From May 2 – May 7, the Tactical Philanthropy Blog Team will be covering the Council on Foundations conference from Atlanta. The individual blog team members represent a range of opinions and have been given no editorial directions. The opinions expressed in these posts do not necessarily represent the opinions of Sean Stannard-Stockton.
By Kathleen Enright, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations
When you come to a conference like the Council on Foundations’ conference, you show up with your our own set of expectations.
As I was considering what value I hope to glean from the conference, I was struck by the fact that it occurs not in the context of a changing world but a changed world. Given that Grantmakers for Effective Organizations’ exists to help grantmakers work smarter so that nonprofits are stronger and can ultimately deliver better results on the ground, my goal for the meeting is to gain insight into what needs to change for philanthropy to contribute powerfully in this new context.
At Monday’s lunchtime plenary, Ed DeSeve spoke about the pace at which they’re organizing the delivery of the Recovery Act funds. Mind-blowing.
And Dr. Besser from the CDC talked about the reaction time required to seize the one chance they had to get out in front of the H1N1 virus.
This theme of speed and urgency reminded me of an observation that Ami Dar made when he spoke at the GEO/NFF Money Matters conference. He observed that whenever he’s in foundation offices, he never sees anyone walking quickly. The comment drew laughter from the crowd, but the point is an important one.
I can’t imagine there’s a single office in the Obama administration where the same observation could be made.
It struck me that the current pace of philanthropy is completely out of sync in our changed world.
We need to start asking ourselves what it will take to infuse the kind of urgency in our own work. As it stands, our current modes of operating may get in the way of our ability to play an important role in solving our most pressing problems.
Kathleen Enright is CEO of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.