Charging up at the end of summer

2016-Suzanne-blog-photoI read a great article in Fortune magazine entitled How to Recharge if You’re Losing Motivation by Sally Blount, dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, in which she contends that there are five components to staying motivated at work. At this time of year, I find myself needing a little more motivation.

Summer is my favorite season and with the calendar pages flying, it appears that summer may be over too soon, and the impending cooler, then colder weather is just on the horizon. Wet leaves, followed by frozen sidewalks and grumpy dogs who refuse to go outside in anything less than balmy weather, render me less than motivated both personally and professionally.

summer-1405218 beach sandalsThe personal motivation is something I know I need to work on, but the professional component of motivation was rather intriguing.

According to Blount, the academic and applied research suggests that there are five things you need to stay motivated at work. Four of these she contends are about context, the situational aspects of your work and how you leverage them to show and measure your own achievement.

The four contextual aspects of professional motivation are: The Right Mission, the Right Job, the Right Boss and the Right Team. Blount said, “These are the fundamentals—it’s that simple.” But the fifth aspect is all about you – having the Right Attitude.

Sure, she says, you need to work for an organization you believe in and where you can grow and where the mission is something you believe in. You also need to be in the right job – the right seat on the proverbial bus – so you can thrive and contribute and you need to work with and for folks who engage you and whom you trust, teammates who challenge and celebrate what you bring to the table.


As you work through these four situational issues, the other aspect of motivation is looking at yourself in the mirror. Once the four factors are in place, the job swings back to you to focus and stay motivated over time.

And that’s where the article got really interesting. Blount asserts that people who are following a leadership path and are pretty good at the first four need to pay particular attention to the fifth motivational aspect – the Right Attitude. It turns out, surprisingly, that people don’t particularly like to work with and for leaders who “look/act stressed out, self-indulgent or self-satisfied.” So Blount thinks that, “It’s up to you to make sure that you reset, renew and/or refresh your focus and energy level when you sit in the top job” or are headed that way, and she believes that there are two important types of recharging to keep you in the “Right Attitude.”

Here, I need to just quote the article from Fortune:

“The first I’ll call the micro-charge—making sure that every three months, you get three to four days where you are really away. When I do a micro-charge, I do very little email and no phone calls, if possible. Instead, I take long walks (in addition to other forms of exercise) and try to read a full book from cover to cover (no jumping around to absorb only the key facts). I relish my meals with family and friends and actually sit down to eat each one.

The second, the mission-charge, is about going the distance—the soul-searching work you need to do every two to three years to make sure that things aren’t getting rote, to make sure that you really understand your marketplace and are challenging your team to perform and deliver. This recharge requires at least a week, but two is better. I like to go to one place where I stay put—with great views, good food, and a lot of walking trails for thinking. The desert is perfect for me. The mission-charge is all about deep reflection—analyzing your performance and your organization’s, asking yourself the hard questions, and plumbing the depths of your own mind. You have to make sure that you really know what you’re thinking and feeling.”

cedar-springs-trail-1341470 hike

I’m still dreading fall and the snows of winter, but I’m finding ways to look forward to “charging-up.” I’d love to hear from you and how you micro- and mission-charge your attitude.

Suzanne T. Allen

August 22, 2016 at 4:50 pm Leave a comment

Understanding and responding to the needs of Ohio’s local LGBTQ communities post-Orlando

This week’s column is excerpted from a briefing paper written by Kristi Andrasik (program officer at the Cleveland Foundation) and Brian Schultz (community outreach manager at Foundation Center Midwest).

orlando graphic shapeEarly this summer, LGBTQ communities across the nation were painfully reminded of the many challenges that remain. On June 12, Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub, was attacked on Latin night during Pride Month. The massacre claimed 49 lives and wounded 53 others, nearly all of them LGBTQ and Latinx young adults. Many in the philanthropic sector have sought information about opportunities to support Orlando. The national philanthropy affinity group, Funders for LGBTQ Issues, released both a statement and resource guide with recommendations for grantmakers interested in supporting the Orlando community. A number of funders across the country have since directed funds to Orlando, launched community fundraising efforts and made statements in support of the Orlando LGBTQ community and LGBTQ people generally.

In March of this year, Funders for LGBTQ Issues announced a new targeted, place-based effort to increase the dialogue about foundation funding for LGBTQ people living in Ohio, naming Kristi Andrasik of the Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz of Foundation Center Midwest as the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Kristi and brian posing

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S, Program Officer for Cleveland Foundation and Brian Schultz, Community Outreach Manager for Foundation Center Midwest are the inaugural Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors.

Less than three months into our new role as Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassadors, we found ourselves working to maintain focus on the needs of Ohio’s LGBTQ community while grappling to comprehend the horrific crime committed against our community in Orlando. Since June 12, we have been in communication with LGBTQ colleagues, LGBTQ-serving organizations, and local funders to understand the impact of Orlando and offer support; yet we know there are still many with whom we have not yet connected, and many who may not yet know that we exist as a local resource.

After convening Northeast Ohio LGBTQ nonprofit leaders to gain a deeper insight into the local impact of Orlando, the issues most important for local funders to be aware of, and the opportunities for local funders to respond, we have compiled a briefing for Ohio’s philanthropic community, which is available on Philanthropy Ohio’s website.

The briefing paper discusses how Orlando has impacted LGBTQ Ohioans and LGBTQ organizations as well as suggesting ways that funders can support their local communities.

To learn more, read the briefing and reach out to Kristi or Brian.

Kristi Andrasik, LISW-S
Program Officer, The Cleveland Foundation
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador

Brian Schultz
Community Outreach Manager, Foundation Center Midwest
Ohio LGBTQ Funding Ambassador
216.861.1933  x326

August 15, 2016 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

School’s out but the learning continues

headshot of claudia smilingThe idea that learning only occurs during an academic year has never really been true for me. When I was in junior high school – back in the dark ages – I became a voracious reader, visiting the local branch of the Columbus Public Library weekly. I’d walk the several blocks to the library, pick out a big stack of books and spend the summer days reading on the porch rather than sunning at the pool. Thus was born my love of Russian literature (yes, I read War and Peace one of those summers) and through reading I learned so much about different cultures, political systems and worldviews.

In high school, I took history or math classes during the summer so I could double up on language, vocal music (I sang alto) and orchestra (I played violin) classes and edit the high school newspaper during the regular school year.

I continue the year-round learning here at Philanthropy Ohio, and this summer I’m devoting time to learn more about a couple of topics.stack of books

First, racism in 21st century America. I’m taking time to watch an incredible set of speakers talking to Washington, D.C. grantmakers. Titled Putting Racism on the Table, the recorded talks cover a wide range of issues, including structural racism and implicit bias. Thanks to our colleague organization, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, for making the talks available to everyone. I’m also reading a couple of books: Dog Whistle Politics, by Ian Haney Lopez, a constitutional law professor at UC Berkley who has studied and written extensively on racism’s evolution in contemporary American society. I’m also dipping into Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum. The book explains the development of racial identity and frames the challenges in talking about race and racism.

Second, I’m learning more about collaboration – its best practices, challenges and opportunities. All three aspects of collaboration were part of a workshop we offered, our Three City Learning Tour that was led by Grantmakers for Effective Organizations staff and Chris Thompson from the Fund for our Economic Future with a keynote by Lisa S. Courtice (who was kind enough to let us post her remarks on last week’s blog). And, last week I was in Indianapolis at the Forum of Regional Associations’ Annual Conference where collaboration discussions included international presenters.

learning institute logo There are many opportunities to continue learning throughout the summer here at Philanthropy Ohio, culminating in our Learning Institute. The last two days of the summer – September 20 and 21 – will find us gathered on The Ohio State University campus for deep dives into a number of highly relevant topics for today’s grantmakers with a keynote and panel: The Equity Effectiveness Imperative. Check out the agenda and see which workshops will be most helpful in expanding your knowledge and skills. See you there.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

July 25, 2016 at 2:51 pm Leave a comment

Collaboration and philanthropy

2016-lisa-courtice-blog-photoThis week Philanthropy Ohio welcomes guest blogger Lisa S. Courtice, Ph.D., Executive Vice President for The Columbus Foundation, sharing her expertise on collaborations. 

Why is collaboration, or working with others to achieve something, important to Philanthropy?

Collaboration is important to philanthropy because the issues we help address are too big to tackle alone and because the risk factors of collaboration help keep us (professionals in philanthropy) real.

I believe that it is a privilege to work in philanthropy and to be charged with helping to tackle some of our community’s most pressing problems and to be effective, collaboration is essential. Even the largest philanthropists today are too small in relationship to the really serious problems that we have in central Ohio, let alone our country or world.

IMG_1518I will never forget hearing Melinda Gates speak at a conference in California.  She talked about people thinking that the wealth of the Gates Foundation could solve big problems.  She reminded us that the assets of the Gates Foundation, $40 billion…indeed, an enormous about of wealth, could not fund one year of operations for the California Public Schools.

For most of us, our ambitions and those of our respective organizations, outstrip our resources.

Collaboration has many benefits, one of the greatest being it helps to keep us real.  I believe that those of us who work in philanthropy are at great risk of contracting the professional disease known as insularism. While we would like to say that we are truly effective in the pursuit of our work, there are increasing numbers of individuals questioning the role philanthropy plays and whether it is achieving its true potential.  In the words of one grantee, “Foundations are like the building ledge on which nonprofit pigeons sit—not the wind under their wings that make them fly, but a helpful something, nevertheless.”

And yet, we are needed aren’t we?  What would nonprofits do in our absence?

We sometimes fail to remember the most significant contributor to the sustainability of the nonprofit sector is indeed public funding, not philanthropy.

A number of foundations in northern California commissioned a market survey (involving interviews with grantees, government officials, and other stakeholders) to assess how foundations are viewed and what beneficial roles they are thought to play. Interestingly, the response to the survey was a complete absence of any positive assessment of the work of foundations.

Think about this statement. There are over 56,000 foundations in our country and the majority operate without staff and simply direct financial support to nonprofits. Yet the feedback from this survey was that the contributed values of these philanthropy players is at best NEUTRAL. This should give each of us reason to step back to think about the real value of our work.

For me, the most interesting findings from this study were the phrases most often used to describe foundation staff and board members. We might hope these words were efficient, helpful, supportive, or high value-added. But those foundations that underwrote the survey were surprised to find the terms to describe both them and their colleagues were:  arrogant, heuristic, full of hubris, self-confident to the point of overpowering, and having a complete inability to listen.

People in philanthropy are used to being flattered and told just how critical their support is to the work of nonprofits. Despite this sense of valuable self-worth, there is the very real possibility that many of those we actually seek to support view us through a much different lens and experience our efforts at contributing to their work as little more than a necessary force to be tolerated.

We may be tempted to say this could possibly be true of other grantmakers, but certainly our own grantees would respond differently.  And while we would all like to believe our work is of the highest value, in fact that actual perceptions of those who should know, our customers, could well be completely opposite from our own.

If we are to move towards greater effectiveness within philanthropy, we must first acknowledge that there is both the need and opportunity for improvement. One way to make a meaningful commitment to the pursuit of philanthropic effectiveness is to begin to re-vision the role of “grantmaker…….. to investment collaborator in community well-being.”

I suggest collaboration — collaborating with a variety of stakeholders in the development of our long-term investment strategies — helps to mitigate insularism.

When we seek to become consumer of ideas and experience from other players and other sectors.  When we engage in dialogue with these stakeholders, our own strategies will be more realistically grounded in what is happening in the market as opposed to what we perceived to happening in the market.  This will then give us a greater likelihood of being more effective in our work.

Our connecting with the field in a more direct manner facilitates a flattening of the hierarchies in knowledge sharing and in that way promises to enhance not only our own understanding of the challenges at hand, but also to participate in building this shared knowledge base.

cols_fdn_media_rgbDo we run the risk of projecting the image that we actually know what we are doing when, in point of fact, we may know less than we care to admit?   The insular nature of the philanthropic community combined with the power dynamics, may lead us to overstate our knowledge regarding the right thing as well as our capacity to do it.  Collaborating helps bring us back to reality.

Collaborations and collaborating is important for philanthropy because the help keep us real.  They keep us real because they are risky.

Inherently, collaboration says something is happening outside of one’s immediate control.   The various dynamics that make it risky include:

1.    Not knowing the answer. The fundamental premise of collaboration is that you can use it to solve complex problems that are beyond the function of one domain or expertise.  That means each participant needs to be comfortable with a certain amount of     ambiguity. Most people have built their careers — perhaps even their identity — on being the expert.  Feeling ignorant is not a comfortable feeling.

2.    Unclear or uncomfortable roles. Role and responsibilities in the collaboration space tend not to be hierarchical; they are often fluid, changing from phase to phase of the work. This can be especially hard for senior leaders, because it means being a team member, not the team leader.

3.  Too much talking, not enough doing. Collaboration means a shift from thinking big ideas alone, and more into the real-time mess of problem solving with others. Shifting work from “I tell, they do” to a “We think together” approach will appear at first to be all about talking. But thinking together closes a gap.

4.  Fear of fighting. Collaborating means dealing with conflicting priorities. “Turf” isn’t always clear. If you avoid conflict, or don’t know how to fight effectively, nothing will happen. Knowing how to debate the tradeoffs between many viable options means knowing how to argue with each other about the business in more open and visible ways. Not doing it well, or doing it wrong — or simply losing?  Very risky.

5.    More work. Collaboration happens on top of other work. Participants are already plenty busy with their “day job” and the new project may be especially stressful because of this. Until the problems that any collaboration project is aimed to fix gets solved, a collaboration project can often be overwhelming. Most people describe collaboration with rose colored glasses: If they would just collaborate, then they would do better! But collaboration is about the friction of ideas and the forging of new ways of working. That is not easy. And it makes new demands on all of us.

IMG_0834And finally,
6.  It’s hard to know who to praise and who to blame. Collaborative projects are judged on the outcome, more than the individual efforts than went into them. Leaders have less visibility into who did what. If things go right, they worry about rewarding the wrong people. If things go wrong, they complain about no longer having a single point of accountability.

Collaborating…working with others to develop strategies, to align resources…is essential to be the most effective grantmaker possible.  Navigating these risk factors makes us vulnerable and helps to keep us real.  And collaboration increases the likelihood that we develop greater effectiveness not at doing what think is right from an insulated perch, but doing what we have experienced and learned together is right.

Lisa S. Courtice

July 18, 2016 at 9:52 am 1 comment

Finding Summer

headshot of claudiaMy mother-in-law always said that, for her, the July 4th holiday marked the beginning of the end of summer. I, on the other hand, have always looked at it as the real beginning of the summer. When I had young children, it seemed like the summer of lighter bedtime routines (no making lunches, homework help, Scouts, ballet and lacrosse), catching fireflies, pool time and trips to the library was just starting after the 4th. Now, unless the grandkids are over, summer finds me reading a book on the screened porch glider, listening to the birds settle for the evening, with June bugs hitting against the screens and our cat watching chipmunks run along the fence top. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy Ohio’s weather.

While evenings and weekends may see a slower pace at home, the work week here at Philanthropy Ohio is going full steam.


Chris Thompson leads the morning session of the Learning Tour on collaboration in Columbus.

Last week saw staff traveling the 3-C cities with Chris Thompson and GEO staff in tow, engaging funders in deep discussions and learning about how to increase impact through collaboration. I sat in on the Columbus event, gleaning a few phrases that will stick with me:

You’ll get it wrong before you get it right.

Collaboration moves at the speed of trust.

The evil twin of collaboration is coblabberation (you know, those meetings that are all talk and no action, in Groundhog Day movie fashion, over and over).

We also just published the summer edition of our magazine, Philanthropy Review, and are gearing up research efforts for community foundations, our annual Ohio Gives report and a salary survey that informs the report we’ll publish in the fall.

Summer-Institute-logo-art-for-webAnd, we are putting the final touches on this year’s statewide convening, the Learning Institute, which is set for September 20 – 21 here in Columbus. The planning committee has thoughtfully created an agenda that is packed with deep dives into the hottest topics in philanthropy, bringing in speakers from across the country to lead learning sessions and making time for networking. You can read more about the agenda and register online.

These are just a few highlights of this summer’s work, all of which is aimed at helping those engaged in philanthropy become more powerful, effective change agents in Ohio’s communities. I hope you’ll take time to find the right work-life balance, engaging in some of our events while taking time to enjoy the summer!

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

July 5, 2016 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

What I’m reading

headshot of suzanne allenLast week I received an email with the subject line, “What’s Your Keystone Habit?” The email was from Mario Morino and I read a little, noting the book he mentioned was The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and saving it in my “To Read” file. Later that day, Amazon sent me an email, naming The Power of Habit as one of the top business books for the month. Then I heard in separate emails that Jim Collins and Daniel Pink, two of my favorite authors, are fans of the book and are quoted as saying, “Sharp, provocative and useful” and “You’ll never look at yourself, your organization or your world quite the same way,” regarding their support of the book.

power of habitFinally, my colleague, John Gest, recommended The Power of Habit as a way of learning about the habits of excellence and the brain science behind them. With this quartet of leaders recommending a book, I opened my “To Read” file, finished Mario’s article and quickly ordered The Power of Habit.

And it’s a really good read, with lots of examples. Here are a few of my takeaways:

  • We are definitely creatures of habit. The first part of the book focused on the role habits, both personal and professional, play.
  • Duhigg suggests that the “habit loop” consists of cue, routine and reward and with the manipulation of the loop, we can modify and even change, our habits. Over time, this loop becomes more automatic and a habit forms. The more ingrained a habit is, the less the brain has to work as a decision maker and can divert its energy to other tasks.
  • Habits then, are at the root of how we behave, much like memory and reason. We might not remember how we began the experiences that have created our habits, but once these habits are developed, they really influence how we act and live, often without our conscious realization.
  • There are particular habits called “keystone habits,” and these help initiate a domino effect that can impact significant areas in our lives. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.


The second part of the book looks at habits from an organizational perspective. The author suggests that the formation of habits and routines within organizations is unavoidable. And leaders make deliberate decisions, both good and bad, that shape the habits and ultimately define the organization’s culture.

Finally, the last section of the book reviews the broader importance of habits in social movements, with a leader building on new habits that define the movement’s sense of identity.

habitsGiven the science behind the study of habit, Duhigg suggests that habits can change but that change requires intent. People, he says, have the power to transform habits by focusing on the patterns that shape every aspect of our lives. If you are interested, as I am, in becoming more aware of habits and their power, this book provides many great examples of how other people and companies are working towards intentionality.

suzanne signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.

June 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Help for Orlando

headshot of claudiaAll of us here at Philanthropy Ohio are horrified and heartbroken over the June 12 tragedy at Pulse in Orlando, when a gunman killed 49 people at the gay nightclub. In the intervening week, we’ve seen the nation come together in mourning and in efforts to help those traumatized by the killing of so many young people. Many regional associations, guided by information first compiled by our colleague organization, Florida Philanthropic Network, have distributed information on how individuals and philanthropic organizations can help the victims and their families during the days and weeks to come. And the country has responded: about $4 million has been collected by the OneOrlando Fund (as of June 17), including a $50,000 donation by Philanthropy Ohio member KeyBank.


Some of the ways to help include:

Central Florida Foundation will be sharing updates on how you can help now and in the weeks and months to come.

Our Fund Foundation, a community foundation whose mission is to support South Florida’s LGBTQ agencies, is collecting tax-deductible donations. 100% of the tax-deductible funds raised through Our Fund will be donated to the nonprofits in Orlando supporting survivors and victims’ families and friends and their efforts to restore peace, joy and wellness to Orlando’s LGBTQ community.

Governor Rick Scott announced the activation of the Florida Disaster Fund, which will help provide financial support to organizations that serve survivors, their families and all those in need.

Equality Florida has set up a GoFundMe page to support the victims and families affected by the shooting. You can donate to the Pulse Victims Fund online at

Funders for LGBTQ has additional resources for funders here.

nelson mandela fear quoteAt such a difficult time, as we struggle to deal with the loss of life, talking with our families, friends and co-workers about this horrific, hateful act, a colleague reminded me of Nelson Mandela’s famous words, that “courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” May we all demonstrate our courage every day.

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

June 20, 2016 at 12:47 pm Leave a comment

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