By Dahna Goldstein
This is my third Council on Foundations conference, and it promises to be the best yet –not only because I’m not on crutches this year (navigating Seattle with a foot injury last year wasn’t fun), but because this is an historic gathering.
Much has been said about this combined CoF conference (dubbed “Philanthropolooza” by some in the blogosphere), but it is more than the size and scale that is exciting; it’s also the timing. Philanthropy is changing, and recent innovations in the field make it a particularly interesting time to be collecting a lot of smart people in one place to talk about it.
Some of the recent changes in philanthropy, as I see them, revolve around the emerging role of technology and the power and growing influence of the micro-philanthropist. In the interests of disclosure, my day job is with a provider of technology for foundations and nonprofits (www.philantech.com). The intersection of philanthropy and technology and the transformative power of the two is what inspired me to start PhilanTech and create our PhilanTrack online grants management system to streamline the grants management process for both foundations and nonprofits.
The technologies – and uses of technology – that are emerging in the philanthropic world go well beyond processing of online grant applications. Kiva.org and the Case Foundation’s recent Giving Challenge (just to name a couple of examples) are engaging micro-philanthropists in new and exciting ways. Organizations like the I Do Foundation (of which I am a board member) provide ways for individuals to integrate philanthropy into different aspects of their daily lives, through charitable wedding registries and other vehicles. Consumers are increasingly judging companies by their commitment to environmental and social responsibility, as well as their commitment to supporting the communities in which they operate.
Philanthropy, in my estimation, is becoming expected in many spheres of life, and technology is there to facilitate it. That intersection of philanthropy and technology is going to continue to impact the ways we think about philanthropy and the ways that individuals, foundations, corporations, and other philanthropically-minded organizations engage in the critical act of giving, and I’m excited to spend a few days talking about it and learning from an impressive lineup of people.
More to come about all of this, undoubtedly, from the conference over the next few days. Thank you, Sean, for organizing this blogging team, and I am excited to be part of it.