Trading Power with the Next Generations!
September 15th, 2010OR the Subtitle could read: I can feel your hot breath on the back of my neck!
This is another post from the Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations:
On Tuesday, September 14th, I participated in a session entitled "Trading Power" dealing with the "importance of multigenerational involvement in philanthropy." In other words, how to involve all ages in the decision-making and learning at foundations while we gain insight on the generations coming up!
Two Council on Foundations staff leaders, Dori Kreiger, Managing Director, Family Philanthropy Services and Andrew Ho, Manager, Global Philanthropy designed and organized this session . It was purposely designed to encourage audience participation and the participants were arranged in a fishbowl fashion surrounded by a circle of attendees. A key feature of the session involved role playing situations. It worked well! Jillian Vukusich, Director of Community Investment at the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties, Audrey Jacobs, Director of the Center for Family Philanthropy at the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and I acted out the scenarios.
In the first scenario, Jillian played the "seasoned" Executive Director who was meeting with next gen "program officer" played by Andy Ho. They acted out a negative and then a much more positive version of the scenario as Andy was looking for more leadership opportunities. In the second scenario, I played the seasoned Executive Director speaking with Audrey who was the seasoned Board Chair as I was trying to set the stage for bringing some younger leaders on the community foundation board. The Good and the Bad were played out here as well. Oh my! What an experience! The session attendees did talk . . . a lot! Great conversation!
* This is multigenerational not just about the "next gen"
* Leadership needs to be shared and opportunities need to be broadened
* Communication is changing (has changed!) rapidly - including social media
* Work habits different and the next gen may see their careers as a "train making several stops"
* Philanthropy needs to offer ways to show what great leadership can look like
I strongly urge everyone to go to http://www.cof.org/tradingpower to find a rich resource of articles, books as well as the report Trading Power. The report includes interviews with 18 philanthropic leaders and their thoughts on the next generation and the exchange that can ensue between the generations and indeed, sharing power.
As a boomer who has been the CEO of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation for 23 years, I know that the key thing is to create real situations to spread the power, authority and responsibility to staff as well as new opportunities to relate to upcoming generations of donors and all levels of community leaders. We have involved youth grantmakers on our board for the past 8 years - one a year with the next one in the wings. They have all the rights and responsibilities of any of our trustees PLUS they do participate in my performance review! We are actively looking for the best people who can help us reach our lofty goals and address our future strategies. It takes people of all ages, backgrounds and experience. The key thing is that we are looking for people who have great passion for our communities!
To my fellow boomers, embrace the new leadership and don't be fearful to share power and leadership. And yes, to our next gen leaders, I DO feel your hot breath on the back of my neck. I'll turn around to guide and involve you don't worry. I am not retiring for quite a few years though so learn all you can from me and I'll learn from you as well.
Sleepless in Charlotte!
September 13th, 2010We all looked around the room and uttered, "What happens in Charlotte, stays in Charlotte!" to borrow a phrase from the Las Vegas ad campaign! I'm talking about the opening dinner on Saturday, September 11th of the Annual CEONet Retreat (sponsored by the community foundation CEO Network) being held in Charlotte in advance of our annual Fall Conference. Kudos to the CEO Retreat Planning Committee who include: Michael Batchelor, president, The Erie Community Foundation, Meredith Jones, president and CEO, Maine Community Foundation, Randy Royster, executive director, Albuquerque Community Foundation, Sherry Risk Stark, president and CEO, Heritage Fund -the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
This is an opportunity to share with our colleagues our hopes, dreams, trials and tribulations; thus the promise to keep quiet! AND Sherry announced that the CEO Retreat attracted the largest group ever and there was a waiting list! This retreat has grown tremendously since our early days in the late 1990's. This is definitely recognition of the important role that community foundations play in growing philanthropy and staying ahead of the curve!
HOWEVER, the planning team noted above did regale us with an entertaining musical number and "dance" called the Foundation Shuffle but that's all I'll say about it! Suffice it to say, new career paths are going to open up for Mike, Meredith, Randy and Sherry!
Why are we sleepless though? CEOs were asked to talk about "what keeps us awake at night" and Emmett Carson, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, provided a provocative backdrop to spur on our evening's discussion. He noted five key issues that are looming large for community foundations! In summary they are:
1) The notion of "community" has changed. The concept of "rootedness" has changed. Community is not always place based like in the past.
2) Legal regulations are more onerous for those of us leading a community foundation.
3) There is increasing need for knowledge and sophistication as we go about the business of investments.
4) Information technology and systems are growing at a rapid pace and we need get ahead of the curve.
5) Our commercial competitors in the form of Fidelity and others are still a critical factor that requiring our attention even though the initial surprise of their existence back in the early 1990's has diminished.
Emmett's remarks certainly got my attention and I'm reminded of the extensive research, reports and tools developed by Lucy Bernholz, Katherine Fulton and Gabriel Kasper five years ago that led to a body of work entitled, On the Brink of New Promise: The Future of U.S. Community Foundations. As noted on the following website, http://www.communityphilanthropy.org/get.html their work noted 3 key principles:
* From the institution to the community
* From managing financial assets to long-term leadership
* From competitive independence to coordinated impact
The C.S. Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation funded this ground-breaking research and many of us in the field provided commentary and insight as the report took shape. Actually, this was the brain child of Elan Garonzik who at that time was a program officer at the C.S. Mott Foundation. His intent was to get community foundations prepared for what he described "the next Fidelity surprise" and how could we anticipate it and prepare for it!
The trends noted in On the Brink of New Promise, the subsequent reports along with Emmett's astute summation of what we are now encountering can be viewed as opportunities for community foundation leaders. We need to pay attention and certainly we cannot slip into the "oh we've always done it this way" mode! Say that and watch the field wither away!
I'm sleepless in Charlotte but tremendously excited about our collective future!
How a family situation helps with focusing on the right things!
September 1st, 2010It has been a month since I last wrote a blog entry - much too long of a time I realize! This is not a blog re: my personal life but I do want to explain the reason for the absence. I had been on vacation earlier in August dealing with issues with my mom whose health has been steadily declining. She lives in an assisted living facility outside of Detroit. Ten days ago, my mom was admitted to the hospital and likely will be there for a few more days. My time has been devoted to her and arranging next steps relating to her care. I've returned to work this week but will be back on the highway to the east side of the state later this week.
Enough of that . . . I've had a lot of time to reflect on many things as I sort through family issues and the like. My reflections have focused on the issue of the difficulty of working at times with key partners in our community. Experiencing my current personal crisis, as is usually the case, helps to prioritize what is really important and those things that simply are annoying and petty. What is really important is the strength of this community and the people and organizations that are working together to address the real "knotty" issues facing us.
We are working on creating more affordable housing options as well as addressing the foreclosure situation and the people who are suffering from losing their homes. GRCF didn't just jump into this as we've been at it for many years.
We are focusing on providing needed health and human services at school based sites for children and families. Frankly when this effort, the Kent School Services Network, was initiated four years ago, the large coalition involved hoped that one of the results would ultimately help make a positive impact on academic achievement. That goal met with some defensiveness from school system administrative leaders who didn't understand or didn't want to understand that this wasn't about them or their system. It is about taking the pressure off families and thus helping the child/student come to school ready to learn. It has been a long journey and so many more barriers and obstacles than what is necessary.
We are focusing on bringing greater awareness to area nonprofits as well as our own organization about the entire concept of cultural competency - embracing difference and celebrating it! We have created two publications regarding "Cultural Competent Communications" as one of the many things being done in these area. Also we have been delving deep into this with our staff over the past two years including a team of 6 people who are participating in an effort through the Council of Michigan Foundations regarding Diversity and Inclusion. This is a major priority of this Foundation and I'll write more about this over the next few months.
There are other key priorities but time constraints prevent me from detailing those areas so more to come in future blogs.
Crisis does help prioritize life's list of "to-dos" and my priorities are right where they need to be right now. And the Foundation's priorities are right where they need to be as well. They are constantly reviewed and discussed by our talented and bright staff and board team! We are headed in the right direction to lead, collaborate, and address those knotty issues!