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Beyond the Check: The Patterson Foundation's Approach to Innovative Philanthropy

Posted on October 29, 2020 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation
In 2009, The Patterson Foundation (TPF) Governing Board and I had the opportunity, responsibility, and flexibility to work together to formulate the guiding values of a new foundation. Unlike so many independent foundations, we worked from a blank sheet of paper—an unrestricted charter. After ten years of learning and evolving, it is an honor to share some experiments tried, lessons learned, and successes underway via a new one-credit winter course, Beyond the Check: The Patterson Foundation’s Approach to Innovative Philanthropy.

When TPF was first starting, there were many voices sharing what they thought should be done. We choose to focus on what could be done. This approach led TPF to undertake philanthropic work in ways others are not doing, cannot do, or will not do. With an emphasis on building trust, working across sectors, and communicating strategically, TPF knows things look different in our offices than in many other foundations. As part of TPF’s Advancing Philanthropic Leadership initiative, our team has been energized by working with the possibilitarians at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy in discovering new ways to share learnings with the leaders of tomorrow as well as having the opportunity to learn from students of all levels through courses and the TPF Fellows Program.

I would encourage you to join me for this course if:
  • You are interested in how philanthropy acts when it comes from a place of collective abundance rather than scarcity.

  • You plan to be a leader in the philanthropic space and are interested in the possibilities surrounding catalytic thinking and creating value beyond the check.

  • Network building, values-driven work, and the importance of strategic communication are intriguing topics.

  • You’re not sure what the inside of a foundation looks like, but you’d like to know more. 
Over the six-week course, I look forward to sharing what makes TPF such a unique place to create possibilities, thanks to humans who embrace TPF values. We share a commitment to not arriving with the answers but learning from and with community. There is much I can learn from the students at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and I look forward to the opportunity to create new realities together beginning in December 2020.

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