YEAR OF ENGAGEMENT: A Report to the Membership

TLC

As you read this on Wednesday morning, I am in Landover, Maryland, at the last of our three Town Hall Meetings for members. These events are significant milestones in our Year of Engagement, which began in November of 2006, shortly after my arrival. Here’s what’s happened since then:

Year of Engagement:
Six Month Snapshot


May ’07 – Town hall meetings held in D.C., Va. and Md. to get member input
April ’07 – Input from WG’s Program Committee on how WG should be structured
March ’07 – Small group of foundation CEOs provide advice and insight
Feb. ’07 – Input sought from WG’s Program Committee on what WG should be doing
Jan. ’07 – Contract signed with facilitator to guide the full strategic planning process
Dec. ’06 WG Board of Directors finalizes ’08 – ’10 strategic framework
Nov. ’06 WG kicks off Year of Engagement, a year long effort to seek input from all members for ’08-’10 strategic plan

Listening
The six months since I announced Washington Grantmakers’ Year of Engagement has been a dynamic time. Conversations about what we should be doing and how we should do it have actually spanned the country, from here in the Washington metropolitan region, to Seattle, Washington, where many of us gathered for the Council of Foundations ’07 Conference. People have been engaged, forthcoming and candid. I’m grateful that you’ve taken the time.

I’ve met with many, many members and community leaders and I’ve heard your ideas. You want us to be a convener and an information clearinghouse. You want us to be a venue for the promotion of collaborative and cooperative programming and funding, a change agent, and a voice for the philanthropic community. You want (and deserve!) a better association web site. And you want us to be a leader. I’ve heard, thought about, and considered all that you have said.

Reaching out
I’ve also had the opportunity to tell you about the work of Washington Grantmakers. I’ve introduced you to Washington Grantmakers Daily and our re-worked bi-weekly Update newsletter. I’ve assured you that all members are welcome at the working group meetings and clarified the distinctions between the working and affinity groups. I’ve continued to stress the importance of collaboration and I’ve celebrated the birth of what amounts to a new funding collaborative for those of you investing in Prince George’s County. With every new development I have encountered responsive members who have thoughtful ideas and suggestions—so again, I thank you.

Next Steps
So, what now? For the Board and staff of Washington Grantmakers, Memorial Day does not kick off a lazy, hazy summer. Our minds must remain sharp as we digest and reflect on all that we’ve heard and as we prepare our 2008-2010 strategic plan. The draft plan will go to the Board of Directors at its September meeting. Any desired refinements will then be made and the plan will be presented to you, our membership, at the annual meeting in November. This year’s meeting will not only be a 15th anniversary celebration, but a time to announce and celebrate our network’s future.