Perspectives on Philanthropy

July 29, 2013 at 9:56 am 1 comment

allen_suzanneOur role as an organization is to engage, prepare and lead grantmaking entities. For nearly thirty years we have grown both in expertise and in members and have set the proverbial table for a network of grantmakers in Ohio.

Now more organizations that provide services similar to ours are either sitting at the table or waiting to be seated. We have a unique opportunity to not only be a significant voice at the table, but to lead the conversation.

As a statewide membership organization, it’s our responsibility to ask our board, our staff and our members, “What is it that we bring to this table that makes membership special and meaningful?” We asked these questions and more in our most recent member survey, in which a large percentage of our members shared their perceptions about our organization.

I also asked these questions as I’ve met with our members around the state. Our conversations and the survey results are refining how we view this table at which we are seated and are helping us focus on three things:

1. Our leadership in the grantmaking arena, which includes our roles an educator, convener and consultant for our members.

2. Our ability to provide education opportunities requested and needed by our members that are convenient, affordable, meaningful and measureable. We are also looking at ways to collaborate with other providers for these educational opportunities.

3. Our capacity as we work to more efficiently market our strengths, our differences and our value added propositions, enabling our members to best meet their philanthropic goals, which is at the very heart of what we do. In these conversations with many of our members, I have been astonished at the level of change they are impacting in their communities. But I’ve also been reminded that while each grantmaker is investing in nonprofits to improve communities, each organization is different. Dave Mitzel, president of Muskingum Community Foundation said it best, “When you’ve met with one foundation, you’ve met with one foundation.”

As we take our seat at the head of the table, our role is changing. We are becoming more deliberate and planning for and managing the change. We are committed to the long-term goal of being the leading voice and premier resource for philanthropy in Ohio.

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Entry filed under: Commentaries, Philanthropy Ohio News.

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