At first glance, The Patterson Foundation didn’t seem to have a natural role at the NetHope Global Summit. With an ecosystem of major technology companies and global humanitarian NGOs, TPF’s expertise as a catalytic funder could be an odd fit.
However, when it comes to creating spaces for open conversations, there’s none better. The Patterson Foundation approaches the world and its work from a place of possibilities. By extending an invitation to NetHope partners to join us for dinner with no agenda other than to share and learn from each other, it created a uniquely open environment to forge new relationships – new connective tissue.
Philanthropy, while not a new concept in the U.S., means something different to everyone. Ever-evolving (whether you think too quickly or not quickly enough), it can be difficult to understand the work someone else is doing if you never have the opportunity or environment for open dialogue. From my perspective, this seems particularly true in corporate philanthropy, where competition on the for-profit side can impede idea sharing on the “.org” side.
By attending the TPF hosted dinner at NetHope, I met interesting and passionate people. But, more importantly, they met and heard each other. In some environments, when you go around the room to respond to a question and several answers are similar, you’re disappointed. I think that for this group, it was the opposite — how exciting to hear your idea reiterated and built upon. To know that you’re not alone in how you think. To be challenged to take it one or four steps further.
Intention is so critical in philanthropic work. Communication almost equally so. When I first arrived at the NetHope Global Summit, I was admittedly intimidated. I have no expertise in humanitarian work or disaster response, and there was a reason I left the tech sector for philanthropy. What I discovered once again (some lessons take more than one teaching to sink in) was that if you are willing to learn about people’s intentions and share yours in return, you rarely seem out of place.
P.S. Did you know that NetHope, its partners, and members have been working in Puerto Rico to aid in the Hurricane Maria recovery? Because of their experiences with the resilient Puerto Rican community, the NetHope family converged for the largest Global Summit yet, confident in a vibrant welcome. Come visit – Puerto Rico is open for business and beautiful!