Well, boy that was a lot of fun! The Forum went over great last night. The turn out was strong, Somerville & Brest responded to my request that they actually explore their differences and not just agree that both appraoches are needed. FORA.tv covered the Forum, so as soon as the video is edited I’ll be posting the entire event.
I solicited written questions for Bill and Paul and got so many that I only got to pose about 20% to them. So I told the audience that I would start posting some of the additional questions here on the blog and Bill and Paul agreed to answer at least some of them. Of course, I invite everyone to answer these questions.
The discussion ranged across a number of issues and Bill and Paul kept jumping in to give their two cents even when a question was only directed at one of them. As a reminder, Paul was advocting for the idea of strategy and Bill is much more interested in “locating outstanding people doing important work” and using “intuition” to decide whom to fund. This first question references strategy and so is directed at Paul. But the question also touches on how to source knowledge from the community and so Bill will have a strong perspective. This question comes from a member of the audience:
Given the value of strategy in philanthropy, who should be involved in developing strategy? How does the foundation seek and use diverse perspectives in formulating strategy? After all, foundation staff don’t have a corner on wisdom…
A lot of the conversation last night centered on the tension between creating a strong strategy and needing to trust grantees. So what is the answer to the audience member’s question? It’s a good one.