Throughout the course of the year, A Region United: A Continuing WG Conversation will explore topics and themes relevant to the dialogue started at Washington Grantmakers’ 2010 annual conference.
We’re All in This Together
By Carolynn Mambu, Vice President
While I will not deny that the economic downturn has been difficult, I believe there is a silver lining. It has forced us all to think more creatively about how and why we do our work.
Our friends from the Monitor Institute tell us that “the status quo is not an option.” In his presentation at our Annual Meeting in November, Gabriel Kasper suggested that effective funders are moving away from evaluating a single grant as a measure of success. Instead, they are looking to knit together the sum of the parts in their effort to move the needle on complex social issues.
As a membership organization representing our region’s philanthropic community, Washington Grantmakers is well positioned to work with our members in a way that can have impact far beyond the success of any one grant, grantee, or donor. A quick look through our publication, Beyond Dollars, will illustrate that our community already knows this and has a track record of success. Still, we think we can act bigger.
This year, WG will coordinate a series of meetings with public officials around the region to build and strengthen relationships, share priorities, and identify opportunities to work together on shared goals. In December, a small group of WG Board members met with then DC Mayor-elect Gray’s staff and offered to serve as a resource to the administration as they develop their priorities. This month we will meet with Montgomery County Executive Isaiah Leggett and next month with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
As local governments struggle with budget deficits and foundation assets are still recovering, it seems to me that we have a unique opportunity. By leveraging our relationships, we can maximize the impact that philanthropy can have on a wide spectrum of issues.
At the same time, we can educate public officials about the local philanthropic network that may serve as a knowledge resource, a natural collaborator, and a committed supporter of innovation. Ultimately, public officials and the philanthropic community share a common goal – creating vibrant communities where all residents are allowed to thrive.
We’re all in this together. With better communication, collaboration, and coordination with local governments, among others, we have the potential to work together to change the status quo immeasurably.