By Debra M. Jacobs, President and CEO of The Patterson Foundation
Opportunity, flexibility and responsibility – You’ll hear us mention this many times, but it really is the basis that allows us to embark on transformative work.
The Patterson Foundation’s benefactor, Dorothy Patterson, entrusted us with infinite possibilities to do ‘good.’ In fact, there are no designated areas of issue or geographic focus for the foundation. Rather, there is flexibility and freedom to do things others can’t, won’t or aren’t.
Since we launched the vision and focus of the foundation in January 2010, one way we’ve been fortunate to approach our work and create the greatest impact is by employing expertise in four areas we call ‘lenses.’ All independent contractors in their respective fields, you will hear from our communications, finance, learning and technology lens leaders through this blog.
Exactly how do we employ the expertise of these lens leaders to best carry out our work?
As with all of the lenses, our strategic communications leaders work with us as advisers, offering both strategic and tactical communications methods for furthering collaboration and impact. In addition, TPF offers the expertise of this lens and its services as a ‘value add’ for partners working with the foundation – whether its in the form of event and media strategy, creative design etc.
* How does it work? TPF recently offered a $500,000 matching challenge to inspire philanthropy in the statewide 2010 Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter Jingle Bell Run/Walk series. Using marketing ‘seed’ money from TPF, the communications lens developed a strategy to create and leverage media partnerships to promote the match and create an online affinity community of more than 4,000 people. The results? Efforts helped produce more than a 300 percent increase in money raised from the 2009 series.
Did you know that from day one each initiative undertaken by The Patterson Foundation must begin exploring ways for the project to be sustainable beyond the foundation’s initial funding? Whether its helping our initiative managers explore sustainability and exit strategies or creating our online “Readers Guide” to understanding TPF’s 990PF, our finance lens experts help us work smarter as we ensure we are responsible philanthropic stewards.
* How does it work? As initiatives develop, the evaluation of three elements is explored:
- The role of current and endowed philanthropy in funding
- Appropriate business models
- Opportunities for venture investments
For example, when we issued a matching challenge to the Arthritis Foundation Florida Chapter, all TPF match dollars would seed an endowment for the future capacity building and other sustainability efforts for the statewide chapter.
Because our work is constantly evolving, our learning advisor works with the other lenses and our initiative managers to help them think through lessons learned and distill information that can benefit the foundation and the field of philanthropy in the future.
We embrace the concept that learning is continuous, not something to be done after the fact and kept to ourselves. Because our work is iterative, we are in a continuous learning and sharing cycle, both internally and externally.
• How does it work? Our learning consultant has convened and met with the lens leaders as a collective and facilitated discussions about successes and challenges they faced while working with initiatives. This discussion showcased the need to hold a facilitated internal, daylong “Immersion” to build a deeper understanding for those working with TPF of the “why, how and what” TPF is undertaking.
Our technology expert advises the foundation and its partners on the best ways/uses to leverage emerging technology, including recommending the appropriate platforms to use and processes to take when building new online tools.
• How does it work? Our technology advisor worked closely with TPF’s Cultural Connections with Students Initiative from concept to development as it sought to create an online tool to help connect teachers with quality, curriculum-aligned experiences with Sarasota’s arts, science and history organizations. The tool is anticipated to be launched during the 2011 school year.
These examples are just a glimpse into the many dimensions of the lenses and our work.
Please stay tuned and feel free to engage with us as we share our approach through this blog.