Mixing it up with CEOs and Trustees


Philanthropy411 is currently covering the Fall Conference for Community Foundations with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Diana Sieger, President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.  Follow her foundation on Twitter: @GRCommFound.

By Diana Sieger

Relevancy and change are two key themes at the COF Fall Conference for Community Foundations.  Monday’s opening breakfast featured speakers who emphasized how to survive and thrive in the future. I found the speakers to be innovative and they did have some useful ideas, though I have to say I’m still “processing” the presentations.

Fellow blogger, Barbara Kibbe who is the VP, Client Services for the Monitor Institute resonated with me the most.  She gave the gathered group a peek at the executive summary of the report titled, “What’s next for Philanthropy” which notes the following – “Philanthropy today takes place in a context that is radically different from the environment in which many of its current practices and behaviors were developed.”  That stops you in your tracks!

Katherine Fulton, Gabriel Kasper and Barbara Kibbe conducted the research and were the authors  of the full report with funding support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  You can download the report at http://monitorinstitute.com/whatsnext.  Well worth the time to review this report!  As the Introduction notes state, and I’ve heard repeatedly since Saturday at the CEO Retreat and at the conference, “The status quo is not an option.”

So on to the CEO/Trustee session this afternoon – “Insights on the Future Role of Community Foundations”.  Get the pattern here? It’s time to dust off the current business model, open up the doors to greater understanding of your community, connecting this understanding to your donors and while you are at it, pay attention to public policy!  Frankly, it is all true!  The session description was right on target when it was stated, “As community foundation leaders, CEOs and trustees must be on the cutting edge of new and emerging issues.  Basic strategies and policies must be in place for foundation leaders to respond nimbly to whatever the future holds.”

I helped facilitate the discussion at one of the 10 tables of small groups on these three issues: Community and Donor Needs; Business Model Innovation; and Public Policy and Advocacy.  The faculty for the session included: Becca Graves, Executive Director, CF Insights, Richard (Dick) Ober, President, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and Vance Yoshida, Senior Manager, La Piana Consulting.   One of the topics focused on our business models and urged us to identify new revenue sources that included: staff billing time to clients that include private foundations, fees from Mission Investing, leadership funds and many more.  It was quite a lively discussion!

Certainly the message is loud and clear.  Status quo doesn’t cut it!  The CEOs and board leaders I met understand this and are looking to the future!

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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