PNW News

Big Web, Small Threads: Reflecting on Rural Philanthropy

11/08/2016

Amy Hyfield, The O.P. & W.E. Edwards Foundation | Many of our towns and cities in the Northwest are small, rural and geographically isolated. There is real power in the community that develops in these places. The interconnectedness is out in the open, on the surface, evident and real. Economic development depends upon the availability of childcare, housing, recreation and transportation. Housing depends on the availability of jobs, the quality of life, the efficiency of infrastructure, zoning and the layout of a town. Recreation depends on location, community health and investment priorities, land use and access to the outdoors. The web of factors that impact the themes of diversity, equity and inclusion explored at Philanthropy Northwest’s recent conference, Under One Sky, is especially complicated and tangled in rural areas. Grantmakers are charged with keeping the big picture in perspective. more »

Seizing the Opportunity to Expand Our Political Discourse

11/04/2016

Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Learning Strategy Director and Remy Trupin, Catalyst Fellow | In just a few more days, we can finally close the book on the 2016 election season. Needless to say, it’s been an interesting cycle fraught with anxiety and frustration. It would be easy to dismiss the vitriol of the current election as an episodic blip not worth understanding for the long-term work of philanthropy — but experience and common sense tell us that these emotions and currents won’t be put to rest easily after Election Day. This election season has illuminated how many Americans feel that full participation in our democracy is regulated to the privileged and powerful. We are convinced, however, that this climate has created an opening for productive dialogue, moving it further into the places where we continue to be divided as a nation. If anything, the messiness of this political environment has revealed the ways in which we are broken — creating an on-ramp to begin to think creatively and take action. more »

Reflective Practice Makes Perfect

11/03/2016

Audrey Haberman, Interim CEO | I was a little shocked when I walked into a Lowe’s Home Improvement store in mid-October and saw the Christmas display. I had several reactions, including a sense of panic about where the year had gone. Did I enjoy summer? Do I need to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions? Where are the paintbrushes?! I was reminded of that all-too-familiar feeling of too many tasks to accomplish while balancing the need to focus thoughtfully and strategically on one thing at a time. After 20 years in the nonprofit and philanthropy sector, I know that the pace and fullness of how we work can be detrimental — sometimes to our relationships, sometimes to ourselves and often to our desired outcomes. My current reflective practice is to set aside 10 minutes every week to review meetings and interactions, not just to make my next to-do list, but to highlight what I’ve learned and which people I need to circle back around with to close out a conversation where an idea is lingering or an interaction felt uncomfortable. more »

The Sustainability, Equity & Community Democracy Connection

10/31/2016

Mitchell Thomashow, Catalyst Fellow | The presidential election has hijacked America's attention. We have much at stake, of course, but this highly polarized atmosphere has distracted us from what brings us together and alienated too many potential partners. If we look more carefully at communities around the Pacific Northwest, regardless of political preferences, we see that constructive conversations, solutions-based initiatives and community-based approaches have taken root and will bear fruit long after Election 2016. As Philanthropy Northwest's Sustainability Catalyst Fellow, I have an opportunity to take a closer look at eight of these projects and share my findings with our network. more »

Top Five Risk Areas for Family Foundations

10/27/2016

Robert Fleming, Clark Nuber PS | As Americans consider whether to vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump for president, we've also put the Clinton Foundation and Trump Foundation under the microscope, peppering both organizations with accusations of self-dealing, conflicts of interests and questionable charitable purpose. These stories provide a great opportunity to reflect and refresh ourselves about the risks we should all be thinking about when managing a family foundation. Based on my 30 years of providing tax, financial statement and consulting services for over 100 foundations, primarily family foundations, here are the top five risk areas I encounter most often: more »

What We Can Do About Environmental Philanthropy's White Privilege

10/24/2016

Marcelo Bonta, Momentum Fellow | Environmental philanthropy has a big problem. It’s not our lack of racial diversity, especially at the executive and trustee level. It’s not the lack of funding directed towards organizations led by people of color. It’s not the lack of funding for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, despite many foundations now talking about it. It’s not the lack of investment in established leaders of color and a professional pipeline for emerging leaders of color. It’s not the underfunding of general support and capacity-building. It’s not the assumption that people of color don’t care about the environment; it’s not the lack of acknowledgement that people of color support environmental issues at higher rates than whites. It’s not the hiring of average white men instead of overqualified people of color. All those are simply the byproducts of the big problem: white privilege. And until environmental philanthropy acknowledges and successfully addresses its white privilege, sadly, our planet will continue to suffer. more »

Lifting Up Community Foundations to Elevate Communities

10/20/2016

Gloris Estrella, Program Manager | When I started working at Philanthropy Northwest last year, things like donor-advised funds, grant committees and financial advisors were a foreign language that I had to learn quickly while coordinating our Washington Community Foundations Convening. I'm still absorbing many intricacies that make community foundations special, but you don't need native fluency to see that they are, above all, leaders in our communities. Some states, including Alaska and Montana, have one main community foundation serving as an umbrella for smaller funds throughout the state. In Washington, however, almost every county has its own community foundation. This allows each foundation to have a strongly place-based mission, focusing closely on its county's unique needs — but it also means each has to raise most of its funds from the community it serves, with a small staff and limited resources. Through Philanthropy Northwest's Washington Community Foundations Convening, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we connect all these foundations to discuss their challenges and opportunities. more »

Raising a Glass to Sustaining Partners & New Friends

10/19/2016

Paul Kim, Member and Donor Program Associate | This fall, Philanthropy Northwest celebrates 40 years as a thriving network of foundations and corporate giving programs committed to Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Last month, more than 200 philanthropy leaders joined us Under One Sky in Missoula, Montana to explore this work through the lenses of democracy and equity, and to raise a glass with our founding members, valued partners — and several new friends. We're thankful for the support and partnership of our longtime members, along with three organizations that have joined us more recently: Grays Harbor Community Foundation, Group Health Community Foundation and U.S. Bank. more »

Never Stop Learning: An Integral Approach to Continuous Education

10/14/2016

Anna Gallich, Staff Accountant | Everyone experiences feelings of professional disappointment sometimes. In September, I had to miss Philanthropy Northwest’s 2016 conference in Montana, after months of working with the team to help put it together. When I heard our staff’s stories and saw the photos, I felt I had fallen behind on my philanthropy learning curve — and missed a a lot of fun celebrating our 40th anniversary! But I had a very good reason: I was getting my long-awaited master’s degree in psychology. Growing up in Russia with Lenin's ideology of “Learn, Learn, Learn” hanging on a poster in every classroom, I absorbed the importance of a good education from a young age. As an adult, I also think about the importance of an integral education: a comprehensive and continuing process that does not stop at any point in life. more »

Swimming With the Funders

10/11/2016

Kesley Potdevin, Momentum Fellow | “Hi! I’m a member of Glacier Swim Club. I’m collecting pledges for our annual Aqualaps fundraiser. This year, I’m swimming 200 laps. You can make a lump sum or pledge a certain amount per lap to support the team. If you pledge 1 cent a lap, you'll donate $2, if you pledge 5 cents a lap, you'll donate $10, if you pledge 10 cents a lap, you'll donate $20.” A few weeks ago, this fundraising spiel suddenly popped back into head after a 12-year absence. I had just accepted a position as a program associate of grants and impact at The Alaska Community Foundation after two years at Rasmuson Foundation, most recently as one of Philanthropy Northwest's Momentum Fellows. While I knew aspects of my job would be similar — helping disperse grant money around Alaska — the process would be dramatically different as I shifted from a private foundation to a community one. But it turns out that all those years of fundraising for my youth swim team had sneakily taught me about nonprofits, long before I knew anything about grants strategies and governance structures. more »

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