The countdown to Philanthropy Forward ’15

headshot of claudiaOhio’s largest gathering of people engaged in philanthropy is just a few weeks away and it is bigger and better than ever.

Building on the success of past conferences – including incorporating adult learning techniques, more time for networking and lots of interaction in workshops – the planning committee and staff have developed a three-day event that offers something for everyone who invests time, expertise and resources to help communities become strong, thriving places in which to live and work.

Here are the top 5 reasons you should attend:

number 5 imageDevelop your leadership capacity and strengths with Paul Schmitz, CEO of Leading Inside Out.


number 4 imageSocialize with peers during the Oktoberfest Welcome Party at the iconic 21 C Museum Hotel.


#3Build your connections to philanthropy peers from across the state.


number 2 imageGain perspective as you take a few days away from the office to refresh, reset and re-energize.


number 1 imageLearn alongside other smart Ohio philanthropy colleagues in 27 breakout sessions and deep dives on everything from investments to cross-sector partnerships.

paul schmitz headshot with arrows

So if you are interested in building the network, tools and knowledge that will help you become a more effective, powerful change agent in your community, register today while there are still hotel rooms and conference seats available.

See you in Cincinnati,

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

August 24, 2015 at 11:32 am Leave a comment

Constant learning creates lasting progress

headshot of claudia“To make lasting progress on the issues we care about, we have to be learning with others all the time . . . we have to know what others are learning.”

This statement has stuck with me since reading it in a recent GEO publication, probably because of two things: first, I was reading it on the way to the annual conference for staff of regional associations like Philanthropy Ohio, where I hoped to learn from and with my colleagues. Second, I had just sent the final copy of our own conference brochure to print, both of which led me to think about the importance of professional development, whether that happens in formal ways – like conferences and webinars – or informally as I network with colleagues and members working in the philanthropic sector.

books stacked with e-readerMy hopes were realized at the conference I attended with 150 of my peers (about 40 percent of those eligible to attend – did I mention that we’re a small niche of the nonprofit sector? There are only 33 regional associations of grantmakers spread across the U.S., but we’re the largest philanthropic network with over 5,000 grantmaking organization members.)circle_people

So what did I learn?

  • I learned about a different way to think about and organize setting goals and assessing outcomes from David Grant as he shared the framework and tools from his book, The Social Profit Handbook. A lively and engaging presenter, David was the president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation for 12 years, a teacher at heart, world traveler and committed social change agent.
  • As usual, my peers from across the country helped me think about how to do my day-to-day work better, whether it was during the 50 Shades of Engagement or job-alike breakout sessions.
  • I built my network of professional colleagues, meeting many new people and reconnecting with some seasoned veterans (there were six of us there who have worked at regional associations since the 1990s – we’re taking suggestions for our quintessential theme song).
  • And, there was plenty of time to socialize and relax as we explored Baltimore restaurants near the harbor, with an emphasis on seafood and wine.

Philanthropy Forward brochure coverAs I head into the final days leading up to our conference in mid-September, it of course occurs to me that these are the same kinds of experiences and learnings that I hope our conference registrants are looking forward to – and will realize. Our thought leaders, Innovation / Flip Lab, deep dive sessions, networking breaks and Oktoberfest welcome party will all come together to provide Ohio’s philanthropic sector with a great learning experience that will help create lasting progress on the issues we all care about. See you there!

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

August 10, 2015 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

Good grantmaking and good intentions

Heather-Peeler-headshotPhilanthropy Ohio is pleased to welcome Heather Peeler, vice president of member and partner engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, as our guest blogger this week. You’ll have a chance to meet and learn from Heather at the Philanthropy Forward ’15 conference, where she’s leading two sessions to help increase your effectiveness as a grantmaker.

Now that summer is in full swing, I convinced my husband that we should have an informal backyard barbecue with some good friends. Given busy schedules, I wanted to host a casual gathering where everyone could relax and enjoy one another’s company.

plate of food at BBQHowever, if you had seen me the days before and after the event, you would have thought I was planning something for the Queen of England, not a casual party with friends. There was extensive menu planning (simple burgers and dogs wouldn’t do), a signature cocktail and an excursion to the home goods store for fancy patio lights and new planters. I was so stressed by my “casual” barbecue, that I’m not even sure if anyone actually had a fun and relaxing time. I certainly didn’t.

This is a perfect example of how our intentions and our behaviors are often out of alignment. It happens in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. And sadly it happens in grantmaking, too. As grantmakers, we have the best of intentions to collaborate with others, help our grantees become stronger and to learn from our failures and mistakes. Yet our behaviors and practices often get in the way of making those intentions a reality.

GEO-LogoGrantmakers for Effective Organizations has long studied the types of grantmaker practices that support grantee success. We know that nonprofit resilience is based on the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and that restricted funding hamstrings this flexibility. We know that evaluation provides a powerful way to garner insights into what’s working and why, but few grantmakers share evaluation results with grantees and others who can benefit. We know that collaborative efforts to pool resources and align strategies can yield faster progress, yet we struggle to give up control and let go of our unique ways of doing business. Finally, we know that we make better decisions when we engage with the community and deepen our understanding, but we struggle to prioritize the time that’s needed to build relationships.

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone. GEO’s recent field study of more than 600 foundations found that 93 percent of respondents think it is important or very important to provide support that will strengthen grantee organizations, yet 45 percent rarely or never support capacity-building activities. Eighty-one percent provide some level of general operating support, but most dedicate only 25 percent or less of their grantmaking budgets to it.

taking notes at meetingOver the years of working with grantmakers to help boost their and their grantees effectiveness, we’ve come to realize that knowledge of effective practice is not enough. Many smarter grantmaking practices are easier said than done. One doesn’t become a master collaborator or learning organization overnight. As part of the process, we should give careful consideration to our practices as well as our values. In particular, reflecting on current culture and values and how they align with practice can yield insights about why our organizations may not be making the progress we desire.

We have discovered many great ways that GEO members are shaping productive cultures through their actions, big and small. Here are a few that stuck with me:

  • The Cleveland Foundation nurtures a culture of learning by hosting “Fred Talks” (named after its founder) to better connect and learn with members of the community. The grantmaker convenes residents and community leaders for in-depth conversations in order to tap ideas about how the grantmaker can best pursue its mission. You can read more in Learning Together.
  • symphony concertIn GEO’s Smarter Grantmaking Playbook, we highlighted the work of Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and its commitment to strengthening the arts sector in Cleveland. It has made general operating support a key part of its strategy. By devoting a large proportion of its grantmaking to flexible support, the grantmaker has seen its grantees grow sustainably and have a larger impact in the communities they serve.
  • Jim Canales, one of GEO’s founders and the CEO of the Barr Foundation, talks about how important it is to mind the small things – like making sure program officers keep their phones tucked away when they are meeting with grantees or others in the community as a sign of respect.

Our desire for strong and effective grantees is within our reach. To achieve it, we must build our knowledge about and practice smarter grantmaking. And, we must give careful consideration to where our values, intentions and practice diverge.

I’m looking forward to my time in Ohio next month, hope to see you there!

Heather Peeler

August 3, 2015 at 11:43 am Leave a comment

Sound analysis + grounded assumptions + appropriate assessments yields high performance

headshot of suzanne allenI keep three stacks of reading materials. One stack is “leisure reading,” another is “need to read” and the last is “must read this week.” Somehow, a document titled The Performance Imperative landed in leisure reading, when it should have been in a stack all by itself – “read now!”

Here’s a bit of background.

 “The Performance Imperative: A Framework for Social Sector Excellence is the result of a year’s worth of collaborative work by the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community. If Leap of Reason rings a bell, you’ll remember this as the title of a book by Mario Marino in which he made the case for outcomes-based management in the nonprofit world and used this work to issue a call to action for leaders in the field.

mario marino

Mario Morino is chairman of the Morino Institute and co-founder and founding chair of Venture Philanthropy Partners.

Now back to the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community. This is a group of nonprofit leaders selected and organized by the Leap of Reason team ( to:

  • “Inspire, motivate and support nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater societal impact; and
  • “Increase the expectation and adoption of high performance and the path toward that end.”

the performance imperative 7 pillarsThis group worked together to craft a definition of “high-performance organizations” and determined that “high performance is the ability to deliver – over a prolonged period of time – meaningful, measurable and financially sustainable results for people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.” They also developed seven organizational pillars that can and should be used by nonprofit boards, nonprofit executives, funders and public agencies, professors, management and evaluation consultants and websites for nonprofit ratings and information. In short, anyone who worked with or around the nonprofit world should pay attention to these seven pillars, which are:

  • Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership (the most important pillar)performance-imperative
  • Disciplined, people-focused management
  • Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies
  • Financial health and sustainability
  • A culture that values learning
  • Internal monitoring for continuous improvement
  • External evaluation for mission effectiveness

So why am I asking my staff to move this to their “read now!” stack? Because as Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great,” and high-performance matters. Sure, enthusiasm and vision are important but a formula of sound analysis + grounded assumptions + appropriate assessments yields a high-performance model that nonprofits and their leaders can use to remain relevant and grow their people and organizations.

In upcoming blogs, we’ll look at the pillars more closely and share some great work of our Ohio colleagues.

You can download the full report here.

suzanne signed in blue ink

Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.

July 27, 2015 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

3 good reads for your summer vacation

headshot of claudiaIn between rain downpours and mere summer showers, many of us are getting ready for a brief respite someplace sunnier and warmer than this year’s Ohio summer. Whether you’re looking forward to hanging out at home, going to a favorite beach, lake or mountain venue, if you’re like me you’re looking for some good reading material to take along on your week off. If we lived in Europe, we’d have the whole month of August for holiday and could read them all. But since few of us can take that much time away, consider tucking one of these good reads into your travel bag as you head off.happiness adv book

The Happiness Advantage
Psychologist Shawn Achor writes in accessible, non-jargon language about how we’ve got it all backwards – we think we should work to be happy – and then lays out a path for how to take control of our own happiness and lead productive lives. This was one of two books the Philanthropy Ohio staff read this past spring. Watch his great TED talk, and then pick up the book.

dream land bookDreamland: the True Tale of America’s Opiate Addiction
Former LA Times reporter Sam Quinones traces the historical roots of the epidemic that threatens the health of thousands of people and their communities and reveals a frightening picture of how heroin has become so pervasive across America. His thoughtful research reaches into Columbus and southeastern Ohio, showing how Mexican heroin has permeated urban, suburban and rural areas without regard to income, race or gender.

Strategic Philanthropy and its Discontents
Paul Brest is a recognized deep thinker in philanthropy, having led the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and now as Professor Emeritus and Co-Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. In his essay (complete with footnotes), Brest takes on the difficult tasks of untangling the various definitions of “strategic philanthropy” and then turns to a discussion of its practices, particularly as they relate to relationships between funders and grantees. It was written for a symposium of people gathered from the U.S. and Europe at Stanford University to discuss strategic philanthropy and is shared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website.

paul brest

Happy reading,

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold


July 21, 2015 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

Diversity Explosion

headshot of claudiaWhen Philanthropy Ohio adopted Diversity Principles and created a board-level Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, it signaled its strong intent to help Ohio funders understand the importance of paying attention to diversity defined very broadly. We created a CEO Leadership Circle where foundation leaders learned from each other about the practices and policies that could diversify their staff and boards, grantees and vendors. We were also a founding member of D5, a national project that engages philanthropic organizations in work to grow their diversity, equity and inclusion. D5 has extensive resources on its site, from reports on the diversity of the philanthropic sector to research and tools to advance DEI.

As part of our ongoing work, we invited Robert Jaquay, associate director at The George Gund Foundation, to review Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America by William H. Frey. The book explains the coming racial diversity in Ohio and the nation, important information that Bob summarizes in this review.

Diversity Explosion bookFast-paced demographic change will dramatically alter American life, according to Diversity Explosion, a new book by widely-respected demographer William Frey. By 2040 – possibly sooner – no racial group will constitute a majority in the U.S. Further, as multiracial marriages become far more commonplace, a significant portion of the American populace will no longer identify with any specific racial group.

William Frey, a University of Michigan Professor and Fellow at the Brookings Institution, recognizes that the massive Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has exerted political and economic clout to shape America in fundamental ways: the evolving role of women and increased suburbanization are but two powerful examples. Yet, due to low immigration, reduced fertility and aging among the predominantly white Boomers, Frey projects that America’s white population will begin to decline in the next 10 years.

Conversely, within the cohort of newborn Americans, 2011 was a very significant year in that for the first time in the history of the country, more minority babies were born than white babies. This is a trend that William Frey sees accelerating in the years to come. Indeed, over the next 40 years, Hispanics, Asians and multi-racial populations in the U.S. are each projected to more than double. As this newest cohort forms and ages, increased racial diversity now noticeable in maternity wards will become apparent in American schools. In turn, the workplace, consumer markets, media, politics and every other aspect of American life will be increasingly diverse.

Robert Jaquay, associate director at The George Gund Foundation

Robert Jaquay, associate director at The George Gund Foundation

Dr. Frey also projects that diversity will spread geographically across the country. He notes that in 1990 only five of the 100 largest metropolitan areas were minority white, all in the south and southwest. By the 2010 census, there were 22. The next census will likely document a continuation of the diversity spread, increasingly toward the north and east.

Numerous references to specific racial group demographic shifts occurring in Columbus and Cleveland appear in the book in context of discussing national trends. Additionally, our state and its counties are depicted in the dozens of maps and charts spread throughout the book. Nonetheless, how the Diversity Explosion will play out in Ohio in the years to come is not entirely clear.

Obviously, Dr. Frey’s book is focused upon race. It is important to note that other characteristics and classes such as gender identity/expression, disability, sexual orientation and veteran status are not the focus of Diversity Explosion.

Nevertheless, despite these limitations, those engaged in Philanthropy Ohio’s vital discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion will find Diversity Explosion to be essential reading. This book prompts necessary questions to constructive discourse in Ohio. Such questions include:

  • Is our definition of diversity sufficiently expansive?
  • In discussing inclusion, are we considering community demographics with a sufficiently long-range view of, say 10, or even 25 years?
  • How do urban neighborhoods, suburbs and rural communities of Ohio properly fit in the conversation?
  • How can we build neighborhoods that allow for real interaction among people of differing age, race and class?

Good ideas in the making

Diversity Explosion also seems to match the spirit of Philanthropy Ohio’s discernment on questions of race and class that are so important to our institutions and the Ohio communities we serve. William Frey writes so that his readers can “appreciate the sheer magnitude of change being wrought by America’s new racial minorities and be prepared to embrace it.”

Happy reading,

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

July 14, 2015 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Registration opens for the best learning and networking event

headshot of claudiaPhilanthropy is shifting, applying new perspectives and bold ideas, partnering in Collective Impact, focusing on the next generation and shaping public policy for systems change.

PHILANTHROPY FORWARD ’15 showcases all this and more in the year’s most important learning and networking event for Ohio funders. Here are just a few examples of what the conference offers to Ohio funders heading to Cincinnati on September 16 for three days of intense learning and connecting.

National thought leaders will challenge you to think and act differently.
plenary speaker headshotsExperts in the field will build your skills and knowledge.

GEO’s Heather Peeler leads a Smarter Grantmaking course

Michelle L. Janssen, CFRE, presents a Donor Development Deep Dive

Erin Skene-Pratt teaches a session on Public Policy Nuts & Bolts

Mark J. Rogers and Gary W. Jbara give a Financial Market Outlook

Over 25 break-out sessions address your daily challenges, covering topics that include board governance, investing, managing collaborations, racial equity, gender issues, college completion, criminal justice reform: the list goes on and on, with something for everyone at every level of experience.

Networking galore will connect you with colleagues.

A group of four German Oktoberfest fansMeet up during designated networking breaks, dine-arounds and the Welcome Party, a lively celebration featuring the rich German heritage of southwest Ohio, complete with music, food and beverages.

Learning tours will highlight Cincinnati projects.

Visit a school-based health and dental center to see how funders collaborated to make a difference in the lives of Cincinnati’s children and teens or explore People’s Liberty, an 8,000 square foot philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate positive community transformation.

Philanthropy Forward brochure coverWhether you’re new to philanthropy or have years of experience, we guarantee you’ll build your knowledge and network at this year’s conference. Check out the agenda, book your hotel room and register today!

claudia signature

Claudia Y.W. Herrold

July 6, 2015 at 1:09 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts

Visit Our Website

Get Your Philanthropy Ohio News First

Reader Subscription

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 71 other followers



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 71 other followers

%d bloggers like this: