Global Philanthropy Forum

I’m at the Global Philanthropy Forum conference today and tomorrow. 500 people talking about international issues. Not the same crowd you get at a lot of these events because the forum targets family foundations. But the kinds of families that draw the Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Queen of Jordan as opening speakers. Larry Brilliant and Richard Rockefeller are here, but so are Sean Parker (developer of Facebook Causes) and Peter Gabriel (the muscian).

The Forum was started in 2001 with a recession looming as a way to engage donors on international issues that are often abstract. In a recession, donors often pull back from causes that do not offer the immediacy of local issues. What I find interesting about the Forum is that the stated goal is to get the attendees to work together. About half have been giving for 7 years or less, while the other half are mostly multi-generational donors.

To measure the impact of the conference, Forum CEO Jane Wales says that their greatest metric is tracking how influential the attendees become in each others’ future giving. 83% of attendees from last year’s Forum say that an attendee they met was instrumental in a giving decision they made after the conference.

There’s a lot that I believe is brand new in today’s philanthropy, but I agree 100% with Amanda Moniz’s statement from yesterday:

In order to grapple honestly with the strengths and weaknesses of beneficence, it is important to recognise that new and better practices are often old methods that have been revived…

I just happen to think that concept is being applied incorrectly to the debate we’ve been having. A famous phrase of wisdom in financial markets is the often ignored warning to never believe that “Its different this time”. I’m glad to see that at the Forum we have a venue for new philanthropists to learn from multi-generational donors and vice versa.

One Comment

  1. Sean, I appreciated your view of GPF, as I attended as well. One of the greatest values is that high networth donors are really willing and able to grapple with issues that are very far away, and difficult to track. Often the discussions could become demoralizing because the challenges are so very, very deeprooted. Somehow, GPF is able to be strategic and tactically constructive; it is also able to measure/limit expectations. And who can argue with the need that we have to do *something* when 70% of our world has an annual income of $800?

    The difference here is a reality check of how difficult it is. What is not different is what can appear as overwhelming challenges to overcome….

    all best, Pamela