GEO convenes 12 foundations to explore "possibility philanthropy"

GEO convenes 12 foundations to explore "possibility philanthropy"

Posted on March 06, 2013 by Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation

The Patterson Foundation builds connective tissue to create new realities, so when Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) announced a convening of foundations to explore "possibility grantmaking," I signed up.

If I may go on a tangent for a moment, being across the country during the electrifying Giving Partner 36-Hour Giving Challenge is tough ... Thankfully WiFi connections reign, so I was able to follow The Giving Partner's 36-hour Giving Challenge remotely (36 hours for the Southwest Florida region to demonstrate exactly how much philanthropy is alive and well). With the three-hour time difference, I was able to make my husband and my contributions in contention for the Night Owl prizes and still get my beauty sleep.

UPDATE: The results of the 36-hour Giving Challenge were record-breaking: 17,626 donations for 285 organizations totaling $2,787,443!

Ah, but I veer from the purpose of this blog...to share some takeaways from this gathering of 12 foundations exploring the tenets of "possibility grantmaking."

While there will be extensive notes with an actionable next-steps section, the following are my 140-character takeaways from the discussion:

1) Funders are often interested in creating the innovative idea, but few say "I want to adopt someone else's ideas"

2) While you don't have the answer, you can still be strategic in deploying resources

3) Holy Grail of innovation proliferates ideas...might we stop trying to be the coolest?

4) Dynamic of funder as the patron of the solution or as participant in the solution. Worthy of remembering when working with others.

5) While focusing is mission critical, having peripheral vision is a must for impact

6) Move from "does it work?" to "if it works, will it make a difference?"

Kudos to GEO's Leonor Alfonso, our facilitator Jessica Bearman and very bright colleagues:

Compton Foundation - Jennifer Sokolove

Durfee Foundation -  Carrie Avery and Claire Peeps

Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund - Matt Foreman and Linda Wood

The Grable Foundation -  Kristen Burns

The James Irvine Foundation - Don Howard and Kevin Rafter

Kate B. Reynolds Foundation -  Doug Easterling and Lori Fuller

Levi Strauss Foundation -  Merle Lawrence and Daniel Lee

MacArthur Foundation -  Jeff Ubois

S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation - Allison Harvey Turner

Skoll Foundation -  Ehren Reed

The Whitman Institute - John Esterle

Kudos to all for a day of well-invested learning and sharing!


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