As a regular reader of Sean’s (and many other) philanthropy blogs, I decided to take a leap and join his team for my first blog experience.
I’ve been with The Greater Cincinnati Foundation for nine years, and with nonprofit organizations for the other nine years of my career. I’m happy to be able to provide some observations from the Summit from the perspective of a community foundation and as a professional communicator.
As Rusty Stahl pointed out in his intro, lots of people have wondered if this large an endeavor could come off. I’ve heard from a lot of fellow communicators who opted not to come because there were not enough communications sessions, per se. But many of us have also noted that many of the tracked sessions at fall conferences were too basic for our more “seasoned” taste. I’m trying to keep an open mind and hope that hearing about some bigger-picture issues in our field and our communities will give me something concrete to work on back home.
I’m also interested in networking with some of my peers from other types of foundations. Much of the work of a community foundation communicator centers around support for donors – finding them, keeping them, talking to their advisors – so I’d love to hear how the work is different for foundations whose funding source is “set.” I dream of writing only wonderful grant stories, and never mentioning the terms CGA, CRT or PPA again. Tell me how it really is!
Our work at GCF and our relationship with other funders in our community, including private foundations, is very different than it was when I started here in 1999. There was a lot of anxiety then about commercial gift funds, proliferation of private foundations, etc. That was true at the national level as well as in our own community. We’ve had the chance over the last decade or so to be involved with all the philanthropic players in our community, one way or another, around some really important community issues. I can’t say there’s no fear of competition, but our mantra now is that anything that raises the level of philanthropy in our community is a good thing for our region. Sound Pollyanna-ish? I’m okay with that. Anything that makes me feel as if we’re all working to make this a better community together, instead at at cross-purposes, makes it easier to come to work. But ask me how I feel next Thursday, when I get back to the office after four days in conference-land…