The Founding & Evolution of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations

Tactical Philanthropy is currently covering the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference with the help of a blog team. This is a guest post by Barbara Kibbe of the Monitor Institute.

By Barbara Kibbe

image I was there at the beginning of GEO (with Jim and Janine) and I don’t have words to describe the feeling of excitement and anticipation that I felt as I prepared for that first conference in Monterey.

We produced the first conference on a shoestring out of my office at the Packard Foundation and had no expectation that there would be a second conference – much less a sixth. During those few days in 1998, I discovered a community that was already bigger than I had dared to hope. And I felt from everyone present a desire to learn and to serve.

That meeting, and all GEO conferences since, have notably lacked the sometimes self-congratulatory vibe of other meetings in philanthropy. I have seen GEO grow over the last 12 years into an enduring – though evolving – community of self-reflective grantmakers. I keep coming and hoping to contribute to the community because of the humility and the sense that we are all here because we are servants to a greater good and that we are looking for knowledge and practical solutions.

My question, for readers and fellow bloggers, is: What does it take to remain a servant to the field? How do grantmakers hold on to their perspective while affiliated with great wealth and its insulating properties? How do consultants and advisors maintain their integrity and purpose in serving wealth?