Introducing Giving Voice, a blog for and about grantmakers in Connecticut

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Karla Fortunato is president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.

It's October! October 1st marked my fifth month on the job. During these five busy months I've been getting to know CCP's staff, board, and members, and the resources that we can bring to bear on CCP's mission. I've been crisscrossing the state, sitting down with many of our members. I've also been working to understand the challenges at hand - the state fiscal crisis, the inequality in income and school systems among Connecticut communities - alongside the national challenges that trickle down to our state and communities.

We just sent membership renewal letters to all our members. So in the relaunch of CCP's blog, Giving Voice, I want to share my early plans for member programs and forums in 2018.

Catalyzing Conversations

I've heard from our members that they're concerned about the state fiscal crisis and its impacts on their communities of focus. I'm eager to bring philanthropy together to discuss the challenges the state faces and explore possible leadership roles philanthropy can play to mitigate the impacts and/or support long-term plans. What can we learn from other states that have encountered serious fiscal crises? Can we catalyze projects or programs that might change current fiscal projections? Can we support economic development that generates community wealth? What tools and resources can philanthropy individually and collectively bring to bear on these serious fiscal challenges? What are the roles for small and large foundations? We're in conversations with colleagues in Michigan and Pennsylvania and plan to host a rich discussion on this issue in early 2018, that will be informed by the Funder Response to the State Fiscal Crisis Survey we emailed to funder leaders. Please respond to the survey by Friday, October 20. 

Informing Grantmaking Strategies

Alongside the fiscal crisis, many members have shared their concern about the attacks on our democracy. To respond, we're developing a series of programs to highlight the ways in which philanthropy can think about integrating strategies to strengthen democracy. We'll kick off this series on December 6 with a program focused on advocacy: Yes, You Can Advocate! How Funders increase Impact with Advocacy, Lobbying, and Policy Education. Programs in 2018 will dig deeper into bolstering civic engagement and civic leadership, how (and why!) foundations are supporting community organizing, and the role of philanthropy in a strong, free press.

Providing Issue-focused Learning

CCP also plans to offer opportunities for regular learning on a variety of relevant issues. For example, communities across Connecticut are experiencing the impacts of the opioid epidemic. We've heard a variety of foundations talk about the issue and the need for learning and information sharing. CCP is starting to plan a program that will aim to bring philanthropy together to better understand the issue, learn how some foundations are responding, and talk about strategies to halt the increases in opioid addiction.

Supporting Professional Development

I've also heard consistently about the important role that CCP plays in supporting professional development and networking opportunities for our members. This is work that we take seriously and plan to build on in 2018. From a new Philanthropy 101 Series on philanthropy fundamentals to offering technical workshops, like bolstering meeting facilitation skills, we plan to provide excellent professional development and networking opportunities.

Inspiring Leadership

I regularly look for inspiration for my work, like Darren Walker's A Call for Moral Courage in America. At CCP, we want to help inspire you too. As you and your colleagues work to support your grantees in the face of serious challenges, we want to help spark inspiration - for innovation, for collaborative strategizing, for collective leadership. To that end, we'll aim bring in voices, models, and resources to inspire you and your philanthropic colleagues throughout Connecticut.

If you have ideas about how CCP can better support Connecticut's philanthropic community, please share them with me! We are always on the lookout for ways in which we can respond to our members' needs.

We thank Colorado Association of Funders for allowing us to share their blog title.

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