What makes for great relationships between funders and their nonprofit partners? We at The Whitman Institute (TWI) have always believed that it starts with respect, authenticity, and honesty across power differentials in ways that build trust over time.
Tell us a bit about your professional background, and what led you to Fund the People.
Rusty Stahl (RS): I came into the field through a year-long fellowship at Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy. Ever since that experience, I’ve been thinking about how the sector could do a better job of increasing awareness and recruitment of diverse young Americans into nonprofit careers.
I received an excellent lesson in humility a few years ago.
I was excited when a colleague told me about her idea for a grant program to help retiring baby boomer executive directors of nonprofits transition out of their roles and into consulting positions at other nonprofits. I thought this was genius.
About two years ago, the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation had a chance to rethink both what we do and how we do it. We adjusted our giving programs—painfully letting go of important issues and organizations with the belief that we could do more for New York City with a more focused giving strategy.
Here at the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation we support leadership development as an equity strategy. It is work that I believe in deeply, but at the same time – in my understanding of leadership development, it has become more and more clear to me that not everyone should be a leader.
I’m happy to announce that there’s a new New York City Leadership and Professional Development Directory.When I began writing this blog post to share the news, I wasn’t sure where I would begin—but ultimately decided to tell my story first.
We were pleased to sit down with Deborah Meehan and Ericka Stallings, Co-Executive Directors of our grantee partner Leadership Learning Community (LLC). Deborah founded LLC 20 years ago, and Ericka just joined her at the helm earlier this year. Together they bring thought-provoking perspectives on leadership development, networks, and embracing an evolving style of management within their own organization. The interview has been edited and condensed.
Our colleagues over at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations have a Non-Profit Advisory Council of 9 Non-Profit leaders. Together they have written this open letter to Philanthropy, which we think is really worth reading. Their ideas can help grantmakers like RSCF to think about what nonprofits really need, and how we can offer authentic and useful support to them.
Since his appointment as president a year and a half ago, Phil Li of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation has taken dramatic steps toward embodying trust-based philanthropy, including getting rid of lengthy reporting requirements and shifting toward multi-year unrestricted support. As part of The Whitman Institute’s ongoing series featuring funders embodying trust-based philanthropy, we sat down with him to get the scoop:
The Robert Sterling Clark Foundation has undergone a generational change in leadership with the retirement of Margaret C. Ayers after thirty-eight years of service and the arrival last year of Phil Li, our new president. The foundation’s transition has provided a welcome interlude for the Board. We have reflected on our programs and, in doing so, have thought about the nature of leadership in a foundation and, more broadly, leadership within the nonprofit and governmental sectors, especially in New York City.