The national network of regional associations of grantmakers, to which the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy belongs, represents the largest organization supporting philanthropy in the world. The Council is one of the 34 members of this network which connects us to more than 5,000 grantmaking organizations with a national pool of knowledge, experience and opportunities to leverage our statewide philanthropic resources.
The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, as a member of this Forum of Regional Associations, represents a state that has the highest per capita income in the country and, at the same time, some of the poorest communities in the country. As the Council’s leader, how do I balance and leverage the breadth of our reach with the depth of Connecticut’s inequity and challenges?
The Council’s objective is not only to support, celebrate and improve upon the good work being done by our members and partners, but also to make the connection to this greater community and body of work so that we can all do even better work for the greater good. As valuable as sharing information is, we also need to help each other act on that knowledge and hold ourselves accountable to demonstrate our impact in a transparent and data driven way. How do we come together to learn up and build out, holding ourselves responsible for the power of our statewide philanthropic network that is also part of the largest network serving philanthropy in the world? How do we utilize the knowledge of best practices and issues to go about the business of building a better Connecticut?
Also challenging for the field of philanthropy is the truth that once you have met one funder or foundation you have met one funder or foundation. We are an organization of grantmakers steeped in rugged individualism, not naturally prone to collaboration and collective action. We have on occasion superseded our natural predilections for individuality to do some great work together but more is required. How do we learn to move together to solve Connecticut’s most pressing problems? How do we harness the power of our network of 5,000 organizations –or even the 120 Council members – to begin to shift the tide on critical issues in our state?
The answer lies in our ability not only to learn together, but to identify, build and leverage our collective will, because it will take our collective will to make things better for all our neighbors. We need to think more consistently about philanthropy’s ability to set the example and encourage citizen engagement in deeper and more sustained ways. Do we lack the will to think big and act collectively? If we don’t who will?
Please join the conversation and offer insights and ideas that might help build our collective will.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”