Friends and colleagues who joined us on May 23 at the Connecticut Philanthropy Summit, the Council's annual luncheon, heard important messages from keynote speaker Udaya Patnaik of Jump Associates.
Udaya's keynote, "Standing in their shoes: How widespread empathy leads to better decisions," addressed the least known of the three components for creating enduring sources of growth for an organization. While most of us have a handle on creativity and execution, we don't understand empathy - the ability to see the world as others see it. All individuals are wired to have empathy, but how do you appropriately expand and scale it to an entire organization?
Udaya first brought us to the corporate world. The success of the Xbox video games can be attributed to the designers who were game players designing for themselves. The Harley Davidson brand is strengthened by their employees, Harley enthusiasts and riders who hangout with riders as part of their job description.
Udaya showed Jump's "Empathometer" to illustrate high empathy, striving empathy and low empathy corporations. Click here to view the slide.
How does this relate to foundations? In Jump's work with Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) they discovered that many foundations copy the worst habits of corporations:
High empathy foundations have empathy for their communities and for their grantees. Every employee, not just the program staff has an immediate sense of the needs and priorities of grantees and communities, and what the appropriate solutions will best meet those needs.
He said, widespread empathy means better results:
Five steps to high-empathy grantingmaking are listed below:
Udaya cited William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund as an example of a foundation who "invests in what it takes."
These points are more deeply covered in the GEO publication "Widespread Empathy: 5 Steps to Greater Impact in Philanthropy."