Getting to Know You Series: Meet the Co-Executive Directors of Leadership Learning Community

Share your thoughts with us about how the leadership development space has been evolving and where it is going. 

Deborah: I think the big change over the last 20 years has been that the mainstream of leadership development had been really focused on the individual—kind of tilting towards this big old model that comes from the dominant culture.

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Network Leadership: Launching Sterling Network NYC

About a year and a half ago the Foundation began a journey to explore the answer to an intriguing question: What happens when you bring together a group of action-oriented systems leaders from multiple sectors, each of whom has an ability to influence and move resources, build their trust and capacity to work across difference, and provide space and support for them to think of powerful ways to collaborate to improve economic mobility at the intersection of racial equity?

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Face Plants: The Grant Administration Struggle is Real

When North Star Fund started 40 years ago, our founders wanted to shift power dynamics in philanthropy. They didn’t want to continue the tradition of wealthy white folks making grantmaking decisions. Our grantmaking decisions are made by a group of volunteer grantmakers who are working on the front lines in the communities where we fund – organizers and activists that understand the day-to-day realities our grantees are facing.

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Face Plants: Survey Says…The Survey Isn’t Working Out

I have an aversion to the phrase “best practice,” because it connotes that there is an optimal way to do something. It’s as if a lab has tested all the possibilities and has anointed a winner. It discourages thinking in different ways. And, in reality, these ideas are only ‘best’ until something better comes along.

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Philip LiComment
Face Plants: Our Beautiful Messes

In my almost-30 years as a youth worker, program director, consultant, board member, executive director, and now as a funder, I have always had a special interest in ‘worst practices.’ In professional settings, I have long been willing to share my successes – or ‘best practices’ – with colleagues.

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Lisa Pilar CowanComment
Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Closing Thoughts on our Series

My colleague Lisa Cowan revels in drawing on “worst practices” as a way for us to learn and improve the ways in which we work at the Foundation, from operations and administration to grantmaking. So we have been quite excited on more than one occasion when we have we happened upon funder “fail fests,” where our colleagues promise to describe mistakes and consequences.

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Transparent and Responsive Communication

I was at an engaging talk this past weekend that reminded me why effective communication must be at the core of our work at the foundation. The talk topic was ‘How to use behavioral economics to shape food policy and make choices of what to put in our bodies.’  Some of the ideas that were discussed are common here in New York City: taxing sugar-laden beverages and providing calorie information on menus. But one research study grabbed my attention (I know, it may not sound that exciting, but stick with me here!).

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Provide Unrestricted, Multi-Year Funding

Last weekend I took a yoga class near my home in Brooklyn. The fit and kind young yoga instructor started the class by interpreting some of the dharma. Now to be honest, I usually zone out during this part–I have a hard time taking ancient wisdom from 23-year-olds. But this time the message permeated a bit as the instructor talked about the Bhagavadgita, the Hindu text which speaks about giving: 

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Support Beyond the Check

Two weeks ago, we invited the program directors from our New York City grantee partner organizations to join us on a retreat. Our plan is to do this annually, so that our partners get to know each other’s programs and build community. This part of our work falls under the Trust-Based Philanthropy principle of providing “Support Beyond the Check.” We also think of thought partnership, support around leadership transition, introductions to potential funders or allies, and lending our offices for off-site meetings as ways we support grantee partners beyond the check – some of them more helpful than others. 

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Exploring the Pillars of Trust-Based Philanthropy: Solicit and Act on Feedback

Two year ago, we launched a new grantmaking area here at Robert Sterling Clark—we now fund network and leadership development programs. As we developed this new grantmaking area, we also implemented a new way to evaluate our grantmaking. We asked each of our grantee partners to complete a self-assessment tool to help us understand the progress they were making with our support.

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Robert Sterling Clark Foundation Blog: Trust-Based Philanthropy Series Introductory Post

It’s a Matter of Trust: Introducing a New Blog Series on Trust-Based Philanthropy

As many of you readers already know, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation utilizes a trust-based philanthropy approach in our work. That means we thrive on relationships grounded in mutual trust and respect, and we seek to imbue those traits into every interaction—whether it’s with a grantee partner, an individual leader, a funder, a collaborator, or an ally.

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Philip LiComment
Building A Movement

Funder Spotlight: Headwaters Foundation

Headwaters Foundation in Missoula, Montana is a new health conversion foundation that has been committed to embracing trust-based philanthropy since its inception. This commitment has led to a number of innovations – including GO! Grants that are designed to put grant funds in the hands of grantees in less than a month – as well as some informative lessons. As part of our ongoing series on trust-based philanthropy, we sat down with Headwaters CEO Brenda Solorzano to get the full scoop.

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The Ethical Argument for General Operating Funds

Hi everyone. Before we begin, thank you to all the colleagues who donated to my organization on my birthday last week. It helps our mission of developing more leaders of color and strengthening organizations led by communities of color. If you haven’t donated, it’s not too late

This blog post is going to be a little more serious than usual. I’m going to say things that may be very difficult for many people to hear. Especially if you work for a foundation that provides restricted funding, please take a deep breath. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but we need to have this conversation. Next week’s post will be lighter. Unless something else comes up.

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Nonprofit AFComment