP events or “next generation” sessions at Council on Foundations conferences), training and mentorship—in our field?
  • What anecdotes can we share about how the mentee, mentor, organization and field are transformed by this commitment—and how it drives concrete results?


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.

Advancing the Next Generation: EPIP’s Impact on Philanthropy

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference (and many of the pre-conference events) in Philadelphia with the help of a blog team.  This is a joint post by Rusty Stahl, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.

by:  Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Rusty Stahl

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations. Its mission is to develop extraordinary new leaders to enhance organized philanthropy and its impact on communities. EPIP released the findings of it’s 2011 Impact Assessment, in conjunction with its 10th anniversary and national conference held in Philadelphia. Last week we highlighted 7 ways EPIP provides support and opportunities for emerging leaders in philanthropy. Below we share 6 key findings about EPIP’s impact on the broader field of philanthropy.

1) EPIP’s focus on multigenerationalism has had a positive impact on philanthropy.

  • Ninety-seven percent (97%) of survey respondents reported that as a result of EPIP, there is increased interaction and dialogue between senior and new foundation staff
  • 95% said they believe philanthropy has benefited from EPIP’s efforts to prepare the next generation of leaders.
  • They also reported that young or new foundation staff now have more opportunity to get involved in philanthropy (60%) and that these staff are more active in the field than they were before (50%).

“To the extent that you care about the future of philanthropy, you’ve got to care about the next generation of philanthropic leaders. EPIP represents a group from which the next generation of philanthropic leadership will be drawn.” — Ralph Smith, Executive Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation

2) EPIP has expanded professional and leadership development opportunities for emerging practitioners.

  • 60% of survey respondents believed that EPIP increased the opportunities for involvement in philanthropy for young or new foundation staff.
  • Almost all (98%) believed that EPIP has been “somewhat to very effective” in increasing the presence and participation of new, emerging staff at philanthropy conferences and in increasing the number of sessions and workshops for and about younger/new foundation staff at conferences.

“Being part of the EPIP network helped me hone my leadership skills and take risks in my career. I was able to build relationships outside of my region and state and was able to apply those leadership skills not just in my own foundation but on a national scale, which allowed my national network to flourish. — Melissa Johnson, Executive Director, Neighborhood Funders Group

Daniel Lee describes how EPIP helps his employee, Elizabeth Ramirez

3) Employers benefit from EPIP’s contributions to professional development.

  • 75% of EPIP members surveyed reported making positive contributions to their organizations as a result of their involvement with EPIP.
  • This includes becoming more confident in taking on more responsibilities (37%), becoming better able to advocate for issues they feel are important in their foundations (24%), and learning ways to do their jobs more effectively (23%).

“From my perspective as the executive director, our staff who have been engaged with EPIP have brought a capacity for bold vision and for confident and competent leadership.” — Ned Wight, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

4) EPIP brings value to national and regional associations of grantmakers.

  • EPIP has collaborated with a wide range of funder networks, including 11 regional associations of grantmakers (in the locations of all its chapters), national affinity groups, and the Council on Foundations.
  • According to those interviewed, EPIP provides value because these associations can leverage EPIP’s network of next generation leaders, expertise, and infrastructure.

“For affinity groups that want to engage younger and newer foundation staff, it makes sense to partner with EPIP rather than reinvent all the work yourself.”  — Carly Hare, Executive Director, Native Americans in Philanthropy

5) EPIP fills an important need in educating and orienting those new to philanthropy.

  • Many senior leaders and EPIP members interviewed described the need to “demystify” philanthropy and grantmaking work, and to orient those new to philanthropy.
  • This was recognized as an important need that EPIP helps to fill, with several executive directors stating appreciation that their staff has a venue for learning about the field beyond their own institutions.

“Increasing the pipeline of people who are familiar with philanthropy — familiar with how it works, its challenges, and its opportunities — is an important service to the field.  I think it is a great opportunity for philanthropic institutions to pay attention to EPIP, and to make sure that we’re connected with them, and helping them place the people that they’re training.” — Luz Vega Marquis, CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation

6) EPIP brings increased attention to social justice philanthropy.

  • About one-third said they feel that there is increased dialogue and awareness in the field about social justice philanthropy as a result of EPIP (36%)
  • 30% reported that as a result of EPIP there is increased attention on racial, gender, and class diversity at foundations.

“The EPIP conference is probably one of the most diverse cross-sections of people that I’ve ever seen in a philanthropic meeting, and social justice philanthropy is integrated into all the sessions. This requires courage and commitment. To see that social justice is front and center at EPIP gives me hope in the next generation of philanthropists.” — Daniel Jae-Won Lee, Executive Director, Levi Strauss Foundation

EPIP’s 2011 Impact Assessment was conducted by Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc. It included a national survey of EPIP members, alumni, prospective members, and partners; in-depth interviews with 12 active members and 10 senior philanthropy leaders who have partnered with EPIP; and a review of existing EPIP data and documents. To learn more about EPIP’s impact you can read the full report.

EPIP Provides Support and Opportunity for Emerging Leaders in Philanthropy

Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference (and many of the pre-conference events) in Philadelphia with the help of a blog team.  This is a joint post by Rusty Stahl, Executive Director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, and Kris Putnam-Walkerly, President of Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc.

by:  Kris Putnam-Walkerly and Rusty Stahl

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) is an affinity group of the Council on Foundations. Its mission is to develop extraordinary new leaders to enhance organized philanthropy and its impact on communities. EPIP released the findings of it’s 2011 Impact Assessment, in conjunction with its 10th anniversary and national conference held in Philadelphia.  Below we share the first of two blog posts: 7 key findings about how EPIP has provided support, opportunity, and leadership development for emerging leaders in philanthropy.  Next week we will share 6 ways EPIP has impacted the field of philanthropy.

1) Emerging leaders have benefited from EPIP’s efforts to connect new and experienced leaders in philanthropy.  Almost all survey respondents (92%) reported that they have personally experienced EPIP’s efforts to facilitate generational change, primarily by participating in forums and events that bring together established and emerging leaders in philanthropy.

Nick Scheibel explains the benefits of peer networking in EPIP

2) EPIP members value peer learning and networks gained through EPIP. Two-thirds (64%) of members surveyed reported that as a result of relationships they developed through EPIP, they are participating in new professional development activities. Half  (50%–54%) have met people they can turn to for help in performing their jobs well and regarding being underrepresented in the field.

“I’ve gotten to know so many different people in the field through EPIP. EPIP provides an amazing platform and network to new people in the field, irrespective of age.”  — Rohit Burman, Director of the Culture and Public Broadcasting Program at the Metlife Foundation

3) EPIP supports leadership development early in careers. Many members interviewed described how EPIP provided unique venues to learn, practice, and advance their leadership early in their careers. This included opportunities to propose and lead sessions at conferences, plan events, serve on steering committees, and lead chapters. Senior philanthropy leaders also noted that EPIP provides an important “alternative route to high engagement” for emerging leaders.

“EPIP has done a lot to strengthen a pipeline of leaders into and moving up through philanthropy by giving people mentoring opportunities, confidence boosters, and the chance to develop skills like serving on boards, public speaking, or social justice thinking.”  — Caroline Altman Smith, Program Officer, The Kresge Foundation

4) Participants use the knowledge, skills, and networks developed through EPIP to improve their job performance. 70% of all survey respondents who had been involved in EPIP longer than one year said that as a result of their involvement in EPIP they had established new professional relationships that have been beneficial to their work. Half (56%) described positive changes at their jobs as a result of their involvement in EPIP, including now seeing themselves as leaders in their field (26%) and improving their job performance (22%).

“We moved to a simpler grant process after I attended an EPIP conference, and that has improved our relationship with grantseekers.  — Survey respondent

5) EPIP helps members stay engaged in and advance their careers in philanthropy. Members interviewed described how involvement in EPIP helped reduce their feelings of isolation and helped them make critical choices related to staying in the field and charting their career paths.

“It was definitely motivating, inspiring, and compelling to be able to talk to others in the EPIP network when I was considering taking my first job in philanthropy.” — Christi Tran, Program Officer, Blue Shield of California Foundation

6) Participants value that EPIP is run by and for emerging leaders. Almost all (92%) of survey respondents reported that EPIP is different from other foundation associations they have been involved in, and this is primarily because it is run by and for young people (75%).

Jasmine Hall Ratliff describes how EPIP helps younger staff learn from experienced leaders in philanthropy.

7) EPIP helps grantmakers connect their daily work to broader social change. Among all survey respondents, 30% reported that they believe that since becoming involved with EPIP they can connect the ideal of social justice philanthropy to their daily job responsibilities. Sixty-four percent (64%) of members surveyed indicated that as a result of people they met through EPIP, they have established professional relationships with people with similar commitments to social justice philanthropy.

“I think a lot of people are equipped with tools to have better conversations about social justice philanthropy and being effective grantmakers, as a result of EPIP.” — Sylvia Spivey, Development & Scholarship Associate, The Philadelphia Foundation

EPIP’s 2011 Impact Assessment was conducted by Putnam Community Investment Consulting, Inc. It included a national survey of EPIP members, alumni, prospective members, and partners; in-depth interviews with 12 active members and 10 senior philanthropy leaders who have partnered with EPIP; and a review of existing EPIP data and documents. To learn more about EPIP’s impact you can read the full report.